Translated Books I Want To Read In 2021

This year I’ve seen lots of people talking about how reading more translated works are a big goal for them in 2021. It prompted me to have a look over my own shelf and to see what I might have, and honestly—it’s not a lot. I used to make more of a conscious effort to read translated works, but then I just put so much focus on my TBR last year that I probably only read two or three. So this year, I’ve picked out four that I’m really interested in and hopefully I’ll find some others along the way!

The Island of Happiness by Madame D’Aulnoy

Translated from the French by Jack Zipes. Due out April 13th from Princeton University Press.

Madame D’Aulnoy was the 17th-century writer who reportedly coined the term ‘fairy tales’ or contes des fées. Her tales are apparently rarely found outside of anthologies until now with this English translation of eight of her tales. This edition includes art from contemporary artist, Natalie Frank, and was translated and includes an introduction from Jack Zipes, who is really the King of academic work on fairy tales, in my opinion. This looks like it’s going to be a stunning book to have as part of my collection, and I’m very excited to pick it up once it’s been released.

Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country by Cristina Rivera Garza

Translated from the Spanish by Sarah Booker. This was released October 6th 2020 from Feminist Press.

The last three books included in this post are all from Feminist Press—they’re really good at including the details and naming translators on their website which made this post a whole lot easier. They also just have a really great selection of books, both translated and not so I highly recommend checking out their catalogue. As for this one, this is a collection of journalism and personal essays looking at the systemic violence that takes place in Mexico and along the US border today. The whole idea behind the collection is to do with Rivera Garza’s view that collective grieving is ‘an act of resistance against state violence’ and that writing about grief holds a unique type of power. This sounds like it’s going to be a beautiful and hard-hitting collection.

The Naked Woman by Armonia Somers

Translated from the Uruguayan by Kit Maude. This was released on November 6th 2018 from Feminist Press.

I’ve never read anything set in Uruguay, and probably nothing even about it either but that’s the whole point of reading more translated fiction, isn’t it? To try new authors and things and learn more about different places and cultures. This one does sound very much up my alley—it’s described as ‘a woman’s feminist awakening drives a hypocritical village to madness in rural Uruguay’, which sounds like the sort of thing I want to be reading. There’s really no information about it other than that, so I’m interested to see how that will play out. This was originally published in the 1950s and was made available to English-speaking readers for the first time in 2018 when Feminist Press published in. It has reviews from Cristina Rivera Garza, but also from Carmen Maria Machado who is an author I really admire.

Black Box by Shiori Ito

Translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell. Due out July 13th from Feminist Press.

I think books about sexual assault and the #MeToo movement are really important, so I soon as I heard about this one it instantly went onto my TBR. The subtitle of this is; the memoir that sparked Japan’s #MeToo movement, and the blurb speaks about how it’s publication in 2017 sparked a much-needed conversation in Japan and led to a film being made by the BBC as well. I don’t know much about the discussions around gender and rape culture in Japan, so I’m hoping to learn some more from this book. The page on Feminist Press’ website mentions that Ito won a civil case against the man who assaulted her, two years after the book’s publication in Japan, so I’m not sure whether this English version will be updated or not, but either way it’ll be an important read.

So those are four I really hope to get to. What are some of your favourite translated books? What ones are you hoping to get to this year?

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