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Book Chat > Women in Translation Month

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message 1: by Antonomasia (last edited Jun 12, 2019 12:18AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments (If only I hadn't put the year in the title of the 2016 thread I started about WiT Month, I could have bumped that one up for re-use now.)

Anyway, I know many of you are focused on reading the English-language Booker longlist this August, but is anyone else reading anything for Women in Translation month?

I'm only interested in about half of the Booker longlist, and I can't even access all of those books at the moment, so I'm likely to read more WIT books than longlisters. Wishing I'd started earlier, and will probably continue into Sept as a result.

What have you read so far, if anything?

Which books would you like to read?
Including ones you may not have time for this month!

(I'm half remembering an apposite Bolaño quotation about conversations about books one hasn't read... anyone?)

There is no way I'll get through all (or even half) of these in 20 days, but I'd like to read some of the following:
Eva Luna (May-June 2019) or The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Wilful Disregard by Lena Andersson
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (May 2019)
the remainder of Elena Ferrante's The Neapolitan Novels
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (MBI 2019 eligible) (Nov 2018)
Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg (Oct 2018)
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène (Aug 2018)
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (MBI 2019 eligible) (Oct 2018)
Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (May-Jun 2019)
On the Niemen by Eliza Orzeszkowa
The House of Ulloa by Emilia Pardo Bazán
Maybe Esther: A Family Story Katja Petrowskaja (Feb 2019, audio)
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Nov-Dec 2018)

Most of these are not very challenging, not least because I've been out of the habit of reading fiction for a while.

I've also become more interested in Spain and Spanish culture - I never really cared for it before, even while I was doing Spanish at school (on GR I've even got an 'íberia' tag instead of 'spain' and 'portugal' tags because there was too little to justify either having separate ones) but have been getting more into it recently.
I noticed also that the biggest-name Latin American female writers, like Allende and Esquivel, are seen as popular authors whereas many of their male contemporaries are considered foundational to serious modern literature.

Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 262 comments Antonomasia wrote: "(If only I hadn't put the year in the title of the 2016 thread I started about WiT Month, I could have bumped that one up for re-use now.)

Anyway, I know many of you are focused on reading the En..."

I just finished the audio of Convenience Store Woman and the narrator is delightful! I think listening to it at 1.5x speed makes it even more entertaining, and you'll finish it so fast you won't know what hit you :) I've stayed away from this title because I thought it might be 'cute and quirky', but it isn't in the hands of this author.

message 3: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Yeah, I read a friend's review that said a lot about the plot, and I wasn't sure about still reading the book, but I read the first page and was charmed - I thought straight away 'I really like this person'. Definitely want to read more.

message 4: by David (new)

David I had no idea there even was a women in translation month, but as it happens I just yesterday started reading Exist Wounds by Rutu Modan. Last year I discovered Samanta Schweblin and have enjoyed reading a lot of her short stories as well as Fever Dream.

message 5: by June (new)

June | 121 comments I'm cherrypicking from the Booker longlist, in part so that I'll have time for WIT month. My stack includes: The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun, Rock, Paper, Scissors by Naja Marie Aidt, Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Olafsdottir, Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, and Revenge by Yoko Ogawa. I started and set aside Revenge to read some of the Booker books, but it seems like it will be fun and fast, so I hope to get through one or two others from the list.

message 6: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments Yes!!! I've been focusing on the Booker longlist but I've only got so many left and I'm thinking about alternating reading WIT and the rest of the longlist until the shortlist is announced (for some reason I'm almost sure the ones I still have to read are the ones that will make it to the shortlist, so I hope I'm not wrong).

I have a "translated fiction" shelf here on GR and although it also includes male authors, I'll obviously try to read some of the women in there. From your list, Antonomasia, It includes The Iliac Crest, Swallowing Mercury, Maybe Esther & Flights -- all of which I am very interested in reading (in August, or later. more likely). My next read on audiobook will be My Brilliant Friend, which I can't believe I have not yet read.

There's also going to be a read-a-thon on Booktube because of this occasion and while I am not part of the community as a creator, I really enjoy watching people's videos so I'm also going to dedicate my full attention to reading WIT once it starts (I think it's August 25th until the 30th).

Some of the more pressing titles I would love to get to in the next couple of months (as they're so many!):

- August by Romina Paula
- Hunting Party by Agnès Desarthe
- The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo
- Companions by Christina Hesselholdt
- The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza
- The White Book by Han Kang
- Human Acts by Han Kang
- River by Esther Kinsky
- Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz
- Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck
- Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
- Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez
- Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Antonomasia -- I would love to recommend you some Spanish or Portuguese literature (as I'm Portuguese myself) but I'm afraid, at least in the portuguese department, women authors are few and unfortunately neither good enough that I could recommend them or they aren't translated into English.

message 7: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Nadine wrote: "Antonomasia wrote: "(If only I hadn't put the year in the title of the 2016 thread I started about WiT Month, I could have bumped that one up for re-use now.)

Anyway, I know many of you are focus..."

Good to know it is not too cute and quirky. I can't abide that!

message 8: by Maddie (new)

Maddie (ashelfofonesown) | 113 comments Also, side-note, I would be down for a buddy read of any of those titles if any of you would be interested.

message 9: by Stacia (new)

Stacia | 73 comments I'm currently reading The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo. The book is described as Finnish feminist dystopia from the "Finnish weird" genre.

I have a few others sitting on my shelf or on request from the library -- not sure how many I'll get to this month...
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky
Cranes At Dusk by Hisako Matsubara
Facing the Bridge by Yōko Tawada
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami
The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck
Before by Carmen Boullosa
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

message 11: by Paul (last edited Aug 11, 2018 11:26PM) (new)

message 12: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3590 comments Mod
I think the only one I might read in August that is already on my shelf is Swallowing Mercury. The best I have read this year were all on the MBI list.

message 13: by Val (last edited Aug 18, 2018 01:04PM) (new)

Val | 1016 comments I own copies of River by Esther Kinsky and Belladonna by Daša Drndić and have a copy of The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami reserved at the library. I should be able to fit them in this month.
Thank you for all the other suggestions.

Edit: I read River and gave it five stars, then started Belladonna but found it too unrelentingly bleak. It may be a book one needs to be in the right mood for and I am not right now. I have decided to read Irmgard Keun's Child of All Nations next instead.

message 14: by Ang (new)

Ang | 1685 comments Antonomasia wrote: "(If only I hadn't put the year in the title of the 2016 thread I started about WiT Month, I could have bumped that one up for re-use now.)."

Just add to the thread when that happens and ask me or another mod to rename it.

message 15: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments I now get an 'edit' link beside the title if I click 'edit' on the post, so I could do so myself. Not sure if I just didn't see it last time, or if it doesn't appear in all browsers / devices.

message 16: by Jen (new)

Jen | 134 comments I just finished Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay - third of the Neopolitan novels - and Ferrante's ability to maintain the narrative pull of this story is really something. I love these books and have tried to spread them out one per year but I might crumble and read the fourth soon.

I hope to get to Erpenbecks's Go, Went, Gone before the month is out.

My favourite reads this past year (among translated books by women) have included Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich and Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette.

message 17: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 579 comments In anticipation of her new translated book coming out very soon, I’m finally reading Tokarczuk’s Flights. I’m sensing a 5-star read already, a rating that I seem to throw at Fitzcarraldo books ridiculously often. But so much has been said about this novel, because of the MBI, that I will just sit back and enjoy it peacefully!

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6977 comments I sometimes enjoy reading a great book where I know in advance that at its end I can simply point at other reviews.

Even better when Paul has reviewed and so I can claim the review as genetically my own.

message 19: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 43 comments Bumping in anticipation of #WIT 2019

What’s currently on my list of books I plan to try out next month

Leftovers from the BTBA longlist:
Love in the New Milllenium - Can Xue
Disoriental - Négar Djavadi

The Mountain and the Wall - Alisa Ganieva
Really enjoyed Bride & Groom, heard this is very different in style and interested to read more.

Monsterhuman - Kjersti A. Skomsvold
Next title in the two month review podcast, always fun to read along with weekly check-ins to make sure I’m not completely lost.

Celestial Bodies - Jokha Alharthi
MBI winner, haven’t gotten to this yet but bet many here have already read it.

History. A Mess - Sigrún Pálsdóttir.
Really enjoying Icelandic lit lately, it’s also on the shorter side.

Notes of a Crocodile- Qiu Miaojin
Heard good things about this Taiwanese author for a couple years but never got around to reading anything.

Recitation - Bae Suah
Read A Greater Music a couple years back and enjoyed it.

message 20: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 15, 2019 10:09PM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments Really nice to see this thread bumped, and that there's interest in it from other posters amid the Booker hype. Thanks Paul D!

As I still haven't read all the books I posted last year (though have been working through them), I don't think another pre-read list is the right approach for me. At the moment I am mostly concentrating on reading classics I've wanted to read for many years, rather than new fiction, so WITMonth may well be a bigger part of my reading in August than the Booker (unless the longlist is my idea of amazing). I also have an ARC that would fit.

I really enjoyed both The Mountain and the Wall and Bride and Groom, and I see them as an author taking on different genres (literary dystopian SF, and now literary romance) and using them to talk about life for young Dagestanis. As with a few other recent translated books, it may help to read the Afterword first because there's cultural info that elucidates things in the book. It doesn't contain overt spoilers, just vague hints.

message 21: by Sam (new)

Sam | 1713 comments I am reading A Girl Returned now. I am hoping to read Zuleikha orLast Witnesses: An Oral History of the Children of World War II. The others I am considering are Beyond Babylon, Territory of Light, The Memory Policeand Bright. This all depends on the Booker list and how involved I get with it.

message 22: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments A fantastic Twitter thread here by Meytal (who started the Women in Translation blog & campaign), counting down 50 days to the start of WITMonth with a post each day about a different PoC/BAME woman writer in translation:

message 23: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments And they are doing this! A poll of 100 best women writers in translation:
Anyone can vote for up to 10 books. More details in the tweet.

I suggested a poll as an event for this year, inspired by Catherine Taylor's review of Boyd Tonkin's 100 Best Novels in Translation (His list features only 15 novels by women.) Hadn't even noticed it was going ahead until now as it's weeks since I logged in to Twitter. The review is paywalled by the FT but you can read it without a subscription if you follow the link in this tweet:

message 24: by Antonomasia (last edited Jul 28, 2019 05:14AM) (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments So far I have nominated:
Vernon Subutex by Virgine Despentes (counting this as one vote for the trilogy)
Nada by Carmen Laforet
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
The Years by Annie Ernaux

and when it turned out you can nominate books you haven't read yet, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko. I've read Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex but Museum is obviously the major work.

message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Every time I see someone else's nomination - including those above - I think 'ah how did I forget X, Y and Z'.

message 27: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3590 comments Mod
OK, I am unlikely to read many in August due to the number of other reading commitments I have, but I have read 10 books by women in translation so far this year:
River by Esther Kinsky
Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena
Katalin Street by Magda Szabó
The Years by Annie Ernaux
The Faculty of Dreams by Sara Stridsberg
The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao by Martha Batalha
Trieste by Daša Drndić
Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

If I do manage one, it will probably be Convenience Store Woman, which has been on the to-read shelf for a few months.

message 28: by Tracy (new)

Tracy (tstan) | 422 comments I have two Booker longlist books to finish, then the rest of the month will be dedicated to Women in translation. I have a stack ready to go.

message 30: by LindaJ^ (last edited Aug 05, 2019 11:14AM) (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 826 comments I have read 9 WIT this year to date or at least that I've shelved under "translation." I have more on the shelf but unlikely to get to them in August.
Chasing the King of Hearts
Convenience Store Woman
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
Celestial Bodies
The Years
The Gray House
Kristin Lavransdatter

message 31: by June (new)

June | 121 comments How did you like Kristin Lavransdatter? I'm intimidated by the length!

message 32: by Tommi (new)

Tommi | 579 comments By my count, 22 out of the 94 books I’ve read this year are WiT. I was expecting a higher percentage, but it could be worse. I’ve never participated to WiT in a conscious manner as I feel I read women in translation on a rather steady basis, plus it coincides with the Booker – yet I’m currently in the midst of Humiliation by Paulina Flores (Megan McDowell of Schweblin fame as translator), and received The Yogini by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay in the mail today, which I look forward to reading soon!

message 33: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 826 comments June wrote: "How did you like Kristin Lavransdatter? I'm intimidated by the length!"

I read it in audio, which I tend to do with the 30 plus hour books, as I wouldn't be able to pick up the book! I thought it was great. Kristin was a very interesting character.

message 34: by June (new)

June | 121 comments Good idea! I will look for it as an audio book.

message 35: by Antonomasia (new)

Antonomasia | 2629 comments A few days ago I finished Les Belles Images by Simone de Beauvoir, just posted review. I didn't really get on with it, but it may be of interest to some from a feminist history perspective, and it is very short, albeit out of print. I am at any rate glad to have finished one book by SdeB as I never managed to finish The Second Sex; her style doesn't really work for me I don't think, as I felt echoes of the same difficulties I had with that book, here.

message 36: by Amanda (new)

Amanda (tnbooklover) | 99 comments If anyone in the US hasn’t t read Convenience Store Woman it’s the audible dailydeal for $1.95 today (Aug 7)

message 37: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Amanda beat me to it. I've read it but almost bought myself a copy of the audio b/c so many people have praised that version.

I have one book that I must read this month: Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset because I bought myself a copy two years ago and haven't read it. Bad me!

I've been making more of an effort for a couple of years to read books in translation by women, but I've not been keeping a separate list for them, so I should reorganize and do that starting now so I'll be ready for next year.

message 38: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Worth saying that several publishers are doing special offers for Women in Translation month - Tilted Axis the latest. Check out their webpages / twitter feeds and you'll generally find some very attractive discounts.

(e.g. code 'WIT2019' at checkout for a 20% discount for Tilted Axis)

message 39: by Ella (last edited Aug 15, 2019 05:44PM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Paul wrote: "Worth saying that several publishers are doing special offers for Women in Translation month - Tilted Axis the latest. Check out their webpages / twitter feeds and you'll generally find some very a..."

Just a note to add that ALL of Tilted Axis' books are women in translation next year -- the whole year. Also, if you live in the US, that discount code will essentially make your shipping free. Really nice email from them about WIT month too.

ETA: I tried to copy their pretty picture, but here's the list for 2020:

Matsuda Aoko, Where The Wild Ladies Are (transl. from Japanese by Polly Barton) A collection of linked stories, Where the Wild Ladies Are is a contemporary feminist retelling of Japanese myths and folk tales focusing on female ghosts.

Ito Hiromi, Killing Kanoko and Wild Grass on the Riverbank (transl. from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles) Killing Kanoko and Wild Grass on the Riverbank are the latest collections by Japan’s most prominent feminist poet: frank explorations of what it is to be a woman, from bodies and sexuality to gender roles.

Duanwad Pimwana, Arid Dreams (transl. from Thai by Mui Poopoksakul) In Arid Dreams, Thailand’s pre-eminent woman writer investigates ordinary and working-class Thailand, where characters aspire for more but remain suspended in routine.

Yan Ge, Strange Beasts of China (transl. from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang) Told in the form of a bestiary, each chapter of Strange Beasts introduces us to a new creature. The narrator, an amateur cryptozoologist, is on a mission to track down each breed in turn, but in the process discovers that she might not be as human as she thought.

Salma, Women Dreaming (transl. from Tamil by Meena Kandasamy) Salma's sophomore novel Women Dreaming centres on three very different women in a small village in southern India. Salma's work combines startling metaphoric resonance with a rare outspokenness about traditionalism and patriarchy in relation to Tamil women's experience.

message 40: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I stayed awake all of last night to read The Memory Police, Yōko Ogawa's latest translation into English. It was published in Japanese in 1994, but it feels like it could've been written today easily.

message 41: by Ella (last edited Aug 20, 2019 07:03AM) (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Email from And Other Stories today includes the following:
Women in Translation Offer!
Following the success of our Year of Publishing Women in 2018, we’re delighted to be celebrating Women in Translation Month again this August. Join the celebrations with our WiT month bundle, featuring The Remainder, The Polyglot Lovers, and Brother in Ice for just £22.50, or get 25% off the following selected individual titles on our site until the end of August:

Tentacle by Rita Indiana (trans. Achy Obejas)
Proleterka by Fleur Jaeggy (trans. Alistair McEwan)
Brother in Ice by Alicia Knopf (trans. Mara Faye Lethem)
Trysting by Emmanuelle Pagano (trans. Sophie Lewis)
People in the Room by Norah Lange (trans. Charlotte Whittle)
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (trans. Sarah Booker)
To Leave With the Reindeer by Olivia Rosenthal (trans. Sophie Lewis)
The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán (trans. Sophie Hughes)
The Polyglot Lovers by Lina Wolff (trans. Saskia Vogel)

I'd just been picking through my box of unread books and grabbed a couple of these to read ASAP.

message 42: by Val (new)

Val | 1016 comments Thanks Ella. I have read The Remainder and have The Iliac Crest on my wishlist. I will check the others.

message 43: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
Here's another code for Transit Books -

(I knew I had another email today & somehow I misplaced it until now.)

You can still get The Dinner Guest, along with the rest of our titles by women in translation, for 25% off the cover price with the discount code #WITMonth through the end of August.

message 44: by Paul (last edited Aug 26, 2019 11:56AM) (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments The final top 100 list (based on vote count) is out:

6 of the top 8 are from author's from my top 10 (although not always for the same book)

And delighted to see Han Kang taking 2nd and 4th spot.

Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer | 6977 comments As I think the comments on the poll suggest this is really more of a reflection of recent reading trends. I tend not to read that much translated fiction (I thought) but have read 7 of the top 10.

message 46: by Ella (new)

Ella (ellamc) | 1018 comments Mod
I think you're right, GY. I think quite a few of us (me included) were shocked at the horrible numbers of books being read in translation in the US, so I decided to do my best to change my reading habits and I've really enjoyed reading so much different from what I would've picked up five years ago before I started keeping track.

I do think many of us want to read more and hope that the publishers will continue to hire translators and make books available.

message 47: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Gumble's Yard wrote: "As I think the comments on the poll suggest this is really more of a reflection of recent reading trends. I tend not to read that much translated fiction (I thought) but have read 7 of the top 10."

I think that tends to be true of pretty much every poll of greatest X ever in any field of life, but probably exacerbated here by the dearth of translated literature available/widely publicised until recently.

message 48: by Hugh (new)

Hugh (bodachliath) | 3590 comments Mod
I have read 8 of the top 10 and haven't even read Ferrante.

message 49: by Paul (new)

Paul Dixon (pvdixon) | 43 comments Given the results, I’m surprised The Last Lover and Celestial Bodies didn’t make the list, both being recent prize winners.

Also surprised that some of mine made the list (Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, My Heart Hemmed in by Marie NDiaye). I thought Ladivine was a given but hadn’t read it.

Here’s the list I submitted at the last possible moment. Like Ella, my list is tilted towards a recent change in reading habits, and books I read recently leaving a somewhat stronger impression.

Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich.
Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda
Love by Hanne Ørstavik
Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
My Heart Hemmed In by Marie NDiaye
Seeing Red by Lina Meruane
The Governesses by Anne Serre
Cigarette Number 7 by Donia Kamal
Fox by Dubravka Ugrešić

message 50: by Paul (new)

Paul Fulcher (fulcherkim) | 10564 comments Paul wrote: "Given the results, I’m surprised The Last Lover and Celestial Bodies didn’t make the list, both being recent prize winners. ."

5 of the 8 books by female authors on the MBI longlist this year made this list so Celestial Bodies absence probably says something about the choice of winner vs most people's views. And Can Xue missed out on both her BTBA winner and her 2019 MBI longlistee (Pine Islands was the other 2019 MBI book to miss out).

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