Do you think of August as a slow, napping-on-the-beach time when not much happens? Do you consider finding an easy parking space in the city the most exciting event of the month? Think again.
August is Women in Translation Month. And while our contributors anxiously wait to find out whether their favourite book has won the International Booker Prize on August 26, the all-female team has decided to come up with our own Top 9 Women in Translation List to keep you entertained.
Some of these books are international bestsellers, others used to make us wish we could wander the world when we were little. We hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did and let us know which brilliant woman’s work stole your heart and should be featured at number 10.
The list is in no particular order.
1. The Girl at the Door by Veronica Raimo, translated by Stash Luczkiw
Imagine a perfect world where every problem is solved by the community. Now imagine a shocking event such as sexual abuse and the effect it can have on that society. That’s the world depicted in The Girl at the Door, a book that makes you rethink about what it means to have feelings that we cannot recognize and how the society we live in influences our perception on who we are.
2. The Tiger and the Acrobat by Susanna Tamaro, translated by Nicoleugenia Prezzavento and Vicki Satlow
The Tiger and the Acrobat is not only the story of a friendship between a Siberian tiger and a young acrobat, it is the story of the search for one's essence, a celebration of true friendship and the courage to be oneself. More than a novel, the story seems a fairy tale in which curiosity, the desire for freedom and the unquenchable desire to know are the masters.
3. Twice Born by Margaret Mazzantini, translated by Ann Gagliardi
Twice Born is a book about two different journeys: the physical journey of Gemma and her son Pietro in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the journey into Gemma's memories of her travel in that same land. It is a heavy book, which explores the deepest feelings of the human soul, the fear of death, the pain of abortion and the horror of war.
4. Listen to My Heart by Bianca Pitzorno
A UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, Bianca Pitzorno is considered one of the best Italian writers of books for children and young adults. Most of her main characters are young girls who grow to discover the values of friendship, womanhood, and standing up for oneself. Listen to My Heart, set in a Sardinian primary school right after the Second World War, is filled with such extraordinary girls fighting against injustice and bending the limits of their society.
5. Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth
Jokha Alharthi is not afraid to break records. Celestial Bodies made her the first Omani female author translated into English, and the first Arabic writer to win the Man Booker International Prize in 2019. It is the story of three sisters, their families, aspirations, and loves, moving in a rapidly changing Oman. The judges described it as "A richly imagined, engaging and poetic insight into a society in transition and into lives previously obscured." The prize was divided equally between Alharthi and Marilyn Booth.
6. In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by Ann Goldstein
This memoir by Pulitzer Prize winning-author Jhumpa Lahiri is a true love letter to the Italian language. Not a native speaker, Lahiri wrote the original text in Italian, creating a show-and-tell literary experiment where she describes the extraordinary yet sometimes rocky journey of learning to live, breathe, and long in another language.
7. Convenience Store Woman, Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Convenience Store Woman is a charming novella that talks about Keiko, an oddball who is constantly puzzled by others’ behaviour, that is perfectly content working a job that is alienating and dull, in a convenience store in Japan. The protagonist finds herself at home within three shelves of the small store.
8. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, translated by Alison Anderson
This novel, set in Paris, will transport you directly in the French capital with the fascinating story it presents. Renée is a concierge in an apartment building, where she conceals her intelligence from the world, until the inhabitants of the condominium unveil it.
9. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin
This beautifully written family saga set in Argentina is perhaps Allende’s masterpiece. This novel follows the four generations of the Trueba family. This is one of the maximum exponents of magical realism, and would be perfect for anyone who loves this genre.