Women Who Write the World

Yesterday, I left the house. This has happened before, so let’s refine the previous sentence: Yesterday, I left the house and went to Sheffield.

There was a purpose: the Women Who Write the World event, at Union St.

It was part of the Women in Translation month, an event organised by Tilted Axis press.

Present were Aoko Matsuda, there to discuss her recently published short ‘The Girl Who Is Getting Married’, translator Polly Barton, as well as Han Yujoo, reading from her first novel The Impossible Fairytale, which is published in the UK by Tilted Axis, whose founder Deborah Smith chaired the event.

I don’t particularly enjoy crowded places, and this wasn’t one. Union St is a small coffee shop that caters to group work, and we were there after hours. It all felt familiar and kind, open to questions and curiosity, to the oddity of writer and audience alike.

Both authors read from their work in the original – Japanese and Korean respectively – after which the same passages were read in translation by Polly Barton and Deborah Smith.

What I remember most vividly was that, when she read from her work, Han Yujoo had a small bug crawling across her left hand, and she never acknowledged it. She just read on in a soft, low voice, about the dog drifting/swimming along with the current. The unacknowledged bug was there as if on purpose, to punctuate the oddness of her work. An accidental accessory.

 

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