Good ideas often come from the combination of two or more good components. And WOMEN IN TRANSLATION MONTH is not an exception.
If you don’t know what it’s all about, it’s because it’s a relatively new thing. Founded by Israeli scientist, Meytal Radzinski, it intends to make a difference in the gender imbalance when it comes to translated authors.
In literature, like in everything else, not being translated reduces your international impact. Not being translated means your writing will not go beyond your borders, which conspires against international recognition, fame and/or popularity and, ultimately, financial stability.
It all started when this biology grad student who has spent her life between California and Israel noticed the gap in the number of authors being translated, with an overwhelming majority of male writers.
An avid reader and book reviewer herself, she had also kept data about books translated into English from Hebrew and Yiddish. Her passion for reading took her to start her own blog. Her posts, her research and exchanges with other bloggers gave her the idea to create an event or a month dedicated to promote the translation of female writers.
Translation as a social indicator
As many of you may already know, translation has always been a good indicator to measure social inequality:
- Writers from wealthier countries are translated more often than writers from third world countries
- Languages from culturally “dominant” countries are translated more often than languages from poor nations
- Upper class authors are translated more often than working class authors
- Male writers are translated more often than female writers
But this last statement is also intrinsic to the other three because both in wealthier and poorer countries, both in global and local languages, and both in upper and lower classes, men are published and translated more often than women.
So, can you imagine what it’s like to be a female author from a poor nation where the language spoken is not among the commonly used languages in the world? You’re right, it’s probably better to teach at an inner city middle school… just kidding!
Therefore, WIT Month is a great start to try to narrow the gender gap and make it possible for more books to be published and translated regardless of the author’s sexual identity.
After all, literary talent does not depend on whether you sit or not when you urinate. Don’t you think?