This is an archived issue of Belletrista. If you are looking for the current issue, you can find it here
Belletrista - A site promoting translated women authored literature from around the world


Belletrista Turns One

Photo of a pile of books With this issue, Belletrista celebrates its first anniversary. It was last September, after several months of technical, business and creative work, that everything finally came together and the first issue went up on the web.

Pull Quote We could tell you about the frustration that Belletrista was born out of, or the discussion we all had over choosing a name for the magazine, or the excruciating process of designing a website from scratch without a template. We could tell you about the business books we read, the HTML we had to learn, how we decided on the look and logo of Belletrista, the difficulty and joys of working with reviewers and writers who live all over the world—and all these things could be interesting in their own way, but you, our dear readers, are here for the books.

Belletrista is born of readers—our Board of Directors and Board of Advisors are all voracious readers. We come from different backgrounds, live in different parts of the world; we range in age from 25 ‒ 60-something, but one of the things we have in common is that we all believe that literature written by women deserves to be given an important place on the bookshelf of the common, intelligent reader. In most literary circles around the world, and despite the equality we want to believe exists here in the Western world, literature written by women is still undervalued, as is the woman's experience often explored in this literature. The dearth of literature by women from other parts of the world translated into English is another symptom. In a blog post, Chad W. Post of the University of Rochester's "Three Percent" blog, in addressing this dearth, remarked about the disparity between the amount of translated literature written by men available and that written by women and suggestesd, "the numbers may well correct themselves." We beg to differ. Patterns like this do not correct themselves. Change requires action. Change is the result of choices made.

Pull Quote And so we come together with a diverse group of reviewers and writers (some of whom serve on our Board of Advisors) to put wonderful literature written by women from all over the world before you, our readers, so that you may explore the world with us and allow your lives to be enriched by the important and varied voices of women. Over the last year and including this issue, we have reviewed well over 100 books and have featured almost 400 titles in our New & Notable section. We have interviewed authors from New Zealand, Mexico, Italy and the United States; and published fiction by women from Slovakia and India. Belletrista articles have explored the works of and introduced individual authors like Algeria's Assia Djebar, New Zealand's Patricia Grace, Sweden's Asa Larsson, Egypt's Ahdaf Soueif, and Germany's Herta Muller. We explored short fiction, dystopian literature, new East African authors, Arab women writers in translation, events in the book world, and the works of nonprofit groups like Femrite in Uganda and the Afghan Women's Writers Project, who, like Belletrista, are making women's voices prominent.

Belletrista offers many benefits, but don't take my word for it:

"Since being introduced to your site … I find Belletrista to be an excellent resource providing a variety of authors from all corners of the globe that I can recommend for scheduled reading titles for my book group. Congratulations on your first anniversary and may you continue to inspire and promote women's literature to the world." — Jenny, Greigs Flat, NSW, Australia.

"I'd like to thank Belletrista for introducing me to Mari Strachan who wrote The Earth Hums in B Flat.Although I read it months ago, it's stayed in my mind because it resonated with me. Strachan is a fresh new voice that I would not have been aware of without Belletrista." — Bonnie, Eden, New York, USA

"What a great website Belletrista is. As I sit here looking out across the waters of the Firth of Forth in Scotland, I'm so glad that my friend in Ontario, emailed me about it....I'm most impressed by the wide scope of Belletrista, the attractive layout, quality, variety and news from all over. It's now on my list of computer favourites." —Anne, Scotland.

"...I cannot believe how many of those books are going on the wishlist. You have such a wonderful group of reviewers, and you are finding books that just seem to beg for the exposure you are giving them." — Lisa, Chicago, Illinois, USA

"Living in faraway New Zealand, Belletrista has been a fantastic way to find out about books that you wouldn't expect to find in your local bookstore. While the best of the independent stores will stock the latest literary delights from Canada, the United States and the UK, it is much more unusual to find books written by women from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. With Belletrista, however, it has become possible to read reviews of international authors and then, if interest was piqued, the books themselves can be ordered over the internet. The only problem is that now I spend even more on purchasing books! My bookgroup members have also benefitted from the fact that I review books for Belletrista as they get to read everything I review. Belletrista is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate both diversity and the similarities between cultures. I look forward to many more years of reading (and reviewing) thanks to Belletrista." —Dorothy, Auckland, New Zealand (Belletrista reviewer).

"… I wanted to say thank you for asking me to be involved in Belletrista. I think it's a really important venture and I feel privileged to be part of it. It's introduced me to some great writers and challenged me to read books that I would never have picked up at a bookshop. You're the reason I'm getting used to magical realism!" — Charlotte, London, UK (Belletrista advisor and reviewer).

"Thank you simply for existing! Just knowing there is a place I can go to find out what is being written and published by women helps keep my blood pressure down whenever I see yet another journal or website or prize shortlist where women are in the minority or overlooked altogether. As a translator of fiction from French, I actually discovered your site through one of my translations (Consolation, by Anna Gavalda) that hardly got any reviews elsewhere. So I particularly appreciate your strong focus on translated literature by women, which is doubly overlooked as a rule. Spread the Word! And so will I." — Alison Anderson, Switzerland

"Belletrista has opened up a whole new world to me. I had no idea how much writing by women was available. The fact that the articles and reviews are international is fantastic. I'm interested in reading translated literature and Belle fulfils this need. While I haven't read many of the featured books, almost all are on my very long "Must Buy" list. Each Belletrista edition is substantial. There is a ton of information in every issue and I'm grateful for that. I subscribe to four literary magazines and Belletrista is one of my two favourites." — Amanda, Sydney, Australia (Belletrista advisor and reviewer)

Pull Quote Photo of cake and book Looking ahead, we have many, many more good books and authors to introduce to you. We have more clever ideas and interesting themes we want to try out, more places in the world we wish to explore. No doubt, we'll add more reviewers and we'll find more new writers for our articles and interviews (or they will find us!). Our new blog debuts with this issue and we hope this will be a way to converse with our Belletrista community. And, if you like what you see, consider making a donation to Belletrista—we are nonprofit, and are trying to keep the site ad-free.

We'd like to celebrate our first birthday with a big cake, but the logistics of serving it to you all while it is still fresh are quite beyond us. So, to celebrate with us, we ask that you go out and buy a book by a woman author, and then, by any means necessary, get a delicious piece of cake or pastry to go with it.