August is ‘Women in Translation’ month – a celebration of female authors writing in languages other than English that have been translated and are now available on our shelves. We thought we’d highlight a few of our favourites for your reading pleasure. Before we get started on that though, did you know that Warwick University have an annual prize – the ‘Warwick Prize for Women in Translation’? The Prize is in its third year and the shortlist is currently being drawn up. You can read more about the Prize and see the previous listed titles here. Some of the titles are also mentioned below so, without further ado, here are our recommendations for fiction in translation this August.
Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes (translated from French by Frank Wynne).
This novel was longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize and tells the story of the proprietor of ‘Revolver’, a music shop in Bastille. Faced with the rise of online shopping taking business away from his shop and tough financial times, Vernon Subutex must come to terms with a changing world. Just at his lowest point, a throwaway Facebook comment suddenly takes the internet by storm and things start to look up.
This is the first book in the set with the second recently published in June (we should have a copy soon so keep an eye out on our catalogue for ‘Vernon Subutex 2’).
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (translated from Swedish by Marlaine Delargy)
You’re a single person. On your 50th birthday, you are sent by your government to ‘The Unit’, a state of the art facility where you will live out the rest of your days until it is decided you will be ‘of use’ and are needed by medical science for a reason that you will never know. Expected to submit to this fate, when you meet someone who turns your world upside down, the fight is on to escape the fate society has mapped out for you.
A haunting dystopian novel that is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Definitely one to make time for this year.
Based on a True Story by Delphine de Vigan (translated from French by George Miller)
If you’re looking for a book full of suspense and twists, look no further. Looking at friendships and obsession, this delves into what can happen when life gets too much for some and inspires jealousy in others. This is on my TBR pile for this year, although it was originally published in 2017.
Belladonna by Dasa Drndic (translated from Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth)
This was the winner of the 2018 Warwick Prize for Women in Translation. It follows the world of Andreas Ban, a writer and psychologist growing cynical in his old age. While investigating his own past, Andreas must face taboo stories, earth-shattering events and truths on both a personal and national level as the novel also charts the many changes that happened in the region.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata (translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
We’ve highlighted this one before and it continues to be very popular with readers in Warwickshire. Following the routines of Keiko who is content with her life behind a till, being a ‘Convenience Store Woman’ with the usual routines and tasks this dictates. Her family and social circle, however, worry that Keiko is not ‘normal’ and a “weird and funny” novel (according to the author Sally Rooney) results.
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi (translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren)
Set in the midst of the first Gulf War, this novel opens with several Iraqi families sheltering in an air raid shelter. When two young girls become fast friends, despite living in a world torn apart by civil war, their friendship grows. This has been a number one bestselling novel in Dubai, Iraq and the UAE.
That’s just a few recommendations from the many translated novels we have on our shelves – have a browse through our catalogue (try ‘fiction in translation’ as your keyword search) and discover a wealth of authors.
You can also find fiction in languages other than English in our libraries – you can search our collection here. Some books in this collection will be dual language, others will be single language so if you’re looking to brush up on your language skills, have a browse!
Happy reading in translation this month!