It’s Time to Celebrate WITmonth!

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August is Women In Translation Month, which is when we celebrate the literary efforts of women around the world whose works have been translated into English. You might be wondering why this is important.

According to the Three Percent Translation Database, books by women make up 28.7% of the 4,849 books published during the decade 2008-2018 (including projected titles). You’ll find breakdowns by language, country, and publisher on the Three Percent blog.

If women only made up 30% of authors, or if their works were simply “not as good” as those penned by their male counterparts, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, this really is more of an indicator of  societal forces continuing to amplify male voices and male stories at the expense of women’s.

I appreciate the sentiment expressed by Natalie Kon-yu here:

Anyone who argues that good work will always be published and valued is not paying attention to the way in which our literary culture dismisses, maligns, or limits the work of anyone deemed to be other to the white male writer.

~Natalie Kon-yu, cited on the English Pen

If you’re curious about the origins of WiT Month,  you can read a brief history on Tranlationista.

Would you like to participate? M. Lynx Qualey wrote a terrific participation guide on Book Riot. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Please tweet about your reads with the hashtags #WomenInTranslation and #WITMonth. Follow @Read_WIT.
  2. Ask libraries and book groups to include books by women in translation.
  3. Review works by women in translation to give them a marketing bump.

I’m really digging the list of 31 books to read now on Words Without Borders. I’ve read–and LOVED–The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and translated by Alison Anderson. You can read my review here.

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I’ve added The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz and translated by Elisabeth Jaquette to my TBR list. It sounds like a particularly disturbing dystopian novel:

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This English PEN Translates Award-winning novel The Queue is set in an unnamed city where a centralized authority known as the Gate has taken power in the aftermath of a failed popular uprising. Citizens are required to obtain permission from the Gate for even the most basic of their daily affairs, yet the building never opens, and the queue in front of it grows longer and longer.

I swear I’ve had nightmares of something like that happening…if you’ve ever been to the DMV, I’m sure you can relate!

For something completely different, I’m going to throw in a graphic novel by Kanata Konami called Chi’s Sweet Home. The book was originally written in Japanese and it was translated by Ed Chavez.

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Do I really need to explain what attracts me to that book? LOOK AT THAT CUTE FACE.

But if you must know what it’s about, here’s the Goodreads summary:

Chi is a michievous newborn kitten who, while on a leisurely stroll with her family, finds herself lost. Seperated from the warmth and protection of her mother, feels distraught. Overcome with loneliness she breaks into tears in a large urban park meadow., when she is suddenly rescued by a young boy named Yohei and his mother. The kitty is then quickly and quietly whisked away into the warm and inviting Yamada family apartment…where pets are strictly not permitted.

Want to Master Instagram?

instastyleInstaStyle by Tessa Barton is going to be a hit with a lot of people. It hands you the keys to creating an aesthetically pleasing, well-branded, focused and influential instagram account, which you can set up for monetization of your online efforts.

If this is what I wanted to do with my instagram, I would have been thrilled myself. It’s a beautifully produced book, containing stunning photography and streamlined how-tos on everything from finding inspiration, developing narratives,  fostering engagement, and editing images.  Additionally, it provides niche-specific advice, including lifestyle, fashion, travel, food, beauty, family, health & fitness, interior design, and flat lays & products.

This book just isn’t written for a person like me, who already has a full-time job and only wants to use social media as a creative outlet and a way to connect with like-minded people. InstaStyle makes it abundantly clear that if you wish to develop an account like Tezza’s, it’s going to require a lot of work.

Gotta work for it: Truth be told, I’m never not working. I’m constantly planning posts, gathering inspiration, scouting locations, styling outfits , and meeting with brands. It’s a 24/7 job. Granted, it’s a pretty dang good 24/7 job, but it really can be exhausting. It’s important to know that before jumping in. It takes pushing yourself every day to come up with something new and finding ways to stand out and be different.

~ Tezza MB

Clearly, it’s not for dilettantes like me! Recognizing that I’m not the target audience doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss the book as a bad one. It’s not bad at all. In fact, I think it will be an excellent resource for a lot of people. If you’re like me, however, and want something that encourages playfulness and experimentation, then you might want to save your precious book money for something else.

This book also promotes an aspect of Instagram that I find off-putting: it’s just too sleek and polished. The images show glamorous skinny people doing glamorous things using fancy products and basically living a life I’ll never have. It can be downright depressing to look at too much stuff like this online. I’ll look, from time to time, because it’s hard to turn away from something so perfect that’s begging for my attention, but I prefer to follow accounts that are a little rougher around the edges and show people I can relate to doing regular people stuff…like petting a fat cat on the belly (it’s a trap!), or eating a tub of ice cream while binge-watching the 100 on Netflix.

I do appreciate Tezza’s frequent reminders to keep your expectations realistic, practice positive self-talk, and remain authentic:

Don’t lose sight of the goal. Let your experiences shape your life, and don’t get caught up in doing things for the sake of the ‘gram. They’re not authentic when they become a chore.

~ Tezza MB

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

Release Date: October 23, 2018