news | Wednesday August 23, 2023

Women in Translation Month

If you’re looking for a reason to celebrate the talented women working in literary translation, great news: August is Women in Translation month! Translations are an important part of our mission at Talonbooks. Sharing exceptional literature from across the country (and the world) with our audiences is one of our great joys. We love connecting readers with work they may not otherwise have the chance to enjoy. We are grateful to the authors who entrust us with bringing their work to English-speaking audiences and to the translators who enable us to do so.

We’ve had the distinct pleasure of publishing many titles written and translated by artists of the highest calibre. We’d like to recommend just a handful of titles from the past few years in honour of Women in Translation Month.

The first book we want to share with you is Medusa by Martine Desjardins and translated by Oana Avasilichioaei. She’s been called Medusa for so long that she’s forgotten her real name. She walks with her head down, face hidden behind her hair to spare others the sight of her Deformities – eyes so horrible they repel women and petrify men. Medusa is a modern gothic of women’s body shame and men’s body shaming, phallocratic oppression, and the redemptive power of a feminist imagination. With ironic wit, Medusa confesses her incendiary story, throwing light, both raw and refined, on monstrosity.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Mégantic by Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny and translated by Donald Wilson, we can’t recommend this important work enough. In this exhaustively researched work of investigative journalism, Anne-Marie Saint-Cerny examines the causes and after-effects of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. When a driverless, out-of-control train carrying highly volatile crude oil decimated the downtown area of the picturesque town of Lac-Mégantic, it immediately killed forty-seven people and lead to the suicides of several others. Her moving and passionate book asks probing and vital questions: Who are the tragedy’s real culprits? Who took control of the crime scene? Who rebuilt the town, and in whose interest?

Searching for Sam by Sophie Bienvenu and translated by Rhonda Mullins follows Mathieu, who lives on the street. His main companion is his pitbull, Sam – the one connection he retains in the world, helping him to stay alive. So when Sam disappears out of the blue, Mathieu is left adrift. As he frantically searches for her, his past begins to re-emerge in flashbacks.

In addition to these outstanding titles, we have two titles in translation from brilliant women arriving this autumn.

Coming soon to a book store near you is Canoes, a new collection of short stories written by Maylis de Kerangal and translated by Jessica Moore. In Canoes seven stories orbit a central novella, creating a collection that resonates with the vibrations and frequencies of women’s voices. Daughters, friends, sisters, young and old, talkative or daydreaming – in this moving and poetic collection, Maylis de Kerangal casts light on them all.

New to the Talonbooks roster of authors is playwright Nathalie Boisvert! Her forthcoming play, Antigone in Spring translated by Hugh Hazelton, takes us to a fictional Québec beset by climate crises. The government, led by the autocratic Creon, refuses to tell the truth to its concerned citizens. A revolution is brewing, however, and the youth of the population and their supporters, inflamed by the unprecedented ecological disaster, are calling for freedom. Amid this upheaval, Antigone and her brothers, Polynices and Eteocles, narrate their tale, wherein comfortable narratives are unsettled, and the revolution touches each of their lives.

Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not mention two powerhouses of literary translation with whom we have had the pleasure of collaborating on a great many projects: Sheila Fischman and Linda Gaboriau. Fischman and Gaboriau have had an incalculable impact on the landscape of literary translation in Canada and we’re so appreciative of the breadth, depth, and scope of their work.

Our thanks to everyone listed above, and to all of the amazing writers and translators doing the vital work to expand the reach and readership of books around the globe. Happy Women in Translation Month!

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