Women Translating Women (via Words Without Borders)

Words Without Border's Allison Merola interviews Jennifer Croft, Bonnie Huie, Emma Ramadan, and Julia Sanches about their translation work.

We're thrilled to have worked with both Jennifer and Emma.

Words Without Borders (WWB): What is a recent work by a woman that you’ve translated? How did you find her work and what interested you about the project?

Jennifer Croft: I just translated Romina Paula’s novel August, which was published in April by The Feminist Press, as well as Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Flights, which was published in May by Fitzcarraldo Editions in the UK and is coming out next spring in the US from Riverhead. In both cases, I came across the authors’ works and fell in love with them and got in touch, then translated an excerpt to send to publishers along with a report on the entire text. In both cases, too, this process took a long time, since it can be hard to convince English-language publishers to take a chance on foreign writers—but I’m very grateful to Lauren Hook at The Feminist Press and Jacques Testard at Fitzcarraldo for doing just that. These are very different books, but both appeal to me intellectually and emotionally, and my sense is that they've been resonating with target-language readers since their publication, too.

Emma Ramadan: I recently translated Anne Garréta’s Not One Day, published by Deep Vellum in May 2017. I came to Garréta’s work when I was reading a book about the members of the Oulipo, a group of writers that write texts using constraints. The first book of hers I translated, Sphinx, doesn’t use any gender markers for the two main characters, and I was interested in the challenge of translating the book using that constraint. Her autobiographical book, Not One Day, didn’t pose the same kind of challenges. The constraint applies only to the author—she set out to write for five hours a day, every day, for thirty days, writing strictly from memory, never going back to erase or edit what she had written. But it wasn’t the constraint that drew me to this book. Instead it was the way Garréta chose to retell her life: the book’s chapters each describe a woman she had loved or who had loved her. A life told through love. The book is deeply personal, but also stubbornly philosophical, and as you read you can tell Garréta is realizing things about herself, her past, and about society, through writing this book.

Read the full interview here.

Lucia Brown