Brazilian women writers translated into English

August is Women in Translation month.

The project was created back in 2014 by Meytal Radzinski to raise awareness of women writers translated into English.

Inspired by her and her project, I decided to create our own “Brazilian women writers translated into English” list to raise awareness of Brazilian literature written by women translated into English.

Here’s the list of 44 authors (in alphabetical order) and (some of) their translated books kindly suggested by people on social media:

1. Adriana Lisboa
Translated books and their translators: Crow Blue, Alison Entrekin; Hut of Fallen Persimmons, Sarah Green; Symphony in White, Sarah Green.

Read Alison Entrekin’s interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

2. Alice Brant
Translated book and its translator: The Diary of “Helena Morley,” Elizabeth Bishop.
Interesting fact: This was the only book written by Alice under the pen name Helena Morley. It’s a diary she started writing when she was 13. Her book is considered one of the best Brazilian literary works of the 19th century.

3. Alice Sant’Anna
Translated book of poems and its translator: Tail of the Whale, Tiffany Higgins.

4. Ana Cristina Cesar
Translated book and its translators: At Your Feet, Brenda Hillman, Helen Hillman & Sebastião Edson.

5. Ana Maria Machado
Translated books and their translators: The History Mistery, Luisa Baeta; Me in the Middle, David Unger; From Another World, Luisa Baeta.
Interesting fact: Ana is also a translator and has translated Alice in Wonderland into Brazilian Portuguese.

6. Ana Miranda
Translated book and its translator: Bay of All Saints and Every Conceivable Sin, Giovanni Pontiero.

7. Ana Paula Maia
Translated book and its translator: Saga of Brutes, Alexandra Joy Forman.

8. Angélica Freitas
Translated book and its translator: Rilke Shake, Hilary Kaplan.

9. Beatriz Bracher
Translated book and its translator: I Didn’t Talk, Adam Morris.

10. Camila Fernandes
Translated short stories and their translator: The Other Bank of the River, Christopher Kastensmidt; The Best of the Three, Christopher Kastensmidt.

11. Carol Bensimon
Translated book and its translator: We All Loved Cowboys, Beth Fowler.

12. Carola Saavedra
Translated book and its translator: Blue Flowers, Daniel Hahn (coming on January 2020).

Read Daniel Hahn’s guest post about the TA First Translation Prize here.

13. Carolina Maria de Jesus
Translated book and its translator: Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus, David St. Clair.

14. Cecília Meireles
Interesting fact: Cecília was also a translator.
P.S.: I couldn’t find any formal translation of her works. Feel free to comment below if you know any.

15. Clarice Lispector
Translated books and their translators: The Besieged City, Giovanni Pontiero; The Chandelier, Benjamin Moser & Magdalena Edwards (read this!); Near to the Wild Heart, Alison Entrekin; A Breath of Life, Johnny Lorenz; The Passion According to G.H., Ronald W. Souza; Complete Stories, Katrina Dodson; The Apple in the Dark, Gregory Rabassa; An Apprenticeship, or, The Book of Delights, Richard A. Mazzare; Discovering the World, Giovanni Pontiero; The Hour of the Star, Giovanni Pontiero; The Stream of Life, Elizabeth Lowe & Earl Fitz.
Interesting fact: Clarice “was one of the first Brazilian women to graduate from law school and to become a journalist.” “Being famous for her striking beauty did not make her popular, which mattered to a woman whose talent was proportional to her sensitivity.” She’s the most widely translated and the best known woman writer in Brazil.

16. Dinah Silveira de Queiroz
Translated books and their translators: Christ’s Memorial, Isabel do Prado; The Women of Brazil, Roberta King.

17. Edla van Steen
Translated book and its translator: Village of the Ghost Bells, David George.

18. Eliane Brum
Translated books and their translators: The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil Everyday, Diane Grosklaus Whitty; One Two, Lucy Greaves.

Read Diane Grosklaus Whitty’s interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

19. Fernanda Torres
Translated books and their translators: Glory and Its Litany of Horrors, Eric M. B. Becker; The End, Alison Entrekin.

20. Helena Parente Cunha
Translated book and its translator: Woman Between Mirrors, Fred P. Ellison & Naomi Lindstrom.

21. Hilda Hilst
Translated books and their translators: With My Dog Eyes, Adam Morris; The Obscene Madame D., Nathanaël & Rachel Gontijo Araujo; Letters from a Seducer, John Keene.

22. Lidia Jorge
Translated books and their translators: The Painter of Birds, Margaret Jull Costa; The Murmuring Coast, Natalia Costa & Ronald W. Sousa.

23. Lya Luft
Translated books and their translators: The Island of the Dead, Carmen Chaves McClendon & Betty Jean Craige; The Red House, Giovanni Pontiero.

24. Lygia Fagundes Telles
Translated books and their translator: The Girl in the Photograph, Margaret A. Neves; The Marble Dance, Margaret A. Neves.

25. Lygia Nunes
Translated books and their translators: The Companions, Ellen Watson; My Friend the Painter, Giovanni Pontiero.

26. Maria Esther Maciel
Translated stories and their translator: The Meanings of Yellow, Daniel Hahn; The Voice of Silence, Daniel Hahn.

27. Marilene Felinto
Translated book and its translator: The Women of Tijucopapo, Irene Matthews.

28. Marília Garcia
Translated poems and their translator: It’s a Love Story and It’s About an Accident, Hilary Kaplan; Love Story, A-Z, Hilary Kaplan.

29. Martha Batalha
Translated book and its translator: The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Eric M. B. Becker.

30. Maurinete Lima
Translated poems and their translators: Fear and Its Trajectory, Flávia Rocha & Eric M. B. Becker; Sinhá Rosa; Flávia Rocha.

31. Nélida Piñón
Translated books and their translator: The Republic of Dreams: A Novel, Helen Lane; Caetana’s Sweet Song, Helen Lane.
Interesting fact: Nélida was the first woman president of Academia Brasileira de Letras.

32. Nikelen Witter
Translated work and its translator: Mary G., Christopher Karstensmith.

33. Nina Rizzi
Translated poem and its translator: Mermaid in the Glass of Water, Rafaela Miranda.

34. Noemi Jaffe
Translated book and its translator: What are the Blind Men Dreaming?, Julia Sanches & Ellen Elias-Bursac.

Read Julia Sanches’ interview in my Greatest Women in Translation series here.

35. Patrícia Galvão
Translated book and its translator: Industrial Park: A Proletarian Novel, Elizabeth Jackson & Kenneth David Jackson.

36. Patrícia Mello
Translated books and their translator: The Body Snatcher, Clifford E. Landers; Black Waltz, Clifford E. Landers.

37. Paula Parisot
Translated book and its translator: The Lady of Solitude, Elizabeth Lowe & Clifford E. Landers.

38. Raquel de Queiroz
Translated books and their translators: The Three Marias, Fred P. Ellison; Dora, Doralina, Dorothy Scott Loos; The Three Marias, Fred P. Ellison.
Interesting fact: Raquel was also a translator.

39. Regina Rheda
Translated book and its translator: First World Third Class and Other Tales of the Global Mix, Adria Frizzi.

40. Socorro Acioli
Translated book and its translator: The Head of the Saint, Daniel Hahn. (I read it in Portuguese and loved it! It’s a nice reading.)

41. Stella Car Ribeiro
Translated book and its translator: Sambaqui: A Novel of Pre-History, Claudia Van der Heuvel.

42. Tatiana Salem Levy
Translated book and its translator: The House in Smyrna, Alison Entrekin.

43. Veronica Stigger
Translated book and its translator: Opisanie Swiata, Zoë Perry.

44. Zulmira Ribeiro Tavares
Translated book and its translator: Family Heirlooms, Daniel Hahn.

 

Hope you like it. If you read any of them because you saw this post, feel free to come and tell us know what you thought of it.

Do you know any other Brazilian women authors with books translated into English? Let us know in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list above.

And make sure to keep an eye out on the hashtag #WiTmonth on Twitter and on Meytal’s list of #100BestWIT, with women authors from all over the world translated into English.

 

Suggested reading:
Latin American Women Writers: A Resource Guide to Titles in English, by Kathy S. Leonard
One Hundred Years After Tomorrow: Brazilian Women’s Fiction in the 20th Century, edited and translated by Darlene J. Sadlier
Fourteen Female Voices from Brazil, interviews and works selected and edited by Elzbieta Szoka
Wikipedia’s List of Brazilian Women Writers
Benjamin Moser and the Smallest Women in the World, by Magdalena Edwards, Clarice Lispector’s translator, on men taking credit for women’s work

Greatest Women in Translation: Robin Myers

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Welcome back to our Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

This month, I talk to Robin Myers, US-born, Mexico City-based literary translator and poet, nominated by Charlotte Whittle.

Robin Myers

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1. Could you start by telling us about your beginning in translation?

I first became fascinated with translation in my late teens. At the time, it felt like the natural amalgam of several other interests: poetry, the Spanish language, and Mexico. I was born and raised in the US, but part of my father’s family came from Mexico; I visited a couple times as a child and always wanted to spend more time here. So I studied Spanish as the means to this very specific end. I lived in the city of Oaxaca for a few months after high school, then again halfway through college. It was during those early experiences of real immersion—in the language, in a place I loved, in my first Spanish-speaking friendships, in my first forays into reading contemporary Mexican literature—that I started experimenting with translation. There was something very simple and earnest about those initial explorations: I just wanted to share what I was reading (whether in English or Spanish) with people I cared about. As innocent as this may sound to me now—or at least as far removed as it can feel from certain parts of the day-to-day grind—I still believe that the desire to translate springs from the desire to connect, period. Of course we want that! Of course we want to bring disparate words, disparate worlds together.

In any case, it wasn’t too long before my translatorly hopes and expectations came into contact with more technical realities. In college, I spent a semester studying in Buenos Aires and took a workshop with Ezequiel Zaidenwerg, a remarkable Argentine poet and translator. Ezequiel’s approach emphasized the metrical building blocks of the Spanish-language poetic tradition, and at first I railed against this focus on syllable-counting and form. But I came around, and I started to genuinely enjoy the search for poetic “solutions” within a set of formal parameters. Ezequiel’s mentorship was very important to me as I started translating in a more professional way, and we’ve both gone on to translate each other’s work over the years, which has been a great gift.

2. Besides being a translator you are also a poet. Does being a poet help as translator and vice-versa? If so, how?

It absolutely helps. Both poetry and translation (and by this I mean the translation of anything, not just poetry) are practices rooted in the materiality of language. If you write poetry or translate anything, you are in the business of dealing with words as stuff, as resources, as concrete elements you shape and combine to form certain structures and spark particular effects in the reader. Of course, in translation, you’re using language in response to—in relation to—language that already exists in the world. You’re writing (because translating is also writing) in the service of and in complicity with that language. In this sense, too, translation demands both that you saturate yourself with the original text and that you distance yourself from it. That doubleness has helped me write my own poetry, I think, at least in the sense that it’s made the experience of writing poetry much more interesting. For one thing, it’s made me more conscious of the artifice of whatever I’m doing (and I mean “artifice” not as an insult but as a fact). For the same reason, it’s also made me feel freer to experiment: to think with more curiosity and more gratitude about language as “tools” and how I might try them out. I do feel that writing poetry affects my translations as well, or my approach to translating. For example, I care a great deal about sound when I write poetry, about what happens to words when we string them together and speak them aloud, and I feel a similar need to “hear” what language does in translating both poetry and prose. That said, I don’t mean to talk about this obsession with sound as if it were strictly the domain of poetry, much less of poets, because that’s not the case at all! I’m just musing about what it feels like for me in going about things as I go about them.

3. Could you please kindly share one of your (short) poems with us?

Here’s an untitled poem (they’re all untitled) from a collection called Having, which was translated into Spanish by Ezequiel Zaidenwerg and published as Tener in Argentina, Mexico, and (soon) Spain:

You can have it.

You can have the mad dash
and the mist,
the burned tongue
and honey-slick,
the cup
intact.

The night rage, the gray dawn
forgiving you.

The train,
the track.

The soft hairs
at the nape of the neck,
the thrilled plunge
and the cast.

You can have the rest of it.

You can rest.

It will drive you mad.

You will scald your way through
the days, trying
to have all of it,

having it.

4. In this interview you gave for the Los Angeles Review of Books, you said “translation is a weird, lovely, mysterious, largely invisible relationship, both for the translator and for the translated.” Why is that?

I mean, it’s so intimate! Even if the author and translator never meet, even if the author can’t read the language she’s been translated into, even if the author’s been dead for hundreds of years. No matter what, the translator gets to—has to—inhabit the text, figure out what makes it run, spend an unholy amount of time studying how the author thinks and what she cares about.

The translator invariably has to make tradeoffs, has to figure out what can or should or under no circumstances ought to be sacrificed. It feels like a serious responsibility!

The translator is entrusted with something. With any luck, if she and the author exist on the same mortal plane and can talk to each other and choose to do so, they’ll both view the translation process as something that links them together. And they’ll both register this as an honor: the translator, honored at the invitation to engage with the text, attend to it, and deliver it somewhere new; the translated, honored to have her work—which she, too, once produced in a solitary act of faith—engaged with, attended to, and delivered in this way. But even if the translator and the author walk the earth at different moments in history, or are never in personal contact, or don’t even personally like each other very much, this relationship still exists. The devotion, the attention, the responsibility, the anxiety, the fact that the translator ultimately creates a second work of art that is both inseparable from and necessarily independent of the first: it’s all there, all the time. I find it so strange! Thrillingly strange, though.

5. Your poems are translated into other languages, including Portuguese, right? How is it like being in both sides, as translator and translated author?

It’s been very joyful and moving. Yes, poems of mine have been translated mostly into Spanish, with shorter selections into Galician, Arabic, and Portuguese. Many of these translations have emerged from long-term dialogues and friendships; several of the translators are themselves poets I’ve translated from Spanish into English. So it’s hard to be objective about it; it’s all felt like a series of long, warm conversations, marked by a sense both of deep connection and of distance. Distance in the sense that I always hope a translator will feel that the poems also belong to her, you know? In all her particularities, all her personal styles and tastes and approaches.

If I write a poem and someone else translates it—or the other way around—it’s ours.

Part of what I still find uniquely powerful about the experience of being translated into Spanish, though, is that my books have only been published in Spanish translation. Not in English, and not in my own country of origin. And since I’m based in Mexico, when I take part in poetry readings, for example, I mostly read in Spanish. Which means I’m directly and constantly identifying myself with someone else’s work as my primary form of participation. Which means I’m inhabiting and sharing theirs as much as my own.

6. Are you currently translating any books? If so, could you tell us a bit about them?

I currently have three prose projects in the works: by Mónica Ramón Ríos (Chile), there’s Cars on Fire, a wild, free-wheeling, darkly funny collection of short stories set between Chile and New York, forthcoming from Open Letter Books in 2020; Animals at the End of the World, a novel by Gloria Susana Esquivel (Colombia) about a young girl growing up in her grandparents’ house in Bogotá, forthcoming from the University of Texas Press in 2020; and The Restless Dead, a book of critical essays by Cristina Rivera Garza (Mexico) about disappropriation, “necropolitics,” and contemporary literature. I’m also working on various poetry projects in hopes of eventually finding homes for them in English. These include work by Javier Peñalosa, Maricela Guerrero, and Isabel Zapata (three Mexican poets whose recent books take beautifully and radically different approaches to the natural world and its relationship with contemporary humans); Daniel Lipara, Claudia Masin, and Alejandro Crotto (all from Argentina); and Adalber Salas Hernández (from Venezuela).

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Juana Adcock, a Mexican-born, Scotland-based poet and translator. Juana translates between Spanish and English in both directions (a superpower that never ceases to amaze me!). Into English, she is the translator of Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener (with Lucy Greaves) and An Orphan World by Giuseppe Caputo (with Sophie Hughes). I met Juana in person only recently, although we’d been in touch for months before that, because I had the privilege of translating her poetry collection Manca into English. By the end of the process—which involved great openness, engagement, and creativity on her part—I really felt that Juana and I had become co-translators. I feel lucky to know her and learn from her in both languages!

Greatest Women in Translation: Heather Cleary

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Welcome back to our amazing Greatest Women in Translation interview series!

Please welcome this month’s interviewee, Heather Cleary, Spanish into English literary translator nominated by Allison Markin Powell.

Heather Cleary

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1. First of all, it’s a pleasure to be talking to one of the nominees for the inaugural National Book Awards in the category of Translated Literature. Congratulations, Heather! Could you tell us a bit more about the book that rendered your nomination, Comemadre, by Roque Larraquy?

Thank you for the invitation! And for your kind congratulations. Roque and I are very excited about the NBA nomination; the longlist is full of wonderful books that your readers might enjoy checking out. Comemadre is a short novel—very dark, very funny—about our collective obsession with progress and with leaving our mark on the world; it’s about hubris, violence, and love (specifically, the violence inherent to different kinds of love). The title refers to a plant that releases carnivorous spores, which plays a key role in each section.

Comemadre is divided into two parts, the first of which takes place in 1907 in a sanatorium near Buenos Aires, Argentina. A group of doctors has decided to experiment on unwitting test subjects to determine what happens in the moments after death (I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but there are guillotines involved). When they’re not trying to swindle their patients into signing away their lives, these men are busy stabbing one another in the back professionally and romantically; a number of them are infatuated with Ménendez, the Head Nurse. Unsurprisingly, things end badly. We then flash forward a hundred years to drop in on an artist who made a name for himself with a piece involving a two-headed baby, and then teamed up with his doppelgänger to develop performance pieces that involve physical mutilation. Think Damien Hirst on acid. This second part of the novel addresses, through the lens of art, many of the ethical and philosophical questions raised in the first section through science.

This book was extraordinarily fun to translate. It’s grotesque, insightful, and perversely hilarious. It’s full of dirty puns, which I love, and presented other interesting challenges. For example, the “oracles” in the first section of the book occasionally blurt out snippets of text from the second section; finding a way to make this continuity clear without giving too much away or slipping into anachronism was a delightful puzzle.

2. After having two Japanese translator nominees, Allison Markin Powell and Ginny Takemori; a Scandinavian, Nicky Smalley; and a German translator, Jen Calleja, we are back to Latin language translators with you, who translates from Spanish. How did your connection with Spanish start?

It was peer pressure, really. I was in seventh or eighth grade, I think, and my friends were studying Spanish at school. So I joined them. But most of them stopped after a year or two, and by that time I had already fallen in love with the language. I studied it straight through high school, then spent the following summer (and a semester in college) in Spain. After that, I spent some time in Mexico, and later lived in Buenos Aires for almost two years. I kind of stumbled into literary translation in a similar way: I had been frustrated with the shape my undergraduate honors thesis was taking when Richard Sieburth, a professor in the department of Comparative Literature at NYU and a gifted translator of French and German, suggested I switch gears and try my hand at translation. I was immediately hooked, and ended up organizing my life around my desire to do more of it.

3. I noticed your name is placed in a highlighted position on the cover of Comemadre. As far as I know, not all publishers display the translator’s name on the cover, right? At least not in Brazil. So, besides being on the cover, you are highlighted! This is fantastic! Do you think this is something that has been changing lately? What role do translators play in convincing publishers to recognize the translator on the cover of translated books?

Thanks! It has been an absolute delight to work with Coffee House; it really is a press that values translation. As for how common it is here to note the translator’s name on the cover, it varies from publisher to publisher, with independent presses tending to be a bit more open to the idea than the bigger houses. There are always exceptions, though. I think there has definitely been a greater awareness about translation in recent years, and a greater appreciation of what it is that we translators actually do. For this, we have a number of vocal advocates and organizations, like the PEN Translation Committee, to thank.

4. I have already heard of the Japanese term ikigai, which is about finding your purpose in life. Now I see you translated a book called Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life, by Héctor Garcia and Francesc Miralles, also from Spanish. Something interesting is that the authors describe the term as “the happiness of always being busy.” Now I am curious. Could you tell a bit more about this book?

Héctor García and Francesc Miralles both spent time in Japan and discovered a shared fascination with certain aspects of the culture there, above all with the value placed on staying active and engaged with friends and family in some of the longest-living communities in the country. In the book, they combine their personal experience talking with centenarians in Okinawa with research from different parts of the world into the benefits of staying active by finding a passion to pursue. From what I understand, the book has done very well.

5. The books you have already translated vary from non-fiction, fiction and poetry, in diverse topics. Do you have a favorite genre?

I wouldn’t say I have a favorite genre, necessarily, but rather that there are certain things I look for in a project. I love working on books that are linguistically complex in one way or another: one of my earliest translation projects was of the work of an avant-garde poet from Argentina named Oliverio Girondo. His later collections are full of neologisms and derive much of their meaning from the sound of the words, the way they ricochet off one another. Sergio Chejfec’s novels are marked by long, intricate sentences that require juggling nested clauses, and Roque Larraquy’s Comemadre, as I mentioned above, is full of puns and wordplay. In this last case, I also enjoyed the challenge of establishing two distinct narrative voices that evoked two very different historical moments. One of the writers I’m working with now, Fernanda Trías, is fascinating for a different reason: she writes emotionally charged narratives with absolute restraint and precision.

6. You are a founding editor of the digital, bilingual Buenos Aires Review, where I found a link to Brasília, among other worldwide cities, and other fiction writings from Brazilian authors. Could you tell us a bit more about this project?

Ah, the BAR! I’m very proud of the work we’ve done, though our production schedule has slowed down [clears throat] significantly. In late 2011, I picked up and moved to Buenos Aires, where Jennifer Croft (winner of this year’s International Man Booker Prize for Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights) was living. She and I spoke extensively about all the wonderful writers around us who were entirely unknown to readers of English; we decided that we wanted to do something about it by creating a platform that was more nimble than print publishing, and able to take more risks. She then invited the writer Maxine Swann, who also lives in Buenos Aires, to join us, and Maxine brought in Pola Oloixarac. And so the magazine was born. It was our hope that it would serve as a launching pad for writers and translators, alike; we’ve also had the privilege of publishing new work by luminaries like Ishion Hutchinson, Ada Limón, Mario Bellatin, and Carol Bensimon. We started with a focus on creating an exchange between English and Spanish, and then broadened our scope to include Portuguese, Chinese, German… the list goes on. Every text on the website appears in at least two languages. It has been a (huge) labor of love that wouldn’t have been possible without our rock star editors, Martín Felipe Castagnet (whose Bodies of Summer was published last year by Dalkey), Lucas Mertehikian, Andrea Rosenberg (see Aura Xilonen’s The Gringo Champion, among her many fabulous translations), and Belén Agustina Sánchez.

7. Now it’s your turn to nominate our next Great Woman in Translation.

I’d like to nominate Elisabeth Jaquette, who—in addition to being a brilliant translator from the Arabic—is also a vital part of the translation community as the Executive Director of the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA)… and as a member of the Cedilla & Co. translators collective, of course. Her work has been shortlisted for the TA First Translation Prize, longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award, and supported by PEN/Heim and several English PEN Translates Awards