5 Books to Read Before Women in Translation Month Ends
August arrives with a wave of warmth and seasonal transition. It carries the peaceful echoes of Summer's last days as nature readies itself for the blazing orange fall season ahead. The sun-drenched hours and the crisp air in the dawn and dusk hint at the looming embrace of Autumn. However, in pre-anticipation of the upcoming harvest season, August beckons a summer reading list for many, as plans for Summer vacations involve quiet moments in reclining beach chairs (the perfect reading position). As the warm and bittersweet August days fade, remembering the annual global literary-based holiday that graces this month is crucial.
Throughout this month, readers come together to celebrate the works of women translators worldwide. This annual celebration is known as "Women in Translation Month." Formed in late 2013 and established by literary enthusiast Meytal Radzinski, Women in Translation Month became a popular movement that gained significant attention and involvement within the feminist literary community. This movement aims to fix the gendered imbalances within global literature and appreciate female literary translators. Alongside appreciation for women in the literary field, Women in Translation Month also strives to promote written work from writers from all backgrounds, languages, and life experiences. In doing so, it pays homage to the determination of translators working in the literary field, who bring forth a vast collection of written treasures translated into numerous languages for all to read. These translated works enrich our grasp of the human experience, offering us windows into the diverse corners of our world. So, with your newfound information, here are a few translated works you can read during the last days of this month to get into the Women in Translation Month spirit!
1. Kim Ji-young, Born 1982
Author: Cho Nam-joo
Translator: Jamie Chang (Korean to English)
Spanning just under 200 pages, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by South Korean author Cho Nam Joo packs a powerful punch. Published in 2016, this contemporary work of literary fiction centers around its protagonist, Kim Jiyoung. Her life takes an intriguing turn when she suddenly develops strange symptoms, occasionally impersonating the voices of other women. Worried from her behavior, her husband intervenes, forcing a visit to a psychiatrist. A chilling narrative follows, told in a third-person perspective, tracing Jiyoung's life journey from childhood to adulthood. As her life story unfolds, it documents her struggles and frustrations as she navigates a world where she constantly faces sexism, discrimination, and societal pressures. Through Jiyoung's story, readers are offered a compelling reflection of patriarchy, allowing readers to peek into the intricacies of Korean society through a feminist lens.
2. Thirteen Months of Sunrise
Author: Rania Mamoun
Translator: Elisabeth Jaquette (Arabic to English)
Sudanese writer Rania Mamoun's novel, Thirteen Months of Sunrise delves into ten captivating short stories. Originally written in Arabic and then masterfully translated into English, this novel provides a unique peek into the lives of individuals in Sudan. The narratives primarily focus on Sudanese women and their experiences with love, loss, faith, and misconduct. These women face numerous hardships, including isolation and mental health struggles, all while also being marginalized by society. Mamoun's writing beautifully explores the intricacies of human emotions, allowing readers to understand each emotion closely. Within its pages, readers are provided with a window into a world that might be unfamiliar to some, offering a chance to understand and connect with the diverse range of experiences that make up our world.
Author: Alejandro Zambra
Translator: Carolina De Robertis (Spanish to English)
Bonsai, written by Chilean author Alejandro Zambra, is a novella just under 90 pages. Published in 2006, it gained recognition for its unique narrative style and poetic prose. The story of Bonsai centers on Julio and Emilia, two university students who cross paths and, within five brief chapters, go through all the stages of a relationship. The narrative swings between two timelines: one capturing the unfolding of Julio and Emilia's relationship and the other in the
present, where Julio ponders over his memories. The novella delves into themes of love, remembrance, literature, and the complexities of human connections. Through its fragmented narrative style, Bonsai invites readers to think about the nature of storytelling and how we
construct and remember our own personal narratives.
Author: Yanick Lahens
Translator: Emily Gogolak (French to English)
Moonbath, a French novel by Haitian author Yanick Lahens, published in 2014, is a mesmerizing exploration of three generations of women in Haiti. Set against a background of political and economic hardships, Lahens weaves together the voices of four women, their stories interlaced with magic, hope, and despair. The narrative delves into each character's life and story, offering a glimpse into Haitian culture, tradition, and history. Moonbath is a powerful portrayal of society, inviting readers to reflect on family, history, and the search for meaning in the face of challenges.
Author: Banana Yoshimoto
Translator: Megan Backus (Japanese to English)
Kitchen, the debut work by the sensational Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto, was published in 1988. The novel centers around two young women's experiences navigating life's complexities and losses. The narrative beautifully captures their journey as they seek solace in a kitchen's ordinary yet comforting space. It explores how recurring personal tragedies shape and change our views on life and death and the mechanisms we often resort to to keep our sadness from affecting our everyday reality. Overall, Kitchen is a touching piece on the delicate
interplay between grief, resilience, and the search for meaning amidst life's unavoidable obstacles.