In celebration of Women in Translation Month, Translationista invited a number of publishers to select one book each by a female author to be offered as part of a special WIT Month promotion at a 40% discount. Details on each book and ordering information below. Huge thanks to all the publishers (see below) who took me up on the invitation to join in celebrating this month of reading women from around the globe! Please check out the books they recommend, purchase via the links provided to receive the discount, or from your local bookseller, and tweet your reads with the hashtags #WITMonth and #readwomen. Books by gals make great beach companions too – perfect for August! So here are the books these publishers thought you might enjoy:
Burning Deck suggests Heiligenanstalt by Friederike Mayröcker, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop, Burning Deck Press, published 1994.
Friederike Mayröcker is one of the most original (and prominent) Austrian writers, famous for the baroque, “hallucinatory” quality of her poetry and prose. Born 1924 in Vienna, where she continues to live, she was associated with the experimental “Vienna Group” in the 1960s. She has received many prestigious literary prizes in both Austria and Germany.
Heiligenanstalt contains four fictions “around” the composers Chopin, Bruckner, Schubert, and the trio of Brahms, Clara and Robert Schumann. All presided over by Beethoven whose “Heiligenstadt Testament” is evoked by the title (literally: “Saints’ Asylum”: a reference to Robert Schumann’s years of insanity). Mayröcker has worked from biographical material, but has above all, “looked into the eye of the hurricane.”
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Canarium Books suggests The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, translated by Sawako Nakayasu, published April 1, 2015.
The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa is the first comprehensive collection of one of Japan’s foremost modernists to appear in English translation. It won the 2016 PEN Award for Poetry in translation, and the project received a grant from the Japan Foundation.
Buy here (discount already applied, no code required).
Coffee House Press suggests The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney, published Sept. 1, 2015.
Highway is a late-in-life world traveller, yarn spinner, collector, and legendary auctioneer. His most precious possessions are the teeth of the ‘notorious infamous’ like Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf. Written in collaboration with the workers at a Jumex juice factory, The Story of My Teeth is an elegant, witty, exhilarating romp through the industrial suburbs of Mexico City and Luiselli’s own literary influences.
Buy here, using the discount code WITM.
Deep Vellum suggests Seeing Red by Lina Meruane, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell, published Feb. 23, 2016.
Seeing Red describes a young Chilean writer recently relocated to New York for doctoral work who suffers a stroke which leaves her blind. It charts her journey through hospitals and an increased dependency on those closest to her to cope. Fiction and autobiography intertwine in an intense, visceral, and caustic novel about the relation between the body, science, and human relationships. Seeing Red is the haunting English-language debut by one of Latin America’s most renowned authors, praised across the world for her psychological and linguistic mastery.
Buy here (20% discount already applied).
Graywolf Press suggests Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors, translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken, published by Graywolf as A Public Space Book Feb. 4, 2014.
The fifteen stories of Karate Chop are meticulously observed glimpses of everyday life that expose the ominous lurking under the ordinary: while his wife sleeps, a husband prowls the Internet, obsessed with female serial killers; a bureaucrat tries to reinvent himself, exposing goodness as artifice when he converts to Buddhism in search of power; a woman sits on the edge of the bed where her lover lies, attempting to locate a motive for his violence within her own self-doubt. Shifting between moments of violence (real and imagined) and mundane contemporary life, these stories encompass the complexity of human emotions, our capacity for cruelty as well as compassion.
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Interlink Books suggests The Weight of Paradise by Iman Humaydan, translated by Michelle Hartman, published Aug. 2016.
The Weight of Paradise joins the lives of two women in Beirut—one living and one dead. Noura Abu Sawwan, a journalist, was murdered just before the 1975 Lebanese civil war that divided Muslims and Christians across the infamous Green Line. Nearly two decades later, political filmmaker Maya Amer finds a suitcase filled with Noura’s love letters in an abandoned building while filming a documentary about the city’s reconstruction. Investigating Noura’s mysterious life and death, Maya discovers that the writer’s then-infant son, also presumed dead, is alive. A newly widowed mother herself, Maya embarks on a journey to find the boy that connects the two women in still more unexpected ways in this darkly lyrical novel of historic and modern Lebanon.
Buy here (discount already applied).
New Directions suggests The Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, published May 27, 2014.
The Iraqi Nights is the third collection by the acclaimed Iraqi poet Dunya Mikhail. Taking The One Thousand and One Nights as her central theme, Mikhail personifies the role of Scheherazade the storyteller, saving herself through her tales. In this haunting collection, the nights are endless, seemingly as dark and as endless as war. Yet the poet cannot stop dreaming of a future beyond the violence — of a place where “every moment / something ordinary / will happen under the sun.” Unlike Scheherazade, however, Mikhail is writing not to escape death, but to summon the strength to endure. Inhabiting the emotive spaces between Iraq and the U.S., Mikhail infuses those harsh realms with a deep poetic intimacy.
Buy here (discount already applied).
New Vessel Press suggests Who is Martha? by Marjana Gaponenko, translated by
Arabella Spencer, published Oct. 7, 2014.
In this rollicking novel, 96-year-old ornithologist Luka Levadski foregoes treatment for lung cancer and moves from Ukraine to Vienna to make a grand exit in a luxury suite at the Hotel Imperial. He reflects on his past while indulging in Viennese cakes and savoring music in a gilded concert hall. Levadski was born in 1914, the same year that Martha – the last of the now-extinct passenger pigeons – died. Levadski himself has an acute sense of being the last of a species. He may have devoted much of his existence to studying birds, but now he befriends a hotel butler and another elderly guest, who also doesn’t have much time left, to share in the lively escapades of his final days.
Buy here, using the discount code WomeninTranslation.
Ugly Duckling Presse suggests Intervenir/Intervene by Dolores Dorantes & Rodrigo Flores Sánchez, translated by Jen Hofer, published Aug. 1, 2015.
Intervenir/Intervene is a searing and tender collaboration between two Mexican poets—Dolores Dorantes, who lived in Ciudad Juárez for 25 years and now has political asylum in Los Angeles, and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez, who lives in Mexico City. Intervenir/Intervene asks questions no one should have to ask: in a climate of state-sponsored violence, what kinds of speech, writing, and relation are possible? We are being intervened. How do we collaborate? How do we resist?
Buy here, using the discount code BORDER.
Yale University Press (Margellos World Republic of Letters series) suggests France, Story of a Childhood by Zahia Rahmani, translated by Lara Vergnaud, published May 24, 2016.
An intimate, heartbreaking autobiographical novel of an Algerian Muslim family’s exile from home and unwelcoming reception in France—a tale ofimprisonment and escape, persecution and loss, narrated by the daughter of an alleged Harki, an Algerian soldier who fought for the French during the Algerian War for Independence. It was the fate of such men to be twice exiled, first in their homeland after the war, and later in France, where fleeing Harki families sought refuge but instead faced contempt, discrimination, and exclusion. Zahia Rahmani blends reality and imagination to offer a fictionalized version of her own family’s struggle. Lara Vergnaud’s beautiful translation from the French perfectly captures the voices and emotions of Rahmani’s childhood in a foreign land.
Buy here, using the discount code FSCTM.
Finally, two honorary additions to this list:
And Other Stories, a publisher that maintains a U.S. outpost and participates in the literary life of this country (as well as being a leader in pro-woman publishing projects) suggests Now and at the Hour of Our Death by Susana Moreira Marques, translated by Julia Sanches, published Oct. 22, 2015.
Accompanying a palliative care team, Moreira Marques travels to Trás-os-Montes in half-deserted rural Portugal. In this book she gathers the voices and stories of those affected by terminal cancer.
Blending the immediacy of oral history with the sensibility of philosophical reportage, Moreira Marques’ book speaks about death in a fresh way.
Buy here (no discount available).
OR Books suggests the bilingual anthology Gay Propaganda (with over 50% female authors), co-edited by Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon, with translations into English by Bela Shayevich, and into Russian by Andrei Borodin, Dmitry Karelsky, and Svetlana Solodovnik, published March 20, 2014.
Gay Propaganda brings together original stories, interviews and testimonial, presented in both English and Russian, to capture the lives and loves of LGBT Russians living both in Russia and in exile today. The stories gathered in Gay Propaganda offer a timely and intimate window into the hardships faced by Russians on the receiving end of state-sanctioned homophobia. Here are tales of men and women in long-term committed relationships as well as those still looking for love; of those trying to raise kids or taking care of parents; of those facing the challenges of continuing to live in Russia or joining an exodus that is rapidly becoming a flood.
Buy here, using the discount code PROPAGANDA.
Happy Women in Translation Month, everyone! Happy reading!
My book Who’s Who in Contemporary Women’s Writing is a great source for women writers in translation whose careers began between the 1960s and the 1990s. When I published it in 2001, it was the first international guide to contemporary women’s writing (maybe it still is). Most of the writers included had at least one work translated into English. The entries indicate which works have been translated and which have not. One of my goals with this book was to bring attention to the lack of translations of women writers. #WITMonth gives me hope that this situation may at last be changing.