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.
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
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. . .