Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WITMonth | Retrospective

It's taken me a while to settle down in the post-WITMonth excitement. After a month of posting nearly every single day (I missed a couple due to illness...), I needed some time to think over what happened in August, and what would happen in the future. I've already floated my proposal for WITMonth 2015, but of course it's a long way off. For now, we need a little bit of a retrospective.

So what happened in Women in Translation Month? I'm not sure how many people actively followed the page updates or the tags, but here's the short of it: we looked at a lot of books by women in translation. As you can tell from the consolidated page, there were a lot of reviews. True, certain books/authors received far more attention than others and yes, we mostly read books from Western Europe, but overall there's a pleasant spread to the books.

This, though, isn't my main afterthought from WITMonth. What I'm seeing now - over the past couple days, in comments and tweets and people's booklists and reviews - is the remainders, books left over that will be read throughout the year.

Here's my struggle: there's nothing I can do about publishers who hold sexist beliefs that women don't write as well as men (except direct them to my paltry piece about that). But there are still ways to work with publishers who simply never noticed, or never gave it much thought. I am hardly the first person to write about the disparity in women in translation, nor do I for a moment tell myself that I'm the most influential. But WITMonth provided us - the readers, the reviewers, the community - with an organized opportunity to remind publishers that the disparity exists, to get even more readers aware, and to provide a good platform from which we can recommend titles

We did that.

There's not much I can say at this point except to say once again thank you - thank you to everyone who participated, in whatever way it may have been. Thank you for caring about this issue. Thank you for being involved. I'm now working on finding a good platform for the big database of books by women in translation, which has grown tremendously thanks to many of you. I hope WITMonth was as interesting an experience for you as it was for me, and I'd love to hear your thoughts as we move forward.


  1. And thank YOU so much for hosting this event! I love the resource you've put together of all the books people read and talked about for this month, and I'm already looking forward to WITMonth 2015. I know it's made me more mindful of books in translation, and more likely to pick them up at the library. And I hope I can keep that mindfulness going, and incorporate it into my reading goals for next year.

    1. Well at least that's one person for next year! :-) I'm so glad you participated, and it's always great to see more readers getting into translated literature (my foreign side is showing, isn't it...). So yay! I think being aware of the issues and distinctions are half the effort when it comes to which books we read - so much is about exposure.

      As for the list, I'm working now on updating the big database, with a lot more titles and better diversity. It might take a couple months until l get it up, but it should be a better reference for just about any reader looking for books by women in translation. Hopefully that will also help.

  2. I'll be back too - just reviewed the Rwandan "Our Lady of the Nile" by the female Scholastique Mukasonga, pity it wasn't released until September. And yourself and reviewers have added a HUGE pile of TBR books, some I planned but never got through. The plight is now in my consciousness and I'm here to help set it straight.


Anonymous comments have been disabled due to an increase in spam. Sorry!