August is Women in Translation month (#WITmonth) and, this year, we thought we’d like to mark the month somehow on the blog. First off, we’re delighted to be able to point you in the direction of an interview with our fantastic colleague, Nina Parish (and her colleague and collaborator, Emma Wagstaff), about their translation work with a particular focus on poetry in/and translation.
Obviously, we spend a lot of time encouraging our students to read more in French but we are also avid readers of work in translation across a wide range of languages and genres so this seemed the perfect opportunity to throw in some suggestions from French at Stirling for great reads to celebrate WIT Month. Elizabeth Ezra’s tip would be the short stories of Russian author Teffi, translated by Rose France, and available in such collections as Shadows of Days: Russian Emigre Short Stories from Bunin to Yankovsky (Penguin Press), 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution and Rasputin and other Ironies (both published by the brilliant Pushkin Press). Nina Parish has just finished The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff, translated from Swedish by Saskia Vogel and published by And Other Stories who have lots of great literature in translation. Nina’s next read is also in-keeping with the theme: Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein.
Cristina Johnston has just started reading the Icelandic novel Butterflies in November by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian Fitzgibbon, and, over the summer, has revisited Astrid Lindren’s Pippi Longstocking in bedtime reading to small children, translated from Swedish by Edna Hurup. Cristina also thoroughly enjoyed Roseanne Watt’s bilingual poetry collection Moder Dy which is in Shetlandic and English. And Aedín Ní Loingsigh‘s favourite lockdown read was the German author Anna Seghers’ 1942 novel The Seventh Cross which was retranslated in 2018 by Margot Bettauer Dembo. It’s a really tense read that follows a German Communist who escapes from a concentration camp in the early years of Nazi Germany and must determine who amongst his old acquaintances he can trust to help him. In-keeping with the translation and languages theme, Aedín has also just ordered Liam Carson’s 2012 novel Call Mother a Lonely Field. It’s a memoir of a bilingual childhood in Belfast and Aedín is hoping it will prompt me to return to a more academic book by Sherry Simon, Translating Montreal: Episodes in the Life of Divided City where she speaks of the long-term influence on her own thinking of ‘setting up a house on the border between languages’.
And it wouldn’t be a proper French at Stirling post about Women in Translation Month without also highlighting the work of our own Siân Reynolds as translator of Fred Vargas’s crime fiction (including Sous les vents de Neptune which we’ll be teaching on again this coming semester in our French detective fiction option…) and of Georges Simenon and much else besides.
Plenty of tips for good reads here, with more to follow, and, if you’re interested in women writing in endangered languages, Hannah Grayson would particularly recommend this article by Alison Wellford.