“The problem I have with contemporary culture is that today everything is treated as a product. Culture is a huge and shiny supermarket. As all products are announced as ‘brilliant,’ the risk inherent in buying those product falls entirely to me. In that respect, I often miss ‘my butcher’ and ‘my baker’ and ‘my vegetable lady,’ people I could rely on. These days, shopping and consuming—including consuming culture—have become more difficult. In such a context, I behave like any other cultural consumer: I buy books randomly, because I’ve heard of the author or the title, or I know the publisher’s taste, or a friend recommended something to me.”
Susan Bernofsky described recently the “disheartening” numbers, when it comes to the percentage of female authors in translation. Across twenty-five presses evaluated by Women in Translation, only twenty-five percent of books in English translation were by women, and some of Bernofsky’s favorite presses (some of mine, too), like New Directions and Archipelago, were among the worst perpetrators, publishing sixteen percent and thirteen percent female authors, respectively.