In 2005, PEN World Voices found that only 3% of all books published in English were translations. Though in the last few years we’ve seen an increase in translated fiction (to just over 5%), in the UK market translations are still a very small percentage of sales (and women an even smaller percentage of that) and those that are being published are still overwhelmingly from European authors. But there does seem to be growing interest in other languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Icelandic.
In the words of Andre Breedt, director of Nielsen Book Research International, “Fiction in translation allows us to experience narratives and perspectives in a way that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.”
Women In Translation Month (which takes place during August) is an initiative started by Meytal Radzinski in 2014 to showcase women writers and translators from around the world who write in languages other than English, and who translate into English.
As specialists in translated fiction, Comma Press are always looking for ways to engage new audiences with voices from across the globe. So, if you’re looking to read more women in translation, or just more translated fiction generally, we’ve compiled this list of resources just for you.
WIT Month Founder Meytal Radzinski has been posting daily on her blog writing on a variety of subjects, from shaping the future canon to feminist spaces, a #WITMonth FAQ and book reviews.
Emerging Arabic translator Perween Richards wrote this guest blog for us last year about translating Palestinian author Nayrouz Qarmout’s debut collection (The Sea Cloak), a crucial portrayal of everyday life in Gaza.
Helen Vassallo runs a blog called Translating Women which is dedicated to platforming new work by women in translation, and publishes regular book reviews and interviews with authors, translators and people in the publishing industry.
A number of small UK indie presses have teamed up for a new online event series this month, with translators published by Charco Press, Fitzcarraldo and Tilted Axis taking part in lunchtime Instagram live events. Featuring Man Booker International shortlisted titles. Watch them back on Charco’s Instagram page.
This great new video, featuring former British Library Translator in Residence Rahul Bery. He’s reading ‘The Voice Inside my Head’, the story he translated from the Portuguese for our Europa28 anthology. It’s hosted on the Translators Aloud YouTube channel where you can find a dedicated ‘Women in Translation’ playlist, which they are adding to all the time.
Europa28 is currently available at the discounted price of £10 to mark Women in Translation Month if you buy direct from our website!
In the latest series of The Comma Press Podcast, we’ve focussed on a number of our translated fiction anthologies, including Iraq +100, Palestine +100 and Europa28, with all the episodes featuring female authors and translators in conversation about their experience.
Listen back to all of the Borderless Book Club sessions that have taken place so far in podcast form. In response to the pandemic, Peirene Press set up the online book club to celebrate and showcase translated fiction published by indie presses, and the episodes feature editors and translators who worked on the book in conversation with Maddie Rogers from Peirene. The autumn programme for the club has just been announced and sessions are free and open to all, find out more here.
Andy McDougall has compiled this new list of WIT Month recommendations, published by some brilliant indie presses – a one-stop shop for WIT inspiration.
The oracle that is Marcia Lynx Qualey of ArabLit has been posting #WITMonth recommendations almost daily on her twitter feed (@arablit) and blog. Posts include a conversation with author Shahla Ujayli and translator Michelle Hartman about their International Prize for Arabic Fiction-shortlisted novel Summer with the Enemy, and five selected folktale-inspired stories translated from Arabic.
And there is so much we will have missed! We highly recommend just reading through the #WITmonth tag on Twitter or Instagram for a plethora of reviews, recommendations, insightful articles and more.
Comma’s latest Women in Translation titles
Europa28: Writing by Women on the Future of Europe ed. by Sophie Hughes & Sarah Cleave
The Book of Shanghai ed. by Jin Li & Dai Congrong
Palestine +100 ed. by Basma Ghalayini
The Sea Cloak by Nayrouz Qarmout, translated by Perween Richards
Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette
The Book of Cairo ed. by Raph Cormack
The Book of Tehran ed. by Fereshteh Ahmadi