2020 Women in Translation Month: A Look Back

For those who might have missed some of our 2020 Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth) coverage, a look back:

As ArabLit’s editor M Lynx Qualey wrote this month in al-Fanar:

The month-long celebration was founded by the book blogger Meytal Radzinski in 2014, and it sits at the intersection of two different efforts. The first, spearheaded by the Three Percent blog, highlights how few literary works in the United States are translations. The second, started by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, tracks women writers’ representation in English-language magazines, newspapers, and journals.

The majority of literary translators are women. But as Women in Translation Month highlights, the books being translated are largely by men. Around 30 percent of new translations to English from across world languages are works written by women, while 70 percent are by men, Radzinski found.

Translations from Arabic to English follow a similar pattern. Of the 14 works submitted to the 2020 Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation, ten were by male writers and four by women. In 2019, it was three books by women, 13 by men.

ArabLit has participated since 2016.


This year, we had several lists featuring work by women in translation (and yet-to-be-translated):

Women in Translation Month: 10 Recommended Books from 2020

Three to Read: Maghrebi Women Writing in Dutch

5 Folktale-inspired Stories Translated from Arabic

Women Writing in Arabic: 10 Poets to Read Now


We had a brief overview, looking at the state of translations:

Women’s Writing in Arabic: The State of Translations to Spanish, French, Greek


We had a few #WiTMonth conversations:

Shahla Ujayli and Getting Raqqa Back Through Writing

Karima Ahdad on ‘Cactus Girls’

Poet Dunya Mikhail on Her Debut Novel, ‘The Bird Tattoo’


We had several recommendations for the #TranslateThis feature:

#TranslateThis: An Excerpt of Fatima Sharafeddine’s Award-winning ‘Cappuccino’

#TranslateThis: ‘Camelia’s Ghosts’ and ‘And the Family Devoured Its Men’

#TranslateThis: Hadiya Hussein’s ‘What Will Come’


ArabLit featured literature in translation throughout the month:

Novel excerpts:

Excerpt of Stella Gaitano’s ‘The Souls of Eddo’

Short stories:

How to Swim the Backstroke with a Shilka Missile

Baya Mahieddine’s ‘The Great Great Big Bird’


Asmaa Azaizeh’s ‘Dragonflies’ in Three Languages

Amina Saïd’s ‘I Live Here in the Basement of the Gare de Lyon’

Remembering Fadwa Suleiman: ‘Two Tears Flooding Paris’

Rachida Madani in English and Arabic

Saniya Saleh’s ‘Autumn of Freedom’ 

Vénus Khoury-Ghata: ‘The Woman Who Wasn’t in the Photo’


A new feature for #WiTMonth 2020 was “Sunday Classics”:

Sunday Classics: Safynaz Kazem’s ‘Romanticisms’

Sunday Classics: Erotic Surrealist Poet Joyce Mansour

Sunday Classics: The Fearless Zaynab Fawwaz (c. 1850-1914)

Samira Azzam, Whose ‘Relative Obscurity Today Is a Grave Injustice’

Sunday Classics: Al Khansa, the ‘Greatest Among Those with Breasts’ (& Testicles, Too)

And one more, remembering Latifa al-Zayyat:

On Latifa al-Zayyat Day: ‘Her Laughter Brought Me Up Short’


Finally, we had two “Women in Translation Month” episodes of Bulaq:

#WiTMonth Bulaq: ‘Reporting While Arab and Female’

#WiTMonth Bulaq: ‘The Frightened Ones’

Thanks to everyone who participated this year, as contributors, commenters, interviewees, and readers. As always, you can support the work we do at ArabLit by becoming a subscriber to ArabLit Quarterly on Patreon or at Exact Editions.