The Monthly Booking: August 2021

After taking a break in July to concentrate on other things, The Monthly Booking is back with a brand-new reading list for Women in Translation Month. For those who don’t know, WIT Month takes place every August and is a celebration of women writers from across the world whose works can be read in (English) translation. Bonus points (at least where I’m concerned) for any books that have also been translated by women.

Many of the books I’ve chosen to read this month are in fact appearing in August, and all are available to pre-order direct from the publisher or your local indie bookshop. Happily (though this wasn’t actually intentional), they all come from independent publishers too, and I feel may end up being united by a common theme of the female body.

With non-fiction from Japan, and three works of fiction translated from French and German, I’m not being terribly adventurous in terms of source language. However, the next few months will be taking my reading in translation in more unusual directions, so keep an eye out for those book lists. For now, enjoy Women In Translation Month, and please do join in the online conversation and events!

The Monthly Booking reading list for August is:

Fiction

The Liquid Land by Raphaela Edelbauer, translated from the German by Jen Calleja (Scribe Publications)

What the publisher says: ‘A town that doesn’t want to be found. A countess who rules over the memories of an entire community. A hole in the earth that threatens to drag them all into its depths [. . .] In the literary tradition of Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, Raphaela Edelbauer weaves the complexities of small-town social structures into an opaque dream fabric that is frighteningly true to life, and in the process she turns us towards the abject horror that lies beneath repressed memory. The Liquid Land is a dangerous novel, at once glittering nightmare and dark reality, from an extraordinary new literary voice.’

Non-fiction

Black Box by Shiori Ito, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Tilted Axis Press)

What the publisher says: ‘Black Box details the harrowing experience of sexual assault Shiori Ito faced as a young journalist in Japan, as well as the national reckoning that followed [. . .] Ito’s personal story is the kernel of a searing journalistic exposé, exposing how Japan’s relatively low official rates of sexual assault mask a culture of victim-shaming and institutional failure on the part of the police, law and media to bring perpetrators to justice.’

Translation

Waiting for the Waters to Rise by Maryse Condé, translated from the French by Richard Philcox (World Editions)

What the publisher says: ‘Babakar is a doctor living alone, with only the memories of his childhood in Mali. In his dreams, he receives visits from his blue-eyed mother and his ex-lover Azelia, both now gone, as are the hopes and aspirations he’s carried with him since his arrival in Guadeloupe. Until, one day, the child Anaïs comes into his life, forcing him to abandon his solitude [. . .] Together they fly to Haiti, a beautiful, mysterious island plagued by violence, government corruption, and rebellion.’

Independent Publisher

No Touching by Ketty Rouf, translated from the French by Tina Kover (Europa Editions)

What the publisher says: ‘Josephine teaches at a college in a Paris suburb. Her life is a despondent routine of Xanax tablets and Tupperware lunches in the staff room. A tedious existence punctuated by the incessant, onerous, sometimes surreal, directives from the department of education. Except that every night Josephine undergoes a radical transformation and becomes Rose Lee, a stripper in a night club on the Champs-Elysees [. . .] A story of liberation, a heartrending reflection on a woman’s image of herself, and the way others see her, Ketty Rouf’s extraordinary debut gets right down to shattering tired prejudices about sex and society.’


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