Friday, August 31, 2018

WITMonth Day 31 | Where do we go from here?

I always have mixed feelings about the end of WITMonth. Part of me is thrilled that another successful WITMonth has come and gone, with readers actively engaged, excited, and taking part in the women in translation project, seeking out new books, and learning more. Part of me is melancholic, remembering that despite the world of good that may come out of WITMonth (and I do believe that every single book read or discussed throughout WITMonth is a wonderful world within itself), it remains a sequestered achievement, with most readers and literary outlets still swayed by existing biases throughout the year. And another part of me is anxious that nothing is going to change, that despite our best efforts and the increased profile of WITMonth (growing from year to year!), things remain static and that women writers from around the world will always fall behind, either in favor of men writers in translation or in favor of English-language women writers.

I've already discussed some of my goals for the women in translation project's future, how much I'd like to see it go beyond a minor niche and become a reasonable part of the larger feminist diversity movement. But that's not the only goal I think we need to have in mind as readers. Recall that WITMonth is our opportunity to broaden our horizons. That means that yes, we should make sure that we're reading books that extend beyond Europe, Eastern Asia, and Argentina. Yes, we should make sure we're reading books by and about queer women (or nonbinary or trans people). Yes, we should include books by and about disabled women. Children's literature. Genre literature. Nonfiction. Feminist texts and science books and history.

It also means honing in on the fact that WITMonth should not be limited to English-language readers and bloggers. Readers should feel at home discussing and promoting women writers from their own languages, as well as translations between different languages. The same way that I discuss Israeli women writers who have yet to be translated, I would love to see readers promoting Sinhalese women writers or Thai women writers or women who write in indigenous languages. I've loved seeing tweets this year in languages I could only partially understand; I would love to see many more such posts and discussions. This isn't - and should not be - an English-limited project.

I've also already talked about how I'd like to see things change. Literary gatekeepers need to step up and take action. Readers need to hold them accountable. These are all perfectly doable and they should not be limited to August. WITMonth? More like WITallthetime!

As for myself...

Five WITMonths. Five years of hosting this wonderful project. I'm not quite ready to give it up yet, but I do have to admit that it's grown well beyond me at this point. At the very least, I am confident that WITMonth will take place (and successfully!) even if I do not post daily next year. And I may take a few steps back. You - all of you - have made WITMonth happen in the most incredible and beautiful way. We are building a movement here that is growing by the day. Bookstores, libraries, publishers, reviewers, and readers - together, we are all making it easier to find and read books by women writers in translation.

August may be over, but WITMonth never really is. Not for me, anyways.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for all your Women in Translation Month posts over the last four weeks, I've found them absolutely fascinating. I plan my reading schedule in advance and didn't discover your blog until the very last moment, but I have every intention of joining in the fun next August. TTFN!


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