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.
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