Tuesday, August 7, 2018

WITMonth Day 7 | 10 Recommended Nonfiction Books


Typically when we talk about women in translation, we focus on fiction. For me, this mostly stems from the fact that Three Percent database on which I base my statistics is fiction/poetry focused (and thus these are most of the titles to which I'm exposed!), and that I typically personally prefer reading fiction to nonfiction. That being said, nonfiction is a fascinating slice of literature and should not be forgotten! Women writers are often underrepresented in nonfiction writing overall (particularly when it comes to history, science, and politics), and certainly when combined with the women in translation gap, it's worth promoting a few nonfiction books by women in translation!

  1. The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir, tr. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier: A classic of feminist literature that is often regarded as one of the foremost critical texts of the 20th century.
  2. Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets - Svetlana Alexievich, tr. Bela Shayevich: Not a Nobel Prize winner for nothing, Alexievich has long been praised for her oral histories, bringing in individual voices as parts of a breathing tapestry of living history.
  3. Turkey: The Insane and the Melancholy - Ece Temelkuran, tr. Zeynep Beler: A fascinating modern history of Turkey, its political turmoils, and hope for its future.
  4. Cockroaches - Scholastique Mukasonga, tr. Jordan Stump: A brutal, beautiful, and unforgettable account of the Rwandan genocide.
  5. Now and the at the Hour of Our Death - Susana Moreira Marques, tr. Julia Sanches: A unique account of end of life care, and the end of life.
  6. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions - Valeria Luiselli, tr. Lizzie Davis and Valeria Luiselli: Written across both English and Spanish, translated and retranslated, this extraordinarily timely account of undocumented children in the U.S. facing deportation looks to the heart of a problem too often dehumanized.
  7. What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? - Noemi Jaffe, tr. Julia Sanches and Ellen Elias-Bursańá: Mother, daughter, and granddaughter each grappled - in her own words and language - with the memory of surviving the Holocaust, moving on and staying behind.
  8. In Other Words - Jhumpa Lahiri, tr. Ann Goldstein: The acclaimed U.S. author switches languages for a book-length meditation on language, translation, identity, and love itself. 
  9. In Praise of Black Women - Simone Schwarz-Bart, tr. Rose-Myriam Rejouis, Val Vinokurov, and Stephanie K. Daval: An encyclopedia of black women throughout history, spanning prehistoric queens through modern world leaders across several volumes.
  10. Translation as Transhumance - Mireille Gansel, tr. Ros Schwartz: Further meditations on translations as they relate to humanity, culture, and history.
Those are just a few nonfiction titles! As you might have seen, this list is incomplete - where, after all, are the women in translation writing about the sciences? Writers from Asia? From South America? No list will ever be truly encompassing, so help fill in the blanks! What are your favorite nonfiction titles by women writers in translation?

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