Friday, December 24, 2010

A "To Read" Bonanza from Granta

Before this slips away from me, I want to make note of Granta issue 113, the Best of Young Spanish Language Novelists, which came out this month. Three Percent has run a series of interviews and excerpts about all of the writers involved--one a day, ending just this past Wednesday. The whole series can be found here.

I'm looking forward to reading the issue soon, and I'm especially excited to see a number of women writers included (although the men well outnumber them). I've noticed that, amid my much increased reading of literature in translation over the past few years, and particularly my reading of translations from Spanish, the reading has nonetheless been dominated by male writers. This has been brought home to me especially by my negative reaction to Marquez's Memoirs of My Melancholy Whores and my biggest beef with Alejandro Zambra's Bonsai (though all in all I've quite enjoyed Zambra's work)--both related to their gender politics.

Perhaps I can begin to correct that this imbalance this coming year, and I hope this issue of Granta helps find some good prospects. (I'm not one to make New Year's resolutions, but maybe reading more women in translation should be one for 2011.) In the wake of all the publicity for her Cervantes Prize win, Ana Maria Matute will certainly be on the list as well, although I haven't decided where to begin.


  1. I'd by curious what the distribution of books by women are translated into English, or more the specifically from Spanish to English. I know that there is a tendency for Spanish language critics to make lists that are extremely male heavy. I wonder if that rubs off on the translation. I don't have much of a way to check this, though.

  2. Paul,

    Yes, I've wondered the same thing about the proportions published and reviewed in Spanish then English. I wasn't aware of the Spanish critics' tendency to make male-dominated lists. Would you say this is noticeably more the case than in the U.S., or somewhat similar?

  3. It is a good question and I'm not in the best position to say. My impression US critics tend to have more women on the list because they are more conscious of the issue and of the past. But that is just an unscientific impression. Looking at the NY Times best fiction list for this year, though, had more women on it then a comparable one from El Pais in Spain.