Women in Translation Month 2016 Ideas

WITM LogoWith Women in Translation Month a matter of weeks away, I’ve been sorting through my shelves (and my Kindle) to see what I might try this time around, so today’s post is just an introduction to some of the books I’m thinking of presenting to you to in August.  I’m hoping to get to nine or ten of the following titles, but please remember – I reserve the right to change my mind at any time 😉

IMG_5474Having enjoyed Mercè Rodoreda’s War, So Much War earlier this year, I’m fairly sure that I’ll be trying another of her books next month – the only question is whether it’ll be Death in Spring or her Selected Stories (both translated by Martha Tennant: Open Letter Books).  Likewise, I’ll probably be deciding between two of the books I was sent by World Editions, from opposite ends of Europe.  From Iceland, there’s Steinunn Sigurðardóttir’s Yo-yo (tr. Rory McTurk) while Birgül Oğuz’s HAH (tr. Kenneth Dakan) comes to us all the way from Turkey.

Another couple of possibilities again come from Europe, from writers featured on the blog several times before.  Marie NDiaye is the author of books like Three Strong Women, Self-Portrait in Green and Ladivine, and All My Friends (tr. Jordan Stump: Two Lines Press) is a collection of shorter pieces.  Then, of course, there’s the ubiquitous (yet paradoxically anonymous) Elena Ferrante; I have one more book of the Neapolitan Novels author left to try, namely her early work, The Lost Daughter (tr. Ann Goldstein: Europa Editions).

IMG_5475If that all seems a little Eurocentric, never fear, as I will be venturing a little further afield.  Hiromi Kawakami, author of Manazuru and The Briefcase (AKA Strange Weather in Tokyo), has another book coming out in English, and I’m looking forward to seeing if The Nakano Thrift Shop (tr. Allison Markin Powell: Portobello Books) lives up to her other work.  And while I’m in the Far East, I may as well stop by Korea too, with my probable choice being another of the Dalkey Archive Library of Korean Literature books, Kang Young-sook’s Rina (tr. Kim Boram).

As always, though, I’ll also be using the event as an opportunity to practice my language skills IMG_5476and read some books in the original language, and this year I’m really putting myself to the test – by attempting to read four books in different languages.  I’m no stranger to French- and German-language fiction, so my first choices shouldn’t cause too many problems.  Marie Sizun’s Le Père de la petite is perhaps better known to some readers as Her Father’s Daughter, one of this year’s Peirene Press offerings, while Jenny Erpenbeck’s early novella Wörterbuch (The Book of Words) is one of several of her works available in English.

IMG_5477Slightly trickier, however, are my other two foreign-language selections.  My Spanish-language choice is Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), a late addition to my Spanish-Language Literature Month reading.  While I have tried several books in Spanish before, it’s not a language I read as fluently as French and German, so it might take me a while to get through the 200+ pages.  Yet that should be fairly straight-forward compared to my final choice for the month, Jhumpa Lahiri’s In altre parole (In Other Words).  This is a book Lahiri worked on during her time in Italy, and I thought that as she’d made the effort to write it in Italian, it was only fair that I attempt to read it in the same language.  Now if I’d only realised before I bought it that Ann Goldstein’s English version came with the original text, life would be a whole lot easier…

These are just plans, so I may change my mind (and, in the case of some of the untranslated books, chicken out entirely…), but I hope it gives some of you ideas for the month.  But what about you?  Do any of you have books lined up for August?  Let me know in the usual place 🙂

13 thoughts on “Women in Translation Month 2016 Ideas

  1. Here is one you might want to try. I haven’t read it yet myself but will soon. It is the 2014 Prix Goncourt winner, and the English translation was just published in June: ‘Cry, Mother Spain’ by Lydie Salvayre.


  2. Hi Tony, I have read (and seen the movie) the book by Laura Esquivel. I liked the idea of the book, a story each month around a recipe, but I didn’s like the way it was worked out. My guess is that if you read this one, it will probably be your turkey for the month. Greetings, Erik


  3. take the op to fill a gap in your J-Lit; my takes:
    Fumiko Enchi, The Waiting Years (John Bester) [Kodansha Int’l]: (Onna zaka, the women’s slope, separate temple path): Meiji matron thanklessly holding family together; at the same level as Masks (Onna men), once again exceeding Tanizaki, approaching Kawabata, her models. Enchi deserves to be better known; and A Tale of False Fortunes (Roger K. Thomas) [UHawaii]: the medium is the message … historical fiction framed around a supposed counter-perspective (ostensibly seen only by Enchi as a child in an antiquarian collection) to the millenium-old A Tale of Flowering Fortunes, panegyric to a regent, from the empress’ side (inspired by Tanizaki’s “A Portrait of Shunkin” but reaching much farther back, and with a classicist’s authority). Spirit possession, both real and feigned, is a feature of Heian narrative and operates here as well, but with an implied modern aspect that tales serve a similar function. I’m only familiar with the titles of some of the works cited, but the story supplies enough background for that not to matter too much. Anyway, an impressive departure from the better-known Masks or The Waiting Years.


    1. Nnyhav – ‘The Waiting Years’ is a book I’ve had on my radar for a while, but the only Enchi I’ve read so far has been ‘Masks’ plus a few stories in anthologies. Perhaps something for my next bout of J-Lit reading 🙂


  4. Hi Tony,

    actually I read “The translation of love” by Lynne Katsukake.
    On the 15 August the German tranlsation of Han Kang’s “The vegetarian” will release. That’s my next project.

    Regards from Germany,


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