May 2015 Wrap-Up

May is always a big month in the world of translated fiction (check out my post on the various 9df98-img_3383prizes awarded recently if you want further evidence of the fact), and it was also the month when this year’s IFFP duties finally came to an end.  Luckily, however, I still had time for a little reading and reviewing, and you’ll be seeing more of these posts very soon.  Before that, though (as always), let’s look at the month in numbers…

Total Books Read: 14
Year-to-Date: 64

New: 8
Rereads: 6

From the Shelves: 6
Review Copies: 8
From the Library: 0
On the Kindle: 3 (3 review copies)

Novels: 6
Novellas: 3
Short Stories: 4
Non-Fiction: 1

Non-English Language: 14
(4 Japanese, 3 Korean, 3 Spanish, 2 French, Danish, Icelandic )
In Original Language: 1 (French)


Books reviewed in May were:

1) How in Heaven’s Name by Cho Chongnae
2) Sphinx by Anne Garréta
3) Tiger Milk by Stefanie De Velasco
4) Dancing in the Dark by Karl Ove Knausgaard
5) The Witch in the Broom Cupboard (and Other Tales) by Pierre Gripari
6) While the Gods Were Sleeping by Erwin Mortier
7) Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha
8) Street of Thieves by Mathias Énard
9) In Her Absence by Antonio Muñoz Molina
10) The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura

Tony’s Turkey for May is:
Minae Mizumura’s The Fall of Language in the Age of English

It’s not often that I have competition for this particular award, but I was spoiled for choice in May.  Dragging Kim Young-ha into this might be a little harsh, but the writing in his spy novel was fairly pedestrian.  Tiger Milk was also quite weak, but (as I mentioned in my review) it wasn’t written with me in mind.  Therefore, the turkey this time around is Mizumura’s slightly dull account of English and its effect on Japanese.  I wonder if she might follow up last year’s book of the year accolade with a slightly more dubious honour, by taking home the Golden Turkey…

Tony’s Recommendation for May is: Anne Garréta’s Sphinx

This one was actually a much easier prize to award.  Mortier’s novel contained some wonderful prose, and poor old Muñoz Molina must be wondering when he had a black cat cross his path after being placed second two months in a row.  However, Garréta’s gender-concealing work was easily the standout book for May, and I’m sure it’ll be one of the books in contention when the end-of-year prizes are handed out 🙂

With the calm after the translation season storm upon us, June should be a month of reflection and relaxation.  And reading, of course – lots of reading.  Those shelves aren’t going to clear themselves, you know…

10 thoughts on “May 2015 Wrap-Up

    1. Audrey – Much as I enjoyed Boullosa’s book, ‘Sphinx’ is a much better work – one to look forward to 🙂


  1. That recommendation sounds like an interesting novella and one to watch out for! Nice to see you being delighted by a female author, even though your first inclination was towards the two male authors 😉


    1. Claire – Now, now – no gender preferences here 😉 After three male monthly recommendations to start the year, that’s two women in a row now…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sorry, too tempting to be provocative, you set yourself up for that one 😉 Though I definitely read more by women than men, strangely al my absolute favourite books just happen to be written by men! No gender bias, sure, but there it is, the contradictions of best intentions.


        1. Claire – Ah, intentions… I find the intention part a little troubling at times – I’m happy to read translated fiction written by women, but I’m not going to deliberately go out of my way to avoid writers I like because they’re men. Did you see the recent article about ‘a year of publishing only women’? Sometimes people go just that little bit too far…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Likewise, I’ll always read what I am attracted to and gender isn’t the basis.

            I saw that article referenced on twitter a few times but didn’t click on the link, I’m not even curious when it starts getting into fundamentalist territory. It damages good causes and I can’t think of any good reason to exclude people.


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