Our fab Books Editor Michelle Woods launches her NEW BOOK, “Censoring Translation: Censorship, Theatre, and the Politics of Translation ,” in Cold Spring on May 20! It’s on Amazon already and although there are only three left in stock, Michelle wonders– should she have written something with women in handcuffs instead?
It’s hard to get enthusiastic about anything during grading season. But walking round downtown Manhattan last week, the sun thrust itself through the clouds and it finally hit home that my book – my three year old baby, “Censoring Translation” – was published.
Academic publications are weird. You don’t get much immediate feedback. There was a year of utter silence after my first one, “Translating Milan Kundera.” I’d got excited, at first, when Amazon had “Only 3 left in stock!” until I realized, as the months went on, that it was the same perpetual three left in stock.
I’d made jokes about two guys and their dog being the expected readership. I hadn’t expected the joke to be low on the mark.
But then there was, out of the blue, an invite to talk about it in France, then in Denmark; libraries started buying it, it got good reviews (years later), people started citing it, and people at conferences suddenly knew who I was.
It was like getting made in the mob.
Now, I’m not running out to buy the Prius. Academia expects you to do this stuff for free. You might spend a year and a half researching and writing a 25 page article, then getting gutted and knifed by peer reviewers, re-editing – money? Pshaw! As. If.
So, I was dreamily salivating over my new book that maybe three souls and their dog will read, when I went into the big Barnes and Noble on Union Square to mooch around the Fiction section. I suddenly caught a shiver of excitement and realized a huge crowd was building up for a live reading. Turns out they were there for the internet sensation, E.L. James.
She self-published a bondage erotica series that’s all the buzz (or BDSM erotica – I’m so ancient, I had to look it up on Wikipedia – but I’m a duck out of water – the place was packed with women my own slightly graying age).
It was 4pm. The reading was due to begin at 7.
Fair play to the woman. It’s great to see people excited about books (and in this case, by them).
But I can’t say there wasn’t a moment of existential angst. What a putz! Years of my life on a book a handful of geeks might read. I should have thrown a whip in! Some manacles! Tight leather gear!
As it is my academic little number does have prisons, and spies, and Opus Dei, women being bullied, corporate greed and, at the heart of it, one of the great human rights figures of the last century, Václav Havel.Oh, and his greatly misunderstood plays which were never commercial enough, never politically kitschy enough for the English stage.