5 Books In Translation Written By Women That Will Transport You To Egypt, Japan, & Beyond

by Sadie Trombetta

Every summer, book-lovers all over the globe bask in the official season of reading by binging everything from mysteries and thrillers to historical fiction and romance. But come August, their To Be Read piles get a little more worldly with the help of books by women in translation. If you’re still looking for the right title to help you celebrate the official Women in Translation Month, look no further than this list of phenomenal titles from France, Japan, Poland, and beyond.

Founded in 2014 by scholar and blogger Meytal Radzinski, August is known by English-speaking book-lovers everywhere as the official Women in Translation Month. A 31-day long literary holiday that honors women authors from all over the world, it is celebrated by not only book-lovers, but publishers and bookstores who want you to read more translated works. While there are plenty of ways to mark the occasion, including attending author and translator talks and going to book and poetry readings, the easiest way to show your love for women in translation is by reading them.

In honor of Women in Translation month, here are five fantastic books from women writers all over the world, translated into English for your reading pleasure.

‘Blue Self-Portrait’ by Noémi Lefebvre, translated from French by Sophie Lewis

In this short yet captivating novel, a woman obsessed with composer Arnold Schoenberg’s self-portrait uses her flight from Berlin to Paris to reflect on her romance with a pianist, and in turn, examines everything from art and history to the legacy of the male genius and his silent female companions. Dark, funny, and wholly original, Blue Self-Portrait is the kind of story that stays with you long after you’ve read the last line.

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‘Fox’ by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from Croation by Ellen Elias-Bursac and David Williams

A remarkable book about the purpose and art of storytelling, Fox follows an unnamed narrator in exile from Yugoslavia as she struggles with the process of writing in the modern world. Featuring six sections that vary in tone and subject but all include the ultimate trickster, a fox, it’s a funny and fascinating book readers and writers will love.

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‘Convenience Store Woman’ by Sayaka Murata, translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

One of the summer’s most talked about translations, Convenience Store Woman tells the story of Keiko Furukura, a strange young woman who has happily built a predictable life around the convenience store where she has worked for 18 years. But when a similarly alienated young man joins the store staff, Keiko find herself challenged in brand new ways, possibly for the better.

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‘The Apartment at Bab El-Louk’ by Donia Maher, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette, illustrated by Ganzeer and Ahmad Nady

Written by Cairo-based author Donia Maher, this unique translated work is a gripping hard-boiled graphic novella about an old recluse living in the busy Bab El Louk neighborhood. Dark and lyrical, it’s a genre-bending book that will bewitch both mystery and comic fans alike.

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‘Flights’ by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft (August 14)

If you only pick up one book to celebrate Women in Translation Month, make it the Man Booker International Prize-winning novel Flights by Olga Tokarczuk. Flights is made up of several interconnected stories about intriguing characters across time and throughout history, all tied together by the common threads of travel, identity, and anatomy. Beautifully written and masterfully translated, this is one international title you do not want to miss.

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