Polish books in translation? It takes some effort to find them in bookshops and even more effort to read about them in the review sections of newspapers and magazines, or to find them in public libraries. And when it comes to books written by Polish women? Well, need I say more? We’ve heard it all before . . .
And yet there is a plethora of good books written by women that get published in Poland each and every year, from high-brow “literary” fiction (Olga Tokarczuk, Magdalena Tulli and Wioletta Grzegorzewska, to name a few), to poetry (Urszula Kozioł, Krystyna Miłobędzka, Ewa Lipska and Julia Hartwig), and through to genre fiction (crime writing from Katarzyna Bonda, Joanna Jodełka and Kaja Malanowska). Women are also doing well when it comes to a great Polish speciality, literary reportage (Małgorzata Szejnert, Hanna Krall). I could continue. As everywhere else, women often bring a different perspective to their writing, a fresh approach that can enrich readers’ experience.
Truth be told, Polish women writers don’t have it easy—not only abroad but also at home. Disputes rage on and on over the fact that it’s more difficult for women to get published, to get nominated for awards and to win them. Could a push to publish more writing by Polish women abroad, especially in Anglophone markets, also improve their situation back home and give them greater recognition, which, quite honestly, a lot of them deserve? We may never know. But one thing is certain—the books in the following list should be picked up by English-language publishers, and pronto!
So here is our collaborative selection of Polish books, written by women, that we believe deserve to be translated into English. Next year, when the London Book Fair showcases Polish Writing, let’s not forget that Polish women writers form its beating heart.
Huge thank you to all contributors. I mean you, Marta Dziurosz, Maria Jastrzębska, Antonia Lloyd-Jones and Ursula Phillips! I also want to thank Katy Derbyshire and LitHub editors.