Women in Translation! Does this not sound like a wonderful reading challenge?!
Meytal (see her Twitter and #WITMonth) at Bibliobio put together this fabulous idea in order to highlight womxn authors who write in languages other than English. Bonus points if the translator is also a womxn. This goes great with my personal goals for 2020 (see mid-year recap) and I am excited to make this August my inaugural WIT month. She encourages everyone to read books by WIT, write reviews, post author interviews, or whatever else you can do to boost WIT voices (check out her Q&A regarding WIT month).
Three very creative vloggers (Jennifer, Kendra, and Matthew) host a WIT readathon (#WITreadathon) every year and this time it runs August 24-31. They put together 3 simple prompts. Please also check out their vlogs as they provide tons of additional info.
- Read a WIT book published by an independent press.
- Read a WIT genre title (SFF, romance, crime, thriller, horror, etc.).
- Read a WIT book that was published in its original language pre-2000.
In light of BLM and other current events, Meytal wrote a lovely post discussing her WIT month goals and reading plan. And I, for one, love her take on this, and am planning to follow suit (again, that fits perfectly within my own 2020 goals). Sidenote: even if you don’t plan on particitpating in WIT, go ahead and read Meytal’s post anyway – it’s one of the most insightful things I’ve read in a long time when it comes to underrepresentation in English literature.
So what will I be doing for WIT, you ask?!
Firstly, August 24 is my birthday and I would love to commence this readathon with encouraging my readers to join me in promoting non-white womxn writers but also supporting a cause of your choice that fits this theme. I will be donating to Ferst Readers as part of my WIT month. I selected this organization in hopes to ensure future readers. Plus, readers often become writers. Feel free to donate to the same group or leave me a comment with your cause. I also urge you to purchase your books from womxn-owned independent bookstores. I have recently bought books from Sistah Scifi and Mahagony Books. Sistah Scifi is this super fun, niche store amplifying afro-futurism voices in scifi, speculative fiction, and horror books (and others along those lines) and we all know how much I love those genres. They are also one of the few bookstores which make it easy to buy eBooks directly through them (something I’ve been trying so hard to do – bye bye Amazon Kindle exploitation). Mahagony Books with a “mission to promote books written for, by, or about people of the African Diaspora”, puts on some amazing (mostly free) events through a series called Front Row. The caliber of guests is astounding and their Q&As are just perfection.
Secondly, I will be reading and blogging about the following books as part of the WIT month and the WIT readathon.
Désorientale (Disoriental) by Négar Djavadi
Prompt 1. This novel debuted in 2016 and hit the English market in 2018 (translation by Tina A. Kover) courtesy of Europa Editions, an independent publishing house. I’ve heard tons of buzz about this novel and cannot wait to see what this is all about.
푸른 개 장발 (The Dog Who Dared to Dream) by Sun-mi Hwang
Prompt 2. This short story and fable was originally published in 2012 and translated by Chi-Young Kim in 2106. I read and LOVED Hwang’s previous fable The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly and have been meaning to read her other work.
La mort i la primavera (Death in Spring) by Mercè Rodoreda
Prompt 3. I could not pass up this deliciously strange novella. Honestly, I am having a hard time not reading it right now! First released in 1986 and much, much later translated by Martha Tennent in 2016, this story truly promises to hit all my high points: weird plot, creepy folklore traditions, and a coming-of-age tale amongst all of this. Yes please!
Other books that intrigue me. While doing online research (aka combing through blog posts by other readers, Goodreads lists, and bookish websites) and also looking through my huge TBR, I shortlisted several other novels/novellas that I’d like to tackle in August.
Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter) by Mariama Bâ
In form of a letter, this monumental novella details the struggle of a women living in Senegal. It just seems one of those pivotal works everyone should have read and thus I am making this one a priority for August. It debuted in 1981 and was translated in 1989 by Modupé Bodé-Thomas.
Aller Tage Abend (The End of Days) by Jenny Erpeneck
This novel was published in 2012 and will fulfill one of my personal goals to read more original German literature in German. It’s not easy for me to keep my finger on the pulse of contemporary German lit AND get the books in German here in the US. And thanks to Susan Bernofsky (2014), this book is also available in English if you’re interested.
Bain de lune (Moonbath) by Yannick Lahens
How could I say no to a book described as “A novel of violent beauty.” — Le Monde?! This book, originally published in 2014 and translated by Emily Gogolak in 2017, should be exactly the kind of book I devour – family saga intertwined with folktales in a unique setting.
Umami (Umami) by Laia Jufresa
First of all, isn’t the cover just gorgeous? Second, 5 apartments , each in the shape of a tongue = 5 flavors = 5 stories that interweave! Need I say more? This book sounds amazingly odd and I am here for it! Umami graced the world in 2017 and was promptly translated by Sophie Hughes in 2017.
الطابور (The Queue) by Basma Abdel Aziz
Hit or Miss? Dystopian fiction is a bit of a gamble for me. I found 1984 utterly boring and slugged through it but devoured The Handmaid’s Tale and The Road for example. This book was released in 2012 and quickly became a sensation (translation by Elisabeth Jaquette in 2016).
I hope you’ll join me in August for WIT. Link me to your blogs so I can follow your reading adventures. I will be talking about my WIT journey here and on Twitter (@evilbibliotaph). Be sure to check back.