According to the Index Translationum, a database published by UNESCO, texts written originally in French are the second most frequently translated, with over two hundred thousand titles published since 1979. Though the numbers exhibit a disappointing hierarchy, the fact that French occupies such a large presence is unsurprising; after all, as today’s interviewee, Aneesa Abbas Higgins, informs us: “French is a world language.” Spoken in diasporic populations around the world, the French of today is a linguistic carrier of resistance and individualism just as it once was a language of oppression.
Aneesa Abbas Higgins has translated numerous works from the French, including Seven Stones by Vénus Khoury-Ghata (Jacaranda, 2017) and Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin (Daunt Books, 2020). In her efforts to represent a variety of original French voices, her contributions to English-language readers have been invaluable. Now, in our second feature for Women in Translation Month, blog editor Sarah Moore speaks to Higgins about her most recent translation, All Men Want to Know by Nina Bouraoui (Penguin, 2020), how French female authors are represented in translations, and the challenges of translating today.