I have been mulling over what to do for International Translation Day for a few weeks now. I was excited at first, but I just did several Femme Friday’s dedicated to Women in Translation and I’m left at a loss. As has been mentioned numerous times on several websites, including some of my own posts, only 3% of books in the US are translated from other languages. There are some other details about this problem mentioned in my initial post on translation, here.
I’ve also read several translated books at this point, here they are (linked to their reviews):
- The Whispering City by Sara Moliner, translated by Mara Faye Lethem
- Shuttered Life by Florentine Roth, translated Jennifer Marquart
- Morning Sea by Margaret Mazzantini, translated by Ann Gagliardi
- About the Night by Anat Talshir, translated by Evan Fallenberg
- The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
- The Girl Who Wrote Lonliness by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Ha-Yun Jung
- This Place Holds No Fear by Monika Held
I also have The Unbroken Line of the Moon (The Valhalla Series Book 1) from Kindle First. I recently realized that they have had a few translations that I’ve been able to get from them. I didn’t finish one, not because it wasn’t compelling (because it was) but because the content was a little much for me. I don’t need to relive my own trauma at the hands of a book.
Out of the books listed above, I have to say that This Place Holds No Fear is my favorite, even over de Beauvior’s epic of non-fiction. Held just brings a whole new understanding to so many things. She also managed to make it read with a beauty and have a message that you just don’t find very often. As I said in my review of it, this one was WIT Month’s gift to me.
In preparation for this day, I did look up the day to see what Wikipedia had to say about it:
International Translation Day is celebrated every year on 30 September on the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered the patron saint of translators. The celebrations have been promoted by FIT (the International Federation of Translators) ever since it was set up in 1953. In 1991 FIT launched the idea of an officially recognised International Translation Day to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries (not necessarily only in Christian ones). This is an opportunity to display pride in a profession that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalisation.
Honestly, I couldn’t agree more. We need translation. We need to be telling and reading more stories and deviating from reading about people who are similar to us. It is essential to realizing that everyone has a story that is relatable and valuable. Of course, that includes the stories of more than people who speak our own languages. Just because we share a language, does not mean that I am intimately aware of your plight or that I don’t need reminded that you will have a wealth of experience and a point of view vastly different from my own.
It’s comes right back around to diversity. Translation brings our ability to hear and read and be exposed to a diverse set of views to a whole new level. Exposure to diverse views lets us have real discourse on what people need in their lives. It stands in opposition to assuming what they need and shoving it down their throats until they rebel against us and the ridiculous ideas that we’ve imposed upon them.
An amazing author points out the most compelling reason, to me, that we should read translation:
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. Martin,
If we’re going to live a thousand lives, shouldn’t they be varied and diverse and crazy experiences we don’t have access to? Shouldn’t we find every way to rise strong and to be broken and have our hearts ripped out and to come back at the head of an army?
There’s no way to do it without reading translated books, not really. Sure, there are lots of American writers who write about people all over the world but it’s not the “own voices” experience and they won’t be memoirs of people living different lives. They won’t have the same point of view. Sure, there will be some that are just fun stories, like most of those mentioned above, but some will be really special. Some will be gifts that change your world. This Place Holds No Fear is my favorite but The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness is a close second. It was amazing to listen to and to step into the life of an Auschwitz survivor or a young girl in North Korea.
There are many more lives to live out there and we sell ourselves short by only checking out those written in our own language. So Happy International Translation Day and I hope you add a new translated book to your TBR today!