For those of you who know us, you know we’re big on equality in literature. All of our 2016 book club reads are books authored by women, because we want to do what we can to address the gender gap in publishing. But despite all of our careful planning and plotting, we are not without our blind spots. It wasn't until this month that we realized we didn’t include any books that were translated from another language.
August is Women in Translation Month, which started in 2014 after translator and blogger Meytal Radzinski realized there was a lack of women-authored books translated into English. PEN reported that the figure is less than 30%, and “not only were a disproportionate number of male authors translated into English, but a disproportionate number of men were nominated for prizes and won them.”
What does that mean for us here in Eau Claire?
Elizabeth Bryder writes, “one of the attractions of reading is the access it provides to a perspective that is not the reader’s own. Books can be a kind of key to figuring out the world and others, [and] If voices in translation represent only a niche of the world’s population – if we circumscribe so narrowly what might gain entry into the realms of ‘worthy of translation’ – we are impoverishing our outlook, and missing out on so much.”
Hear! Hear! We read for many reasons, and one of which is to inhabit the experiences of others through written form. If we cut ourselves off from works written in another language, we have a gaping hole in our perspectives and potential for insights.
The goals of Women in Translation Month are simple:
- Increase the dialogue and discussion about women writers in translation
- Read more books by women in translation
So, where do we start? Below, we’ve compiled our picks for translated works authored by women, as well as some further resources if you’re interested in learning more. We’ve ordered a limited run of each book, which you can find on our website this month.
Last, but not least, get in touch with us and tell us what you’re reading, what you want to read, and what you think about these and other awesome books in translation.
There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, translated by Anna Summers
Published by Penguin Books in January 2013: “By turns sly and sweet, burlesque and heartbreaking, realist fables of women looking for love are the stories that Ludmilla Petrushevskaya—who has been compared to Chekhov, Tolstoy, Beckett, Poe, Angela Carter, and even Stephen King—is best known for in Russia.”
The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Published by Coffee House Press in November 2015, this novel is “an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.” For those who have read The Story of My Teeth, check out Luiselli’s 2014 book, Faces in the Crowd.
Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken
Published by Graywolf as A Public Space Book in February 2014, the publisher writes that the short story collection shifts “between moments of violence (real and imagined) and mundane contemporary life,” and encompasses both “the complexity of human emotions, [and] our capacity for cruelty as well as compassion.”
Now and at the Hour of Our Death by Susana Moreira Marques, translated by Julia Sanches
Published by And Other Stories in October 2015, Susana Moreira Marques accompanies a palliative care team to a rural area of northern Portugal. This short nonfiction book is an exquisite meditation on death, mortality, and the stories that need to be written down before they are lost.
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein
Published by Knopf in February 2016, In Other Words chronicles Lahiri’s love affair with the Italian language. This book provides a unique reading experience, as the Italian and English are published side-by-side.
All Things Elena Ferrante
Pretty much anything written by Elena Ferrante, translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein, and published by Europa Editions. Her works include The Days of Abandonment (Europa, 2005), Troubling Love (Europa, 2006), The Lost Daughter (Europa, 2008) and the Neapolitan Quartet (Europa 2012-2015).
- How You Can Participate in Women in Translation Month - Book Riot
- Women in Translation Month: Moving Toward Parity - PEN America
- And Other Stories to take part in Year of Publishing Women in 2018
- 13 Translated Books by Women You Should Read - LitHub
- LitHub’s Series - Women to Translate
- Women in Translation Month 2016 - Reading Agency