When You Are Silent, You Are Worthless

For the past few months, I have been hearing from a dear, dear writer friend, Carmen Adamucci, about a fantastic author in Greece (she translated some of his stories into Greek for publication). At the risk of sounding cliché, Antonia-Belica Kubareli, is clearly a Renaissance woman–writer, translator, activist, educator, editor, thinker, to name just a few of her accomplishments.

In our discussion, what really struck my attention was the crisis, but it is not the economic crisis that we hear or read about so frequently. It is a crisis for the writers, the open-minded, the people.

As an American-based writer, the concept of censorship is barbaric to me and can only occupy the realm of the brainwashed nitwits that, unfortunately, skip around our country.

Carmen told me about Belica’s most recent headache.

As a prominent translator, Belica has translated many famous writers into Greek: Salman Rushdie, Jumpa Lahiri, Audrey Niffenegger, Zadie Smith, Margaret Atwood, etc. So, naturally, she is very much aware of the book trends in English-speaking countries including a certain trilogy that is EVERYWHERE, whether we want it to be or not (for various reasons, this trilogy’s name and other like books are being withheld from my blog post; please also read the links and available texts I’ve posted–you will get the gist of it).

Antonia-Belica Kubareli

In short, the books are being marketed as women’s literature (or better known as “chick lit,” a term that has always driven me up the wall). So, like the ballsy woman she is, Belica took pen to paper and wrote an article about her experience and her personal opinions of the books,

It is degrading and demeaning for my intelligence to have such texts promoted as women’s literature, not because I am a littérateur but because I am a Woman and a Human! GREEK | ENGLISH

When I first wrote to Belica asking her for an English translation of the original article, she told me that the article was mostly about certain situations in Greece. Phewy! Yes, she does include some facets that are specifically Greece-orientated, but I think her crises–censorship, politics, sexism–can speak to us all. During her initial writing of this article, Belica proffers the idea that she might be “punished” for publishing this. In a follow-up interview, she writes what has happened to her in the Greek publishing industry,

 [T]hey retreated (sic) my books from all the bookstores, they took back the translation I was doing without paying me and they also informed me that “due to the crisis I won’t get my royalties this year”, so you see how the system works in Greece. I am a typical example.

Along with others, Belica has been fighting the good fight. With the promise from her Greek publishers “that [she] will never get another translation in [her] life,” Belica will be leaving Greece for Dublin,Ireland.

Still, art was always Greek. Small groups are trying hard to offer something new. Yet in this huge turmoil that is going to last for decades, I am afraid that art will suffer. In fact, I am relocating in August…

Soon, she will be studying at a university in Ireland and working on translating her own books into English.

All links are available throughout the post, but they are organized below for more convenience.

post script

Yesterday, I received a frantic email from Belica (not only is she a writer/translator but a passionate activist). The Albanian-born journalist, Niko Ago, is being threatened with deportation. He has lived and worked in Greece for over 20 years (as his family) and has jumped through hoops in regards to immigration. Read Belica’s letter to find out more about what’s happening with Niko Ago (“Niko is also a novelist and a member in the leading committee of the Hellenic League for Human Rights”).

**correction: I originally wrote that Belica was also asked to translate these trendy books into Greek but this is not the case.**

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7 comments

    1. Yes, I did and I will continue to call anyone I deem “ballsy” that regardless of gender. Just as I will call anyone “bitchy” when they are being that as well.

      I do not define “ballsy” by gender and if you have a problem with that, take it up with Merriam-Webster.

  1. We are definitely going backward. Book burnings in the streets will be next. I can’t believe she has to move to Ireland. This kind of thing happens in the US, of course, but it’s handled differently. All media is controlled by the people in charge. We can read and see what we are allowed to read or see. The internet has allowed people to publish their own work but the news, the papers and the books that are printed are all chosen by others and those others work for people who hand down the rules as to what gets into print. With fewer independent publishes and the end of most independent booksellers our options are even more limited and easily controlled. Sad but true. We just have better game players here, that’s all. She would simply be discredited and her work found lacking or some other false thing and while the end result would be the same, it would be for different reasons…her own lack of ability.

  2. There is definitely an uptick in book banning going on (and I certainly include the US). I think she is still in Ireland (and happily?). It is a shame that, even though we live in the US where we are not explicitly censored, there is a homogenization going on that doesn’t allow different works as well as a lack of quality control as times.

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