August is Women in Translation Month, and I know it’s almost the end of the month already but you see, the thing is, I had plans. I was going to pick out half a dozen books from my TBR by women translated into English, starting with Elena Ferrante and rinse the hell out of this reading promotion that seems so perfectly suited to me.
The thing is, my reading has been rather capricious of late. I could blame it on a busy period at work, or a mini-flare-up of my lupus, or the wrong choices of books. But every time I looked at those translations on my TBR shelves – Elena Ferrante, Isabel Allende, Marie Sizun, Linda Stift – something in me resisted. Something in me said that they would be hard work and that I wanted an easy read. Which is silly on two counts. One: a translation is not necessarily any harder a read than a book written originally in English and I’ve read enough works in translation to know that well enough. Two: I don’t tend to get as much satisfaction from easy reads as I do from books that challenge me at least a little.
Finally, today I picked up a book by one woman in translation I know I can always rely on: Colette. Her books are short, passionate and feel honest with regard to the emotional life of her heroines. My current read, a Penguin combined edition of Chéri and The Last of Chéri, has a hilariously awful 1970s cover that I was a teensy bit embarrassed of being seen by our house guests this weekend. Which I think speaks to Colette’s reputation more than the actual content.
Now that I have finally broken the seal on my entry into #WITmonth, I’ll see if I can squeeze in a second woman in translation in the three days I have left. Perhaps some Amélie Nothomb, who I counted as my favourite author in the couple of years immediately after university.
Have you been taking part in Women in Translation Month? Have you discovered new authors through it? Or had you missed that it was happening? If so, it’s not too late. The Reading Agency has a great list of recommended reads to get you started.