February 20, 2014

Lost in Translation: Female Edition

I've talked in the past about my love of translated books. I've mostly read Latin America translations and Roberto Bolano books but I've finally broaden my reach. I'm starting to read books from European countries and I have a book from Iran on my Kindle.

I'm fascinated with translations because they give you a glance at other countries and whatever was happening in that country at a particular time the book is set in. Basically they're like history books. In this pursuit of translations I've been doing a lot of research on what is translated and from what language. In this research for translations I've been bookmarking these discoveries as "books I want". I got to thinking though, I really should share these discoveries. And after some discussion with Mac about it, I've decided to make a list of translated books. The first part will be the female edition of translations. I'll get to the men's side of translations for another time. Enjoy my list.

*Publishing houses that translate these works are: Melville House, New Directions, and Open Letter plus many more you can look up.

**Open Letter also runs a literary website called Three Percent and it's where I found out about most of these books. I do suggest going over their reviews of translations and the list of books that have been nominated for the Best Translated Book Award

***I haven't read all of these books but I'll let you know which ones I have read. For the ones I haven't read I'll give you the reader's digest synopsis of the book. 

Gigli & After Midnight by Irmgard Keun (German): Ms Kuen's story itself would be a wonderful book. She left Germany in 1940 with her Jewish boyfriend, faked her suicide, and returned to Germany while it was still under Nazi control. And that story is the basis for After Midnight which actually was one of the first non-Spanish translated books I've read.

Her other book which I just finished the other night is Gigli, a story about a girl in a factory who finds out some troubling news about her adoption. This book is tremendously good if you're a feminist or someone who's interested in a really good story.

With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst (Brazil/Portuguese): This book hasn't been published yet but based on it's synopsis, it's an examination of mental health.

Nothing Serious by Justine Levy (French): This is another book about a real life experience. Justine Levy was married to a man who left her for model Carla Bruni. The same Bruni who is married to former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. This story is the basis of this wonderfully funny and cynical book.

Aracoeli by Elsa Morante (Italian): A story about a man who goes looking for his nymphomaniac mother. Sounds like a lot of fun!

The Book of Happenstance & The Elusive Moth by Ingrid Winterbach (Afrikaans): A woman investigates a robbery at her house and reflects back on her life while falling in love with her boss in The Book of Happenstance. The Elusive Moth meanwhile is love, murder, and the study of moths.

Children of Reindeer Woods by Kristin Omarsdottir (Iceland): I'll say this for Open Letter. They translate more works by women than Melville House and they're often from countries you hardly think of like Iceland.

Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda (Catalan): When I first looked up the description of this book, I immediately bought it. Sounds like one of the funnier, most bizarre books you could read.

Everything Happens As It Does by Albena Stambolova (Bulgarian): A quick story with multiple characters who's stories accumulate and mysteries are discovered.

The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino (Japanese): The feminist retelling of the Izanami and Izanagi story in Japanese mythology.

Passionate Nomads by Maria Rose Lojo (Spanish): Set in Argentina, two people go off on an adventure in search of the Ranquel Indians. This novel also gives you glance at a much older Argentina.

The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwartz-Bart (French): An older woman recounts her life on the island of Guadeloupe and the tragic past of her family.

A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector (Portuguese): Lispector was a much respected author in Brazil and New Directions has been translating a lot of her work. This is the final novel she wrote before her death.

High Tide by Inga Abele (Latvian): Does Latvia's run in the Olympics have you inspired to read some Latvian literature? If that's the case then check out this decades long mystery book about a woman, her lover, and her husband.

L'Amour by Marguerite Duras (French): A Vietnamese man runs into a woman he was once engaged to. Do they continue their romance?

Well that's 16 books that should keep you occupied for a while. I do suggest reading the Three Percent's reviews section because there's more likely a book I missed that you'll probably enjoy.

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