Posts Tagged ‘Three Percent’

Three Percent reviews Lunar Savings Time, and “Ten Rules for Making New Translators”

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Three Percent has just posted a very nice review of Lunar Savings Time: “Like Borges, Epstein reinvents the truth, the real, and even history, by fictionalizing them (which is not to say that his stories don’t include many real facts).” And in the both the intro and the review, note the lovely, and true, praise for Becka Mara McKay, “one of the friendliest and funniest and most talented of all contemporary translators.” Indeed!

Becka has also just participated in Arabic Literature in English‘s excellent series of “rules for translators,” contributing “Ten Rules for Making New Translators” that focus on how to teach translation. Check out the whole series, which has been a treat to read.

Women & publishing, women & translation, publishing women in translation

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

VIDA has just released a much-discussed report on the ratios of male and female contributors in prominent publications, including, for book reviews, percentages of books by men and women reviewed. At Slate Meghan O’Rourke has a good summary discussion; see also Percival Everett’s thoughts here. I was particularly interested to find that the New York Review of Books, which I read almost cover to cover every issue, publishes male to female contributors at a distressing rate of 5.9 to 1, and only about 20% of the books they review are by women—all this distressing in itself & distressing because, despite my idea of myself as someone deeply attuned to these issues, I never noticed.

At the Literary Saloon, Michael Orthofer has done a quick tally of translations published in 2010, according to Three Percent’s highly useful translation database (for which we should all thank Chad Post, yet again!). Orthofer notes that: “in 2010 slightly less than 20 per cent of the books listed there are by women: i.e. there’s a huge sex-imbalance in terms of what gets translated.” This is something I’ve wondered about, but unfortunately only idly. Belletrista—”a site promoting women-authored literature from around the world”— had once written Clockroot, after reviewing several of our titles, to inquire about the translation rates of women writers vs. men writers, and I was able to say nothing more informative than that I too would be interested to see some figures. A rough scan of the 2009 titles—not scientifically done, I’m sorry—comes out with about the same ratio as Orthofer’s for 2010, somewhere around 20%. This surprises me in that most translations are published by smaller presses—indies and university presses—whom I would have thought particularly attentive to such issues. Perhaps gender often gets relegated to more mainstream publishing discussions (?), and we as small, internationally focused presses can become more concerned about aesthetic and linguistic/cultural diversity, putting gender issues to the side? I’m not sure.

When Clockroot first got going, behind scenes we often joked about how without meaning to we seemed to be only publishing women writers: early on we had signed only works by Ersi Sotiropoulos, Margarita Karapanou, Adania Shibli, Uzma Aslam Khan. I suppose that, all things being equal, we seem to gravitate toward women writers (should I note for the record that both Pam and I are in fact women?). I believe that Interlink has done a fine job publishing women writers through its twenty years—though I don’t have any figures on hand, and it would take some time to gather them (but I think of the involvement of Salma Khadra Jayyusi, and Interlink’s devotion to prominent writers such as Sahar Khalifeh and Sefi Atta). As it is, of the thirteen books on Clockroot’s list, eight are by women, five by men (two of these were originally written in English, both by women). This includes of course multiple works by repeat authors. It’s a small sample, but it is nice to feel ahead of the game.

I’d be interested in hearing from translators and editors of presses that publish translations about this issue. I suspect—without any data—that most of the submissions we receive at Interlink & Clockroot are works by men. But how many more? What role do agencies, grants, and foreign cultural ministries play in promoting men vs. women writers? How do translators interact with this issue? I myself have often wondered if there may be more women translating men than men translating women—I have no basis for thinking this other than again, a vague impression. What have reviewers noticed, both at larger and smaller venues? What role do sales play, or perceptions of which books sell? Note, for instance, this Guardian article (which mentions Uzma Aslam Khan) on “Pakistan’s literary boy’s club,” which wonders why

the media portrayal of Pakistan’s “new crop of literary stars” has disturbingly begun to focus its attention on what western reviewers are calling “the top four”: Daniyal Mueenuddin, Mohsin Hamid, Nadeem Aslam and Mohammed Hanif. Pakistani women have been writing for just as long and just as much as the men, so why is the “new crop” being portrayed by the western media as a boys’ club?

Notes for a future discussion, then? Many thanks to all those who have done the good work of gathering the figures mentioned.

—Hilary

Best Translated Book Award: fiction longlist

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Over at the excellent blog Three Percent, the first announcement about this year’s Best Translated Book award includes our own Touch, by Adania Shibli and translated by Paula Haydar. Congratulations to them both, and to those responsible for the rest of the amazing round-up of books.

Landscape with Dog: “Her deft sense of psychological insight and poetic language… give us portraits of the intimate and the abstract”

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Landscape with Dog and Other Stories is featured today at Three Percent, as one of the works of fiction longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award—here’s an excerpt:

From the very first story, there is a familiarity that draws the reader in, that reminds of something comforting. But Sotiropoulos layers on top of that security a sense of foreboding. There is an ambiguity to her scenes and to her characters so that we are left to question our own instincts. She infuses the narrative of each story with a controlled terror that makes characters’ relationships seem like they could snap at any moment. Yet, she never gives us that release or makes it that easy for the reader, that definitive. The beginnings, middles and ends are blurry and we are left to decide where the story began and ended. This is not to say that the stories in this collection are not definitive, they are. They present the moments in life that fall into the grey area, that at one point may look white and then years later, pitch black. This requires a very deliberate prose, a deep understanding of narrative tension and skilled working knowledge of human behavior. Even more impressive is that Karen Emmerich’s translation lets all of Sotiropoulos’ style and depth showcase itself in a sparse fluidity. …

Read the rest here

2010 Best Translated Book Award: Fiction Longlist

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

landscapewebThis week the folks at Three Percent announced their top 25 translated books of the year. We’re so pleased that our most recent book, Ersi Sotiropoulos‘s Landscape with Dog, translated by Karen Emmerich, is among the books chosen. You can get it here, or get it from your favorite bookstore. I hope that’s not too old-fashioned to say. Three Percent is directing people to the wonderful Idlewild bookstore in New York, for any of the honored books.

Speaking of Landscape, stories from the collection are out recently in The Literary Review, an international journal of contemporary writing, and in the new issue of Two Lines, Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed, from the Center for the Art of Translation, both of which are making for great bedtime reading in our house. (By which I mean nothing other than reading. Ah, to be a student, or a ten-year-old, and read all day long.)

—Pam

Landscape with Dog at Three Percent

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Clockroot’s forthcoming Landscape with Dog and Other Stories by Ersi Sotiropoulos, translated by Karen Emmerich, has been selected by the Best Translated Book panelists at Three Percent as a recommended summer read.

Since Landscape with Dog is a November release, unfortunately it won’t be generally available to read in the actual summer—but I promise it’s more than worth the wait!  (I’ve been looking forward so greedily to getting to reread it this weekend…)

Thank you to the BTB panelists, for this and all the great work going on over there—

—Hilary

A reading by Karen Emmerich

Monday, May 18th, 2009

A brief note: The wonderful Karen Emmerich read at the Center for the Art of Translation this past week—catch a lovely summary of her reading here, at the Quarterly Conversation.

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And to top it off: Three Percent has a note about/summary of Scott Esposito’s summary. Which I think is officially “buzz.” We’re sorry to have missed seeing Karen in person—