August is ‘Women in Translation Month’ – a celebration of books written by women in languages other than English that have been translated into English. Authors from countries around the world are represented and it’s a perfect time to discover new authors and titles. We offered a few recommendations in our 2019 blog and have since added to our collections on BorrowBox and in our libraries. We’ve compiled a list of 200 plus titles you can browse through which you’ll find on our ‘Inclusive Reads’ page, adding titles as we can so that readers can find new authors to try from around the world.
For today’s blog, we’ve picked out some that we think could be great to read this summer.
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (eBook)
Sinisalo has been dubbed the “Queen of Weird” for her fiction. This novel presents a very strange world to its readers – a world in which a new human sub-species of receptive, submissive women called eloi have been bred. Add in a strange religious cult in possession of the ‘Core of the Sun’, a chilli so hot that it is rumoured to cause hallucinations and you have a novel that the Washington Post called “A chilling tale reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale… a fascinating story centered on gender politics“. Translated from Finnish by Lola Rogers.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (eBook)
First published in Polish and translated by Jennifer Croft, this novel interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration according to goodreads.com.
Olga Tokarczuk was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 2019 and this novel won the International Booker Prize in 2018. You will also find her novel ‘Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead’ listed as an eBook.
Bright by Duanwad Pimwana (eBook)
Duanwad Pimwana is one of Thailand’s best-known authors. This novel, translated by Mui Poopoksakul, tells the story of five-year-old Kampol who is told by his father to wait for him in front of some run-down apartment buildings. Kampol does as he is told—he waits, and waits, and waits, until he realises his father isn’t coming back anytime soon. The novel follows how Kampol is adopted into the community and comes of age amongst a cast of characters and scenarios that have an almost folklore type feel.
Set during the last days of World War Two, the Japanese occupation of Manchuria has collapsed. As the Chinese move in, the elders of the Japanese settler village of Sakito decide to preserve their honour by killing all the villagers in an act of mass suicide. Only 16-year-old Tatsuru escapes.
Spanning several tumultuous decades of Mao’s rule, ‘Little Aunt Crane’ is a novel about love, bravery and survival, and how humanity endures in the most unlikely of circumstances. Translated from Chinese by Esther Tyldesley.
Nofar is just an average teenage girl – so average that she’s almost invisible. Serving customers in an ice cream parlour all summer long, she is desperate for some kind of escape. Then one day, in walks faded talent show star Avishai Milner, who, in a moment of anger and misunderstanding, suddenly finds himself accused of sexually assaulting her.
This novel was translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston. You’ll find another novel by Ayelet Gundar-Goshan, ‘Waking Lions’ also available as an eBook (also translated by Sondra Silverston).
Chernobyl Prayer by Svetlana Alexievich (eBook)
On 26 April 1986, at 1.23am, a series of explosions shook the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Flames lit up the sky and radiation escaped to contaminate the land and poison the people for years to come. While officials tried to hush up the accident, Svetlana Alexievich spent years collecting testimonies from survivors, crafting their voices into a haunting oral history of fear, anger and uncertainty, but also dark humour and love. Translated from Russian by Arch Tait and Anna Gunin
Stella is married, she has a child and a fulfilling job. She lives with her young family in a house in the suburbs.
Her life is happy and unremarkable, but she is a little lonely-her husband travels a lot for work and so she is often alone in the house with only her daughter for company. One day a stranger appears at her door, a man Stella’s never seen before. He says he just wants to talk to her, nothing more. She refuses. The next day he comes again. And then the day after that. He will not leave her in peace. When Stella works out that he lives up the road, and tries to confront him, it makes no difference. This is the beginning of a nightmare that slowly and remorselessly escalates. Translated from German by Margot Bettauer Dembo.
The Last Patriarch by Najat El Hachmi (eBook)
The Last Patriarch is narrated by the daughter of Mimoun Driouch – the patriarch of the title – from his birth to her entrance into university. El Hachmi looks at the role of women within a patriarchal culture while tackling more contemporary issues such as immigration and integration, as well as the fractured identity that results from having roots in two very distinct cultures. It is at once a powerful saga of a Moroccan family and a story of a girl’s struggle to find her own identity and break free of a domineering father. Translated from Catalan by Peter Bush.
‘Celestial Bodies’ is set in the village of al-Awafi in Oman, where we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries Abdallah after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla who rejects all offers while waiting for her beloved, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families witness Oman evolve from a traditional, slave-owning society slowly redefining itself after the colonial era, to the crossroads of its complex present. Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth and winner of the 2019 Booker International Prize.
Twelve years ago, Linda’s sister Anna was murdered. Her killer was never caught, but Linda saw him. Now, all these years on, she’s just seen him again. On TV. He has since become a well-known reporter, and Linda – a famous novelist and infamous recluse – knows no one will believe her if she accuses him, so she does the only thing she can think of: she writes a thriller about a woman who is murdered, her killer never caught. When the book is published, she agrees to give just one media interview. At home. To the one person who knows more about the case than she does. Translated from German by Imogen Taylor.
Baba Dunja’s Last Love by Alina Bronsky (eBook)
Baba Dunja is a Chernobyl returnee. Together with a motley bunch of former neighbours, they set off to create a new life for themselves in the radioactive no-man’s land. Geiger counter and irradiated forest fruits be damned, there in that abandoned patch of Earth they have everything they need. Baba Dunja whiles away her days writing letters to her daughter… rural bliss reigns, until one day a stranger turns up in the village, and the small settlement faces annihilation once again.
With her trade-mark wry humour Bronsky tells the story of a community that shouldn’t exist, and of a very unusual woman who late in life finds her own version of paradise. Translated from Russian by Tim Mohr.
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (eBook)
On a dark and stormy night, an unnamed narrator is visited by two women: one a former lover, the other a stranger. They ruthlessly question their host and claim to know his greatest secret: that he is, in fact, a woman. In increasingly desperate attempts to defend his masculinity, perplexed by the stranger’s dubious claims to be the writer Amparo Dávila, he finds himself spiralling into a haunted past that may or may not be his own. Translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker.
When Myriam, a French-Moroccan lawyer, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment in Paris’s upscale tenth arrondissement, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.
The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, Myriam and Paul’s idyllic tableau is shattered… Translated from French by Sam Taylor.
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny—her American grandniece, and her only relative—give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. Translated from Swedish by Alice Menzies.
When Hammoudi, a young surgeon based in Paris, returns to Syria to renew his passport, he only expects to stay there a few days. But the authorities refuse to let him leave, and Hammoudi finds himself caught up in the fight against the regime. Meanwhile, budding actress Amal has also joined the protests against the government and her own father, by whom she feels betrayed. Realising that they will never again be safe in their homeland, Amal and her boyfriend Youssef decide to flee to Europe in a desperate bid to survive. Translated from German by Katy Derbyshire
Rock, Paper, Scissors by Naja Marie Aidt (eBook)
“Rock, Paper, Scissors” opens shortly after the death of Thomas and Jenny’s criminal father. While trying to fix a toaster that he left behind, Thomas discovers a secret, setting into motion a series of events leading to the dissolution of his life, and plunging him into a dark, shadowy underworld of violence and betrayal. Translated from Danish by K.E. Semmel.
The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita (physical copies)
Tomura is startled by the hypnotic sound of a piano being tuned in his school. It seeps into his soul and transports him to the forests, dark and gleaming, that surround his beloved mountain village. From that moment, he is determined to discover more.Under the tutelage of three master piano-tuners – one humble, one cheery, one ill-tempered – Tomura embarks on his training, never straying too far from a single, unfathomable question: do I have what it takes?
Set in small-town Japan, this warm and mystical story is for the lucky few who have found their calling – and for the rest of us who are still searching. Translated from Japanese by Philip Gabriel.
Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France. Now twenty-five, with a new life and the prospect of a child, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which reach her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them. Translated from French by Tina Kover.
A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (eBook)
Ivan, a one-time world traveller, and Francesca, a ravishing Italian heiress, are the owners of a bookstore that is anything but ordinary. Rebelling against the business of bestsellers and in search of an ideal place where their literary dreams can come true, Ivan and Francesca open a store where the passion for literature is given free rein. Tucked away in a corner of Paris, the store offers its clientele a selection of literary masterpieces chosen by a top-secret committee of like-minded literary connoisseurs. To their amazement, after only a few months, the little dream store proves a success. And that is precisely when their troubles begin. Translated from French by Alison Anderson.
Kim Jiyoung is a girl born to a mother whose in-laws wanted a boy. Kim Jiyoung is a sister made to share a room while her brother gets one of his own. Kim Jiyoung is a female preyed upon by male teachers at school.
‘Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982’ follows the life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century and raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all. Translated from Korean by Jamie Chang.
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