Recommendations: Women in Translation

So, August is Women in Translation month, and while I don’t normally do these themes/challenges, I read a lot of translated books, as well as books by women, so I thought it would be fun to combine the two. Here are some books by women, in translation that I would recommend. I had also made a post about this last year, so you can look it up if you want more recommendations.

  1. Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan

Three Apples Fell from the Sky has been written in Russian by the Armenian-Russian author Narine Abgaryan and translated to English by Lisa C. Hayden. It is set in a small isolated Armenian village in the mountains and follows the lives a the inhabitants, who have been through famine and war, with strength and resilience. Following the relationship between two older residents-Anatolia and Vassily, it is a charming book about the motions of life in a small quiet community.

2. Paradais by Fernanda Melchor

Set in a luxury housing complex in Mexico, this novel, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes deals with issues of classism and misogyny. It follows the unlikely friendship between two teenaged boys-one the privileged son of wealthy residents, who spends all his time lusting after an older neighbour, and the other, the gardener who dreams of escaping his life of poverty by joining a cartel. The two boys hatch a brutal plan to achieve their dreams. This is not an easy read both in terms of style and subject matter, but nevertheless an insightful one.

3. In the Forest, a Deer by Ambai

Translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holstrom, this is a collection of short stories that deal with the lives of women. Insightful, and descriptive, they deal with women from different sections of society and their lives, both mundane and unusual.

4. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez

This is another short story collection, this time by an Argentinian author. Translated from the Spanish by Megan Mcdowell, they deal with really weird, dark and horr-esque themes.

5. The Pear Field by Nana Ekvtmishvilli

This short novel, translated from the Georgian by Elizabeth Heighway, is set in a home for children with learning disabilities post-Soviet Georgia, and follows an 18-year-old girl who can leave if she wants, but has nowhere to go. It is a very dark tale with unflinching depictions of horrible things happening to children. So, not an easy read, but a powerful one.

6. Shoko’s Smile by Choi Eunyoung

Translated from the Korean by Sung Ryu, this is a collection of short stories following women in South Korea. Most of the stories deal with the relationship between Koreans and people from other countries, and provide really interesting perspectives.

7. My Pen is the WIng of a Bird

This is a collection of short stories, all by Afghan women, translated from the Pashto and Dari. Really hard-hitting stories that depict the lives of ordinary people living in a conflict-ridden land.

8. The River Churning by Jyotirmoyee Devi

Translated from the Bengali by Enakshi Chaterjee, this book is set in the aftermath of Partition of India. It follows a girl from an orthodox Hindu family in Bengal, who loses her parents in the riots after Partition. Her Muslim neighbours give her shelter, however that becomes a point of contention for her relatives when she is reunited with them. Another hard-hitting read.


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