Monday, June 06, 2016

Italian Books by Women We Want To See in Eng.

I've written a piece for the Website Literary Hub called "10 Italian Books by Women We'd like To See in English." That's the kind of story that writes itself since there are so many wonderful Italian books that for many reasons have not made it over into English (in some cases published decades ago and winning Italy's top literary prizes.

Here's the intro to the piece, subtitled, "Reading Beyond Ferrante":

As more attention is paid to literature in translation, more tools emerge to aid us in trying to bring new (and in some cases, old) foreign works to an English-speaking audience.
Sometimes, however, those tools tell us things we don’t want to know. To wit, the wonderful database of translated works maintained by Chad Post of Three Percent shows us who is being translated – and by process of elimination, who is not.
My interest, of course, is: what Italian language books are being translated? And when I scan the names in the excel spreadsheets one can so handily download from Three Percent’s Web site, I see men’s names in line after line of the entries for Italian books translated and published.
Of course there are exceptions – and I don’t only mean Elena Ferrante. Europa, for example, has also published two works by Viola Di Grado in recent years (the second of which, Hollow Heart, translated by Antony Shugaar, was shortlisted for the PEN translation prize this year).
But it’s clear that the vast majority of Italian authors breaking through to English-language audiences are still men. The usual suspects, including Andrea Camilleri (the noted suspense writer) but also Umberto Eco and Antonio Tabucchi -- usual but also deserving suspects. Indeed, in trying to compile this list, I consulted Italian lists of ‘best books of the year’, plugging in 2012, 2013, etc., and found these lists were almost inevitably dominated by men (no wonder many in Italy don’t believe Ferrante is a woman – ahem).
Here, instead, are some of the women authors we’d like to see translated. The list is a mix of recent titles along with some galling omissions of writers who won a Strega – the Italian equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize – and have yet to see their works translated into English, in some cases decades later.
To read the rest, including the specific books by Lalla Romano, Erica Barbiani and Ubah Cristina Ali Farah that need to be translated, go here.

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