A Women in Translation
August 2019 marks the fifth year of celebrating Women in Translation (WiT) Month.
This initiative was started by blogger Meytal Radzinski in 2014 (here's an FAQ page with a lot of relevant and interesting information about it.)
There's been much written about WiT, but what it boils down to is far fewer women than men are translated into English. Books by women in translation also get far less review coverage, awards nominations, and bookstore promotion, and as a result, have a harder time making it into readers’ hands. Even as the popularity of translated literature and translated authors has grown a great deal in recent years, male authors continue to be translated at a disproportionately greater rate than women, meaning that Women in Translation Month is still an important – and exciting! – part of the literary calendar.
After moving back to NYC in 2017, I joined the PEN America Translation Committee, where I met Czech translator Alex Zucker, who has been (co-)organizing WiT readings on an annual basis. This year, he and and Jenny Wang Medina are co-organizing a reading at McNally Jackson, but he pointed out that there was enough interest and enough willing participants for multiple events during the course of the month, which is where I jumped in to organize a second event, on August 6th at Greenlight Bookstore in PLG.
In talking about these two, one-off events, however, it immediately became clear that there is an enormous appetite for this sort of event, not only among literary and translation professionals, but also among readers. Why then restrict our WiT spotlighting to one month a year? There's certainly enough fantastic work to merit a regular, ongoing reading series.
And so, the idea is simple: A bimonthly Women in Translation reading series that spotlights women-identified translators or translators of women-identified authors (or both!).
Read work can either be published or unpublished, as part of what this series is reacting to is the comparative dearth of published works by women in translation.
The series is tentatively named Jill! As in, no Jack required, and also as nod to Suzanne Jill Levine, the literary scholar, poet, and the translator we have to thank for numerous works by Latin American luminaries such as Julio Cortázar and Manuel Puig, among many, many others.