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2020 Women in Translation > oshizu's 2020 WiT Challenge

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message 1: by oshizu (last edited Nov 28, 2020 06:15PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments I'll initially aim to read 24 books and see how that goes.

Progress: 40/40 (Completed 28 Nov 2020)

January
1. The Midnight Witness (Danish, mystery)

February
2. Eve out of Her Ruins (French, Mauritius)
3. Our Life in the Forest (French, France, scifi)
4. The Lady Killer (Japanese, mystery)
5. Unseen (Swedish, mystery)
6. La Bastarda (Spanish, Equatorial Guinea)

March
7. I Am the Brother of XX (Italian)

April
8. The Body Snatcher (Portuguese, Brazil)
9. Confessions (Japanese, Japan)
10. The Bridge of Beyond (French, Guadeloupe)
11. All Yours (Spanish, Argentina)
12. The Godmother (French, France)

May
13. The Hummingbird (Finnish, Finland)
14. The Remainder (Spanish, Chile)
15. Tentacle (Spanish, Dominican Republic)
16. Poso Wells (Spanish, Ecuador)
17. The Travelling Cat Chronicles (Japanese, Japan)

June
18. The Nakano Thrift Shop (Japanese, Japan)
19. Convenience Store Woman (Japan)

July
20. The Lonesome Bodybuilder (Japan)
21. Eva's Eye (Norwegian, Norway)
22. Empty Hearts (German, scifi)
23. The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories (Spanish, Spain)
24. Woman at Point Zero (Arabic, Egypt)
25. The Emissary (Japanese, Japan)
26. The Heart of the Circle (Hebrew, Israel)
27. A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (Japanese, Uzbekistan)

August
28. The Housekeeper and the Professor (Japanese, Japan)
29. The Exiled (Finnish, Serbia)
30. The Memory Police (Japanese, Japan)
31. Saman (Indonesian, Indonesia)
32. Bottled Goods (Romanian, Romania)
33. Disoriental (French, Iran)

September
34. Celestial Bodies (Arabic, Oman)
35. The Tale of Genji (Japanese)

October
36. The Defenceless (Finnish, Finland)
37. The Door (Hungarian, Hungary)
38. Arid Dreams (Thai, Thailand)

November
39. Masks (Japanese, Japan)
40. Midnight Blue (Dutch, Netherlands)

Possible Reads
II Remember You: A Ghost Story (Icelandic, Iceland,)
The Baghdad Clock (Arabic, Iraq)
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead (Polish, Poland)
Manazuru (Japanese)
The Factory (Japanese)
The Last Lover (Chinese, China)
Go, Went, Gone (German)
The House of the Spirits (Spanish, Chile)

My planning post


message 2: by oshizu (last edited Feb 14, 2020 02:48PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments Book 1
Title: The Midnight Witness (Danish to English)
Series: Louise Rick #1
Author: Sarah Blaedel (Danish)
3 stars.
I had been looking forward to starting this 9-book police procedural series which has remained popular in Denmark for 13 years or so.
The evil mastermind was not hard to figure out and I might have even thought to continue the series. However, the homicide detective Louise Rick's journalist sidekick Camilla was a deal-breaker for me.
I am probably missing something culturally significant about Camilla, but I couldn't stand that character.


message 3: by oshizu (last edited Feb 14, 2020 02:52PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments Eve out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi Book 2
Eve out of Her Ruins (French, Mauritius)
Author: Ananda Devi
Finished on 4 Feb 2020. 4 stars.


message 4: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments Our Life in the Forest by Marie Darrieussecq Book 3
Our Life in the Forest (French, France)
Author: Marie Darrieussecq
Finished on 16 Feb 2020. 4 stars for this dystopian sci-fi.


message 5: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments The Lady Killer by Masako Togawa Book 4
The Lady Killer (Japanese, Japan)
Author: Masako Togawa
Finished on 17 Feb 2020. 4 stars.
Murder mystery first published in 1962.


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "The Lady Killer by Masako Togawa Book 4
The Lady Killer (Japanese, Japan)
Author: Masako Togawa
Finished on 17 Feb 2020. 4 stars.
Murder mystery first published in 1962."


what did you think of it, Oshizu? I never wrote a review because I was conflicted.


message 7: by oshizu (last edited Feb 19, 2020 02:33PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments @Carol
Considering that the mystery is close to 60 years old and Togawa was probably one of few (if not only) female mystery writers of her time, I wanted to read her.
Part of me feels that to fairly judge The Lady Killer (Onna-goroshi?), I should read a few of her contemporaries, but I've in fact never read anything by Seicho Matsumoto.
More than the mystery plot and its misleading trail of clues, I enjoyed the glimpses of 1960s night life in Japan.

I have Togawa's The Master Key as well, which won the 1962 Edogawa Ranpo Prize (the author's pseudonym is a pun on you-know who). I'm hoping I will like it more.
Maybe I need to go on a 1960s Japanese mystery binge? haha (next during Q2, though)


message 8: by Carol (last edited Feb 20, 2020 05:59PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "@Carol
Considering that the mystery is close to 60 years old and Togawa was probably one of few (if not only) female mystery writers of her time, I wanted to read her.
Part of me feels that to fair..."


I have The Master Key in my kindle. I thought I started it unsuccessfully last year but will try again. I have read Matsumoto and liked the one I read. Her style was fine, and I liked that she made it clear that his “victims” didn’t see themselves as victims, but he did make my skin crawl with his intentionality. The ending, with us learning everything by means of his journal, was a bit contrived. How his wife pulled off all of the things she pulled off to set him up required suspension of belief but okay. I think it was not entirely successful but okay. So I struggle with it still, you can see :)


message 9: by oshizu (last edited Feb 20, 2020 11:48AM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments Carol wrote: "I think it was not entirely successful but okay. So I struggle with it still, you can see :)"

Thank you for motivating me to go back and sort through my impressions of this book. I'm not one to write thoughtful reviews of what I read like you do.
So anyway, let me try again.

Why I first start reading The Lady Killer, I almost DNF'ed the story with its sleazy, self-absorbed protagonist who preys on lonely, socially unsuccessful women. I reminded myself that, with a female author, the story might harbor some surprises for me.

I thought Honda, with his disguises and his Showa-equivalent of the BMW keychain (it's at the garage) was such a joke. He could pass as an Algerian!? Those pitiable, gullible girls, fooled by such fake-y accents. I wonder if Honda's life would have been considered a male fantasy which made me wonder, by extension, about the gender ratio of mystery readers in 1960's Japan.

Do you think that the wife's ending was Togawa's not-very-successful attempt at female empowerment?
In the end, I wrote nothing of all the above and focused, in my review, of the book's evocative scenes of 1960's Japanese night life.
I'm a slacker....


message 10: by Carol (last edited Feb 20, 2020 06:05PM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "Carol wrote: "I think it was not entirely successful but okay. So I struggle with it still, you can see :)"

Thank you for motivating me to go back and sort through my impressions of this book. I'm..."


Hell, props to you for writing a review! I’m still ducking months later. lol.

Maybe — in response to your question about his wife, but ... she’s terminally ill and living on some island while he supports her, he’s, but also screws around on her in a particularly manipulative manner. If setting him up is what empowerment feels like to Togawa, I’d disagree and say it’s only revenge and then again, revenge that hurts the wife when her source of financial support is gone. But it might work for many readers when it was first published. (A cop out, I know.)

I need to read the Master Key and see if it works better.


message 11: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments In fact, the wife lives in the home of her wealthy father in Ashiya, which is an affluent, upscale city between Osaka and Kobe.
I also wondered, though, how she got so fatally ill while I wasn't paying attention,
We need to find out the readership of mystery novels in Japan. :) I'm thinking this might not even have been targeting female readers....
Your mention of revenge reminds of Enchi Fumiko's 1958 Mask: does the protagonist actually subvert her husband's patrilineal line or merely achieve an insignificant revenge.


message 12: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments I've been too lazy to write a short review of each book I've read for this challenge so far. Today, I've decided instead to do an overall review at the end of each month.

I only read one qualifying book in March, however, so I'll start for the month of April.


message 13: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments APRIL Reads

8. The Body Snatcher (Portuguese, Brazil)
9. Confessions (Japanese, Japan)
10. The Bridge of Beyond (French, Guadeloupe)
11. All Yours (Spanish, Argentina)
12. The Godmother (French, France)

Obviously, I've combined this challenge with Read Women's quarterly "Crime Fiction & Thrillers by Women" challenge. :)
The Bridge of Beyond, a work of historical fiction, earned 5 stars from me.
I found The Body Snatcher boring, but loved All Yours. I'll definitely be reading more by Claudia Pinero.
I've only read two books by Kanae Minato so far and wonder if all her books revolve around the theme of revenge.
The Godmother was so entertaining. I don't usually enjoy works by non -AOC about POC characters, but apparently the author has done a lot of work with immigrants. I hope the film adaptation comes to Netflix....


message 14: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "APRIL Reads

8. The Body Snatcher (Portuguese, Brazil)
9. Confessions (Japanese, Japan)
10. The Bridge of Beyond (French, Guadeloupe)
11. [book:All Y..."


What did you think of Confessions?


message 15: by oshizu (new)

oshizu | 52 comments I have a lot of respect for Stephen Snyder, an academic who's one of the best translators of Japanese literature around. But I'm not a huge fan of either Penance of Confession.
Phillip Gabriel (translator of Penance) is one of Haruki Murakami's two main translators (I'm not a Murakami fan, either, while we're at it).
Anyway, I felt like the author's style is predictable. Both Penance and Confession revolve around vengeance, regret, guilt, shaming. Or maybe I have a problem with both books' "voice." I mean, the voice of female characters translated by men. I'm not sure why, but I wasn't moved by either book.

Your question made me wonder which Japanese book I would recommend to friends. Definitely not Penance or Confession. My favorite mystery author is Keigo Higashino but my favorite female author right now is Hiromi Kawakami (Strange Weather in Tokyo) but then her translator is also a woman.
Sorry, I'm not good at expressing my ideas about what I read. :(


message 16: by Carol (last edited May 12, 2020 01:53AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "I have a lot of respect for Stephen Snyder, an academic who's one of the best translators of Japanese literature around. But I'm not a huge fan of either Penance of Confession.
Phillip Gabriel (tra..."


No! No! You are. Really interesting, I recall rating Confessions a 3* and, in retrospect last week I was thinking it was better than that. But I agree with you. Something just doesn’t work.

I’m not persuaded (for me) that gender matters in translation.
I am a huge Snyder translation fan. I think he translates Ogawa, too.

Higashino used to be a sure thing from me, too. Now that I’ve read the first 10-12 novels that were translated into English, it seems as if other than Newcomer, the quality of his most recent handful of novels isn’t up to the quality of the first 10. It’s almost as if they carefully translated his catalogue in order of best first, which explains why they didn’t translate the series novels in order. What’s interesting to me is that his novels are translated by various translators, no one with a reputation for quality. His peers tend to work with the same translator for all of their novels, which one would think would have better results.

I still need to read Strange Weather. My fave female author is Ogawa.

Recommendations always turn on the taste of the reader I am recommending to, and how much Japanese Lit they’ve read and liked. The Devotion of Suspect X typically brings them in, but I’ve had friends ask for JLit with happy endings and I just shrug.


message 17: by oshizu (last edited May 11, 2020 09:01PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments One of my favorite Higashino books hasn't been translated into English yet, Ryusei no kizuna.
You will read Strange Weather and I will read Ogawa--I have yet to read any of her books. Which one would you recommend?

Huh, Jlit with a happy ending....I remember watching an American film with a Japanese friend in Tokyo on TV about a girl, her horse, and the boy she loved (the title escapes me). When the movie ended, she said to me, "If that were a Japanese film, the boy and girl would both die at the end."

I thought of one! The Great Passage, although I enjoyed it more in Japanese than in English, since it's about putting together a Japanese-language dictionary.


message 18: by Claire (new)

Claire (clairemcalpine) | 107 comments oshizu wrote: "APRIL Reads

8. The Body Snatcher (Portuguese, Brazil)
9. Confessions (Japanese, Japan)
10. The Bridge of Beyond (French, Guadeloupe)
11. [book:All Y..."


The Bridge of Beyond is one of my all time favourites, the best novel I read in 2016, and Guadeloupe is also home of another of my favourite authors Maryse Condé.


message 19: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "One of my favorite Higashino books hasn't been translated into English yet, Ryusei no kizuna.
You will read Strange Weather and I will read Ogawa--I have yet to read any of her books. Which one wo..."


The Ogawa that the vast majority of folks like most is The Housekeeper and the Professor. It has all of her hallmarks, but none of what is sometimes unsettling. I think The Memory Police is the most interesting and thought-provoking.

I have a special place on my heart for Hotel Iris, but a lot of readers hate it because there’s a significant age gap between the lovers (not an entirely accurate term), and their relationship involves S&M, so I don’t recommend anyone start with it. Being a contrarian, it’s the one i read first and immediately chased down and bought all others :)


message 20: by oshizu (last edited Jul 25, 2020 03:29PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments I've been a shameless slacker lately about doing anything more than simply listing the books I've read for this wonderful Women in Translation challenge.

On the plus side, I manage to read 3-4 qualifying books every month. A friend and I are "globetrotting this year, focusing mainly on Africa in Q1), the Americas in Q2, and now Asia in Q3. Except for Japan, I'm primarily reading books set in literary destinations which I've yet to visit.

I will probably continue to list my books without comments. As in the past, I'm over-committed this year in joining and leading yearly challenges...
Still, I absolutely love this challenge!

So far....
Favorite books: The Bridge of Beyond, The Hummingbird
Least favorite: The Remainder (not for me), The Heart of the Circle


message 21: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 2059 comments Mod
oshizu wrote: "I've been a shameless slacker lately about doing anything more than simply listing the books I've read for this wonderful Women in Translation challenge.

On the plus side, I manage to read 3-4 qua..."


You’re always good about responding to questions, which is a gift itself. Thanks for the nudge to pursue The Hummingbird.


message 22: by oshizu (last edited Aug 03, 2020 06:51PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments I hope you enjoy The Hummingbird.
It was not one of my "Favorites of 2020," but definitely my favorite mystery this year.
I enjoyed the protagonist, she is an "assimilated" immigrant which makes her a double token in her police department (female + ethnic outsider). I appreciate that she's unapologetically not-domestic but not as angsty as the usual nordic noir protagonist.

On the other hand, I've not spent years reading all types of mysteries like you have, Carol. This makes me easier to please, hehe. Looking forward to hearing your impressions of the book if/when you read it.


message 23: by oshizu (last edited Aug 03, 2020 06:53PM) (new)

oshizu | 52 comments JULY READS

20. The Lonesome Bodybuilder (Japan)
21. Eva's Eye (Norwegian, Norway)
22. Empty Hearts (German, scifi)
23. The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories (Spanish, Spain)
24. Woman at Point Zero (Arabic, Egypt)
25. The Emissary (Japanese, Japan)
26. The Heart of the Circle (Hebrew, Israel)
27. A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (Japanese, Uzbekistan)

In another group where I'm a Challenges mod, I put together a Q3 Women of the World quarterly where we count books based on their setting.

For this reason, I made substantial progress with this WiT challenge in July.

Favorite July books: The Lonesome Bodybuilder (I'm so predictable)
Least favorite July book: The Heart of the Circle


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