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It’s that time again — it’s Women in Translation month! Every year, the literary world celebrates women writing literature that’s been translated from one language to another. Inspired by the founder’s original mission, book enthusiasts around the world are participating in reading challenges, creating TBRs, and even organizing a yearly #WITreadathon! So if you’re wondering what to read this month, here are ten books by women in translation:
The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, Translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
I adore multigenerational family sagas and have been waiting for this one to FINALLY release on audio — and now it has! The Eighth Life starts around the time of the Russian Revolution and moves through the 20th century, taking us along this family’s story. Tavia Gilbert’s performance captures the lengthy, multi-faceted story in all of its complexities.
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, Translated by Tina Kover
Disoriental swept through the literary scene a few years ago, winning several major awards. But we just received the audio edition at the end of 2020, and you bet I had this incredible audiobook preordered as soon as it was announced. The wonderful Siiri Scott performs the novel with all of her signature insight and understanding of the text.
Narrated by Siiri Scott
Minor Detail by Adania Shibli, Translated by Elisabeth Jacquette
Shortlisted for last year’s National Book Award for translation, Minor Detail begins in the summer of 1949 during the Nakba, or catastrophe, which displaced over 700,000 Palestinian people. In just a few hours, Adania Shibli tells an incredible story in such a beautiful and concise way. Again Siiri Scott narrates the story with wonderful skill.
Narrated by Siiri Scott
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, Translated by Jamie Chang
Another audiobook I’ve been waiting for finally released recently. Last year, everyone seemed to be reading Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982. The novel is often cited as a major text in the Korean feminist movement. Jamie Chang narrates the audiobook so well, tackling a difficult text with an unflinching performance.
Narrated by Kathleen Chloe
The Woman in the Purple Skirt by Natsuko Imamura, Translated by Lucy North
I adore the way this book possesses a quality to get under your skin. The everyday goings on of The Woman in the Purple Skirt, all of the little details, make it so you can’t look away as we observe her daily trip to the park, her affair with her boss, and all of the other seemingly mundane parts of her life. Jennifer Ikeda takes on this unique character, narrating the audiobook with confidence.
Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, Translated by Morgan Giles
Our protagonist, Kazu, haunts the Ueno Station. He arrived in Tokyo to work on preparations for the 1968 Olympics and never really left. Johnny Heller performs this otherworldly story, capturing how it is so incredibly human.
Narrated by Johnny Heller
Whereabouts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri
Written and translated by Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts continues Lahiri’s foray into writing in Italian. As a fan, I have loved watching her learn to maneuver in a new language. Susan Vinciotti Bonito does a fantastic job of capturing the unique voice of this novel.
Narrated by Susan Vinciotti Bonito
The Impudent Ones by Marguerite Duras, Translated by Kelsey L. Haskett
Duras has fans around the world who love her novels, but this is the first time that her debut has been translated into English. Audiobook narrator Suzanne Toren captures the voice of our protagonist, a young French girl, in a way that captures her inexperience and naivete.
Narrated by Suzanne Toren
Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets by Svetlana Alexievich, Translated by Bela Shayevich
While you could start just about anywhere with Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time compiles oral histories of people living before, during, and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. A cast of narrators perform this title, providing unique voices for each of the characters we meet.
Narrated by Amanda Carlin, Mark Bramhall, Cassandra Campbell, Kimberly Farr, Kirby Heyborne, Hillary Huber, Rebecca Lowman, Jorjeana Marie, Coleen Marlo, Kathleen McInerney, and Fred Sanders
Little Eyes by Samanta Schweblin, Translated by Megan McDowell
Samanta Schweblin astounds me with each new novel she puts out into the world. Little Eyes features a cast of characters all connected by the innovations of the modern world. Cassandra Campbell takes on Schweblin’s wild storytelling, keeping stride and narrating the novel beautifully.
Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
For more audiobooks by women in translation, check out “6 Audiobooks for Women in Translation Month.“
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