16 August 17 | Chad W. Post | Comments

OK, I’m supposed to be packing for my summer vacation right now, so this is going to be a lot shorter than it otherwise would be. But! I just updated the Translation Databases! Not just the spreadsheets for 2016 and 2017, but every spreadsheet I’ve ever run. There’s up to date info on 2008-2018 AND new spreadsheet with the complete listing of every work of fiction and poetry that I have logged into the database.1

I had to change the format a bit on this page, so nothing is as pretty as it could be, but have fun downloading all of this and pouring over the data. And letting me know what’s missing.

While I updated everything, I created a series of charts tracking all sorts of data about the most popular languages, countries, publishers, etc., etc. I would post some of that here, but I’m actually going to save it for a series of articles that will likely appear elsewhere and will include a lot more analysis.

But, since it’s Women in Translation Month, and since I posted some info about this already, I thought I’d share two charts.

First up is a chart with the percentage of books in translation written by men, women, or both (“both” indicating mixed gender writing teams and/or anthologies) over the period of 2008-2018. And yes, this is for the writer in the original language. The author who created the primary work.

Never really gets that close, unfortunately. In 2016 there’s a 30.01% difference between books originally written by men (63.82%) and those written by women (33.81%), but of the ten years tracked, there’s a 40%+ gap between these percentages for five of them. (The worst is 2008 in which 74.11% of the translations published were originally written by men and only 23.43% were originally written by women.)

In terms of raw numbers—and including all the updates sent in after my last post—there were 1,417 books written by women over this ten year period versus 3,351 by men. In terms of overall percentages, 28.97% were by women, 68.50% by men. This could be much closer to equal.

Then there’s the question of translators. In this case, women fare much much better.

See how those two lines converge in 2017? That’s because, as of this moment, women have translated 248 of the books published this year, and men have translated 249. So close! And a nice little bit of news for Women in Translation Month. Yes, there are still more men from around the world having their works translated into English, but more and more translation jobs are going to women.

There’s a lot more to say, but it’s late on Tuesday and I still need to pack . . . See you in a week or so!

1 Poetry. Fiction. First time ever published in translation. No reprints. No new editions. Available in America. 2008 onwards. Cool? Cool.

9 August 17 | Chad W. Post | Comments

I just finished entering in all the data for the Translation Database (super huge mega astonishing absolute extreme update to come), I thought I’d run a few quick reports for Women in Translation Month.

First off, the big one: For the data I’ve collected between 2008-20181 only 28.7% of the translations in the database were written by women. That’s 1,394 titles out of a grand total of 4,849. That’s not great . . .

What are those 1,394 books? Click here and you can get the full list of all of them! Right now this Excel spreadsheet is sorted by Language, then Author Name, then Title, but you can do it by Year, Publisher, whatever you want. Go crazy with it! Publish excerpts for the countries/languages you’re most interested in. Use it to find out about books and authors you weren’t previously aware of. There’s a lot of data to mine there.

I could run a million of these reports, but I have some other work to do, so for now, I’ll leave off with two others: one organized by Country, one by Language and one by Publisher.

These results are a bit surprising, I think. First off, here’s a list of the ten countries that have produced the most total titles written by women.2

France 155
Germany 145
Sweden 84
Italy 64
Spain 64
Japan 62
Argentina 49
Russia 43
South Korea 39
Quebec 38

(Yes, I list Quebec as it’s own country, which probably is something that will bring down the Royal Mounties. But in my defense, this does capture every book translated into English by Canadian authors. So if you’re anti-Quebec, just replace that with “Canada”—it’s the same number.)

It’s interesting that there are so many books in translation by women from South Korea, yet there’s really only a couple of female Korean authors who are getting much play in the media or on Literary Twitter. (LitTwit? Kill me now.)

Obviously, certain languages are at a disadvantage when you look at their authors by country of origin, so here’s the top ten by language.

French 236
Spanish 186
German 185
Swedish 88
Italian 67
Japanese 60
Russian 46
Arabic 44
Korean 39
Norwegian 37

With all those Quebecois authors in tow, French really pulls away here. But Arabic coming in 8th? That was unexpected. Not terribly surprised about Swedish and Norwegian being on here, although keep an eye on Danish. That seems to be the hot language for women writers these days . . .

And, here are the top ten publishers.

AmazonCrossing 194
Dalkey Archive 58
Europa Editions 47
Seagull Books 37
Other Press 28
New Directions 26
Open Letter 24
Atria 19
Feminist Press 17
Penguin 17

Pretty similar to the list of the top ten overall publishers of translations, but still, pretty interesting. And wow, Amazon, wow.

Anyway, enjoy all the spreadsheets, all the data. And feel free to share any of this or to break it down in whatever way you want. I know there are a million other reports, and if there are one or two that a lot of people ask for, I’ll try and get to them later this week.

1 We only track fiction and poetry (all genres, including young adult, but not kids books, not graphic novels, not drama, not nonfiction) that is published in translation for the first time ever during this period. No retranslations of unexpurgated texts. No reissues. Just new voices that had never before been available to English readers.

2 This is different from the countries with the most female authors who have been translated. That would be really interesting as well, especially since some Scandinavian countries are probably getting a boost by having female authors who write crime series.

14 November 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Chad’s done a bit more number crunching since this was recorded (see the posts on his Twitter account, which is @chadwpost), but this is a good introduction to the ongoing conversation about women in translation. A lot of this discussion is based on this post from Three Percent.

This week’s music is Detachable Penis by King Missile, which is sort of fitting.

Also, just a reminder that because of some difficulties with iTunes, you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe to the correct feed in iTunes at that link, or right here:

Or, you can just put this feed link into whichever is your podcast app of choice:

Tell all your friends and family to also subscribe—that’s what can get us higher in that Top 200 lit podcasts list . . . And it’s also amazingly helpful in getting the podcast seen by more eyes if you can take just a moment to stop by iTunes to give us a quick rating (and a little review, too, if you’re an amazing overachiever!).

5 October 15 | Chad W. Post |

Over the past few months, with the help of two fantastic interns, I’ve updated the Translation Database to include the sex of every author and translator in there.1 It was a brutal task, hunting down information about all of these people, scanning bios for gendered pronouns and then entering all of this into the database. But, now that it’s done, I can start running reports and provide specifics about the gender imbalance with regard to literature in translation.

It’ll be a few more weeks before I have everything sorted and organized, but when I do, I’ll post a huge, comprehensive report looking at everything from how many books by women have been translated from Spanish over the past seven years, to which publishers have the most balanced lists.

Because these reports are fascinating (well, fascinating and depressing), I’m planning on posting mini-updates here as I run them.

Right now, I’ve only completed two main reports: One that breaks down male vs. female authors (and male vs. female translators) by year and genre (fiction vs. poetry), and one that breaks down male and female authors by country of origin.

The results of the first one are pretty bleak. Between 2008 and 2014 there were 2,471 fiction translations published in the U.S. for the first time ever. Of those, 1,775 were written by men, compared to 657 by women, and 39 by men & women. In terms of percentages, female authors make up 26.6% of all the fiction translations published over the past seven years.

Poetry isn’t much better. Of the 571 books included in the database, 384, or 67.3% are by male authors. Only 169, or 29.6% of the poetry collections published during this period were by women.

I suspected going into this that there would be significantly more male authors published in translation than women, but I figured it would be more like a 60-40 split, not 71-27. That’s brutal.

Breaking it down by country is equally depressing. Female authors made up 50% or more of the books from only 14 of the 110 countries represented in the database. Here’s the complete list:

Armenia: 1 male author, 1 female author (50%)
Belarus: 2 male authors, 3 female authors (60%)
Costa Rica: 1 male author, 1 female author (50%)
Croatia: 4 male authors, 4 female authors (50%)
Ecuador: 1 male author, 1 female author (50%)
Finland: 10 male authors, 18 female authors (62%)
Latvia: 0 male authors, 1 female author (100%)
Mauritius: 0 male authors, 3 female authors (100%)
Myanmar: 0 male authors, 1 female author (100%)
Niger: 0 male authors, 1 female author (100%)
Rwanda: 1 male author, 1 female author (50%)
Saudi Arabia: 2 male authors, 3 female authors (60%)
Slovakia: 0 male authors, 1 female author (100%)
Wales: 0 male authors, 1 female author(100%)

That’s it. Here’s the breakdown from a handful of other notable countries:

Argentina: 60 male authors, 30 female authors (33%)
China: 76 male authors, 21 female authors (20%)
France: 253 male authors, 96 female authors (27%)
Germany: 146 male authors, 78 female authors (35%)
Italy: 134 male authors, 41 female authors (23%)
Japan: 118 male authors, 47 female authors (28%)
Russia: 97 male authors, 32 female authors (23%)
Spain: 114 male authors, 36 female authors (24%)
Sweden: 79 male authors, 47 female authors (36%)

At some point, I’m going to group these by region (Middle East, Southern Cone) and see how that breaks down. At first glance, it seems like the Scandinavian countries (Iceland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) might have the best balance. Adding those five countries together, we get 201 male authors and 113 female authors, or 36% women. Still not great, but considering that female authors only make up 27% of the grand total, it’s significant.

More to come as I enter more and more data into the master spreadsheet . . .

1 To clarify a bit, if a book has more than one author or translator of differing genders, I coded them as “both.” Same goes for the two or three people we couldn’t identify, like D. E. Brooke. When the percentages above don’t add up to 100%, it’s because there’s one or more authors coded as “both.”

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