Anna Clark has a post at Critical Mass this morning about Reading the World, praising it for pushing people to expand their reading boundaries, but also chastising publishers for the lack of women writers included in this year’s program.
And yet, even Reading the World’s exciting project is lacking. Of the 40 titles hand-picked for the campaign, only 12 are written or edited by women.
The 70/30 gender split is, sadly, a generous one, compared to lists and articles by other translation advocates,I detailed in a recent article for Women’s eNews, but what it comes to is this: while the gender gap certainly is rooted in who does and doesn’t get published, translation advocates must be vigilant about not exacerbating the the near-erasure of women’s voices around the world.
All of this is great, and makes sense, but just to clear things up a bit, each of the participating publishers in this year’s Reading the World select the titles they’d like to include. There is little oversight, although we do try and pay attention to covering as many countries of the world as possible.
Once this blog goes live, I’ll explain in greater detail, but RTW 2008 will be a bit different and will allow us to correct the scales a bit and hopefully include more women writers.
But just to bitch for a second, there are already enough obstacles facing those who publish and promote literature in translation, and adding on one more—you must represent equal amounts of men and women writers!—is hardly conducive. It’s not as if women writers are being intentionally excluded, and when we’re talking aobut such a small percentage of books in translation, in real numbers—12 women vs. 28 men—the difference ain’t all that great. Besides, if we’re successful in getting people to read international lit, and more and more books are published in translation, the numbers may well correct themselves.
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .