Beautiful seafood dishes at Captain Fishbones on Marina Bay in Quincy, MA. It’s a great location— if you go, eat outside and watch the boats in the harbor.
Earlier in the month I posted about the dismal percentage of published works in translation that are written by women and I promised more specifics for all of you data junkies. According to Chad Post, Publisher at Open Letter Books and keeper of the largest translation database in publishing, here are the numbers:
First off, the big one: For the data I’ve collected between 2008-20181only 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 . . .
Here’s a list of the ten countries that have produced the most total titles written by women:
South Korea 39
Canada [Quebec] 38
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.
And, here are the top ten publishers.
Dalkey Archive 58
Europa Editions 47
Seagull Books 37
Other Press 28
New Directions 26
Open Letter 24
Feminist Press 17
Check out the full post on Three Percent.
August is Women in Translation Month, something that’s very near and dear to my heart. Why do we need a specific month dedicated to reading women in translation? The numbers alone are pretty bleak. The publishing industry as a whole publishes very few works of translation to begin with—the number that’s often cited is three percent, although it’s probably lower than that. But let’s stick with three percent—so only three percent of titles published in English are international titles written originally in a language other than English. Of that small percentage of books, 28.7% of translations published in 2008–2018 were written by women. I’ll post more specifics later but those numbers* are dismal, especially when considering some of the exciting and award-winning translations currently beloved by English reading audiences (think Elena Ferrante, Man Booker International Prize winner Han Kang, and Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexeievich.)
Recitation by Bae Suah
Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith, Bae Suah’s Recitation is a wandering and lyrical meditation on memory and language reminiscent of Sebald. Suah is one of the most fascinating writers in South Korea right now and her books are coming out at a rapid pace.
Her other titles currently available in English include A Greater Music and Nowhere To Be Found and North Station comes out from Open Letter Books in October!
“A very real vision of life after the Arab Spring written with dark, subtle intelligence, The Queue describes the sinister nature of authoritarianism, and illuminates the way that absolute authority manipulates information, mobilizes others in service to it, and fails to uphold the rights of even those faithful to it.” (back cover)
Translated from the Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette. The Queue is this terrifying dystopian novel set in a non-specific Middle Eastern city under authoritarian rule. It’s powerful and startling. The author, Basma Abdel Aziz, is also an important activist and figure in Egypt right now and this is her first book translated into English.
Umami by Laia Jufresa
Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes. I haven’t read this yet but Umami is at the top of my list! The novel is set in Mexico City in a neighborhood with a cluster of five house named after tastes: Sweet, Salty, Bitter, Sour, and Umami. It sounds like an inventive and poignant novel about grief.
“A thoughtful, eccentric, and heart-wrenching interwoven story told from the Umami tells the stories of characters who are dealing with mortality, abandonment, and loss.” —World Literature Today
Looking for more? Check these authors out!
Clarice Lispector (Lispector’s been called Brazil’s greatest modern writer and the most important Jewish writer since Kafka.)
Josefine Klougart (Klougart has been hailed as one of Denmark’s greatest contemporary writers.)
Can Xue (A Chinese avant-garde fiction writer and literary critic. I’d recommend Frontier and The Last Lover.)
Dubravka Ugresic (Ugresic, a Croatian native now living in Amsterdam, was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2016.)
Fun Jane Austen related reads that are on my #TBR list for this summer! Any and all recommendations are always welcome.
I’ve had Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff on the very top of my TBR pile for a solid year (or more!) and after just finishing it I’m very angry with myself for letting it languish there for so long. It left me gasping. An utterly fascinating, beautiful, and dark portrait of a marriage. I know she has other novels—what should I read next? (Not my picture but isn’t it gorgeous?)