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

Disoriental

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Read 14/08/2020-24/08/2020

Rating 5 stars

Read for Women in Translation Month

Disoriental tells the story of the Sadr family, Iranians who fled to France at the time of the Iranian Revolution. It’s a family saga with a difference. Narrated by Kimiâ Sadr, it draws together her experiences at the turn of the 20th century and mixes them with family myths and ancestral tales. 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

Random Thoughts: Writers in Translation

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Serendipity. I prefer it to coincidence. Tonight, I’ve been catching up on the blogs I follow, and discovered that Gwen has merged two into one. That led me to this page, and a book list I’ve never encountered before. Reading through the list, I noticed that there were echoes of Boxall’s 1001 Books list, and that more than 80% of the authors are male. This reminded me of the conversation that I had yesterday with my best friend as we browsed books in a bookshop on the inaugural National Bookshop Day. My best friend had chosen a couple of translated books by women authors and it jogged my memory that I’d decided to read more books by women authors that originate in a language other than my own. At the end of August, I had discovered that there was such a thing as Women in Translation month, and that it had been going on all month. It was this article in The Guardian that enlightened me, and led me to another in which women translators talk about their favourite fellow women translators who translate women authors into English. I now have the beginnings of a list of my own, thanks to Sian Cain’s Guardian article and to browsing the shelves and displays in the bookshop.

This is my list so far:

Paulina Chiziane
Conceição Evaristo
Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream
Lydie Salvayre, Cry Mother Spain
Colette
Hilda Hilst, With My Dog-Eyes
Mariana Enriquez, Things we lost in the fire
Laura Restrepo, Delirium

Feel free to leave recommendations in the comments for women authors that you’ve read in translation.