Thursday, June 21, 2018

WIT+ meets Pride Month | Queer women, nonbinary, and trans writers in translation

Happy Pride Month!

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know that one of the main tenants of the women in translation project is that it is broadly inclusive. This means that the title "women in translation" is also fairly misleading - while the project title singles out women specifically, it also includes all trans and non-binary identifying authors. With WITMonth getting closer and Pride month nearing its end, this seemed like a good opportunity to not simply remind readers of the necessity in reading queer writers in translation (in general), but also to highlight a few recently published/publicized prominent (and less prominent!) queer women, nonbinary, and trans writers in translation, as well as select titles that specifically address queer identity.

Note: I have not personally read all of the titles or authors recommended below (indeed, most are on my TBR!). If there are any issues with a title below (or additional comments/notes/corrections), please let me know and I will include that information.

Qui Miaojin: One of the best known lesbian writers out of Taiwan and a Taiwanese queer icon in general, Qui Miaojin wrote cult favorite novels such as Last Words from Montmartre and Notes of a Crocodile (tr. Ari Larissa Heinrich and Bonnie Huie, respectively) exploring lesbian identity and relationships, before her early death.

Trifonia Melibea Obono: Not only is La Bastarda (tr. Lawrence Schimel) the first (very short) novel by a woman writer to be translated out of Equatorial Guinea, Trifonia Melibea Obono explores what it means to come of age through an explicitly queer lens.

Renee Vivien: A 19th-century lesbian poet who was vocal and open about her sexuality, Renee Vivien was perhaps largely forgotten by history until recently, with her works translated in A Crown of Violets (tr. Samantha Pious). She was also well known as a translator of Sappho's poetry.

Raquel Salas Rivera: A writer who translates themself from Spanish, Raquel Salas Rivera frames much of their poetry through a distinctly regional lens. They are currently serving as Poet Laureate of Philadelphia.

Anne Garréta: An author whose books Sphinx and Not One Day (tr. Emma Ramadan) touch explicitly on queer identity and relationships, Anne Garréta is well known for her exploration of genderqueer characterization and experimental writing.

Madame Nielsen: A Danish writer and artist who recently came out as trans, Madame Nielsen is best known for once having had herself declared dead and for the recently translated The Endless Summer (tr. Gaye Kynoch).

Catalina de Erauso: A Basque writer, explorer, and soldier, Catalina de Erauso is best known for their autobiography detailing their swashbuckling, cross-dressing and gender-nonconforming adventures in South America.

Négar Djavadi: Négar Djavadi's recently translated Disoriental (tr. Tina Kover) explores politics, Iranian history, family, and bisexuality.

Nhã Thuyên: Nhã Thuyên is a Vietnamese poet and writer whose works exploring gender, identity, and more have been translated in Words Without Borders. Their poetry will soon be published in the Tilted Axis Press' Translating Feminisms chapbooks which you can help fund here.

Sappho: While certainly not a recent release or discovery, no list of queer WIT+ is complete without the original Sapphist herself. Most of what remains of Sappho's poetry is in the form of fragments (with many different translations), but her prominence as one of the great, classic lesbian poets remains.

The truth is that there will never be an exhaustive list of queer women in translation. There are new books being published every day around the world that tackle queer identity, in every language and from every country. And this is a good thing! This list (of which I have read very little myself... and here I'd like to give a huge shoutout to Twitter and to Samantha Pious in particular for help in compiling this list) is meant more as a starting point for a range of queer and genderqueer books in translation, most of them recently released. There are dozens of other recommendations that I received that did not make it into this list today, but will appear in the general WITMonth recommendation list ahead of August. There will always be other lists and other titles and other authors. We should hope for more.

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