Women in Translation #WITMonth

During August many I will be reading novels by women that have been translated from a language other than English. It’s an initiative created by Meytal Radzinski at Biblibio, Life in Letters and can be followed on twitter using the hashtag #WITMonth.


Literature in translation represents less than 5% of published works in the English language, compared to nearly 50% for example in France and of works translated, approximately 30% is attributed to women.

I have gathered together a stack of books I already own that are works of translation and it is from this pile that I will be reading this month. It coincides with my interest in reading what I call cross cultural fiction, or literature from another perspective than that which we have grown up and/or been educated around, which in my case was very Anglo-focused.

WIT Month

If you have a favourite book by a woman, that has been translated, please tell us about it in the comments below so I can add it to my list for next year.

So far in 2015, I have read and reviewed the following books by women that have been translated: (click on the title to read the review)

Stone in a Landslide by Maria Barbal (Spain) translated Laura McGloughlin, Paul Mitchell (Catalan)

Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi (France) translated Adriana Hunter (French)

Tales From The Heart, True Stories From My Childhood, by Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe) translated Richard Philcox (French)

Ru by Kim Thuy (Vietnamese-Canadian) (read in French, available in English)

The Wall by Marlen Haushofer (Austria) translated Shaun Whiteside (German)

Victoire: My Mother’s Mother by Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe) translated by Richard Philcox (French)

Happy Reading All.

46 thoughts on “Women in Translation #WITMonth

  1. Not by a woman, but I can’t recommend ‘The Art of Hearing Heartbeats’ by Jan-Phillip Sendker highly enough if you want a translated, beautiful read.


  2. Also taking part I’m looking forward to Ferrante, Jansson, Van Niekerk and Barbal too… and will be rereading Beside the Sea; such a powerful extraordinary story rendered me speechless first time round.

    Look forward to reading your reviews – although my ‘budget” may not!😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the feeling Nicola, I usually shy away from challenges, but over the summer there are some great ones to join in and share reading and reviews with! At least with #WIT everything I read can also contribute to the Summer of Women challenge I’ve joined on Goodreads. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Paradise of the Blind,” by Duong Thu Huong (translated by Nina McPherson). But maybe you’ve read it already? Also, have you read Fumikio Enchi’s “The Waiting Years”? (Enchi’s “Masks” I’ve heard is also good, though I haven’t read it yet myself.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Believe it or not David, I read Paradise of the Blind during a one week stay in Hanoi in 1995, I bought a pirate copy in the street, (not sure if it is still banned, certainly the author lives in exile as far as I know). I was looking for works written by local writers, not hard to find back then! And I loved it!! I still have that old, stapled, white covered book, with its Grace Paley testimonial.

      Thanks for the recomendation, I haven’t heard of Fumikio Enchi, but I’m adding her to my TBR, Masks sounds great too.


  4. I’ve been meaning to read The Wall and Kim Thuy for ages, have tried searching for them at libraries and bookshops, but haven’t had any luck yet. I may just have to order The Wall from Amazon Germany. Good luck with your reading challenge and look forward to your reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read Purge earlier this year (and reviewed it at my Northern Lights Reading Project). A potent book, well worth reading. Oksanen’s latest is also on my TBR. How lovely to have Tove Jansson’s childhood memoir on your list. I too look forward to your posts about these.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lucy, I can’t wait to get into the pile, I wish there were more reading hours in the day. I’ll check out your review of Purge, thanks. Tove Jansson has become one of may favourite authors, I love the worlds she inhabits, and I haven’t even begun on her children’s books yet!


    • I started the year by reading the first three Peirene Books published , under the theme Famale Voices, it was really satisfying to read them one after the other like that, I recommend it. I still have Year 2 to read and the latest The Looking-Glass Sisters, that just arrived yesterday!


  6. Claire – you do a great job of sharing your appreciation for international reads! To chime in with other commenters, I, too, look forward to reading Elena Ferrante, Duong Thu Huong, and Maryse Condé sometime in the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am not familiar with those you have suggested, but can recommend a novel I loved which also won the IFFP for 2015. It is Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days. So very beautifully written. Looking forward to your thoughts on those you’ve selected! These kind of posts always stimulate my reading further, so I thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. An interesting selection, Claire. Looks like you have some great reading ahead of you in August. Have you read Transit by Anna Seghers? If not, I think you would like it very much. There’s a link to my review here:


    I’m going down a French route for this year’s WITMonth. Looking forward to experiencing some new-to-me writers.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As I said on Twitter, your pile looks fabulous 🙂 Have you checked out Indonesian female writers such as Leila S. Chudori, Ayu Utami, or Dewi Lestari? Their works have been translated into English. 🙂 But a bit rare on the market I think…

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Well I’ve already read the wonderful Elena Ferrante trilogy and I do need to read more of her — though for now, and in the spirit of #WITMonth I’m planning to read another very highly recommended trilogy: Agota Kristoff’s ‘The Notebook,’ ‘The Proof,’ The Third Lie.” Have also picked up ‘The Little Virtues’ by Natalia Ginzburg.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh — and how did I forget? Even more immediately, and in the summer reading spirit that takes me right back to childhood, I’m reading ‘Seacrow Island,’ by Astrid Lindgren. An absolute delight.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yes, I’ve heard an interview with Ru’s author Kim Thuy on CBC radio before, but never have the time to read the book. Yes, we here in Canada have to read a translation from our fellow Canadian because it’s written in French, and by a Vietnamese Canadian. I’m most curious. Looking forward to your reviews. 😉


  13. Pingback: The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke | book word

  14. Hello Claire,
    First let me tell you, I love your blog, your choice of books, authors. I spend some time this afternoon looking at titles and reviews. I am not new to blogging, however I took 3 years off. My blog is new and ready to go, reading is a large part of my life. Oh, yes, I am French, living in the US, Virginia….I am from Paris but grew up both in Switzerland, Zürich, and Monaco which is not to far from Aix-en-Provence, a beautiful place.
    You are looking for women writers which have been translated into english, one stands out, I read the book and wish more of her many « oeuvres» could be translated into english.
    Her name is Magda Szerb, she was a Hongarian writer. The novel I loved is called ” The Door “.
    I leave you my blog Url, have a nice Tuesday, Claire



  15. I’d love to know what you think of Purge as I’ve recently read Sofi Oksanen’s more recent book When the Doves Disappeared.

    Hope you’re well, Claire!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve finally got around to posting my review, linked below: food for thought, the dual narrative and historical perspective, you’ll have to read it, I believe she wrote a trilogy of sorts, this being the second novel, though the first one wasn’t translated.

      I must reread your review of When the Doves Disappeared.



  16. I’ve read quite some translations, but until now, I never realised how few of them were by women! The few I read recently I wouldn’t recommend as I didn’t think they were particularly good. But two female authors whose translated works I do love (and you’ve probably read) are Japanese Banana Yoshimoto and French Françoise Sagan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Samir, I haven’t read either of those authors and I’m always looking for more to add to the list, especially those recommended. I hope you succeed in finding more, I’m now reading Maryse Condé’s Segu, which is excellent. You might enjoy that one too.

      Liked by 1 person

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