So August is considered Women in Translation month in the book community. Now, personally I don’t care that much about these book community reading challenges-I prefer reading whatever I feel like at the moment. Still, I love reading books in translation, so I thought I’d like to recommend a few for those who are doing this.
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
This book has been translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori. It follows the life of a woman who doesn’t really fit in with society except when she is at work at the convenience store. A short, but powerful read.
2. Confessions by Kanae Minato
This book is also in Japanese, and translated by Stephen Snyder. It is a really dark thriller following a teacher taking revenge on her students who had killed her daughter. It is a pretty messed up book with characters ranging from morally grey to absolutely monstrous. So, not for everyone, but it kept me at the edge of my seat as I read it.
3. Thee Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels are much better known, but if you’d rather have a quick read, this might be the one for you. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein, it follows a woman who had been abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. A short, but powerful book.
4. Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
This book has been translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. It follows an elderly woman with a reputation for eccentricity who lives on her own in a remote area in Poland. A series of murders start to happen, and the woman gets involved in the investigation, but this book is a lot more than a murder mystery.
5. Things we Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez
This is collection of short stories written in Spanish by an Argentinian author, and translated by Megan McDowell. They are really dark and twisted stories following mostly female characters. Definitely an interesting read. I am also looking forward to reading this author’s latest book, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed.
6. So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba
This is a short Senegalese novel, written in French and translated by Modupé Bodé-Thomas. It follows the life of a woman whose husband gets married for a second time (with polygamy being common in that time and place), to a much younger woman (seems like a recurring theme in this list!) to their own daughter’s friend.
7. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri
This is a work of nonfiction, following the author’s experience moving to Italy for the sole aim of immersing herself in the Italian language and becoming a writer in Italian. This book was translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
8. The Lais of Marie De France
This is different from everything else on the list because this was written way back, in the 12th century. It is a collection of narrative poems written originally in Anglo-Norman French, and dealing with courtly love. There are multiple translations of this work, but I read the one by David Slavitt. A delightful read bound to take you to another place and time.
9. The Good Son by You-Jeong Jeong
This is a dark thriller following a young man, after he wakes up to find his mother’s dead body. It is another fast-paced thriller that had me turning the pages as fast as I could. Translated from the Korean by Chi-young Kim.
10. Colette by Gigi
This is a French classic, translated by Roger Senhouse. It follows Gigi, who had been trained by her grandmother to be a courtesan. But when she is courted by a wealthy older man, she has to decide what she wants. Parts of this book hasn’t aged very well, but it is still a good read.