A Translation for every Teenager

Every teenager in Sweden should get a translation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We should all be Feminists in time for Christmas.

What would I give every teenager in translation into English?

Something from a teenage perspective: Their peers are more likely to read it.

Something written by a woman. They will read enough (mostly dead, white) men’s writing as it is.

These young women are speaking out loud and clear:


Kannada translation (c) Aakruti books

“If one man can destroy everything, why can’t one girl change it?”

I am Malala, by last year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousufzai, is now out in paperback. The teenage author is from Pakistan but now lives in the UK. She wrote it in English with journalist Christina Lamb, but it has been translated into over 40 languages, including regional ones.


“In life you’ll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it’s because they’re stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance… Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself.”

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis gives a teenager’s view of moving as a refugee from Iran to Austria; it’s a decade old, but we need it now, too. This fantastic graphic novel was written in French and translated into English by Blake Ferris and Mattias Ripa, Satrapi’s husband. It has since been made into a film and translated into many other languages.


“Those who haven’t seen this would never believe it. But it’s the truth.”

Many teenagers may read Anne Frank’s diary at school. Rutka’s notebook, edited and translated by a team at Yad Vashem, is much shorter, covering January to April 1943, and gives a different perspective, as the author is Polish. 14-year old Rutka Laskier lived and worked in the ghetto and witnessed the brutality of the Nazi occupation first hand. Here’s her original diary:

Le journal de Rutka Laskier - The diary of Rutka Laskier


These are just three stories from three countries. Hopefully they will inspire a new generation to write – and translate – their own.





Translator, editor, writer, reader

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Posted in books, film, gender, international, translation
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