Hello book lovelies,
This month, the book community is celebrating Women in Translation. Over the past year, I’ve been picking up more and more translated works. Most of the translated books I’ve read have been Japanese literature. There seems to be a style of writing or perhaps a certain tone that’s threaded throughout Japanese literature that I really enjoy. In honor of Women in Translation month, I want to tell you all about some of the recent translated Japanese literature that I’ve enjoyed, all written by women.
I am a big believer in going into a book knowing as little as possible. I try not to read too much of the synopses or reviews, since most of them over-share. My pitches below are short and sweet just for that reason.
Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder is one of my favorite reads of the year so far. The book opens with Yuko Moriguchi giving her last lecture to her students before resigning from her position.
Every chapter recounts the same tragedy from a different perspective. The novel is full of twists, each chapter revealing more of the truth than the previous one.
This book was incredibly dark, but it was an incredible read. Highly recommend if you’re in the headspace for it.
Content Warnings: death of a child, brief mention of animal cruelty, transphobia, disease as punishment
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I recently recommended There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job by Kikuko Tsumura, translated by Polly Barton, but l want to give it another shout-out. We follow our main character throughout a year of her life when she is on the search for an easy job. She recently left a long-term role due to burnout and is looking for something mindless.
Due to the structure, this book could almost be a collection of short stories. I enjoyed some of the jobs more than others, but overall I thought it was a great read.
Content Warnings: depression
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, was our August 2021 Indy Book Club pick. We follow Keiko Furukura, a 36-year old who works at a convenience store. She loves working there and is exceptional at it. Keiko receives a lot of pressure from society and acquaintances to move along and get a “real job.” This book raises a lot of questions around conformity and success.
A quirky read that has both funny and sad moments.
Content Warnings: misogyny, ableism
I have a goal of wanting to read a book from each continent by the end of the year. If you have read any translated books from countries in Africa, Europe, or South America that you’ve really enjoyed, please reply to this email and let me know! I’m always looking for more recommendations — bonus points if they’re thrillers!
Your smitten bookworm, Emily