7 Summer 2020 New Releases by Women in Translation

Women in Translation Month has ended but the joy of celebrating and reading women in translation doesn’t have to. With great summer 2020 releases like these, you’ll be able to stock up well into next year.

The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud by Kuniko Tsurita, translated by Ryan Holmberg

Drawn & Quarterly has the most fantastic offerings of literature in translation and so I was thrilled to hear about The Sky is Blue with a Single Cloud, the first collection of stories by the “visionary and iconoclastic feminist cartoonist” Kuniko Tsurita to be available in English. Tsurita was the first and only regular female contributor in the legendary alt-manga monthly Garo and this collection reclaims her historical and literary importance. I particularly loved Gabrielle Bellot’s piece in The Atlantic about the collection—in her thoughtful review, Bellot discusses the ways in which Tsurita broke both gender and genre norms in her art.

Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes, translated by Frank Wynne

Vernon Subutex 1 was a wild, provocative, rock and roll romp around Paris and its people and I’m so thrilled to see this next part in writer and filmmaker Virginie Despentes’s trilogy arrive in the U.S. In this second novel, we continue to follow former record shop owner Vernon Subutex as all of Paris (or so it feels) swirls around him, searching for answers that only he can provide. Despentes’s satire—expertly translated by the great Frank Wynne—is tongue in cheek if you’re biting your cheek so hard it bleeds, oh and with a cigarette thrown in for good measure. 

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette

Dima Wannous’s English-language debut The Frightened Ones is a haunting novel of present-day Syria and collective trauma, told through alternating chapters from the point of view of Suleima, the novel’s protagonist, and a woman in an unfinished manuscript that feels eerily similar. I’d recommend this radical and disorienting psychological novel to fans of the The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz, also translated by Elisabeth Jaquette, and Death is Hard Work by Khaled Khalifa, translated by Leri Price—specifically if you’re looking for more novels sets in contemporary Syria. This book was a Finalist for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler

Jungle is a travel agency that specializes in disaster tourism and as one of its top top employees, Yona crafts travel packages to places wrecked by disasters ranging from tsunamis and earthquakes to nuclear disasters and war. Until, that is, she tries to stop her supervisor from sexually harassing her and ends up with a paid “vacation” to assess a poorly reviewed and unprofitable vacation package. The Disaster Tourist is a clever and darkly compelling eco-thriller and satire of the exploitation—of people, nations, and the natural world—inherent in tourism and our society generally.

Bezoar: And Other Unsettling Stories by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine

If you’ve been dying for more Guadalupe Nettel after reading the sharp and stunning After the Winter, translated by Rosalind Harvey, then you’re in luck. In the vein of Silvina Ocampo, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Samanta Schweblin, each story in this collection is beautifully crafted and uniquely unsettling. The stories are varied—a medical photographer is infatuated with the eyelid of a young woman, a man comes to a new understanding of the natural world and his own marriage after meeting a gardener, a woman’s odor in an unlikely place drives a man to search for her—but feel connected by Nettel’s elusive prose and their strange, sensory, and obsessive nature.

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles

Kazu is a ghost that haunts Ueno Park—where he had previously lived in one of its homeless villages until the time of his death—but when you’ve finished this elusive and devastating novel, Kazu will begin to haunt you too. Described as a work of “post-tsunami literature and a protest against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics” and a novel of our times for its scathing critiques of the imperialist and capitalist systems, Tokyo Ueno Station hits even harder in the wake of the pandemic as vulnerable populations worldwide have been impacted disproportionately and the gulf between rich and poor grows at alarming rates.

Bluebeard’s First Wife by Ha Seong-nan, translated by Janet Hong

In this hotly anticipated follow up to Flowers of Mold, Ha Seong-nan and translator Janet Hong return with another unnerving collection of stories that proves to be even more psychologically chilling than the first. It’s Ha Seong-nan’s subject matter that surprises, it all feels so normal, so possible. There is no haunted house in Ha Seong-nan’s stories—it’s your own house, your own neighbor, your own life where Ha Seong-nan’s horror lies. And what could be more truly terrifying?

Looking for even more great new releases? Check out the Indie Press Roundup: 10 Great New Releases for Summer, featuring more Women in Translation recommendations like Grove by Esther Kinsky, translated by Caroline Schmidt!

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

10 Works of Korean Literature in Translation for Fans of Parasite

If you loved the critically acclaimed and astonishing film Parasite—directed by Bong Joon-ho, with a screenplay cowritten by Bong Joon-ho and Han Jin-won—and you’re looking for more great Korean artistry to scratch that itch, look no further than the incredible books in translation coming out of South Korea right now. Many of these novels have themes similar to the ones explored in Parasite, some capture the tone and mood of the film, and others feel quite different but have the genius, the same ingenuity of Parasite

The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

I love Man Booker International Prize winner The Vegetarian by Han Kang and it’s a great place to start this list. It’s a beautiful and provocative story about a woman, Yeong-hye, who begins to have horrible nightmares of blood and carnage, and in order to clear her mind and rid herself of these dreams she becomes a vegetarian. The story becomes one of control and power as her husband and family try to break her into submission, back into the norms of Korean society. To further emphasize her lack of control, Yeong-hye’s own story is told by others, in three parts, first by her husband, then her brother-in-law, and finally by her sister. It’s a dark, fascinating book that you won’t be able to stop thinking about it

Mina by Kim Sagwa, translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton

Author and translator Don Lee Choi calls Kim Sagwa “South Korea’s young, brilliant, fearless writer” and it’s hard to argue after reading Sagwa’s shocking and powerful debut, Mina. Sagwa captures all that’s complicated about adolescence in Mina but goes further, portraying a disaffected generation cracking under the pressures of perfection and the drive for success in a time that could only be our own. If you want more Kim Sagwa, pick up her newest release (also about young adults) B, Book, and Me translated by Sunhee Jeong.

Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi

“While I was writing these poems, I was probably possessed by a ghost, listening to death, then I held death in my hand and entered the house of death.” In 49 poems—one for each day that the spirit roams after death before it enters the cycle of reincarnation—Kim Hyesoon writes of death, tragedy, and trauma. Powerful and haunting, this collection translated by Don Mee Choi “gives voice to those unjustly killed during Korea’s violent contemporary history” and grapples with the “structure of death” that we’re all living in, individually and collectively. Complete with striking drawings by Fi Jae Lee and a fascinating interview and translator’s note that captures the fierce intelligence of both author and translator, Autobiography of Death feels like one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

Blood Sisters by Yideum Kim, translated by Jiyoon Lee

Blood Sisters, the debut novel from celebrated poet Kim Yideum, tells the story of Jeong Yeoul, a college student coping with the aftermath of the violent suppression of student demonstrations in South Korea. With painfully honest and vivid prose, Yideum paints the picture of the environment Jeong Yeoul faces. It’s an all too familiar narrative, the mistreatment and devaluation of women and the constant threat of sexual violence. In the midst of this undercurrent of unrest, Jeong Yeoul is trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be⁠—a thought provoking and powerful novel

Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Seong-Nan Ha, translated by Janet Hong

“If you’re looking for a book that will make you gasp out loud, you’ve found it.” So says Kirkus and dozens of other publications and reviewers who can’t stop talking about Flowers of Mold, myself included. Unnerving, haunting, captivating, these ten stories follow ordinary characters going about their lives—they have a nightmare, lend their neighbor a spatula, or find out their landlord wants to sell their building. But something disturbing lies just below the surface. One small crack and everything’s unleashed. “The latest in the trend of brilliant female Korean authors to appear in English, Ha cuts like a surgeon, and even the most mundane objects become menacing and unfamiliar under her scalpel.” And stay tuned for Bluebeard’s First Wife, another collection by Seong-Nan Han and translated by Janet Hong that comes out in June

The White Book by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith 

Han Kang has followed up her Booker Prize–winning novel The Vegetarian with some truly astonishing books, including Human Acts and the much-anticipated The White Book, her newest release. While on a writer’s residency, a nameless narrator reckons with the death of her older sister, who died only a few hours old and left an inedible mark on the narrator and her family. She writes about this tragedy in a series of unique and profound reflections “through the prism of the color white.” The White Book is a gorgeous and startling meditation on death and grief.

Human Acts by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

In the midst of a student uprising, a young boy is killed. His story and the events following the uprising are told in a series of narratives—each chapter from a different perspective: his best friend, his heartbroken mother, a factory worker, an editor facing down government censorship. Together these narratives form a fictionalized account of the South Korean Gwangju Uprising in 1980. Horrific and brutal, Human Acts is not for the faint of heart but it is so beautifully written. I would pair reading it with another book on this list, Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon and translated by Don Mee Choi, a poetry collection that also touches on issues of trauma and history.

The Hole by Hye-Young Pyun, translated by Sora Kim-Russell

In this intense, psychological thriller, Oghi has woken up in the hospital after a car accident that took his wife’s life and left him severely injured and incapacitated. His mother-in-law becomes his caretaker and moves him home, only to neglect him as she throws herself into digging a hole, a giant pit, in the front yard, where her daughter’s beloved garden once thrived. Here the genius of the book becomes fully evident, as Hye-Young Pyun creates a fast-paced and all consuming story with a bedridden narrator. Unable to move or communicate, Oghi searches desperately for a way to escape while also going over the difficult truths of his life and marriage—truths his mother-in-law is now well-aware of. A novel of secrets, isolation, and grief, The Hole is a tightly-executed feat of writing.

Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, translated by Sora Kim-Russell 

Nowhere to Be Found follows a nameless narrator’s search not for meaning, but for meaninglessness, in contemporary South Korea. Bae Suah’s young narrator describes her empty existence as she travels through life, barely moved by the disintegrated state of her family and her own poverty and loneliness. Translator Sora Kim-Russell describes it as “a road novel turned inside out, a story of a woman’s journey out of and into desire told as only Bae Suah could tell it.” Blurred descriptions of a life full of trivial banalities are thrown against dark, sadomasochistic sex scenes. The abrupt shifts are disorienting and Suah breaks boundaries, constantly, between recollection and memory, facts, and fiction.

North Station by Bae Suah, translated by Deborah Smith

Bae Suah is one of the hottest, most experimental voices coming out of South Korea right now. She’s published numerous novels (including Nowhere to Be Found, also on this list) and short story collections and has won several prestigious awards. Suah is heavily influenced by her work as a translator, having translated several books from German, including works by W.G. Sebald, Franz Kafka, and Jenny Erpenbeck. North Station, translated by Deborah Smith, is a collection of stories that embodies all that Suah is known for in her writing—subverting time and narrative, intellectually stimulating questions of art and life, and epically gorgeous writing.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

5 Poetry Collections by Women in Translation

Looking to read more poetry in translation? It was one of my reading goals this year, and I knew that I specifically wanted to read more poetry by women in translation. It was some of the most rewarding reading of my life and I’m thrilled to share these recommendations. From Vietnam to Denmark, these collections are from all over the world and are full of the power and brilliance I’ve come to associate with the stellar poetry being published in English translation right now, often by small independent publishers. So much gratitude to them and all those involved in the publication of these incredible collections!

The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid

I’ve been eyeing Dunya Mikhail’s poetry collections for a while now and was finally spurred on to pick them up after seeing her new and fourth collection, In Her Feminine Sign, in bookstores. Her third collection, The Iraqi Nights, is a beautiful and poignant examination of violence and war but also a story of hope and endurance. Mikhail references The One Thousand and One Nights in her title and takes the book and the figure of Scheherazade as a focal point—her poems similarly spinning stories to help those affected endure the long night that is war. In addition to being an acclaimed poet, Mikhail’s also a journalist and the author of The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq, translated by Mikhail and Max Weiss.

Third-Millennium Heart by Ursula Andkjær Olsen, translated by Katrine Øgaard Jensen

Winner of the 2018 National Translation Award, Third-Millennium Heart is a radical and compelling exploration of desire, power, and creation from one of Denmark’s most important contemporary poets. The poems are sparse and aggressive, often building on each other, but in turn also dismantling previous ideas, an aptly described series of “declarations and retractions” in which Olsen takes on the patriarchal and capitalist structures of the Western world. I found myself racing through these poems, driven on by Katrine Øgaard Jensen’s masterful translation and the pulsing thrill of the collection. On finishing the book I felt lightheaded—totally overwhelmed and enthralled by its power, I hadn’t even realized I had been holding my breath.

Spring Essence: The Poetry of Hô Xuân Huong, translated by John Balaban

This collection and its author—an 18th century concubine who went on to become one of the most important and well-known poets in Vietnam—are endlessly fascinating. Hidden within demure and often picturesque descriptions of everyday life and nature are racy and suggestive poems “which used double entendre and sexual innuendo as a vehicle for social, religious, and political commentary”—a feat that held personal risk for the poet. The poems are immensely clever and I’m in awe of her skill, layering meaning and defying conventions in each and every piece. This collection is also unique in that it presents the English translation alongside the calligraphic Nôm writing system in which the poems were written and their modern Vietnamese equivalent.

Autobiography of Death by Kim Hyesoon, translated by Don Mee Choi

“While I was writing these poems, I was probably possessed by a ghost, listening to death, then I held death in my hand and entered the house of death.” In 49 poems—one for each day that the spirit roams after death before it enters the cycle of reincarnation—Kim Hyesoon writes of death, tragedy, and trauma. Powerful and haunting, this collection translated by Don Mee Choi “gives voice to those unjustly killed during Korea’s violent contemporary history” and grapples with the “structure of death” that we’re all living in, individually and collectively. Complete with striking drawings by Fi Jae Lee and a fascinating interview and translator’s note that captures the fierce intelligence of both author and translator, Autobiography of Death feels like one of the most important books I’ve ever read.

Caravan Lullabies by Ilzė Butkutė, translated by Rimas Uzgiris

I was recently introduced to Periscope, an imprint from A Midsummer Night’s Press entirely devoted to poetry by women in translation, and read through all of their excellent work by women poets around the globe in a joyous mad dash. I’m particularly fond of Caravan Lullabies by the Lithuanian poet Ilzė Butkutė for its striking imagery—magicians, acrobats, circuses, and more traverse through these poems—set against beautiful scenes of home—quiet nights, lullabies, and the odd mischievous cat. One of my favorites in this collection might be the last poem, where the poet asks, “Is it easy to be a poet, / sharing a home with a cat?” and answers with a resounding no.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

20 Must-Read Short Story Collections by Women in Translation

While looking back at my reading over the last few years, I noticed that many of my favorite books have been short story collections by women in translation. This came as a surprise to me initially—I hadn’t realized I had even read that many short story collections—but once I began to look these books over again I was struck anew by their brilliance. And so I sought out others to round out a list from around the world that will hopefully bring as much joy to you as the reading and compiling did for me. Because boy was compiling this list of 20 must-read short story collections by women in translation a pleasure! I dipped in and out of these stories with utter amazement, finding something for every mood, whim, and desire.

Do you want to laugh? Maybe pick up An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good or The First Prehistoric Serial Killer. Is it October and you want to be utterly terrified and not sleep for days? There are so many options, from Revenge to Flowers of Mold to The Houseguest. Do you want to read a story so achingly perfect that you’ll never try to write again? Well, there are more than a few stories like that in these collections, but I would start by flipping to almost any story in The Woman Who Borrowed Memories. The list could go on. I wish you many hours of happy reading!

The Houseguest by Amparo Dávila, translated by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson 

The horrors of The Houseguest are rarely described on the page. They lurk in the margins. They haunt the shadows. And it’s this thrilling psychological tension that leaves you gasping for air after each story of desire, paranoia, and isolation. Carmen Maria Machado writes that “Each of these stories is equal parts Hitchcock film and razor blade: austere, immaculately crafted, profoundly unsettling, and capable of cutting you. Amparo Dávila is Kafka by way of Ogawa, Aira by way of Carrington, Cortazár by way of Somers, and I’m so grateful she’s in translation.” And do you really need more than that?

Thirteen Months of Sunrise by Rania Mamoun, translated by Elisabeth Jaquette 

In this beautiful debut collection, Sudanese author, journalist, and activist Rania Mamoun crafts a complex and moving portrait of contemporary Sudan. It’s a uniquely urban collection as Mamoun reflects on the isolation that can come with urban life, but she also depicts powerful stories of human connection and love. You’ll feel these stories deeply in Elizabeth Jaquette’s thoughtful translation.

The First Prehistoric Serial Killer: And Other Stories by Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush

I love this short story collection and don’t think it gets nearly the attention it deserves! It is one of the funniest books, especially if you like dark humor. Very odd things happen in Teresa Solana’s stories. Statues decompose and stink out galleries. Two old grandmothers are vengeful killers. The first prehistoric serial killer is afoot, but so is the first detective. The collection also includes an interesting and fun web of stories that explore the darker side of Barcelona. Clever and effortlessly funny, this collection is a gem.

Mouthful of Birds: Stories by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell

Samanta Schweblin, author of the literary sensation Fever Dream, returns with her first short story collection translated into English. Like Fever Dream, I was struck by the elusive, almost unsatisfactory nature of the stories. Some are strikingly short. Others are carefully crafted to confound. All leave you wanting more and thinking about them long after. Strange and fantastic, dark and disturbing, the stories in Mouthful of Birds are sure to please fans of Schweblin’s uniquely unsettling style.

The Woman Who Borrowed Memories: Selected Stories by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal and Silvester Mazzarella

If you’ve ever read Tove Jansson’s classic The Summer Book, a novel that “distills the essence of the summer—its sunlight and storms—into twenty-two crystalline vignettes,” then you won’t be surprised that Jansson’s short stories are also exquisite. Dealing with many of the same themes as her longer works, her stories touch on art, nature, isolation and so much more—the various stages between sunlight and storm, the spectrum of shades between light and dark. In her introduction, Lauren Groff writes, “We read Tove Jansson to remember that to be human is dangerous, but also breathtaking, beautiful.”

Aetherial Worlds: Stories by Tatyana Tolstaya, translated by Anya Migdal

This fascinating collection from one of Russia’s most important contemporary writers transcends ordinary realities into dazzling other worlds of folklore and fantasy, “rendered with the emotional insight of Chekhov, the surreal satire of Gogol, and a unique blend of humor and poetry all her own.” Rich and clever, these stories explore politics, identity, love, and loss in Tolstaya’s masterful voice. After finishing it, I rushed out to get her collection of essays Pushkin’s Children: Writings on Russia and Russians, translated by Jamey Gambrell.

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson

Gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, The Complete Stories captures Clarice Lispector in all of her “darkness and dazzle.” The stories, written during her adolescence all the way up until her death, are inventive and haunting, often about women at various stages of their lives. Some are more traditional than the novels she’s come to be known for, but as a whole the collection is a great way to “get” (or grasp at, at least) a sense of Lispector and her prose. You can dip in and out of these stories—86 in the hardcover and 89 in the paperback with three newly discovered stories—but I would recommend picking them up early in your reading of Lispector. Find your way into the other works of Clarice Lispector with this reading pathways post.

The Sea Cloak & Other Stories by Nayrouz Qarmout, translated by Perween Richards

Author, journalist, and women’s rights campaigner Nayrouz Qarmout draws from her own experiences growing up in a Syrian refugee camp as well as her current life in Gaza in this collection of stories that looks at what it means to be a woman in Palestine today. Qarmout thoughtfully weaves together stories of conflict and strife with tales of ordinary life, resulting in a deep and moving collection.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya, translated by Asa Yoneda 

I loved this collection of quirky and wonderful stories. Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Motoya is a magician—she takes mundane, daily life and just twists it into these amazingly strange and fantastic tales. In these stories, a newlywed notices that her husband’s features are sneakily sliding around his face to match hers, umbrellas are more than they seem, women are challenging their boyfriends to duels, and you might want to reconsider dating the girl next door. I’d recommend this collection to fans of Hiromi Kawakami.

I Am the Brother of XX by Fleur Jaeggy, translated by Gini Alhadeff

Once you’ve read one book by Fleur Jaeggy—an undeniable master of the short form—you won’t want to read much else until you’ve finished all of her work. In these stories, which are so emblematic of her short, piercing style, Jaeggy writes of madness, obsession, and violence and “contrives to somehow stealthily possess your mind” with her “champagne gothic worlds [that are] seething with quiet violence.” Her prose has been compared to shards of glass and cut gems and while I won’t add to the descriptions, I will warn you now—you won’t come away from these stories unscathed.

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, translated by Marlaine Delargy

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good is dark, funny, and oh so satisfying. Maud is an 88-year-old Swede who has no scruples about solving life’s problems with some lowkey murder. I enjoyed this story collection and have since picked up Helene Tursten’s mystery novels, including the Inspector Irene Huss series and the first installment in her brand new series featuring Detective Inspector Embla Nyström, Hunting Game. An Elderly Lady is also just such a great package—the title is fun and clever, the needlepoint cover is hilarious, and the small trim size finishes it off perfectly.

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell

I was blown away by this collection of dark, macabre short stories set in contemporary Argentina. They are stories of ghosts, disappearances, violence, inequality, and more, and I promise that you will be haunted by them. My favorites were stories of obsession like “The Dirty Kid” in which a young professional woman discovers that a local child has been killed and mutilated, and “The Neighbor’s Courtyard,” a story of an ex–social worker who believes her neighbor has a child chained up in the backyard. The collection is reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado.

Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Ha Seong-Nan, translated by Janet Hong 

“If you’re looking for a book that will make you gasp out loud, you’ve found it.” So says Kirkus Reviews and dozens of other publications and reviewers who can’t stop talking about Flowers of Mold, myself included. Unnerving, haunting, captivating, these ten stories follow ordinary characters going about their lives—they have a nightmare, lend their neighbor a spatula, or find out their landlord wants to sell their building. But something disturbing lies just below the surface. One small crack and everything’s unleashed. “The latest in the trend of brilliant female Korean authors to appear in English, Ha cuts like a surgeon, and even the most mundane objects become menacing and unfamiliar under her scalpel.”

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington, translated by Kathrine Talbot and Anthony Kerrigan

For the first time, all of surrealist artist and writer Leonora Carrington’s short stories have been collected in one definitive volume, many of which are translated from French and Spanish. The result is a fiercely intelligent and fantastical collection. The stories themselves are pure flights of imagination, ranging from biting satire to the macabre, and even some outrageously comedic tales. A strange and surreal treat!

Arid Dreams: Stories by Duanwad Pimwana, translated by Mui Poopoksakul

Duanwad Pimwana, an important literary figure in contemporary Thai literature, hit the U.S. literary scene by storm last April with two new books, both translated by Mui Poopoksakul. Bright, published by Two Lines Press, was the first-ever novel by a Thai woman to appear in translation. And Pimwana made her short story English debut with Arid Dreams, published by Feminist Press. In Arid Dreams, Pimwana turns her keen eye and sharp wit on modern Thailand, as she explores issues of class and gender in insightful and subtly subversive stories.

Forgotten Journey by Silvina Ocampo, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan

“Silvina Ocampo is one of our best writers. Her stories have no equal in our literature,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges. Now for the first time in English translation, readers can delight in all of the strange brilliance that is Silvina Ocampo’s first collection of stories, Forgotten Journey. Published alongside her novella The Promise, this collection is primarily concerned with the lives of young women and girls. Often menacing and strange, each story has a thrill to it, a dark joy that keeps you fixed to the collection. In her foreword, Carmen Boullosa writes of the often cited comparison between Ocampo and Julio Cortázar but argues instead that, “While in his fabulous stories Cortázar discovered the unreal in everyday life, Silvina enters real, detailed, intimate spaces, which she observes with an eye that is intimate, real and detailed, and yet an eye from another world.”

Toddler Hunting and Other Stories by Taeko Kono, translated by Lucy North 

Kenzaburo Oe calls Taeko Kono “the most carnally direct and the most lucidly intelligent woman writing in Japan” and it’s hard to disagree after reading the unsettling and striking stories in Toddler Hunting. Pleasure and pain mix in the lives of the women of Taeko Kono’s stories, as scenes of sadomasochism and obsession veil her sharp attacks at the ideals of motherhood and femininity.

Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder 

I’m in awe of Yoko Ogawa—she’s published more than 20 works of fiction and nonfiction and has won every major Japanese literary award. Her range is incredible, from books like this dark collection to her touching novel The Housekeeper and the Professor and her latest The Memory Police, her take on an Orwellian novel of state surveillance. Revenge is an intricately interwoven collection of stories about grief, death, and yes, revenge, where each story stands alone but also connects in surprising ways to its fellows. This layered effect coupled with the subtle calm of Ogawa’s prose makes the disturbing elements of these stories feel even more chilling.

Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang, translated by Karen S. Kingsbury 

Eileen Chang is one of the great writers of twentieth century China, and her first collection in English, Love in a Fallen City, introduced many readers to her incredible short stories. In this collection, written when Chang was still in her 20s, the stories swirl around themes of love, loss, and family, combining “an unsettled, probing, utterly contemporary sensibility, keenly alert to sexual politics and psychological ambiguity, with an intense lyricism that echoes the classics of Chinese literature.”

A Nail, A Rose by Madeleine Bourdouxhe, translated by Faith Evans

Neglected for decades, interest in Belgian author Madeleine Bourdouxhe’s work has seen a resurgence and I’m so thrilled to have been introduced to her work through this collection. Praised by Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex and close friends with Russian revolutionary writer Victor Serge, Bourdouxhe was a fascinating feminist writer. Like her critically acclaimed novels Marie and La Femme de Giles, her short stories tell the inner lives of ordinary, primarily working class, women in elegant and vivid prose. And I so appreciated the wealth of detail in translator Faith Evans’s introduction.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

Fall 2019 New Releases In Translation

The days are shorter. The nights are colder. The books are coming at a rate that few can keep up with. It must be fall! And what a season it is, with a new Krasznahorkai novel, the U.S. release of the Man Booker International Prize Winner Celestial Bodies, some exceptional nonfiction, and so much more! Check out these fall 2019 new releases in translation.

Parade: A Folktale by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell

In her afterword, Hiromi Kawakami describes Parade as a “memento of a story that has ended.” The word memento is a lovely and fitting description for this small companion story to Kawakami’s bestselling novel Strange Weather in Tokyo. Set on a lazy summer afternoon, Tsukiko is telling Sensei a story of her childhood, of how one day she awoke to find two tengu—winged creatures of Japanese folklore—by her bed. They became her constant companions and showed her that there’s more to the world than she thought. A moving story of kindness with the subtle and beautiful writing Kawakami’s known for and captivating illustrations by Takako Yoshitomi, Parade will prove to be a precious keepsake for fans of Kawakami and Strange Weather in Tokyo. Find your way into the other works of Hiromi Kawakami with this reading pathways post.

The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada, translated by David Boyd

In Hiroko Oyamada’s English language debut The Factory, three characters find work at an industrial factory. They settle into their new jobs and they soon realize that their lives have slowly (or is it quickly? Time doesn’t seem to make sense any more) been taken over by the factory. Reality dissolves, strange creatures begin to appear, and the list of unanswered questions about this unusual factory grows longer. I suspect that this strange and surreal tale might fill part of the Convenience Store Woman–sized hole in many readers’ hearts.

Welcome to America by Linda Boström Knausgård, translated by Martin Aitken

“It’s a long time already since I stopped talking.” And so opens Welcome to America, Linda Boström Knausgård‘s intense and masterful portrait of family and trauma. Twelve-year-old Ellen has stopped talking following the death of her father, causing deeper cracks in an already splintered family. In striking prose, Knausgård examines the power of silence and the complicated reality of family. A singular and thought-provoking story with a child narrator you won’t soon forget. I look forward to Knausgård‘s next book!

The Promise by Silvina Ocampo, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Jessica Powell 

Legend Silvina Ocampo worked on perfecting this novel over the course of 25 years, right up until her death in 1993, and it’s out this fall in its first ever English translation. It’s being published alongside Forgotten Journey, a collection of short stories by Ocampo translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan. In The Promise, a woman reminisces about her life, and lets her imagination get away with her, after falling overboard into the sea—a reflection of Ocampo’s own struggles with dementia and her interest in memory and identity. It’s said to be Ocampo “at her most feminist, idiosyncratic and subversive” and I just can’t wait to get my hands on it and Forgotten Journey.

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth

One of the most hotly anticipated books of the fall, Celestial Bodies is the first novel originally written in Arabic to ever win the Man Booker International Prize and the first book by an Omani woman to be translated into English. It’s a beautiful and sweeping story of three sisters from a small Omani village. Jokha Alharthi charts the sisters’ individual but deeply interwoven paths in life, against a backdrop of rapid social and economic change in their country. Seamlessly navigating between time and perspective, Celestial Bodies is a striking feat of storytelling. Chair of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize panel of judges Bettany Hughes describes it as, “A book to win over the head and the heart in equal measure.”

A Fist or a Heart by Kristín Eiríksdóttir, translated by Larissa Kyzer 

Up until this year, very little Icelandic literature by women has come across my desk so I’m thrilled to have two fascinating novels out this year—History. A Mess. by Sigrún Pálsdottír, translated by Lytton Smith and A Fist or a Heart. Award-winning poet, playwright, and novelist Kristín Eiríksdóttir has written a clever and many layered story of isolation, art, and memory. A Fist or a Heart follows the lives of two women—connected, but we don’t know by what—Elín, a septuagenarian props-maker and Ellen, a gifted young playwright. A novel of isolation and secrets, the emotional

The Incompletes by Sergio Chejfec, translated by Heather Cleary 

From the docks of Buenos Aires to Barcelona to Moscow, The Incompletes is a “story of something that happened one night years ago, and the events of the morning and afternoon that followed.” But nothing is straightforward in this latest pairing of Sergio Chejfec and translator Heather Cleary (other titles include The Planets and The Dark) as secrets abound, information is pieced together through postcards and notes on hotel stationary, and the narrator’s imaginings run rampant. It’s a journey like no other and you’ll just want to let go and go along for the ride with this complicated but compelling story, one that Hernan Diaz, author of In The Distance calls, “an extraordinary palimpsest of a novel.”

Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming by László Krasznahorkai, translated by Ottilie Mulzet 

In an interview in the Paris Review, László Krasznahorkai says of Baron Wenkcheim’s Homecoming, “I’ve said a thousand times that I always wanted to write just one book. Now, with Baron, I can close this story. With this novel I can prove that I really wrote just one book in my life. This is the book—Satantango, Melancholy, War and War, and Baron. This is my one book.” László Krasznahorkai is beloved in many literary circles and while this announcement that Baron will be his last work is surprising and sad to many, this final novel in his four-part masterwork is already being hailed as his best! Set in contemporary times, Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming tells the story of Baron Béla Wenckheim, who returns at the end of his life to his provincial Hungarian hometown.

2019 Nonfiction in Translation 

And, as nonfiction in translation is growing, I’d be remiss to not mention some of the amazing nonfiction out this fall:

Me & Other Writing by Marguerite Duras, translated by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan—An impressive and wide-ranging collection of nonfiction by Marguerite Duras, who’s probably best known for her internationally bestselling novel The Lover.

The Collector of Leftover Souls: Field Notes on Brazil’s Everyday Insurrections by Eliane Brum, translated by Diane Grosklaus Whitty—Investigative journalist Eliane Brum gives voice to a wide range of Brazilian people in this important collection of essays.

The Ingenious Language: Nine Epic Reasons to Love Greek by Andrea Marcolongo, translated by Will Schutt—Andrea Marcolongo’s love of Ancient Greek is infectious in this brilliant meditation on language and life.

The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson’s Lost Files and the Hunt for an Assassin by Jan Stocklassa, translated by Tara F. Chace—Fans of the Millennium Trilogy won’t want to miss this fascinating investigation into the unsolved assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, based on Stieg Larsson’s own rediscovered archive.

When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book by Naja Marie Aidt, translated by Denise Newman—Naja Marie Aidt chronicles the first few years after the tragic death of her 25-year-old son Carl in this poignant and heartbreakingly beautiful book.

I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer by Ahmet Altan, translated by Yasemin Congar—In this incredible memoir, written from his prison cell, Turkish novelist Ahmet Altan reflects upon his imprisonment and the solace and strength his art provides him.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.