Wednesday, August 22, 2018

WITMonth Day 22 | 10 Recommended 20th Century Classics

We've covered older classics, but what about books from last century? Hundreds of thousands of brilliant books by women from around the world were written in the 20th century, so this list will of course be woefully incomplete. But it can be a jumping off point!

  1. The Complete Stories - Clarice Lispector (tr. from Portuguese by Katrina Dodson): A stellar collection of a 20th century icon, spanning works that weird, wonderful, and powerful.
  2. Kristin Lavransdatter - Sigrid Undset (tr. from Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally, among others): The historical epic that remains popular to this day, detailing the lives of ordinary women in late medieval Norway.
  3. The Bridge of Beyond - Simone Schwarz-Bart (tr. from French by Barbara Bray): A transcendent, powerful, and absolutely unique novel about the memory of horror, within a life of beauty.
  4. History - Elsa Morante (tr. from Italian by William Weaver): History, but only of a certain time and place, lingering somewhere between the intimate story of a single family trying to survive fascist Italy, as well as the larger story of Europe during the same period.
  5. Woman at Point Zero - Nawal El Saadawi (tr. from Arabic by Sherif Hetata): What brings a woman to the edge of her life, having murdered a man and remaining unfazed in the face of her impending execution? A stunning feminist exploration of the lives of poor, under-educated women and the struggles that emerge.
  6. So Long a Letter - Mariama Bâ (tr. from French by Modupé Bodé-Thomas): Written in the form of a letter between two friends, a Senegalese woman reflects on her life and her status as a woman.
  7. The Door - Magda Szabó (tr. from Hungarian by Len Rix): A complicated friendship with a complicated woman leads to a fascinating meditation on a writer's relationship with her housekeeper, neurosis, and life.
  8. The Book of Lamentations - Rosario Castellanos (tr. from Spanish by Esther Allen): A fictional account of an indigenous Mayan Mexican uprising, shining light on the racial boundaries, oppression, and violence that dominated the early 20th century.
  9. Masks - Fumiko Enchi (tr. from Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter): Two men seek the love of a young widow, whose life remains intrinsically linked to her former mother in law.
  10. Mother of 1084 - Mahasweta Devi (tr. from Bengali by Samik Bandyopadhyay): A mother remembers and grieves for her son, killed in during an attempted communist uprising.
There are, as usual, many more titles that could have made this list. Some have already appeared in other lists this month (The House of the Spirits, to name but one example), others may yet make future lists (The Summer Book), and others still will just have to wait their turn! What are some of your favorite 20th century books by women in translation? What do you think I've missed in this list?

1 comment:

  1. I love how you lead with this being incomplete: but who doesn't love a booklist?!


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