Favourite Books by Women in Translation

August is Women in Translation Month, the perfect time to read translated books written by female authors. For those looking for suggestions of appropriate books to pick up during the next month, there are four that stood out the most for me from the ones that I’ve read in translation so far.

Bear in mind that, as my mother tongue is Portuguese, I don’t read Lusophone authors in translation. But if you are looking forward to reading books originally written in Portuguese during August, you can find many blog posts with recommendations on this blog or ask any questions you may have in the comments section!

 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The South Korean novel The Vegetarian is an impressive, affecting and disconcerting exploration of abuse, mental health, desire and rebellion against social conventions. Yeong-hye has always been a dutiful wife. But one day a disturbing dream leads her to become a vegetarian, which deeply upsets her family. Although she is the main character, the story is not told from her point of view. Readers are presented with the perspectives of her husband, her brother-in-law and her sister, who all have distinctive voices.

 

S.: A Novel about the Balkans by Slavenka Drakulic

Slavenka Drakulic, a Croatian journalist and novelist, penned a poignant book, full of despair and hurt, about a woman, referred to as S., who managed to survive the conflict in Bosnia, enduring horrible plights. From the very beginning, readers are aware that S. has been repeatedly raped, leading to an undesired pregnancy. Her mother was a Serb and her father a Muslim. Despite not feeling like one or the other, others quickly labelled her as Muslim and, as such, she was seen as the enemy.

 

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante are (deservedly) well loved. Although I enjoyed all the books in the series, my favourite is probably the second – The Story of a New Name. After My Brilliant Friend, readers continue to follow the story of Elena and Lila’s convoluted friendship as they grow up. The writing style makes this book, which is full of conflicting emotions, compelling. It also delves into class, equality and social mobility.

 

High Tide by Inga Abele

Translated from the Latvian, High Tide is a novel about Ieva and the role that Andrejs and Aksels played in her life. As it is written in more or less reverse chronological order, a structure that enriches the story, Ieva’s present feelings and attitudes are only fully understandable close to the end. The main charm of the book is to discover more about her personality and past. It shows how previous decisions can influence our outlook on life.

 

What are your favourite books written by women that you read in translation? Tell me in the comments!

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