Notes from Childhood

Notes from Childhood is Norah Lange’s memoir of her childhood, published in Charlotte Whittle’s English translation by And Other Stories in 2021. I chose to substitute it for one of my original 10 Books of Summer as I wanted to read it for Women in Translation Month.

I don’t know much about Norah Lange, other than she was part of the same Buenos Aires writing circle as Jorge Luis Borges. And Other Stories published a translation of her novel People in the Room, also with Charlotte Whittle, in 2018.

Lange’s memoir begins in 1910, when she was around five years old and the family left Buenos Aires for their estate in Mendoza. It documents her observations of the world and her family, with some fictionalisation here and there.

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Women in Translation Month is on its way!

Women in Translation Month was started in 2014 by Meytal Radzinski. Meytal has a page on her website dedicated to the annual celebration of women writing in non-Anglophone languages, and every August she encourages fellow readers to pick up a book by a woman in translation. Through her @Read_WIT account on Twitter, Meytal provides links to authors and asks other readers to recommend books using the hashtag WITMonth.

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The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons

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Read 28/08/2020-30/08/2020

Rating 4 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month.

Goli Taraghi is a popular Iranian writer, a best seller in Iran whose stories have appeared in a number of anthologies. The Pomegranate Lady and Her Sons is a collection of her short fiction, her first collection published in English. The translation is by Sara Khalili. It brings together ten stories about Iran under the last Shah, and life in Tehran and in exile after the Revolution. Continue reading

Umami

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Read 25/08/2020-28/08/2020

Rating 4 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month

Umami is Laia Jufresa’s debut novel, translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes. Set in Mexico City in the first few years of the 21st century, it moves back and forth in time to tell the story of the residents of Belldrop Mews. It’s a tale of love and loss, of chances not taken, and of secrets that refuse to remain secret. Continue reading

The Nakano Thrift Shop

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Read 08/08/2019-12/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month and the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

Hiromi Kawakami’s second novel was a change of pace from my previous read this month. Set in a thrift shop that definitely isn’t an antique shop, it follows the lives of shop owner Mr Nakano, his sister Masayo and his two employees Takeo and Hitomi. Hitomi narrates the day to day happenings around the shop. Continue reading

Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs

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Read 02/08/2019-08/08/2019

Rating 5 stars

Read for both the 20 Books of Summer readathon and Women in Translation Month.

Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs is Lina Wolff’s debut novel. Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry, it’s a tale set in Spain that follows the narrator’s teenage encounter with a short story writer whose mission is to reveal the disparity between the binary genders of male and female and how meaningless the word love can be.

The women in this novel are strong, independent, resilient and resourceful. They take no shit from the men who drift in and out of their lives. None of them is entirely likeable but all of them are compelling as characters. I was instantly gripped by the world Wolff has created and wanted to do nothing but read this book and hang everything else I was supposed to be using my time for. Continue reading

Wayward Girls and Wicked Women

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Read 17/07/2019-02/08/2019

Rating 3 stars

Read as part of the 20 Books of Summer readathon.

I accidentally started Women in Translation month early with this collection of short stories. I should have known that Angela Carter would include a few women whose first language isn’t English. After all, being a woman who doesn’t conform to the artificial notion of femininity isn’t an exclusively Anglophone thing.

Carter introduces her selections as being about women who aren’t really wicked or wayward, at least not all of them. Continue reading

Letters from Klara

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Read 07/08/2018-10/08/2017

Rating: 4 stars

Read for the Reader’s Room European Backpacking Challenge

Published in Swedish in 1991, and recently translated into English, Letters from Klara is a collection of short stories written by Tove Jansson in her seventies. The Summer Book and The True Deceiver are still my favourites of Jansson’s literature for adults (as though the Moomin books aren’t for adults), but this collection was a blessed relief after the shocker I just finished. Continue reading