Skin color & translating Gorman

Was just reading today that Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, a Dutch International Booker winner, will not be translating Gorman’s poetry after criticism at a site/journal called de Volkskrant. A journalist and activist named Janice Deul led the criticism, essentially expressing outrage that a young and black translator wasn’t hired—and this despite the fact that Gorman (if I’m reading the article correctly) chose Rijneveld herself. I could probably read the article at de Volkskrant (Dutch is somewhat close to German), but I refused the site’s cookies.

Deul was quoted as calling the choice “incomprehensible”; and followed that up with the ‘people-are-saying‘ fallacy. “Many others [have] expressed their pain, frustration, anger and disappointment via social media,” she wrote, and continued: “Isn’t it – to say the least – a missed opportunity to [have hired] Marieke Lucas Rijneveld for this job? They are white, nonbinary, have no experience in this field, but according to Meulenhoff are still the ‘dream translator’?”

She apparently didn’t realize that Gorman herself (again if I’m understanding this correctly) chose the translator. So she’s essentially accusing Gorman of being racist (I guess?) and that by her choice of a white-skinned (and privileged?) translator Gorman caused “others” on social media much “pain, frustration anger and disappointment.” Which is just unheard of (/s).

Gorman, who is 22, had selected the 29-year-old herself, as a fellow young writer who had also come to fame early. ~ The Guardian

This controversy is full of dragons and the wise and judicious probably sail safer bourns, but I do feel compelled to observe that if Gorman chose the author herself then all that Deul is left with is her own blatant racism. Period. What else does one call it when ones fitness for a given job (setting aside Hollywood whitewashing) is entirely predicated on the otherwise irrelevant color of one’s skin? I’d rather not live in a world where skin color decides one’s fitness to translate another writer’s work. Gorman doesn’t appear to think so and that’s good enough for me.

Rijneveld has judiciously withdrawn the offer to translate Gorman.