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5 Must-Read Authors for Women in Translation Month 2023

By Dominique Weldon


Each year, readers recognize and celebrate August as Women in Translation Month by reading books originally written in languages other than English. As August wraps up, we revisit some amazing translated books by women.

Woman at cafe with coffee cup, reading
Photo: Priscilla Du Preez, Unsplash

One of the greatest things about literature is how it not only allows us to connect with others, but how it also deepens our understanding of humanity. While it’s possible to strengthen our compassion for all living things by enjoying books written in our native language, one of the greatest ways we can do so is through reading translated literature. After all, enjoying such stories introduces us to unfamiliar settings, cultures, and conflicts, thus broadening our own perspective and understanding of the world.


Meytal Radzinski created WIT Month in 2014 to bring awareness to enthralling stories, poems, and essays written by women across the globe. With August - the Women in Translation (WIT) - Month wrapping up, Erato encourages encourage everyone to read translated literature. This August is a great opportunity to join others, whether in-person or online, to celebrate these compelling texts. Therefore, to honor Women in Translation Month, here are five books to spark your interest in translated literature and encourage you to pick up diverse texts even after August ends.


Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori


Sayaka Murata is without a doubt one of my favorite authors of all time, so I am forever grateful for Takemori’s English translations of Murata’s books.

Photo: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata - book cover
'Convenience Store Woman' by Sayaka Murata

Convenience Store Woman, which was the first of Murata’s books to be translated into English, centers a single, thirty-six-year-old woman named Keiko Furukura, whom many readers and reviewers consider to be on the spectrum. Keiko works part-time at a convenience store and is content doing so, seeing no need to change the structure of her life. However, her family members, co-workers, and supervisors are unsatisfied with Keiko’s stagnant life trajectory and pressure her to embrace societal norms, which include marriage and children. What makes this book so captivating is how it causes readers to question what it means to be a member of society and how to grapple with the many expectations placed upon us.



My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Photo: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante book cover, bride, groom and three children
'My Brilliant Friend' by Elena Ferrante

Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein


My Brilliant Friend is the first of the Neapolitan Novels, a four-part series that revolves around the lives of Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to adulthood. The novel begins with an elderly Elena, who learns that her lifelong friend, Lila, has disappeared, and the event causes Elena to reflect upon the entirety of their friendship, beginning with the difficult family and living circumstances of their youths. The book’s stellar ending will surely cause you to pick up the rest of the rest series right away. My Brilliant Friend, along with the series, gives readers an eloquent and well-crafted examination of female friendship while showing what it means to develop one’s identity in an environment that restricts its residents.


The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Translated from Korean by Deborah Smith

Photo: Vegetarian by Han Kang book cover, black shadowy figure against a pinkish red background
'The Vegetarian' by Han Kang

The Vegetarian by Han Kang was the first piece of Korean literature that I had ever read, and perhaps it will be yours as well. Despite picking up this novel years ago, the book’s dark and unsettling nature left a long-lasting impression on me.


The Vegetarian focuses on a woman named Yeong-Hye, who is our titular vegetarian. While the desire to become a vegetarian seems relatively harmless, this dietary change is spurned on by Yeong-hye’s disturbing and bloody. What is intriguing about the novel is that it is not narrated by Yeong-Hye but by the others around her who observe the many changes she implements in her life, which eventually go beyond a vegetarian lifestyle. While this may be a heavy read for some, The Vegetarian does a tremendous job of showing how our choices affect others, all while examining the power of conformity.



The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

Translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa cover
'The Memory Police' by Yoko Ogawa

The intention of this list is to share a variety of texts from across the globe, and I wanted to avoid mentioning a country’s literature twice; however, I couldn’t make this list without sharing both Convenience Store Woman and The Memory Police, for both novels are simply must-reads. When it comes to Ogawa, her novels are often gentle, haunting, and thought-provoking, and The Memory Police is no exception.


The Memory Police takes place on an island where the inhabitants start to forget everyday objects such as bells, perfume, and roses. Forgetting is not an option for the citizens, and the Memory Police ensure that anyone who remembers these items disappears. There are so many layers to this novel, including censorship and how history is remembered or often misremembered, making it a story that will stick with readers long after they finish the book.



We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets

Translated from the Dutch by Emma Rault

We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoets cover
'We Had to Remove This Post' by Hanna Bervoets

We Had to Remove This Post by Hanna Bervoetes provides a perspective that highly differs from the other books on this list, one that highlights the negatives of a twenty-first-century invention—social media. The protagonist, Kayleigh, recently left her job as a content moderator at a major social media company, and the book focuses on what happened during the time she had her position. As a content moderator, Kayleigh was required to review offensive and uncomfortable content considered too disturbing for the average online user. We Had to Remove This Post illustrates what happens to individuals who must encounter horrific content day after day, and how that trauma clings to them. The novella is a complex piece of literature that examines what it means to have access to these harmful experiences and how we decide what’s viewable to others.

 

About the Writer:

Dominique Weldon is a Black biracial writer based in Indiana, IN. She is a first-generation college graduate of the University of Iowa and received her MFA in Fiction from Butler University. Her work appears in Lover’s Eye Press and DarkWinter Literary Magazine. Currently, she reads fiction for Split Lip Magazine and writes for Erato Magazine. Find her online at www.dominiquekweldon.com


1 Kommentar


Gast
29. Aug. 2023

Great list, Bonjour Tristesse and The Details are also great translated books Written hy women

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