A Free Kazakh Reading to Celebrate Women in Translation Month

Haddy Ndure | 8 August 2019

Some of the female writers featured in the Poetry and Prose anthologies

Women in Translation (WiT) month is the most exciting thing to happen to literary translators. Now in its fifth year, it promises to make translated gems of literature hit the headlines at last.

 Only five percent of the literature published every year in English was originally written in another language, and if you think that’s low, a mere 25 percent of that five percent (1.25%) is written by women.

Books by women in translation are a minority within a minority- they get far less coverage and recognition and as a result have a particularly harder time finding their way to an English readership.

WiT month brings to light this startling disparity and gives a platform to female authors and translators who expand our cultural awareness and enrich the literary scene. Since its launch, readers, publishers, the media, translators and many publishing houses have taken steps to increase the dialogue about the underrepresentation of female authors in translation and doubled their efforts to achieve gender balance in this field. This year’s Man Booker International shortlist is dominated by women, with five female authors and an all-female cast of translators up for the £50, 000 prize. 

These anthologies, published under the National Bureau of Translations and Cambridge University Press, brings together twelve translators, four of them female, working to translate Kazakh and Russian writings into English.  Each anthology contains multiple poem and short stories by Kazakh women.

According to Professor Harding of Durham University, ‘One of the most pleasing aspects of this anthology is the emergence of strong female voices from out of the shadow of the patriarchal family values enshrined in folktale and epic’ They bring tenderness, hope and freshness, adding to the richness of Kazakh literature and bring more women’s voices into English.

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