The PEN World Voices Festival kicked off with a panel about women and fiction in translation that addressed big, messy topics… that are impossible to put to rest.

Needless to say, the state of women in fiction writing wasn’t fully summed up, but the conversation between moderator Claire Messud and novelists Lorraine Adams, Alex Epstein, Norman Rush and translator Esther Allen was a mixed bag of lofty literary questions and piquant asides. Perhaps Norman Rush set the tone for the panel before going on stage. He said, “Well, women are screwed.”

On subversive anger among women fiction writers:

“They will all say, oh Christ. We’re fucked. I mean, the guys always get more attention. That’s what we feel. I mean, we never like to say it on stage like this, which is why I’ve avoided saying it the whole evening.” – Lorraine Adams

On men as a literary audience:

“I didn’t really understand if you think it’s good or bad that women are the majority of readers. I mean, men do read. I’ve seen several of them in New York. They read on the iPad.” – Alex Epstein

On the worst translation mistake:

“In a particularly crucial passage of the novel where our hero is recieving a hand job, that had been translated as ‘manual labor.'” – Esther Allen