Footnote to Reading the World

by Anna Clark | Jul-02-2007

As Reading the World wrapped up over the weekend, it's worth celebrating the top-notch titles promoted by publishers and independent booksellers across the U.S. Surely the larger thrust of the campaign--"don't let borders limit the vitality of your reading"--is a critical one in a time when Words Without Borders reports that 50 percent of all the books currently published in translation worldwide are being translated from English, while a mere 6 percent are translated into English. And even that miniscule number is inflated by instruction manuals and other nonliterary material.

And yet, even Reading the World's exciting project is lacking. Of the 40 titles hand-picked for the campaign, only 12 are written or edited by women.

The 70/30 gender split is, sadly, a generous one, compared to lists and articles by other translation advocates,I detailed in a recent article for Women's eNews, but what it comes to is this: while the gender gap certainly is rooted in who does and doesn't get published, translation advocates must be vigilant about not exacerbating the the near-erasure of women's voices around the world.

Reading the World emphasizes the joy of meeting "a variety of cultures and ideas found outside our borders—ideas and cultures that we must have access to in order to understand our world." As we keep our eye on that prize, let's not accept the half-truths and partial understanding that is neccessarily the result of tacking on writing by women in hardly more than a token level. We'd all be at a loss.--Anna Clark


About the Critical Mass Blog

Commentary on literary criticism, publishing, writing, and all things NBCC related. It's written by independent members of the NBCC Board of Directors (see list of bloggers below).



Categories & Archives

Become a Friend of the NBCC

Upcoming Events

NBCC at AWP18: March 09th, 2018

NBCC Finalists’ Reading: March 14th, 2018

NBCC Awards Ceremony and Reception: March 15th, 2018

NBCC Awards

Award Winners for 2016

See all award winners

Find out how to submit

Read how we select

Frequently Asked Questions

Videos and Podcasts

NBCC 2016 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2015 Finalists Reading

NBCC 2014 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Awards Ceremony

NBCC 2013 Finalists Reading

Video: New Literary Journals

Video: The VIDA Count and Gender Bias in Book Reviewing

Podcast: What Is Criticism? NBCC Winners and Finalists at AWP

All videos and podcasts.