Happy New Year! This is a particularly exciting one for me, because 2020 is the year that I finish reading women’s writing from every country worldwide.
I’m Sophie Baggott, 26, from Wales. I started this project in mid-2018 on realising that my bookshelves were piled high with mainly British or American male authors. As I learned more about books in translation, I found out that over five years we’ve seen no change to the proportion of translated fiction written by women authors. Just 28-30% is the rule, according to the guru of women in translation, Meytal Radzinski, and that’s in the context of translated works squeezing into just 1.5% of the UK’s fiction sector.
I’m now nearing the halfway point (after a few ‘go-slow’ months this year during which my partner and I relocated from London to Melbourne and had to busy ourselves with finding a home and employment). In the meantime, I’ve found an incredibly open and generous community on Twitter where I’ve come to interact with readers, writers and translators from all over the world. One of the most exciting moments was first discovering #readWIT and Women in Translation Month which happens each August; if you don’t already know it, you’re in for a real treat. The project (along with my accompanying podcast episodes) has also given me the opportunity to meet exceptional individuals offline – including writer & translator Jennifer Croft, publisher Carolina Orloff, and researcher Dr Helen Vassallo.
Join me over the next thirty days as I share my favourite books so far – and follow along across the next twelve months as I complete this project. Of course, that’ll only mark the beginning of my lifelong journey to read globally. As we say in Wales, “eang yw’r byd i bawb” – “the world is wide to everyone”. It took this project for me to understand how true this is when you have access to books.
P.S. You can learn more about this journey in my Guardian article.