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Oct - Dec 2015: Women authors who didn't write in English

Reading Globally

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Edited: Apr 10, 2018, 9:03am Top

Hello everyone!

This is a list of authors available in English translation that qualify for this theme. Obviously many people here are bilingual and may not need such a list, but since English is our shared language I hope this will be helpful. Half of the battle with reading works in translation, especially works by women, is knowing the works exist at all.

Originally I wanted to make this an annotated list, but that proved to be too time consuming (sorry!). If anyone would like to provide descriptions or additional authors, please PM me and I'll add them. Thanks!

Frequently used books and websites

Edited: Sep 25, 2015, 4:31pm Top


The Other Voice: Twentieth-Century Women's Poetry in Translation
Map of hope: Women's Writing on Human Rights

Muslim Women
Shattering the stereotypes: Muslim Women Speak Out

The Middle East
Women and the Family in the Middle East: New Voices of Change

Opening Spaces: An Anthology of Contemporary African Women's Writings
Francophone African Women Writers: Destroying the Emptiness of Silence
A Rain of Words: A Bilingual Anthology of Women's Poetry in Francophone Africa

Arab Women
Classical Poems by Arab Women
Arab Women Writers: An Anthology of Short Stories
Opening the Gates: An Anthology of Arab Feminist Writing
The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology
Poetry Of Arab Women: Nathalie Handal
In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers
Women of the Fertile Crescent: An Anthology of Modern Poetry by Arab Women

The Third Shore: Women's Fiction from East Central Europe

Latin America
Short Fiction and Selections-
Secret Weavers Anthology: Selections from the White Pine Press Secret Weavers Series: Writing by Latin American Women
Landscapes of a New Land: Short Fiction by Latin American Women
Women's Fiction from Latin America: Selections from Twelve Contemporary Authors
Beyond the Border: A New Age in Latin American Women's Fiction
Cruel fictions, Cruel Realities: Short Stories by Latin American Women Writers
Violations: Stories of Love by Latin American Women
Scents of Wood and Silence: Short Stories by Latin American Women Writers
Short Stories by Latin American Women: The Magic and the Real
Out of the Mirrored Garden
Green Cane Juicy Flotsam: Short Stories by Caribbean Women
Taking Root: Narratives of Jewish women in Latin America
House of Memory: Stories by Jewish Women Writers of Latin American
Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers
Rewriting the return to Africa: Voices of Francophone Caribbean Women Writers
Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin American Women
These Are Not Sweet Girls: Poetry by Latin American Women
Hispanic Feminist Poems from the Middle Ages to the Present
Rereading the Spanish American Essay: Translations of 19th and 20th century women's essays
Lesbian Voices from Latin America: Breaking Ground

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:01pm Top

Ancient Sumeria

Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE, Akkadian)- This high priestess's hymns to the Goddess Nanna were composed nearly 2 millennium before the next author on this list.*** Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart: Poems of the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna
At your battle-cry, my lady, the foreign lands bow low. When humanity comes before you in awed silence at the terrifying radiance and tempest, you grasp the most terrible of all the divine powers. Because of you, the threshold of tears is opened, and people walk along the path of the house of great lamentations.'

Ancient Greece and Rome

Sappho (~612-570 BCE, Ancient Greek)- Her lyric poems have made her one of history's most respected Greek poets. Two new poems have recently been discovered. *** Sappho: A New Translation
You may forget but
let me tell you
this: someone in
some future time
will think of us

Perpetua and Felicity (?-203 CE, Latin/Greek)- St. Perpetua and St. Felicity's passion was written prior to their martyrdome in Charthage for their Christian faith. * The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity
My father wanted to dissuade me by arguing with me. He kept trying to shake my resolve because of his own love for me. I said, “Father, do you see this vase lying here for which for the sake of a name we call “pitcher” or whatever?” And he said, “I see it.” Then I said to him, “Can it be called by any other name than what it is?” And he said, “No.” “So too I cannot be called anything else except what I am, a Christian.”

Fragments and completed poems by additional classical authors such as Anyte of Tegea, Erinna, Korinna, Praxilla, and others are available in Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome (~55 writers) or Classical Women Poets (~17 writers). The Woman and the Lyre and Women Poets in Ancient Greece and Rome also contain a fair number of translations, but are mostly analysis.

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:02pm Top

Pre-1500 Europe

Egeria (4th century CE, Latin)- Egeria's letter describes her pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she visited Constantinople, Mount Sinai, Jerusalem, and other places.* Egeria: Diary of a Pilgrimage
From which place, ladies, my loved ones, whilst I prepare this account for your pious zeal, it is already my purpose to go to Asia – to Ephesus – on account of the martyr-memorial of the holy and blessed Apostle John, for the sake of prayer.

Dhuoda (803?-843?, Latin)- Her Liber Manualis is a moral handbook written for her absent son.
Your Dhuoda is always here to encourage you, son, and if I, failing you, were to depart, as will someday happen, you will have this little book of morals as a reminder of me. Just as you would look upon a reflection in a mirror, you will be able to see me, reading with my mind and body and praying to God.

Hrotsvitha (935-1002, Latin)- Hrotsvitha sought both to counter the negative protrayals of Christians common in Latin literature, and to obtain respect as a writer despite her gender. The Plays of Hrotswitha of Gandersheim, Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: A Florilegium of Her Works

Anna Komnene (1083-1153, Attick Greek)- This princess's Alexiad is a chronicle of her father's rule, written to support her claim to the Greek throne after his death.*
These deeds I am going to relate, not in order to shew off my proficiency in letters, but that matters of such importance should not be left unattested for future generations. For even the greatest of deeds, if not haply preserved in written words and handed down to remembrance, become extinguished in the obscurity of silence

Héloïse d'Argenteuil (1090? - 1164, Latin)- Héloïse is remembered for her love affair with a theologian, which is described in a set of surviving letters.
We may write to each other; so innocent a pleasure is not denied us. Let us not lose through negligence the only happiness which is left us, and the only one perhaps which the malice of our enemies can never ravish from us. I shall read that you are my husband and you shall see me sign myself your wife. In spite of all our misfortunes you may be what you please in your letter.

Hildegard (1098-1179 CE, Latin)- She was a prolific German author known for her theological writings, musical compositions, morality plays, letters, medicinal writings, commentaries, and even an invented language.** Book of Divine Works, Selecting Writings (Hildegard of Bingen), Scivias
But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.

Trota of Salerno (12th century, Latin)- The Trotula, which includes Plactical Medicine According to Trota, On Treatments for Women, and On Women's Cosmetics, is attributed to her.

Marie de France (12th century, Anglo-Norman French, Middle English)- The Lais of Marie de France contains 12 Breton lais, a type of romance literature in which chivalry features.
When they wrote their books in the olden day
What they had to say they'd obscurely say.
They knew that some day others would come
And need to know what they'd written down;
Those future readers would gloss the letter,
Add their own meaning to make the book better.

Beatrice of Nazareth (1200-1268 CE, Latin)- A Cistercian Flemish prioress who wrote Seven Ways of Holy Love, a description of the seven stages of love leading to God.*
The beauty of love has eaten her. The power of love has consumed her. The sweetness of love has plunged her into nothingness. The greatness of love has absorbed her.

Mechthild of Magdeburg (1207-1282? CE, Middle Low German)- Her The Flowing Light of the Godhead is a mystic work depicting her visions of divinity. Both her and the following author were associated with the Beguine religious order.*
One finds many a wise master versed in scripture, who is, however, a fool in my eyes. And I'll tell you sometihng else: With regard to them, it is a great honor to me and strengthens holy Christianity considerably that the untutored mouth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, instructs the learned tongue.

Marguerite Porete (?-1310 CE, Old French)- She was burned at the stake after her works were deemed heretical. The Mirror of Simple Souls is an allegorical conversation in which Reason, Love, Truth, and other speakers are given voices.*
Men of theology and scholars such as they
Will never understand this writing properly.
True comprehension of it only may
Those have who progress in humility;
You must let Love and Faith together be
Your guides to climb where Reason cannot come,
They who this house as mistresses do own.

Gertrude the Great (1256-1302 CE, Latin)- Her surviving works include The Herald of Divine Love, Spiritual Exercises, and Gertrudian Prayers, all Christian instructional works.* Gertrude of Helfta: The Herald of Divine Love, Gertrude the Great of Helfta: The Herald of God's Loving Kindness, The Life and Revelations of Saint Gertrude
For just as it is impossible for anyone to touch flour without getting dusty, so it cannot be that anyone can be intent on the Lord's Passion with even a little devotion without receiving some fruit from it.

Margareta Ebner (1291-1351 CE, Middle High German)- A German mystic who was inspired by a severe illness to write her revelations and her Pater Noster.* Margaret Ebner, Major Works
O Lord, in your highest love and in your greatest and most sweet mercy as they have ever flowed out of your eternal Godhead from heaven to earth, I commend to you in sincerity our souls, in purity our hearts, in true innocence all our lives, and in nothering but truth all our desires and all our intentions.

Hadewijch (13th century, Middle Dutch)- A Belgian mystic whose poetry, visions, songs, and letters have survived.* Hadewijch: The Complete Works
And that desire which I had inwardly was to be one with God in fruitation. For this I was still too childish and too little grown-up; and I had not yet sufficiently suffered for it or lived the number of years requisite for such exceptional worthiness.

Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373 CE, Swedish and Latin)- One of the most important European saints, her revelations include not only her visions, but political commentary. * Revelations of St. Briget on the Life and Passion of Our Lord
But you, My daughter, whom I have chosen for Myself, and with whom I now speak in spirit: love Me with all your heart - not as you love your son or daughter or parents, but more than anything in the world - since I, Who created you, did not spare any of My limbs in suffering for your sake!

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380 CE, Latin)- Another extremely important European saint, her surviving works include The Dialogue of Divine Providence, 26 prayers, and hundreds of letters.** The Dialogue, Little Talks With God, Life of Total Prayer, Letters of Catherine Benincasa
Dearest daughter in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you persevere in holy desire, so that you may never look back. For otherwise you would not receive your reward, and would transgress the word of the Saviour, which says that we are not to turn back to look at the furrow.

Christine de Pizan (1364-1430, Middle French)- A prolific writer at the French court who wrote philosophy, poetry, and about politics. The allegory The Book of the City of Ladies is her best remembered work.

Catherine of Bologna (1413-1463, Italian)- Her Trestise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons Necessary for Spiritual Warfare resulted in her canonization 300 years later. Several other treatises and poems also survive.

Teresa de Cartagena (1425-?)- Remembered as one of Spain's first feminist writers, she was a Spanish nun (a conversa) who went deaf at an early age, inspiring her works Grove of the Infirm and Wonder at the Works of God.* The Writings of Teresa de Cartagena
Many times, virtuous lady, I have been informed that some prudent men and also discreet women have marveled at a treatise that, which divine grace directing my weak womanly understanding, was written by my hand. And since it is a brief work of little substance, I am amazed, for it is hard to believe that prudent men would marvel so at such an insignificant thing.

Lucrezia Tornabuoni (1427-1482, Italian)- A political adviser who married into the Medici family whose sonnets have survived.

Anne of France (1461-1522, )- Regent of France during the early rule of her brother, Anne's Lessons for My Daughter survives.

Katerina Lemmel (1466-1533, German)- Lemmel's letters to her family pass on the cloisered business woman's financial orders, as well as discuss more personal events.'

Laura Cereta (1469-1499, Latin)- One of the first feminist humanists, Cereta wrote her letters with the intention of reaching a large audience.
I am a scholar and a pupil who has been lulled to sleep by the meagre fire of a mind too humble. I have been too much burned, and my injured mind has accumulated too much passion; for tormenting itself with the defending of our sex, my mind sighs, conscious of its obligation.

Anthology of Ancient and Medieval Woman's Song, Songs of the Women Troubadours, Women Writers of the Middle Ages, Writings of Medieval Women: An Anthology, Land of women: Tales of Sex and Gender from Early Ireland, Medieval Women's Visionary Literature, Mystics, Visionaries, and Prophets: A Historical Anthology of Women's Spiriual Writings, Women Mystics: Hadewijch of Antwerp, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux, Elizabeth of the Trinity, Edith Stein / Louis Bouyer.

Edited: Sep 15, 2015, 11:18am Top

Dynastic China

Xue Tao (768-831 CE, Classical Chinese)- 100 of her poems have survived to this day, the largest body of work by any female Tang poet.** Brocade River Poems: Selected Works of the Tang Dynasty Courtesan Xue Tao
Poets have different themes and meters,
But only I know the subtle manner of my own poetry.
Praising the flowers on a moon-lit night, I pity the darkness;
Moved by their bending gesture, I inscribe the willows on a rainy day.

Yu Xuanji (~844-869 CE, Classical Chinese)- 49 of this Tang dynasty courtesan's poems survive.* Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji
Visiting Lofty-Truth Monastery and viewing the names of new graduates at the south tower

Cloudy peaks fill my eyes this clear spring;
Silver strokes spring to life beneath my fingertips.
How I hate this silken gown which obscures my poetry!
Uselessly I envy the names on the list.

Li Qingzhao (1084-1151 CE, Classical Chinese)-A new book about Li Qingzhao, The Burden of Female Talent, argues that the genius of her poems has been overlooked due to her gender.* Plum Blossom
Beside you how vulgar the plum,
For all its profusion of petals;
How coarse the lilac,
With its innumerable knotty branches.
But your all too heady perfume,
O you heartless flower!
Wakes my sorrowful dream
Of a thousand li away.

Poems by additional poets are available in Women Writers of Traditional China (650 pages of poetry followed by criticism), Willow, Wine, Mirror, Moon (44 poets), and The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China.

Classical Japan

Ono no Komachi (~825-~900 CE, Classical Japanese)-In legend, Komachi was a great beauty who died as an impoverished old woman in retribution for her stinginess in love.** The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, Ono No Komachi: Poems, Stories, and No Plays
Thinking about him
I slept, only to have him
Appear before me-
Had I known it was a dream,
I never should have wakened.'

Michitsuna no Haha (935-995, Classical Japanese)- Michitsuna no Haha (trans. “the mother of Michitsuna”) is the author of the Kagero Nikki, a diary depicting the life of an unhappy housewife.** The Gossamer Years: The Diary of a Noblewoman of Heian Japan
There once was a woman who led a forlorn, uncertain life, the old days gone forever and her present status neither one thing nor the other. Telling herself that it was natural for a man to attach no value to someone who was less attractive than others and not very bright, she merely went to bed and got up day after day. But then it occurred to her as she leafed through the many current tales of the past, that such stories were only conventional tissues of fabrications, and that people might welcome the novelty of a journal written by an ordinary woman.'

Akazome Emon and Dewa No Ben (~956-~1041 CE, Classical Japanese)- She, “may not be a genius but she has great poise and does not feel that she has to compose a poem on everything she sees, merely because she is a poet. Those poems we know, even those composed for casual occasions, leave us all embarrassed about our own,” according to Murasaki Shikibu. The first 30 volumes of the Eiga Monogatari are commonly attributed to Akazome Emon while the last are attributed to Dewa No Ben.** A Tale of Flowering Fortunes: Annals of Japanese Aristocratic Life in the Heian Period
I should not have waited.
It would have been better
To have slept and dreamed,
Than to have watched night pass,
And this slow moon sink.'

Princess Senshi (964-1035 CE, Classical Japanese, Classical Chinese)- Although she was devoted to Buddhism, the Princess Senshi was a Shinto priestess, and for her to even to speak the name of Buddha was taboo. The Buddhist Poetry of the Great Kamo Priestess
Though I think about it, it is taboo, a thing not to be said,
and so all that I can do is turn in that direction and weep.'

Sei Shonagon (966-~1017 CE, Classical Japanese)- “She is a gifted woman, to be sure. Yet, if one gives free rein to one’s emotions even under the most inappropriate circumstances, if one has to sample each interesting thing that comes along, people are bound to regard one as frivolous. And how can things turn out well for such a woman?” also according to Murasaki Shikibu.**
254. Pleasing Things
Finding a large number of tale that one has not read before. Or acquiring the second volume of a tale whose first volume one has enjoyed. But often it is a disappointment.
Someone has torn up a letter and thrown it away. Picking up the pieces, one finds that many of them can be fitted together.*

Izumi Shikibu (~976-? CE, Classical Japanese)-“Izumi Shikibu’s life was one long scandal. Or so it must have seemed to her contemporaries.” (From Edwin A. Cranston’s introduction to The Izumi Shikibu Diary).** The Izumi Shikibu Diary: A Romance of the Heian Court, The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan
From darkness
Into the path of darkness
Must I enter:
Shine upon me from afar,
O moon above the mountain crest.'

Murasaki Shikibu (978-~1014 CE, Classical Japanese)-Although Murasaki Shikibu's The Tale of Genji was not the first monogatari, a Japanese literary form, it is the most famous, and inspired many imitators. Murasaki is also a notable diarist.**
The Diary of Lady Murasaki

Lady Sarashina (1008-~1059 CE, Classical Japanese)- Sarashina is not the true name of the author, rather it a geographic location alluded to in her diary. The Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatari is also attributed to this unknown woman. A Tale of Eleventh-Century Japan: Hamamatsu Chunagon Monogatary
They will come back next spring- those cherry blooms that scatter from the tree
But how I yearn for her who left
And never will return!

Fujiwara no Nagako (~1079-1119 CE, Classical Japanese)-She wrote the Emperor Horikawa diary in order to come to terms with her grief over his death.
The Emperor Horikawa Diary
When I look outside, the banked clouds and lowering sky seem to be in sympathy with me, and their leaden oppressive aspect makes me appreciate the imagery of the poet who wrote of “the clouded vault.” I feel my heart has clouded over with grief, and my tears are as the raindrops falling on the irises decorating the eaves.'

Lady Daibu (~1150-1230 CE, Classical Japanese)- Lady Daibu’s diary covers around 50 years of her life. Although not as well regarded as some of the other diaries (nikki) listed here, it is known for its genuine emotion and ability to move. The Poetic Memors of Lady Daibu
If my words, like leaves,
Should scatter through the world,
Would that I might leave behind
The name that was mine.
In the unforgettable days of old.'

Princess Shikishi (?-1201 CE, Classical Japanese)- String of Beads: Complete Poems of Princess Shikishi
The blossoms have fallen.
I stare blankly at a world
Bereft of color:
In the wide vacant sky
The spring rains are falling

Ben no Naishi (~1243-1259 CE, Classical Japanese)-
Sacred Rights in Moonlight: Ben no Naishi Nikki

Lady Nijo (1258-~1307 CE, Classical Japanese)- A court concubine, Lady Nijo became a Buddhist nun after she was expelled from court. The Confessions of Lady Nijo.
A roof of cedar branches,
Pine pillars, bamboo blinds,
If only these could screen me
From this world of sorrow.'

Additional ancient Japanese poems are available in Japanese Women Poets: An Anthology, and Women Poets of Japan.

Edited: Sep 11, 2015, 7:59pm Top


Edited: Apr 10, 2018, 8:36am Top

Elvira Dones (Albanian/Italian, 1960-)- An author/screenwriter, Dones defected from Albania to Switzerland in 1988 and now lives in the United States. The documentary version of her Sworn Virgin was recently released.

Luljeta Lleshanaku (Albanian, 1968-)- Lleshanaku is a poet/journalist noted for her inventive and completely original poetry. Fresco: Selected Poetry of Luljeta Lleshanaku

Assia Djebar (1936-2015, French)- Djebar was a frequent contender for the Nobel prize whose work illustrates the suppression of women in Algerian society.* Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade, Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, So Vast the Prison: A Novel, A Sister to Scheherazade, Children of the New World: A Novel of the Algerian War, etc.
Yes, everyone forgets in my city. After three days, maybe three months, let's say. Even my aunt, who brought me up after “it” happened, started to hum every morning a year later, sometimes one or two songs from the playground. Oh, the songs of yesterday.

Forgetfulness immerses these places. As soon as I was able, I left my city, where memory effaces itself or merely dissolves into the furies of the soul.

Leïla Sebbar (1941-, French)- Sebbar spent her childhood in Algeria. Now living in France, she uses writing to establish her identity despite feeling torn between Algeria and France.** The Seine was Red: Paris, October 1961, Silence on the Shores, An Algerian Childhood: A Collection of Autobiographical Narratives, Sherazade: Missing, Aged 17, Dark Curly Hair, Green eyes, Arabic As a Secret Song
It is in fiction that I feel that I am a free subject (free of father, mother, clan, dogma) and strengthened by the burden of exile. Only there do I muster body and soul to span the two banks, both upstream and downstream.

Aïcha Lemsine (1942-, French)- Lemsine's The Chrysalis follows a family for three generation, highlighting the changes in the lives of Algerian women.* Beneath a Sky of Porphyry
Exposing the archaic condition of women at the time of Socialism in Algeria was not without risk... In fact, while readers and critics in Tunisia, Morocco and Europe were almost unanimous in their enthusiastic welcome of the Chrysalis, in Algeria the book was banned and subjected to the destructive condemnation of certain so-called left-wing intellectuals, in the service of the regime.*

Malika Mokeddem (1949-, French)- Mokeddem is member of the Bedouin, a traditionally nomadic North African people. Educating herself against great odds, she is now lives in Paris and works part time as a Nephrologist.** The Forbidden Woman, Century of Locusts, Of Dreams of Assassins, Men
All my life I have waged a battle to be who I want to be in the face of a society that wanted to crush women. I dedicated myself to my studies, to the battle for women's rights, but I was suffocating. I had to leave. That is my failure. I write in order to raise my voice from southern France, a voice other than that put forth by the Muslim fanatics, and to rid myself of this feeling of failure. I am from both coasts, a woman flayed alive, but also an angry woman.

Ahlam Mosteghanemi (1953-, Arabic)- Mosteghanemi is one of the Arabic world's best selling novelists. Her Memory in the Flesh was awarded the Mahfouz prize in 1998, a prestigious Arabian literature award.* Memory in the Flesh or The Bridges of Constantine, Chaos of the Senses, The Art of Forgetting
To the memory of Malek Haddad, son of Constantine, who swore after the independence of Algeria not to write in a language that was not his. The blank page assassinated him. He died by the might of his silence to become a martyr of the Arabic language and the first writer ever to be silent, grieving, and passionate on its behalf.

Leïla Marouane (1960-, French)- Educated to be a doctor, Marouane abandoned medicine to write. She moved to Paris after an assassination attempt.** The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris, The Abductor
At the opposite of this example, what I show in my novels is the shameful misuse of religion to establish domination. In Algeria as in many other countries, men hijacked religion to assert their authority, to dominate their wives and daughters, to keep them under their thumb and use them as puppets. I denounce this hijacking, not religion.

Edited: Sep 26, 2015, 7:29pm Top

Juana Manuela Gorriti (Spanish, 1818-92)- Dreams and Realities: Selected Fiction of Juana Manuela Gorriti
Alfonsina Storni (Spanish, 1892-1938)- Alfonsina Storni: Selected Poems, My Heart Flooded with Water
Silvina Ocampo (Spanish, 1903-1993)- Silvina Ocampo, Thus Were Their Faces: Stories, The Topless Tower, Leopoldina's Dream, Stories of Silvina Ocampo, etc.
Luisa Mercedes Levison (Spanish, 1914-1988)- The Two Siblings and Other Stories, In the Shadow of the Owl
Olga Orozco (Spanish, 1920-1999)- Engravings Torn from Insomnia: Poems, A Talisman in the Darkness: Stories
Beatriz Guido (Spanish, 1925-88)- End of a Day, The House of the Angel,
Angelica Gorodischer (Spanish, 1928-)- Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire that Never Was, Trafalgar: A Novel, Prodigies: A Novel
Elvira Orphee (Spanish, 1930-)- El Angel's Last Conquest
Alicia Steimberg (Spanish, 1933-)- The Rainforest = La Selva, Call me Magdalena, Musicians & Watchmakers
Alejandra Pizarnik (Spanish, 1936-1972)- From the Forbidden Garden: Letters from Alejandra Pizarnik to Antonio Beneyto, Selected Poems: Alejandra Pizarnik, Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962-1972, A Musical Hell, Diana's Tree, etc.
Sylvia Molloy (Spanish, 1938-)-
Luisa Valenzuela (Spanish, 1938-)-
Tununa Mercado (Spanish, 1939-)-
Vlady Kociancich (Spanish, 1941-)-
Beatriz Sarlo (Spanish, 1942-)-
Liliana Heker (Spanish, 1943-)-

Alicia Borinsky (Spanish/English, 1946-)- Her fiction, full of totalitarianist governments, violence, and black humor, is a response to Peronist Argentina. Mean Women, Dreams of the Abandoned Seducer, All Night Movie

Sylvia Iparraguirre (Spanish, 1947-)-
Maria Negroni (Spanish, 1951-)-
Ana Maria Shua (Spanish, 1951-)-

Liliana Bodoc (Spanish, 1958-)- The Days of the Deer is one of the rare Latin American genre novels translated into English. It is the first volume of fantasy trilogy the Saga of the Borderlands.

Claudia Piñeiro (Spanish, 1960-)- Three of Piñeiro's award winning crime novels, A Crack in the Wall, Thursday Night Widows, and All Yours have been translated into English.

Lucia Puenzo (Spanish, 1976-)- She is also a director. The Fish Child is paired with the film of the same name.

Contemporary Argentinean Women Writers: A Critical Anthology
Secret weavers: Stories of the Fantastic by Women Writers of Argentina and Chile

Edited: Sep 25, 2015, 4:35pm Top

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (German, 1830-1916)
Bertha von Suttner (1843-1914)
Hilde Spiel (1911-1990)
Jeannie Ebner (1918-2004)
Marlen Haushofer (1920-1970)
Ilse Aichinger (1921-)
Friederike Mayröcker (1924-)
Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973)
Ruth Klüger (1931-)
Julian Schutting (1937-)
Barbara Frischmuth (1941-)
Marianne Gruber (1944-)
Elfriede Jelinek (1946-)
Anna Mitgutsch (1948-)
Brigitte Schwaiger (1949-2010)
Marlene Streeruwitz (1950-)
Elisabeth Reichart (1953-)
Kathrin Röggla (1971-)

Women's Words, Women's Works: An Anthology of Contemporary Austrian Plays by Women

Amélie Nothomb
Francoise Mallet-Joris
Kristien Hemmerechts
Suzanne Lilar (French, 1901-1992)

Svetlana Alexievich

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 6:50pm Top

Gilka da Costa Mello Machado (Portuguese, 1893-1980)
Henriqueta Lisboa (Portuguese, 1901-1985)
Cecilia Meireles (Portuguese, 1901-1964)
Rachel de Queiroz (Portuguese, 1910-2003)
Patricia Rehder Galvao (Portuguese, 1910-1962)
Silveira de Queiroz (Portuguese, 1911-1982)
Carolina Maria de Jesus (Portuguese, 1914-1977)

Helena Parente Cunha (Portuguese, 1930-)- A professor of literary theory at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Cunha’s poetry has won international acclaim. Woman Between Mirrors

Clarice Lispector (Portuguese, 1920-1977)
Lygia Fagundes Telles (Portuguese, 1923-)
Hilda Hilst (Portuguese, 1930-2004)
Adelia Prado (Portuguese, 1935-)
Edla Van Steen (Portuguese, 1936-)
Nélida Piñon (Portuguese, 1937-)

Leilah Assunção (Portuguese, 1943-)- A playwright and actress, Assunção’s plays were heavily censored by the Brazilian government, yet still managed to have an important role in furthering women’s rights in Brazil. Moist Lips, Quiet Passion

Marilene Felinto

One Hundred Years After Tomorrow: Brazilian Women's Fiction in the 20th Century
Finally--us : Contemporary Black Brazilian Women Writers
Fourteen Female Voices from Brazil: Interviews and Works

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 7:08pm Top

Werewere Liking (French, 1950-)
Léonora Miano (French, 1973-)

Mere Marie de l'Incarnation (French, 1599-1672)
Laure Conan (French, 1845-1924)
Germaine Guevremont (French, 1893-1968)
Marie Le Franc (French, 1897-1964)
Therese Casgrain (French, 1896-1981)
Gabrielle Roy (French, 1909-1983)
Claire Martin (French, 1914-)
Rina Lasnier (French, 1915-1997)
Anne Hebert (French, 1916-2000)
Estelle Mitchell (French, 1916-)
Yvette Naubert (French, 1918-1982)
Chaput-Rolland (French, 1919-2001)
Monique Bosco (French, 1927-2007)
Antonine Maillet (French, 1929-)
Louky Bersianik (French, 1930-2011)
Cecile Cloutier (French, 1930-)
Claire France (French, 1934-)
Diane Giguere (French, 1937-)
Michele Lalonde (French, 1937-)
Jovette Marchessault (French, 1938-)
Marie-Claire Blais (French, 1939-)
Nicole Brossard (French, 1943-)
Kim Thuy (French, 1968-)
Pascale Quiviger (French, 1969-)

Writings by Western Icelandic women
A Clash of Symbols

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 10:00pm Top

Gabriela Mistral (Spanish, 1889-1957)

Maria Luisa Bombal (Spanish, 1910-1980)- Many of Bombal's stories were published in Sur, a groundbreaking literary magazine published by Victoria Ocampo. New Islands and Other Stories, House of Mist and The Shrouded Woman

Isabel Allende (Spanish/English, 1942-)- Allende is one of the most visible Spanish-speaking authors in the Anglophone world. Her books have been translated into over 30 different languages. The House of the Spirits, Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Stories of Eva Luna, The Infinite Plan, Paula, Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, Daughter of Fortune, Portrait in Sepia, My Invented Country, etc.

Lucia Guerra (Spanish, 1943-)
Elizabeth Subercaseaux (Spanish, 1945-)

Diamela Eltit (Spanish, 1949-)- Her works are designed to be innovative protests against the Pinochet reign. The Fourth World, Sacred Cow, Custody of the Eyes, E. Luminata

Cecilia Vicuna (Spanish, 1948-)
Marcela Serrano (Spanish, 1951-)

What is Secret: Stories by Chilean Women
Secret weavers : stories of the fantastic by women writers of Argentina and Chile /

Marta Traba (Spanish, 1923-1983)

Fanny Buitrago (Spanish, 1944-)- She has written short stories, novels, dramas, and works for children. Senora Honeycomb is a fairy tale about a heiress’s sexual awakening.

Laura Restrepo (Spanish, 1950-)

Costa Rica
Carmen Lyra (Spanish, 1887-1949)- Lyra was co-founder of the Communist Party of Costa Rica, a unionist, and a folklorist. The Subversive Voice of Carmen Lyra: Selected Works collects both her trickster tales and realist short stories.

Carmen Naranjo (1928-2012)
Rima de Vallbona (Spanish, 1931-)

When New Flowers Bloomed: Short Stories by Women Writers from Costa Rica and Panama
Five Women Writers of Costa Rica: Short Stories

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 10:02pm Top

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (Croatian, 1874-1938)- Her Croatian Tales of Long Ago is a classic collection of original fairy tales written in an archaic style. (LolaWalser)

Vesna Parun (Croatian, 1922-2010)- Although Selected poems of Vesna Parun is rare, a couple English translations of her poetry can be found on the internet.** (Lola Walser)

Vesna Krmpotić (Croatian, 1932-) (Lola Walser)
Slavenka Drakulic (Croatian, 1949-)
Dubravka Ugresic (Croatian, 1949-)

Julieta Campos (Spanish, 1932-) Born in Cuba, Campos moved to Mexico in 1955 with her husband. Originally a critic, she began writing fiction after her mother’s death due to illness. She Has Reddish Hair and Her Name is Sabina, The Fear of Losing Eurydice, Celina or the Cats

Angelina Muñiz-Huberman (Spanish, 1936-)
Juana Rosa Pita (Spanish, 1939-)
Nancy Morejon (Spanish, 1944-)
Excilia Saldana (Spanish, 1946-1999)
Zoe Valdes (Spanish, 1959-)

Adelaida Fernandez de Juan (Spanish, 1961-) Dolly and Other Stories from Africa is inspired by the letters she wrote while on a volunteer mission to Zambia.

Open your Eyes and Soar: Cuban Women Writing Now
Cubana, Contemporary Fiction by Cuban Women

Czech Republic
Eva Svankmajerova
Magdaléna Platzová
Petra Hulová

Povidky: Short Stories by Czech Women

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 10:05pm Top

Dominican Republic
Aida Cartagena Portalatin- Portalatin was part of the "La Poesia Sorprendida," a surrealist literary group that wanted to end the sequestration of Dominican poetry. Del Consuelo al compromiso = From Desolation to Compromise: Bilingual Anthology of the Poetry of Aida Cartagena Portalatin`

A Diaspora Position: A Bilingual Selection of Essays
Praises & Offenses: Three Women Poets from the Dominican Republic

Alicia Yanez Cossio (Spanish, 1928-)
Fanny Carrion de Fierro
Karina Galvez

El Salvador
Claudia Lars (1899-1974)

Claribel Alegría (Spanish, 1924-)- Alegría was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2006. Flowers from the Volcano, Woman of the River, Fugues, Sorrow, Casting Off, Ashes of Izalco, Family Album, Village of God and the Devil, Luisa in Realityland

Edited: Sep 21, 2015, 7:24pm Top


Huda Sha'arawi (1879-1947, Arabic) Sha'arawi's Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist details her life as one of the founders of the 1923 Egyptian feminist movement.**
When I claimed that as the elder I should receive more attention she replied, “But you are a girl and he is a boy. And you are not the only girl, while he is the only boy. One day the support of the family will fall upon him. Whine you marry you will leave the house and honour your husband's name but he will perpetuate the name of his father and take over his house.”

Latifa Al-Zayyat (1923-1996, Arabic) Al-Zayyat's The Open Door won the first Naguid Mahfouz Medal for Literature. The novel is partially autobiographical, and follows the life of an Egyptian women from 1946-1956.** The Open Door, The Owner of the House
(In the novel The Open Door, I aimed at crystallizing three levels of significance. The first one deals with the development of the female protagonist, and its related to the second which deals with developments in Egypt at that period. As for the third level, it incorporates a commentary on the values of the middle class and its practices and how they prevent the country from a take off.

Alifa Rifaat (1930-1996, Arabic) Rifaat pointedly rejects Western-style feminism for her own version. The sexual content in Rifaat stories' have made them very controversial. **
A Distant View of a Minaret and Other Stories
At such moments it had seem to her that all she needed was just one more movement and her body and soul would be quenched, that once achieved they would between them know how to repeat the experience. But on each occasion, when breathlessly imploring him to continue, he would – as through purposely to deprive her – quicken his movements and bring the act to an abrupt end. Sometimes she had tried in vain to maintain the rhythmic movements a little longer, but always he would stop her.

Nawal El Saadawi (1931-, Arabic) Saadawi is one of the most well-known Arab feminists in the Western world. Many of her fictional works as well as her autobiographies are available in English.** Woman at Point Zero, The Hidden Face of Eve, God Dies by the Nine, Memoirs from the Women's Prison, The Fall of the Imam, Memoirs of a Woman Doctor, etc.
I resigned from the United Nations in the autumn of 1980 in order to end my self-exile and return to Egypt. However my exile not only continued in Egypt – it grew. In government service, my exile grew too. So I wrote my letter of resignation in the winter of 1981, stating that in Egypt everything foreign had taken on greater value than anything Egyptian, even human beings.

Radwa Ashour (1946-2014, Arabic)- Ashour was educated at Cairo University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Siraaj and Granada: A Novel are both historical fiction, while Blue Lorries and The Woman from Tantoura are more contemporary.**
As my aunt passed the cactus cutting across to me, she went on speaking, tears still in her eyes.

The cactus in our house was a cutting that my mother broke off from her own plant the day I got married and moved to my husband's house. So this is from your grandmother's cactus, from your grandmother's grandmother's cactus. God bless you, Fawzia, my daughter, and make your home prosperous.”

Salwa Bakr (1949-, Arabic Born in Cairo, Bakr's fiction focuses on the marginalization of both women and the poor.*** The Man from Bashmour, The Golden Chariot, The Wiles of Men and Other Stories, Such a Beautiful Voice
I think a woman has her own point of view, different from a man, and that’s natural, due to the context of the environment, her upbringing, and the role of society. I try to present small details that may seem trivial to some, with the idea that a woman’s perspective is different.

Ibtihal Salem (1949-, Arabic)- Children of the Waters is a collection of short stories that depicts the daily life of Egyptian women.**
For me, writing has long represented an exquisite sense of existence, beauty and self-realization. When I distance myself from writing for any length of time, I become frustrated and mentally confused. When I return to it I feel as if I've been born anew. Sometimes when I finish writing a story I take a long breath, comb my hair, and put on my nicest clothes, as if it is a holiday. These are simple moments of joy that make me feel as if I deserve to live.

Somaya Ramadan (1951-, Arabic)- Ramadan's Leaves of Narcissus was highly praised, winning the Naguib Mahfouz Medal in 2001.*
The instant before submission is the most difficult of moments. This might by the secret to its vital attractiveness- the irresistible finality of it. The edge of resistance, a breaking point, when your being has stretched itself to its utmost and your consciousness has spun itself thin, tensile, to the finest and most transparent thread.'

Sahar Tawfiq (1951-, Arabic)- Tawfiq's "works question the place of long-powerful myths and beliefs in modern Arab society and the ways in which such myths have contributed to the oppression of Egyptian women through the ages."* The Points of the Compass

Hala el-Badry (1954-, Arabic)- A Certain Woman, Muntaha, A Certain Woman, Rain Over Baghdad
She turned off the headlights of her car and sneaked through the gate of the garden into the house now bathed in quiet semidarkness. A strong fragrance wafted from the white lilies she had picked in the early morning and put in the crystal vases in different rooms. The flowers shed smooth yellow pollen that looked like a light powder throughout the ground floor of the villa, creating a pervasive presence akin to lavender.

May Telmissany (1965-, Arabic) Born in Cairo, Telmissany is currently an assisstant professor at the University of Ottawa. Dunyazad is an autobiographical novel, both about the loss of a child and turmoil in Egypt.**
This time I burst into tears. She was so beautiful, I said; I couldn't call her by her name. Her name was not linked in any way to her tiny, lifeless body and to the smell of her which still pervaded the room.

Amina Zaydan (1966-,)- Red Wine
It was a happy, childlike face on which contradictions found visible expression, revealing their eternal presence, as though he were reverting back with his soul from the end of his eighty years to the beginning of his years of opening up, this face that has protruded from the darkness and swam and bathed itself so as to be cleansed by the incandescence of the candle and sensuously take into its embrace the half-empty bottle of vodka and the half-filled glass.

Miral al-Tahawy (1968-, Arabic)- The Tent, The Blue Aubergine, Gazelle Tracks, Brooklyn Heights
I am not a frog in a crystal jar for you to gaze upon. I am Fatim, ya-Anne, flesh and blood... Don't applaud Fatim the cripple. I'm not going to sing. I'm not going to perform Bedouin folk songs. And I don't want to jabber away in any language. All I will do is wail like the ravens of doom.

My Grandmother's Cactus: Stories by Egyptian Women

Edited: Apr 10, 2018, 9:12am Top

Amanda Michalopoulou
Eugenia Fakinou
Margarita Karapanou

Daughters of Sappho: Contemporary Greek Women Poets

Maryse Conde (French, 1937-)
Simone Schwarz-Bart (French, 1938-)

Marie Chauvet (French, 1917-1975)

Agota Kristof
Magda Szabo
Margit Kaffka

Svava Jakobsdóttir (Icelandic, 1930-2004)- A feminist politician whose writing is known for its surrealism and new interpretation of Norse Mythology. Gunnlöds Saga, The Lodger and Other Stories

Steinunn Sigurðardóttir (Icelandic, 1950-)- Not to be confused with the fashion designer, she writes in a variety of genres, often focusing on love. The Thief of Time is a novel that gradually changes into poetry. Place of the Heart, The Thief of Time

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir (Icelandic, 1958-)- She is also an art history director at the University of Iceland. The Greenhouse, Butterflies in November, Hotel Silence

Kristín Ómarsdóttir (Icelandic, 1962-) Children in Reindeer Woods
Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (Icelandic, 1963-) Last Rituals, My Soul to Take, Ashes to Dust, The Day is Dark, Someone to Watch Over Me, The Silence of the Sea, etc.
Gerður Kristný (Icelandic, 1970-) Bloodhoof
Oddný Eir (Icelandic, 1972-) Land of Love and Ruins
Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Icelandic, 1972-) Snare
Guðrún Eva Mínervudóttir (Icelandic, 1976-) The Creator

Writings by Western Icelandic Women

The Icelandic Literature Center "supports the publication of Icelandic works of literature and the publication of literary works translated into Icelandic."

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 9:31pm Top

Ismat Chughtai (Urdu, 1915-1991)
Lalithambika Antharjanam (Malayalam, 1909-1987)
Amrita Pritam (Punjabi/Hindi, 1919-2005)
Shivani (Bengali/Hindi, 1923-2003)
Chandra Kiran Sonrexa (Hindi, 1920-)
Krishna Sobti (Hindi, 1925-)
Mahasweti Devi (Bengali, 1926-)
Qurratulain Hyder (Urdu, 1927-2007)
Suman Sanzgiri (Marathi, 1929-)
Kamala Das (Malayalam, 1934-2009)
Ambai (Tamil, 1944)
Vaidehi (Kannada, 1945)
Susham Bedi (Hindi, 1945-)
Parveen Shakir (Urdu, 1952-1994)
Sarojini Sahoo (Oriya, 1956-)
Baby Halder (Bengali, 1973-)
Attiya Dawood (Sindi, ?)
Panna Naik (Gujarati, ?)

Stream Within: Short Stories by Contemporary Bengali Women

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 7:37pm Top

Batya Gur
Gail Hareven
Ida Fink
Amira Hass
Gabriela Avigur-Rotem

Gaspara Stampa (Italian, 1523?-1554)
Neera (Italian, 1846-1918)
Matilde Serao (Italian, 1856-1927)
Grazia Deledda (Italian, 1871-1936)
Sibilla Aleramo (Italian, 1876-1960)
Maria Messina (Italian, 1887-1944)
Anna Banti (Italian, 1895-1985)
Fausta Cialente (Italian, 1898-1994)
Flora Volpini (Italian, 1908-)
Alba de Cespedes (Italian, 1911-1997)
Vera Cacciatore (Italian, 1911-)
Elsa Morante (Italian, 1912-1985)
Livia de Stefani (Italian, 1913-)
Anna Maria Ortese (Italian, 1914-1998)
Natalia Ginzburg (Italian, 1916-1991)
Margherita Guidacci (Italian, 1921-1992)
Milena Milana (Italian, 1922-2013)
Goliarda Sapienza (Italian, 1924-1996)
Alessandra Lavagnino (Italian, 1927-)
Oriana Fallaci (Italian, 1929-2006)
Rosetta Loy (Italian, 1931-)
Lorenza Mazzatti (Italian, 1933-)
Dacia Maraini (Italian, 1936-)
Randa Ghazy (Italian, 1986-)
Elena Ferrante (Italian, ?)

The Defiant Muse: Italian Feminist Poems from the Middle Ages to the Present
Her Immaculate Hand: Selected Works by and about the Women Humanist of Quattrocentro Italy

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 7:38pm Top

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 10:11pm Top

Heo Nanseolheon ( Classical Chinese, 1563-1589)- Recognized as a genius by the age of 8, she is believed to have written The Tale of Hong Gildong, an extremely popular version of a folk tale. 211 of her poems survive.* Visions of a Phoenix: The Poems of Ho Nansorhon
Noble family in the East, their influence like a burning flame
Sounds of song fill the high loft
Neighbors in the North, poor and naked
Live hungry in hovels
Should the family strength sway overnight
They shall envy their neighbors to the North
Fortune and ruin change according to the times
Escaping heaven’s law is a difficult thing.'

Lady Hyegyong (Korean, 1735-1816)- Lady Hyegyong was married to Crown Prince Sado, who later went insane and was executed by his father, the emperor. Her memoirs were written for a large audience and may have been politically motivated.* Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong
That year 1743 an edict was issued, requiring families with eligible daughters to register them for selection. Someone said, “There will be no harm done if you don't register your daughter. A poor family like yours should be spared the burden of preparing the clothing required for the process.” “No,” replied Father. “We have been salaried officials for generations.'

Pak Kyongni (Korean, 1926-2008)- An epic, Park's Land covers two centuries of Korean history and contains hundreds of characters. ** The Curse of Kim's Daughters
Chusok, the festival of the harvest moon. Even before the magpies had come to the persimmon tree in the garden to give their morning greeting, the children in their colourful clothes, wich ribbons in their plaits were scurrying through the alleys of the village, pine cakes in their mouths, and jumping with glee.'

Park Wan Suh (Korean, 1931-2011)- Park's works explore the difficulties of modern Korean life.** Who Ate Up All the Shinga, My Very Last Possession: And Other Stories, The Red Room: Stories of Trauma in Contemporary Korea, Sketch of the Fading Sun, Three Days in That Autumn, Lonesome You
Was the gist of her stories that beauty has a price? Like a beautiful woman who keeps a man under her thumb, a gemstone can meddle with the fate of those who fall under its spell. My friend knew so many fascinating and tragic tales about gems and the insatiable human greed for precious things in life.'

Oh Jung-Hee (Korean, 1947-)- Chinatown and River of Fire are collections of short stories, while The Bird is a singular work. Oh has been awarded both the Yi Sang Literary Award and the Dong-in Literary Award, two prestiguous literary awards (as have Park Wan Suh and Shin Kyung-sook).
You horrible girl! Don’t you know that a person’s soul floats out of their body when they’re sleeping? If you draw on someone’s face when they’re asleep, the soul won’t recognize its own body when it comes back and it has to wander around, lost forever.'

Jung Mikyung (Korean, 1960-)- Her work “shows us the dark side of post-capitalist society through those who struggle to live amidst these absurd spectacles.”** My Son's Girlfriend
People in summer clothes dart off like surprised fish, their faces taut with fear. But no one screams. A wodden building sways to and fro and collapses. A cloud of dust rises in its place. A road twists and cars fly off the tarmac. A raised highway has collapsed into neat pieces, heightening the drama. The image on the screen stops wavering and comes into focus. The camera settles on an old man's face.'

Shin Kyung-sook (Korean, 1963-)- Her novel Please Look After Mom, about a mother's disappearance, was awarded the Man Asian prize. She was the first woman to receive the award. I'll Be Right There, The Place Where the Harmonium Once Was, Please Look After Mom
It was my first phone call from him in eight years.
I recognized his voice right away. As soon as he said “Hello?” I asked, “Where are you?” He didn't say anything. Eight years—it was not a short length of time. Broken down into hours, the number would be unimaginable. I say it had been eight years, but we had stopped talking even before then.'

Han Kang (Korean, 1970-)- Unlike certain news articles have claimed, Han Kang does not enjoy making her readers unhappy.** The Vegetarian: A Novel, Convalescence
Before my wife turned vegetarian, I'd always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way. To be frank, the first time I met her I wasn't even attracted to her. Middling height; bobbed hair neither long nor short; jaundiced, sickly-looking skin; somewhat prominent cheekbones; her timid, sallow aspect told me all I needed to know.'

Jang Eun-Jin (Korean, 1976-)-In No One Writes Back, a man travels across Korea with his blind dog, writing letters to family and strangers who do not respond.*
Motels are secretive.
And sometimes—no, often—no, almost always, they are suggestive.
According to a motel proprietor, most people use a motel as a “place of rest,” or in other words, a place in which to have sex, and think of it as such. I used to think so too, though I've never been to a motel with a woman. But now, I had become, like them, a person who stops now and then to rest at a motel.'

The Poetic World of Classic Korean Women Writers
Questioning Minds: Short Stories by Modern Korean Women
Unspoken Voices: Selected Short Stories by Korean Women
Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers

Flora Brovina

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:04pm Top

Sor Juana Inés De la Cruz (Spanish, 1648-1695)
Nellie Campobello (Spanish, 1900-1986)
Elena Garro (Spanish, 1916-98)
Ines Arredondo (Spanish, 1928-1989)
Margo Glantz (Spanish, 1930-)
Julieta Campos (Spanish, 1932-)
Elena Poniatowska (Spanish, 1932-)
Rosa Nissán (Spanish, 1939-)
Adela Fernandez (Spanish, 1942-)
Martha Cerda (Spanish, 1945-)
Angeles Mastretta (Spanish, 1949)
Laura Esquivel (Spanish, 1950-)
Carmen Boullosa (Spanish, 1954-)
Sabina Berman (Spanish, 1956-)

Fatema Mernissi (French, 1940-)
Leila Abouzeid (Arabic, 1950-)

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:04pm Top

Fadwa Tuqan (1917-2003)
Sahar Khalifeh (1942-)
Liana Badr (1950-)
Laila Al-Atrash (?)

Flora Tristan (French, 1803-)
Clorinda Matto de Turner (Spanish, 1852-1909)
Carmen Olle (Spanish, 1947-)

Magdalena Tulli
Olga Tokarczuk

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 7:49pm Top

Lídia Jorge

The Three Marias: New Portuguese Letters

Catherine II (Russian, 1729-1796)
Princess Dashkova (Russian, 1744-1810)
Evgeniya Tur (Russian, 1815-1892)
Vera Figner (Russian, 1852-1942)
Lydia Zinovieva-Annibal (Russian, 1866-1907)
Zinaida Nikolaevna (Russian, 1869-1945)
Olga Forsh (Russian, 1873-1961)
Aleksandra Kollontai (Russian, 1872-1952)
Elena Guro (Russian, 1877-1913)
Anna Akhmatova (Russian, 1889-1966)
Evgeniia Ginzburg (Russian, 1896-1977)
Nina Emelianova (Russian, 1896-)
Nina Berberova (Russian, 1901-1993)
Iraida Ivanoff (Russian, 1901-)
Olga Andreyev (Russian, 1903-)
Vera Ketlinskaia (Russian, 1906-1976)
Lydia Chukovskaya (Russian, 1907-1996)
Svetlana Allilueva (Russian, 1925-2011)
Bella Akhmadulina (Russian, 1937-)
Natalia Gorbanevskaia (Russian, 1937-)
Lyudmila Petrushevskaya (Russian, 1938-)
Tatyana Tolstaya (Russian, 1951-)

Saudi Arabia-
Raja Alem (1970-)
Rajaa al-Sanea (1981-)

Voices of Change: Short Stories by Saudi Arabian Women Writers
Desert voices: Bedouin Women's Poetry in Saudi Arabia

Edited: Sep 18, 2015, 6:14pm Top


Teresa de Jesus (Spanish, 1515-1582)
Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor (Spanish, 1590?-1661/1669?)
Fernan Caballero (Spanish, 1796-1877)
Rosalia de Castro (Spanish, 1837-1885)
Emilia Pardo Bazan (Spanish, 1851-1921)
Victor Catala (Spanish/Catalan, 1869-1966)

María Lejárraga (Spanish, 1874-1974)- Many of the plays attributed to her husband, Gregorio Martinez Sierra, are believed to have been written by her.

Rosa Chacel (Spanish, 1898-1994)
Mercè Rodoreda (Catalan, 1908-1983)
Gloria Fuertes (Spanish, 1918-1998)
Carmen Laforet (Spanish, 1921-2004)
Carmen Martin Gaite (Spanish, 1925-2000)
Ana Maria Matute (Spanish, 1926-2014)
Maria Victoria Atencia (Spanish, 1931-)
Esther Tusquets (Spanish, 1936-2012)
Maria Barbal (Catalan, 1949-)
Rosa Montero (Spanish, 1951-)
Alicia Giménez-Bartlett (Spanish, 1951-)
Rosa Montero (Spanish, 1951-)
Clara Sánchez (Spanish, 1955-)
Elia Barceló (Spanish, 1957-)
Imma Monsó (Catalan, 1959-)
Almudena Grandes (Spanish, 1960-)
Matilde Asensi (Spanish, 1962-)
María Dueñas (Spanish, 1964-)
Mamen Sánchez (Spanish, 1971-)
Elvira Navarro (Spanish, 1978-)

Water Lilies = Flores del agua
The Defiant Muse. Hispanic Feminist Poems from the Middle Ages to the Present: A Bilingual Anthology.
Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works
On Our Own Behalf. Women's Tales from Catalonia
Mirrors and Echoes: Women's Writing in Twentieth-Century Spain

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 9:39pm Top

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 9:40pm Top

Edited: Sep 17, 2015, 9:42pm Top

United States-
Julia de Burgos (Spanish, 1914-1953)
Iris Zavala (Spanish, 1936-)
Rosario Ferré (Spanish, 1938-)
Ana Lydia Vega (Spanish, 1946-)
Mayra Montero (Spanish, 1952-)
Marjorie Agosín (Spanish/English, 1955-)
Mayra Santos Febres (Spanish, 1966-)

Marko Vovchok (Ukrainian/Russian, 1833-1907)
Lesya Ukrainka (Ukrainian, 1871-1913)
Lyubov Sirota (Ukrainian/Russian, 1956-)
Maria Matios (Ukrainian, 1959-)
Oksana Zabuzhko (Ukrainian, 1960-)
Nika Turbina (Russian, 1974-2002)
Marjana Gaponenko (German, 1981-)

Women's Voices in Ukranian Literature (6 volumes!)

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:05pm Top

Delmira Agustini (Spanish, 1886-1914)
Marosa di Giorgio (Spanish, 1932-2004)
Cristina Peri-Rossi (Spanish, 1941-)
Teresa Porzecanski (Spanish, 1945-)

Teresa de la Parra (Spanish, 1889-1936-)
Ana Enriqueta Terán (Spanish, 1918-)
Antonieta Madrid (Spanish, 1939-)
Alicia Freilich (Spanish, 1939-)
Ana Teresa Torres (Spanish, 1945-)

Edited: Sep 14, 2015, 3:08pm Top

Open to posting.

Sep 15, 2015, 6:54am Top

Wow! You've done a magnificent job starting us off! Thanks.

Sep 15, 2015, 7:44am Top

I hadn't really thought of how broad this topic would be when voting, thank you for an amazing, comprehensive overview!

Coincidentally, when you were beginning the above posts, Flavorpill compiled a list of 22 Essential Women Writers to Read in Translation:

I am hoping to get around to some of the few books by non US/UK women writers on the 1001-list that I haven't read yet: The Blind Side of the Heart, Memoirs of Hadrian, The Back Room, The First Garden, Pavel's Letters, Astradeni, The House with the Blind Glass Windows, Patterns of Childhood, The Quest for Christa T., The Ravishing of Lol Stein, The Birds, Andrea, Alberta and Jacob, or Gösta Berling's Saga

Edited: Sep 19, 2015, 6:55pm Top

Some of the writers I might read -- from my TBR that is -- are Teffi, Rosario Castellanos, Margo Glantz, Malika Mokeddem, Albertine Sarrazin, Anna Seghers, Albena Stambolova, or Magdalena Tulli (who I already love). But I need to study everything Anoplophora wrote because I'm sure a lot more will be landing on my shelves . . .

Sep 16, 2015, 2:05am Top

This is great! Your notes above remind me that the Dhuoda book has been on my wishlist for years, but after seeing the price I think I will start with Saman which has the benefit of already being on my Kindle...

Sep 16, 2015, 11:59am Top

>1 Settings:

Stunning job, thank you very much. It's very noticeable how the focus on English translation sadly underrepresents literature by women.

For Croatia, I'd add Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (1874-1938), who seems to have a few books translated (I'm suspicious of any translation that turns "Tales from long ago" (Priče iz davnine) into Croatian tales... etc. but that could just be ethno-marketing... While a children's classic, the language is standard, not dumbed-down, and the stories are original, not mere folk retellings. She's an important classic and a lovely writer with a peculiarly attractive archaic quality (not sure that survives in translation, though...)

Of Vesna Krmpotić's sui generis philosophical fiction, deeply influenced by Hinduism and Buddhism, almost none seems to have been translated, but there's at least Eyes of Eternity: A Spiritual Autobiography... if you can find it...

Vesna Parun is criminally neglected in English. It's typical to hear it said that she was the "greatest Croatian poetess" (the language and even more so the literary and other politics are obnoxiously gendered). Unusually, she seems to have risen to greatest heights in her old age. According to WorldCat there's at least one volume in English, Selected poems of Vesna Parun, but only a few libraries seem to have it...

Edited: Sep 21, 2015, 8:37am Top

Yes, this is a great list.

I see you have Marko Vovchok under Ukraine. I've just been researching her as her name came up in something that I've been working on about pseudonyms. Marko Vovchok is actual a masculine pseudonym - her real name is Mariya Valinska.

Edited: Sep 19, 2015, 5:19pm Top

It's very noticeable how the focus on English translation sadly underrepresents literature by women.

LolaWalser, your comment above reminds me of attending a panel discussion at the LA Times Festival of the Book some years ago where the speakers were all executives of the largest publishing houses in the US. A question was asked why they published so few translated works from other countries, and the response was to the effect that the US audience primarily won't read translated authors unless it's in the mystery genre or very well known authors such as Solzhenitsyn.

Very sad, but I think that's fairly true. My reader friends think it's amazing that I read so much translated fiction and non-fiction, but they have no interest in it, no matter how I rave about them. Yet, I also think that if the publishers produced more translated works and marketed them well they could turn their audience. The fault seems to lie on both sides.

Sep 21, 2015, 7:20am Top

Wow. This is quite a topic, even before we start reading any books!
I'm glad to see that I've read 50% of the authors listed under Belgium(!), but for the rest it's probably more more like 2%...

Hoping to read a few non-European women writers I don't know about yet, but I've also got some Elena Ferrante and Hella Haasse on the TBR shelf.

Edited: Sep 21, 2015, 8:38am Top

This has figured on a number of panels on this side of the Atlantic as well.

There is an initiative underway for 2018 to be the year of publishing women in translation, as a form of awareness-raising. I think a number of smaller publishers have already pledged to publish work in translation written exclusively by women. On Twitter, August has been the month for reading and reviewing work by women in translation for a couple of years now. If you do a search using the hashtag #womenintranslation (I think) you should be able to tap into the discussion.

A very exciting development for literature in translation is that the Man Booker International Prize is now an annual prize for a book written in a foreign language and translated into English. The very high profile of the prize should be a tremendous boost for literature in translation in general.

Sep 21, 2015, 8:40am Top

Thank you for this great list!

I recently added River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder to my wishlist after reading a sort story by this writer, so that would fit the theme.

Edited: Sep 21, 2015, 5:01pm Top

>47 thorold:

To make these lists, I first tried to find a good source with translation information about each country. Latin American Women Writers: An Encyclopedia was especially helpful, as were all the websites about female Arab authors.

However, I couldn't find good sources for many countries. For these ones, I've been looking up lists of female authors (Wikipedia, "A Celebration of Women Writers," etc.), then checking each author to see if there are translations available. This misses a lot, but I can usually find another handful.

I've saved all the countries with sizable lists for last, and I just haven't gotten to a lot of them yet. Since Belgium is close to the UK I expect there are a lot of obscure public domain translations available (like there are for Spain and Russia), but without a list by an expert I'll never find them.

>48 anisoara:

I think it's definitely true that work translating women authors into English has picked up recently.

Another thing I haven't gotten to yet to checking out the catalogs of my favorite translating publishers and adding their new releases. Open Letter Books is going to have a new one by Mercè Rodoreda out on November 10th, New Directions just published a complete collection of Clarice Lispector's short last month (my attentional bias makes me wonder how anyone could have missed that), Norvik Press has new ones by Selma Lagerlöf, etc.

Edited: Sep 27, 2015, 8:05pm Top

I have just bought Our Lady Of The Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga, a Rwandan writer working in French.

My list for this challenge now includes this book, plus:

Saman by Ayu Utami
The Tea Lords by Hella S Haasse
Subtly Worded by Teffi
What Lot's Wife Saw by Ioanna Bourazopoulou
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
After the Divorce by Grazia Deledda
Bar Balto by Faizia Guene

Maybe some more to come...

Sep 23, 2015, 7:12pm Top

What a project to take on and what amazing lists.

Last year I just discovered the German writer Christa Wolf, 1929 - 2011.

Another anthology of South American women writers is Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin American Women, edited by Alberto Manguel.

Sep 25, 2015, 4:25pm Top

I actually just bought Other Fires, but it didn't occur to me to add it. It certainly looks like a stellar collection. There's a story by Clarice Lispector, and I'm happy to own something with "The Bloody Countess" by Alejandra Pizarnik in it.

Sep 27, 2015, 12:16am Top

Wow! Looks like some great reading ahead. I am planning to read Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto; and also wanted to try out Elena Ferrante. My reading has been slow lately, so not sure how much more I will get done, but I had also wanted to read more by Christa Wolf.

Edited: Sep 27, 2015, 4:57am Top

Fantastic to read so many choices for this theme. I have a number of Brazilian books I've picked up along the way that I would like to read for this challenge, Clarice Lispector and The Diary of Helena Morley. I would also like to find some authors new to me so I will have a good look at all the lists and what my library has to offer. Thanks so much to >1 Settings: for all this work, showing we have so many options ☺

Oct 3, 2015, 7:45am Top

Currently reading The House With the Blind Glass Windows by Herbørg Wassmo.

Edited: Oct 5, 2015, 8:37am Top

I have loved being the Reading Globally administrator for the past several years, following Lois/avaland who started this group and led it for several years herself. But it is time for me to pass the baton, as I am unable to continue to do this for 2016.

I will give the password for the RGAdmin to whoever steps up to carry on this group. Also, the new volunteer(s) can look at this planning thread from last year (http://www.librarything.com/topic/182691) and this voting thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/183301) to see a way to set these threads up.

Please PM me if you have any interest.

Thank you.

Oct 13, 2015, 7:37am Top

Wonderful research. I was looking through the touchstones and wondered about these two not on the list and maybe we're meant to be;
Fear and Trembling by Amélie Nothomb rather than Kirkgarrd.
The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek,nthe 2004 Nobel Prize.

Edited: Oct 15, 2015, 7:05pm Top

The first book I have read for this theme is Natural Histories by Guadalupe Nettel.

Nettel is a contemporary Mexican writer, and this book consists of five short stories in which the protagonist's life becomes entangled in strange ways with an animal (or in one case, a fungus) in such a way that the animal's experience throws a sidelight on their own.

Similarly, the stories have little echoes of each other which make you reconsider what you have read.

So, for example, the first story is about a marriage breaking up, emblemized by the behaviour of the couple's two Siamese fighting fish. The last story features a man who has had an affair, which he regrets - he deliberately buys one snake from a pair which he studies as a sort of meditation on loneliness. The book both starts and ends with images of people staring into the tank of a captive animal.

Unusual stories, which I enjoyed reading and thinking about.

Also, The Tea Lords by Hella S Haasse, a Dutch novelist but was born and lived a few years in what is now Indonesia. In this book she tells the story of a Dutch clan of colonial planters, and in particular one son of the clan, the reserved and priggish Rudolf. Rudolf is inspired by family history and wants to make his mark as a successful colonialist, returning to the Netherlands with a large family, wealth and influence. But things are not so simple, especially for a socially awkward young man who is not able to create good relationships with important people.

The story, which was inspired by a real set of papers from a family similar to the one in the novel, is dense and detailed and covers the time from 1869 to 1907 (with a coda in 1918). The thing that I found most interesting was the descriptions of Dutch colonial life at this period - it's a society which is staid and censorious but where some individuals still manage to step outside these constraints and adapt the customs of their new home. However, the downside is that the book covers a tremendous amount of ground in frustratingly little detail - fascinating characters appear for one scene and are never seen again, and more seriously the main characters don't really step off the page. For example, after one of Rudolf's sisters dies in childbirth, his other sister temporarily adopts her children. We are told this in a paragraph:

Rudolf went to fetch his mother from Batavia, where she was visiting Cateau, who had taken Bertha's children under her wing. Carrying the baby in her arms and with the two toddlers playing at her feet, his sister displayed a new, cheerful energy, notwithstanding all the extra work involved. Rudolf had already guessed that Cateau longed to have children of her own, and that the extraordinary interest she showed in fashion and frivolities, so unlike the Cateau of old, was simply a means of masking the emptiness at the core of her marital life. And now, thanks to her new responsibilities, she seemed to have come into her own.

And that's it - in the next paragraph Rudolf returns to the plantation, and we find out no more about Cateau's emotions or reactions.

Overall I found this a slightly frustrating read, as I never felt that I had a handle on what the book was really about.

Oct 21, 2015, 12:22am Top

I had finished two for this theme:

The lost daughter by Elena Ferrante. This is the story of a woman who has a complicated relationship with motherhood and with her own grown daughters. She visits the seaside, and becomes a bit obsessed with a family vacationing there, especially a young mother and her daughter.
The plot is strange, but interesting. I will try other works by Ferrante.

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

A slim book about love and loss. There are two stories here, both about young women who are facing grief. The writing is simple and sweet; and the stories full of odd twists.

Edited: Oct 30, 2015, 6:59am Top

I got a little bit side-tracked into reading a series of books co-written by a woman and a man. Purists may feel that they don't belong in this thread: if so, please ignore this post and move along to the next...

The Martin Beck series (The story of a crime) by Maj Sjöwall (Sweden, 1935- ) and Per Wahlöö (Sweden, 1926-1975)

This series of ten short novels featuring the Stockholm detective Martin Beck was published between 1965 (Roseanna) and 1975 (The terrorists). They are often talked-up as the books which established Scandinavian crime as a genre, and are definitely classic police-procedurals that stand up very well to their French and Anglo-Saxon competitors. But I have to admit that I didn't hear about them at all until quite recently, even though I was already a keen reader of crime fiction by the late seventies. So I suspect that they didn't really have all that much impact in English translation when they first appeared, and that at least some of the English and American crime-writers who now claim Sjöwall and Wahlöö as a formative influence are indulging in a bit of hindsight.

I read all ten books back to back over the space of a few weeks, which is probably very self-indulgent, but it also makes sense since Sjöwall and Wahlöö, both of whom were left-wing journalists before they took to crime, had the books planned out from the start as a political "project" that was to expose the many social ills of Sweden in the 1960s. It's interesting to follow the development of the books from the almost cozy, Maigret-ish mood of Roseanna to the confrontational, directly anti-establishment atmosphere of the last three books, which is clearly a direct precursor of things like Ian Rankin's later Rebus stories. We start out in a world where the police have a recognized and accepted role in investigating crime and locking up the bad guys (although we do get clear hints that neither of these things is actually as straightforward as we might think), but ten years later we end up at a point where the whole notion of policing has been distorted by stupidity, personal ambition and lust for power. The police have become the principal agents of violence and disorder in society, whilst the murderers seem to be almost the only sane, rational characters left. Obviously Sjöwall and Wahlöö are exaggerating for satirical effect, but they do seem to put their fingers on quite a few points that were by no means as obvious forty years ago as they are now: the lack of accountability for abuses of police power, the Swat-team mentality, the all-consuming desire of senior police officers to do things that look good on TV, and the usefulness of international terrorism as a driver in the escalation of police manpower and weaponry. Most of what they write has hardly dated at all (except for their frequent references to Britain as a model of effective low-key policing - that went out of the window in the Thatcher era).

Quite apart from their political content, the stories are - of course - designed to be easy for readers of crime fiction to enjoy, and they do very well in this. Beck is a good central character, remarkable chiefly for being extraordinarily ordinary. Unlike many of his successors, he doesn't have a signature character flaw: he drinks moderately, has an unremarkable private life, and is only occasionally insubordinate. He's a conscientious civil servant who wants to do a good job and doesn't let himself be distracted from the details by all the bling-bling of modern policing. By the standards of earlier detectives he is remarkably unlucky: the reader is usually shown a shortcut to the solution of the crime somewhere very early in the novel, but the police don't find the time to follow this up until much later. And most of the time it's not Beck himself, but one of his team that stumbles upon the vital piece of information. We are shown how most investigations depend on the tedious process of systematically eliminating possibilities and following up connections.

Co-authorship isn't a very common thing in fiction, so of course I was looking out for evidence of two distinct voices, but I didn't really find any, at least in English translation. Maybe it's different in the original, but I suspect not. They seem to have worked very closely together, and the joins, if indeed there are joins, are not obvious. There are passages that might hint at different male and female perspectives: for instance, I noticed that in the earlier books there were always a few passages where female characters are discovered naked for no obvious reason (as you would probably expect in sixties genre fiction), but these situations tend to be resolved in unexpected and ironic ways, and in the later books they start to be compensated by passages in which male characters are gratuitously naked...

For extra background i had a look at this article:

Louise France interviews Sjöwall in the Observer, November 2009

Nov 1, 2015, 10:55am Top

Just reminding people of the call for volunteers in >57 rebeccanyc:. Soon it will be time to start the planning thread for 2016 ...

Nov 5, 2015, 6:57pm Top

Our Lady Of The Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga

Our Lady of the Nile is a school high in the mountains for the daughters of the Rwandan elite. In a series of episodes we get to know the girls of one class: there are the daughters of politicians, army officers, bankers and businessmen, and (as in each class of 20 girls) there are two Tutsis, because that's the quota.

There's also one girl who's half Hutu and half Tutsi, and because of this she sticks extra close to the 'mean girl' of the class, the politician's daughter who shares her father's rabble-rousing tendencies. At first this seems like little more than ordinary schoolgirl bullying, albeit with an edge. But nothing is ordinary in the relationships in Rwanda and so things take a shocking turn.

This was a very interesting novel - set well before the genocide in Rwanda but both foreshadowing it and explaining some of the historical context. It's well-translated and a smooth read. The choice to make the young women's attitudes so closely follow the role of their parents meant that they seemed symbolic types, rather than complex personalities, so this was a bit more a fable than a story of real people. But maybe that also highlighted the way that attitudes and conflicts are passed down from generation to generation.

So suitcases became well-stocked pantries filled by doting mothers: beans and cassava paste, with a special sauce, in little enameled containers decorated with large flowers and wrapped in a piece of cloth; bananas slowly baked overnight; ibisheke, sugarcane you chew and chew until the pure fibrous marrow fills your mouth with its sweet juice; red gahungezi sweet potatoes; corncobs; peanuts; and even, for the city girls, doughnuts of every color under the sun - a secret Swahili recipe - avocados you can only buy at Kigali markets, and extra-salty, red-roasted peanuts.

Nov 9, 2015, 11:59am Top

Another reminder that a volunteer or volunteers are needed to lead this group next year . . . and start right about now soliciting ideas for Theme Reads. Details in >57 rebeccanyc:.

Nov 9, 2015, 8:19pm Top

I read two women authors who did not write in English and were translated; The House with the Blind Glass Windows by Herbjörg Wassmo and Paradise of the Blind by Vietnamese author Thu Hương Dương. I didn't see any mention of Vietnam above. I've posted reviews of both. Both are great works. The later really is a great read about women and the culture in Vietnam. Covers the food too.

Edited: Nov 10, 2015, 5:50am Top

Unwanted (2009) by Kristina Ohlsson (Sweden, 1979- )

I'm still off on my side-track into Scandinavian crime fiction, a very prominent genre that I've barely dipped a toe into previously (I read a couple of Henning Mankell novels about ten years ago, and I've watched two or three TV series, but that's about it until I started reading the Martin Beck series).

Kristina Ohlsson may be relatively young (30 when she wrote this), but unlike most crime writers she has actually worked in the police and justice services. This was her first novel, and she's published another nine books since 2009, so she's no slouch. Frederika Bergman, a police investigator with academic credentials, is the character who links up with the later novels in the series and who seems to have a similar background to the author, but - rather like the Martin Beck novels - the narrative is in multiple point-of-view form, giving roughly equal prominence to several members of the investigating team. The plot is based around a fairly generic serial-killer formula, with a nicely executed false lead to make it more interesting. The tensions between the members of the police team were a little bit routine, but they were kept low-key enough not to be an irritation. I was strongly reminded of the later Martin Becks by the way the author felt obliged to give us a sociological underpinning for the criminal's descent into evil. There is clearly meant to be a political message here about violence and power in relations between men, women, and children, but it's advanced with some delicacy. You can't rule out the possibility that the lover you think you know well might have a double life as a psychopath, but it's probably vanishingly small...

Overall I found this a good debut novel: nothing stunningly interesting, but enough entertainment to keep the reader engaged, and no serious annoyances. The translation might have been a bit bland, but I didn't really notice I was reading a translation, so it was probably doing a good job. The cover, on the other hand, was ludicrously generic and obviously designed by someone who hadn't read either the book or the brief from the publisher (the only shoes that feature in the story are men's, size 46...). Maybe it was really meant for the Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella - Rucke di guck, Blut is im Schuh!

Nov 15, 2015, 7:37am Top


If so, the time to volunteer is NOW!

I have loved being the Reading Globally administrator for the past several years, following Lois/avaland who started this group and led it for several years herself. But it is time for me to pass the baton, as I am unable to continue to do this for 2016.

I will give the password for the RGAdmin to whoever steps up to carry on this group. Also, the new volunteer(s) can look at this planning thread from last year (http://www.librarything.com/topic/182691) and this voting thread (http://www.librarything.com/topic/183301) to see a way to set these threads up.

Please PM me if you have any interest. Or volunteer here!

Thank you.

Nov 18, 2015, 2:58pm Top


SassyLassy has agreed to lead this group, and will be starting a thread asking for suggestions for next year's theme reads soon.

A big round of applause and thank you to SassyLassy!

Nov 18, 2015, 8:38pm Top

>68 rebeccanyc: Thanks SassyLassy for volunteering.

Nov 19, 2015, 3:49am Top

Thank you SassyLassy!

Nov 19, 2015, 11:28am Top

>69 Kristelh: >70 FlorenceArt: Thanks, it's intimidating!

The theme reads suggestion thread for 2016 is now up.

Nov 29, 2015, 12:23pm Top

Flaw by Magdalena Tulli

Like all the works by Tulli I have read, this is a complex, allegorical, poetic, and somewhat metafictional novel. It start out with a tailor making costumes (and it will turn out that clothes really make the man in this tale) and a city square with streets that end a little beyond it. Tulli mentions the cost of manufacturing what seem to be props. Is this a movie set? Gradually, the reader gets to know the people who live and work in the square: a notary with a wife and two children, the maid who works for them, a policeman, a student, a waiter in a café, and more.

But then, something unsettling happens; it isn't clear what at first, but it later develops that some military man has seized power, not in the square but in the country it is a part of. Suddenly, refugees start arriving in the square, much to the discomfiture of the residents. The student, changing his costume by the addition of a sash, commands a squad of grammar school students. Then a group of air force officers mysteriously arrives, and await a helicopter that can fly them to where they are really supposed to be. (The helicopter, when it comes, is apparently made of cardboard.) Through a series of events, the air force general leaves his coat and hat behind; the waiter finds them and is transformed into a general who tries to enforce various nefarious orders.

But this is just the plot, such as it is. Tulli is playing with ideas, not just of clothes making the man, but also of what is a story. She mentions that this is a story frequently:

"And what about that other square, in a different story, of necessity vacated and closed down? And the suddenly interrupted strands of stories entwining it?" p. 62

"Now things must move faster, as the general too is in a hurry. Having already been derailed from its course, the story has entered a different track. The same one that every story ends up on unavoidably sooner or later, because it is the track of the world, always ready to give direction to whatever is moving without purpose or destination. In the quiet of early evening, the story is already heading straight towards violent and cruel events, as if there were no one to take care of it. If this story belongs to me, I am powerless to change its course or turn things back." p. 158

Tulli also uses phrases like "If I am the maid, i would ..." or "If I am the policeman, I would ..."

So Tulli is playing with the idea of what makes a story while telling a tale that could, in magically condensed form, be a story that is repeated all too frequently, with particular resonance now, of military dictators, refugees, and cruelty directed at the perceived other.

I enjoyed Tulli's playfulness, as I have enjoyed it in the other books I have read by her, but this book didn't grab me as much as some of the others. I suspect it was my mood, rather than the book.

Nov 29, 2015, 1:33pm Top

I thought this was going to be a really interesting theme, but one way and another I've not found a lot of inspiration to read things for it. This is a short novel that someone lent me ages ago, and I was intending to read it for the German theme last year, but finally got around to reading it on a long flight last week.

Die Mädchen aus meiner Klasse (The girls in my class, 1975) by Christine Brückner (1921-1996, Germany)

This short novel from the mid-seventies uses the somewhat medieval plot device of a series of guests at a party taking it in turns to tell one story each. In this case the guests are five women, former classmates now in their late thirties and still living in their old home town, who have got into the routine of meeting once a month for coffee and cakes and gossip. On this particular occasion they invite another woman from their class to join them. Unlike the others, Karla is still single, a journalist who has gone to live in the big city and now writes about "women's issues": she taunts her old classmates for their bourgeois complacency and the "hunting trophies" of jewellery that they've acquired. To her surprise, they don't submit to her rhetoric, but defend themselves, each taking a particular piece of her jewellery and showing how she acquired it, in the process revealing a secret she has never shared with the group before, but also making it clear that there is far more to their lives as middle-class women in seventies Germany than the exchange of sex for ornaments and consumer durables. The stories they tell are all witty and subversive, in quite distinct ways, and the only very slightly buried message the reader is supposed to pick up is that feminism is about what happens in the lives of ordinary women, not fancy intellectual theories. Possibly a bit simplistic, and definitely a document of the time it was written in (so it might lose some of its impact if you don't remember provincial German society ca. 1975), but very entertaining, and extremely acutely observed.

Edited: Dec 3, 2015, 7:05am Top

Since I visited China for the first time in my life last month, I thought I ought to read at least something about China...

The good women of China (2003) by Xinran (China, UK, 1958- )

Although Xinran teaches at SOAS, writes for the Guardian, and is the daughter-in-law of one of the most British of British novelists, this, her first book, was written in Chinese and seems to be aimed in the first place at Chinese readers, so it definitely qualifies for this theme.

During the late eighties and early nineties, Xinran presented a late-night programme on Chinese radio in which she invited women to come forward and tell their own stories, with the idea of breaking down some of the barriers that make it difficult to talk about gender issues in China. The book is a small selection from the many stories she was able to gather during that time, obviously put together both with a journalist's eye for what makes a good story and with the didactic intention of covering a suitable range of "key topics" to give her readers some perspective on the main issues affecting women in Chinese society.

As should be obvious (but isn't necessarily, until someone like Xinran comes along and points it out), China is a vast, complicated and diverse country that has gone through huge changes in a very short time, and there's no way you can get a real idea of what life is like there from listening to the accounts of a handful of individuals. The dozen or so stories we look at in detail in this book help, but it's still only scratching the surface. Xinran's point is of course not so much to tell outsiders what China is like, but rather to show Chinese women that talking about what's happened in their lives is a first step towards making things better.

What struck me about the stories? Firstly, and maybe most obviously, there's an element of the "banality of evil". The bad things that happen to Chinese women are essentially the same bad things that happen to the weaker members of society everywhere, especially in times of war and unrest. Sadly, sexual violence, incest, wife-battering and economic hardship are not exclusive to any region or type of society. Then of course there are the specifically Chinese elements. Women seem to have suffered disproportionately in the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, and Xinran illustrates this with many examples (including her own experience as a little girl sent to a special "black" school because she was the child of bourgeois parents). As we all know, China since the revolution has been a place where women work in "traditionally male" roles to an extent that's often surprising to outsiders, but there's still a "glass ceiling" in place (Xinran also tells the story of the educated young women who joined the revolution only to be assigned to the task of becoming replacement wives for party leaders who had been separated from their original families by the war). The state interferes in sexuality and private life to an extent that most of us would find difficult to believe, whilst cultural inhibitions make it difficult to talk openly about sexual matters. Xinran also makes it clear that we have to remember what a vast and diverse place China is: in a final chapter, she makes a short visit to a village in a semi-desert part of western China, where civilisation has had essentially no impact on day-to-day life, and women exist in conditions that make even the really bad things she describes elsewhere look positively benign. Yet those women, unlike any others she has interviewed, make a point of telling her that they are happy.

I'm glad I read this: it's a well-written, very carefully constructed book, and I think I learnt something from it, even if it is only scratching the surface.

Edited: Dec 3, 2015, 8:03am Top

>74 thorold: Thank you, very interesting review!

Dec 3, 2015, 9:05am Top

Since I just read & reviewed this in my own thread, I thought I'd include it here.

The ten thousand things - Maria Dermoût, Hans Koning (Translator) ©1958, 204 pages. Fiction, literature, Dutch author, Indonesian setting.

"Of all the houses not one was standing whole; they had collapsed with an earthquake and been cleared away. Here and there a piece of an old house had remained: a wing, a wall only, and later people built against it, usually just a few shabby rooms.
What was left of all the glory?
Yet something seemed to have lingered in those gardens of the old, the past, of the so-very-long-ago."

It took me a while to get through the first half of this book. A month, in fact, to read 80 pages. But I didn't want to quit it, the writing was so evocative, so beautiful and captivating, so...unique. Her imagery, and style, is just, something else entirely. Even though the story, at this point, is very slow-paced and mostly in Felicia's thoughts and observations, there is simply something magical in the way Dermoût expresses everything. There is a style and a rhythm to her writing that you just want to lounge in. I adored the writing, I just wasn't pulled in to the story yet.
"He did like the curiosities cabinet, because it belonged to the Garden—and he loved the Garden.
He loved it in his own way—without much ado, as it was, as it had been for seven years for the two children Domingoes and Himpies. They had never just looked at it, they had never seen that the Garden was "beautiful" and so terribly far away and quiet, they had not seen the fear in the Garden. Together they had never been afraid."

But the second half is no longer just The Woman of the Small Garden, the second half has much more going on, and I read it in a single sitting. In these sections there are other stories that are loosely intertwined with her own, which take the forefront up until the end, when they are weaved smoothly back in together with the Lady. These stories have more happening in them; rather than long stretches of time passing slowly, they are fast glimpses.
"When the moon rose above the inner bay, which lay as quiet as a lake, and shone over the foliage of the trees and palms on the beach, it seemed almost day. The small leaves of the many palms gleamed as if wet, as if the moonlight would roll off them in silver drops and trickles. The trunks of the plane trees lighted up gray and silvery white, the foliage took on a hard, almost metallic gleam.
The species of lobster with the single, monstrously enlarged claw which was constantly moving up and down would be somewhere near the water, waving at the moon—that's what they did."

It's a difficult book to describe. Not very much happens, especially not with the central character. She lives, she learns, she ages. But it's a brilliant, moving, enchanting piece of work that everyone should experience. Highly recommended.
"Sjeba and her husband, Henry, who was still cowherd, stayed with her. Slowly they had become the only ones left from the past, the only ones who knew everything, had gone through everything—anyway, the cows had to be milked."

Dec 5, 2015, 4:37am Top

Subtly Worded and other stories by Teffi

Teffi (real name Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya) was born into a wealthy St Petersberg family in the late 19th century, and lived through many upheavals, ending up as an emigrée in Paris.

She was feted for her short stories, but most of the ones in this collection are not really to my taste - a lot of them are squibs with the same kind of ironic twist, which is very easy to predict - in "The Hat" for example, a woman is delighted by her new hat. Waiting for her young man to call, she stands in front of the mirror comparing how much better she looks in it than in her old hat. He rings the bell, she runs down to meet him, and spends the whole day being witty and seductive, charming him completely, because she knows she looks good in the new hat. Then she gets home and sees - as I'm sure you've already guessed - that it was in fact the old hat she'd been wearing when the bell rang.

But I am still pleased I read this collection because of a few stories which convey something of the life of Teffi and her contemporaries - in "Petrograd Monologue" a starving woman attempts to talk high-mindedly about art but keeps being distracted by thoughts of food. "Que Faire" is a very funny satire about the intriguing between Russian emigrés:

We—les russes, as they call us—live the strangest of lives here, nothing like other people’s. We stick together, for example, not like planets, by mutual attraction, but by a force quite contrary to the laws of physics—mutual repulsion. Every lesrusse hates all the others—hates them just as fervently as the others hate him. This general antipathy has given rise to several neologisms. Hence, for example, a new grammatical particle, “that-crook”, placed before the name of every lesrusse anyone mentions: “that-crook Akimenko”, “that-crook Petrov”, “that-crook Savelyev”. This particle lost its original meaning long ago and now equates to something between the French le, indicating the gender of the person named, and the Spanish honorific don: “don Diego”, “don José”. You’ll hear conversations like this: “Some of us got together at that-crook Velsky’s yesterday for a game of bridge. There was that-crook Ivanov, that-crook Gusin, that-crook Popov. Nice crowd."

"Subtly Worded" is about how those still in the Soviet Union need to censor their letters until they make almost no sense: We went round to your apartment. There’s a lot of air there now…

There's also an extraordinary piece in which Teffi writes about her (real) encounters with Rasputin and the effect he had on Russian society.

“Have you ever met him?” I asked. “Who? Him? You mean—Rasputin?” And suddenly she was all fidgety and flustered. She was gasping. Red blotches appeared on her thin, pale cheeks. “Rasputin? Yes… a very little… a few times. He feels he absolutely has to get to know me. They say it’s very interesting, very interesting indeed. Do you know, when he stares at me, my heart begins to pound in the most alarming way… It’s astonishing. I’ve seen him three times, I think, at friends’. The last time he suddenly came right up close and said: ‘What is it, you little waif? You be sure to come and see me—yes, mind you do!’ I was completely at a loss. I said I didn’t know, that I couldn’t… And then he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘You shall come. Understand? Yes, you absolutely shall!’ And the way he said ‘shall’ so commandingly, with such authority, it was as if this had already been decided on high and Rasputin was in the know. Do you understand what I mean? It was as if, to him, my fate were an open book. He sees it, he knows it. I’m sure you understand I would never call on him, but the lady whose house I met him at said I really must, that plenty of women of our station call on him, and that there’s nothing in the least untoward about it. But still… I… I shan’t…” This “I shan’t” she almost squealed. She looked as if she were about to give a hysterical shriek and start weeping.

Edited: Dec 5, 2015, 10:45am Top

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Dec 11, 2015, 1:53pm Top

I probably haven't looked hard enough, but when I dug around for some other interesting-sounding women writers from China, most of those whose books were reasonably accessible turned out to write in English. I had to resort to cheating very slightly, by taking a Chinese writer who lives in France and writes in French:

La joueuse de go (2001, The girl who played go) by Shan Sa (1972 - )

La joueuse de go is an historical novel, set in Manchuria during the Japanese occupation in the 1930s, although it obviously also draws obliquely on the author's experience as a young woman growing up in Beijing around the time of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The book uses the "alternating chapters" structure, with the odd-numbered chapters (the black moves) being given to a sixteen-year-old Chinese girl, and the even ones (the white moves) to a lieutenant in the Japanese army of occupation. As we would expect, the two meet over a go board, but this only happens about halfway through the book, and even then they scarcely talk apart from the few phrases they need to exchange in the course of the game. By then the author has established both their characters: the girl is tough on the outside, but very much an adolescent, more in love with the idea of growing up than with the young radicals who draw her into the fringes of the communist underground; the officer is a creature of acute, if rather conservative, aesthetic sensibilities, following a career that involves dealing out violence and death (and frequenting prostitutes) because of his sense of duty to his family and his emperor, but obviously - as he dimly starts to realise himself - someone who would have been far happier as a poet or a watercolorist. We know this isn't going to end well, but it's a great pleasure to watch the elegant way in which Shan Sa manoeuvres her two narrators around within the frameworks of their respective cultures to get them to the point where she wants them.

Basically it's Romeo and Juliet with lashings of what we used to call "oriental subtlety", so you probably shouldn't take it too seriously, but there's a great deal to enjoy in the style and execution, which are for the most part absolutely spot on.

Fun fact: like Gilbert & Sullivan's The Mikado, this book is claimed to have been inspired by a chance encounter with an antique Japanese sword in a market. ("Un sabre japonais était exposé. On m'a dit qu'il datait du XVIIe siècle. Personne ne s'attendait à ce que je le dégaine. J'ai tiré cette lame incandescente et tout d'un coup, j'avais l'impression de tenir la mort entre mes mains...")

(Shan Sa interviewed about this book in L'Express in 2001: http://www.lexpress.fr/culture/livre/shan-sa-imperatrice-des-lyceens_805413.html )

Dec 11, 2015, 4:03pm Top

>79 thorold: There does seem to be a dearth of female Chinese writers translated into English as opposed to those who as you say write in English.

One I might suggest is Eileen Chang/ Zhang Ailing. NYRB among others publishes her.

Dec 12, 2015, 4:55am Top

>80 SassyLassy:
Thanks, I'll give her a try!

Dec 20, 2015, 8:00pm Top

After The Divorce by Grazia Deledda

Grazia Deledda won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1926, one of 14 women ever to have done so - despite this, only four of her books appear to have been translated into English.

After The Divorce is set in a Sardinian village, and based around the fact that early in the twentieth century a law was passed which allowed women whose husbands were found guilty of crimes and sentenced to a significant period of imprisonment to divorce them. But popular culture has not caught up with the law, particularly in rural areas, and so a woman who exercises this right may be ostracised. Deledda brings this to life in the tale of Giovanna, whose husband Constantino has been sentenced to jail for murder. A wealthy neighbour, Brontu, has always wanted Giovanna and renews his suit. The encouragement and support of Giovanna's mother (who always wanted her daughter to choose him rather than pursuing a love match), and Giovanna's own wish not to be alone, eventually get him what he wants. But then, on his deathbed, another villager confesses to the murder which Constantino has been sentenced for, and so he returns to the village, despite knowing everything that has taken place.

This is more than anything else a portrait of the village society, and the narrow emotional space allowed to individuals - frustrated passions and dreams run as undercurrents to the daily events. Beautiful descriptions of the Sardinian scenery, too.

Dec 23, 2015, 11:50am Top

>80 SassyLassy:,>81 thorold:
A last little dip into Chinese writing before stepping over to the Caribbean for the next theme read, following up SassyLassy's suggestion of Eileen Chang.

Love in a fallen city (1943, reissued by NYRB in 2006) by Eileen Chang (China, Hong Kong, USA, 1920-1995)

Although Chang carried on writing long after her move to the US, it's these cynical, pessimistic love stories from the thirties and early forties that she's best known for. The combination of the narrator's unromantic view of human nature with languid tropical backgrounds in the prosperous suburbs of Shanghai and Hong Kong makes you think of Somerset Maugham, but Chang complicates that mix further by bringing in her own experience of growing up in an upper-class Chinese family torn between extreme conservatism and the fashion for adopting Western styles of behaviour, dress and ethics. Each of the stories in this collection takes characters exposed to these forces in different combinations and ratios, and we get to see young people making a mess of their lives (and others) irrespective of whether it's in pursuit of money, love, pleasure, or career. Beautifully done, and there's always a strong sense that the European cocktail-cabinet culture is jut as doomed as the lifestyle of the wealthy families where the mother-in-law squelches the least sign of independence from any of her sons' wives. But you also get the feeling that Chang would be pretty good at squelching upstarts herself!

Dec 23, 2015, 7:48pm Top

>83 thorold: So glad you liked her. Now you have to read Lust, Caution and see the film directed by Ang Lee. He captures the everything beautifully and the cast is excellent too (Joan Chen, Wei Tang and Tony Chiu Wai Leung). There must be some way to tie it in to Caribbean reading!

Dec 24, 2015, 1:46am Top

>83 thorold: Thank you for the review. I had seen Eileen Chang's name but had assumed that she was a Chinese American writing now, not someone born in 1920 who wrote in Chinese. I will add this book to my wishlist.

Dec 24, 2015, 10:33am Top

>83 thorold: I've had that book on the TBR for years. Maybe I'll actually get to it.

Dec 24, 2015, 1:33pm Top

>86 rebeccanyc:
I was a bit dubious at first (especially when I looked at her Wikipedia page and saw she earned her green card by writing anti-Communist propaganda). But it definitely isn't just upper class adultery with Chinese wallpaper. Someone on the Reviews page calls it "Jane Austen with the gloves off", that seems pretty apt.

Dec 29, 2015, 12:34pm Top


cross posted from my Club Read 2015 thread

Jenny by Sigrid Undset translated from the Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally
first published in 1911

The first person we meet in Jenny is not Jenny herself, but Helge Gram, newly arrived in Rome. Back home in Norway, Helge had spent years reading about the city, its art and architecture. Now here he was.
Helge whispered aloud to the city of his dreams, whose streets his feet had never trod and whose buildings concealed not one familiar soul: "Rome, Rome, eternal Rome." And he grew shy before his own lonely being, and afraid, because he was deeply moved, although he knew that no one was there watching him. All the same, he turned around and hurried down toward the Spanish Steps.

While Gram had come to Italy to see all these things, somehow nothing seemed real, he believed more in his books.

That first day, Helge met two Norwegian girls, Jenny Winge and Francesca Jahrmann. They, on the other hand, had thrown themselves whole heartedly into the bohemian life of the city. Jenny emerges as a strong young modern woman, out to make a name for herself as an artist. She wonders about love and what it would mean to her only as a concept. Cesca is more fragile, physically and morally, easily swayed by her many suitors.

Undset uses mood and settings to reveal her characters. As the novel moves from an Italian summer to a Norwegian winter, the world closes in. Behavioural strictures constrain the characters, each of whom reacts differently. Undset is highly critical of provincial Norwegian morality and the hypocrisy needed to maintain appearances. She herself was criticized for being immoral in writing about it.

Published in 1911, Jenny was Sigrid Undset's breakout novel. She refused to use the euphemisms of nineteenth century novels when putting her characters in questionable and unpleasant situations. Even worse for the time, the characters acknowledged and discussed their situations. There is no happy ending, but a realistic one for the time and place.

At the time of the initial translation into English in 1921, parts of the novel were omitted. This new translation by Tiina Nunnally , who translated the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy so well, restores the complete text. Reading both this first novel and the later trilogy gives a more complete sense of the range of Undset's writing and an insight into why she would win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

Dec 29, 2015, 3:32pm Top

Enticing review. I've read the KL novels a couple of times, but I never heard of this one.

Dec 31, 2015, 5:46pm Top

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

This was good, but a sad and uncomfortable to read. It's about a South Korean woman dealing with sexism; abuse; and mental illness. I thought that the author did a good job of showing mental illness and anorexia as a result of powerlessness. It's also an interesting glimpse into another culture.

Jan 2, 2016, 7:18am Top

>90 banjo123: Thank you for the review! I read about this book not long ago and I think it's on my wishlist.

Edited: Jan 2, 2016, 10:29am Top

I found this thread late. Here are a couple of reviews cross-posted from my 2015 Club Read thread.

The Confessions of Lady Nijo translated by Karen Brazell (Japanese)

This is the first translation into English of Towazugatari, The Confessions of Lady Nijo, a memoir written in the early 14th Century in Kamakura Japan, and it won the the 1974 National Book Award for Translation for Brazell. As she tells the reader in her introduction, towazugatari literally means "unrequested tale."

The memoir was neglected and forgotten, surviving in one 17th manuscript which was only discovered in 1940 and first published in 1950 with a scholarly, annotated edition coming out in 1966.

Around 1307, Lady Nijo finished the narrative of 36 years (1271-1306) of her life from the age of fourteen when she became the concubine of the retired Emperor GoFukakusa through her courtlife and love affairs and her eventual retirement from court to become a wandering Buddhist nun.

The Kamakura period is interesting because although the Imperial Court remained ensconsed in the royal capital of Heian (Kyoto), the governance of the country was in the hands of the Minamota clan from its military capital of Kamakura.

Lady Nijo's memoir is distinguished from earlier diaries from the Heian period, in that it affords glimpses not only into the life of the court and the Japanese aristocracy, but also into the workings of the Kamakura government and even moreso into the life of the countryside from the perspective of a wandering nun.

The memoir is divided into 5 Books, the first 3 chronicle Lady Nijo's life at court -- the highly elaborate rituals in which she took part, her relationship with GoFukakusa, and her independent love affairs. Eventually driven from the court by her rivals, Lady Nijo becomes a Buddhist nun, traveling throughout the country to copy holy sutras and dedicate them at various shrines. Her courtly background gains her entree to a variety of social milieu, and her keen eye and compassion inform the final 2 books of the memoir.

The memoir is deftly written and translated. Lady Nijo, with Brazell's assistance, is an engaging guide to a little known era of Japanese history.

Edited: Jan 2, 2016, 10:28am Top

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. -- I binge-read these in December. (Italian)

I found Ferrante's quartet a sophisticated and psychologically elegant Bildungsroman of two women whose lives are inextricably entwined for over 60 years beginning with their childhood in the 1950s. In an act of love (or, perhaps revenge), Elena Greco sits down to write the life story of Lila Cerullo, who has disappeared.

Lila is overdoing it as usual, I thought.

She was expanding the concept of trace out of all proportion. She wanted not only to disappear herself, now, at the age of sixty-six, but also to eliminate the entire life that she had left behind.

I was really angry.

We'll see who wins this time, I said to myself. I turned on the computer and began to write -- all the details of our story, everything that still remained in my memory.

The poor, working-class neighborhood in Naples in which the girls grew up, one rife with corruption and nearly incestuous family ties, is a kind of collective antagonist to Lila and Elena's struggle to survive and succeed in the tumultuous last half of the 20th century.

Ferrante plays with warring philosophies and ideologies, class conflict, Italian politics, the student and worker protests of the the 1960s and 70s, the sexual revolution, the rise of feminism, the sea-change in economy and work brought about by the introduction of computers as integral aspects of the friendship and competition between Lila and Elena. The reader sympathizes first with one, and then the other, but rarely both at the same time, as their lives follow very different paths, yet remain tangled together.

Jan 2, 2016, 10:28am Top

Sculptor's Daughter by Tove Jansson and Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen (Swedish-Finnish)

I have been under the spell of Tove Jansson since I first read The True Deceiver in 2009. I never encountered her Moomin books as a child, and I must admit, the Moomins don't appeal to me in the same way that characters in the books by Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak do.

But the books, she wrote for adults, starting in 1968 with The Sculptor's Daughter including The Summer Book, Sun City, Travelling Light, and Fair Play have entangled me in Jansson's web of contemplation about friendship, work, artistry, childhood, and aging.

I found Sculptor's Daughter: A Childhood Memoir (Bildhuggarens Dotter) enchanting. When I first discovered Jansson, this book had been long out of print and unavailable, though some of the chapters had been reprinted as stories in A Winter Book, so I was delighted to see that William Morrow had issued a paperback reprint last year.

Jansson's voice in these vignettes from her childhood is both whimsical and wise, creative and ultimately practical. Her memories take her from her grandparents' house in Sweden, to the loft-studio where she lived with her artist parents in Helsinki, to the small island on which they summered in Finland's bays.

This is from the chapter titled "The Bays":

The house is grey, the sky and the sea are grey, and the field is grey with dew. It's four o'clock in the morning and I have saved three important hours which can be counted as extra. Or perhaps three and a half.

I have learned to tell the time, although I'm not yet quite sure about the minutes.

I'm also light grey, but inside, because I'm all vague and wobbly like a jelly-fish, not thinking but just feeling. If you sailed a hundred miles over the sea and walked a hundred miles through the forest in all directions, you wouldn't find a little girl at all. They just don't exist. I know because I've found out....The nearest thing to it you'll find is Fanny who is almost seventy and collects pebbles and shells and dead animals and sings when it is going to rain.

Jan 7, 2016, 12:05am Top

Belarus and Ukraine

Voices From Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (2015 Nobel Prize for Literature)

I chose several books to read for this challenge and only got to this one. I started it in time to finish by December 31, but found the material so difficult to read for the first 100 pages that I read only a few pages a day. Eventually, I became both more hardened to the suffering of the victims and more interested in the variety and kind of suffering that the second half of the book went much faster.

The book is a compilation of interviews of the hundreds of people from both nearby Chernobyl and in many other areas who had been affected and/or displaced as a result of the disaster. The Chernobyl "accident" was an accident only in that it was not intentionally planned, but the government reaction to it was nothing less than criminal. Many hundreds of people were sent in to "contain" or "clean up" without any protective clothing or with minimal protection only on the chest area. They were told nothing of the gross dangers and promised big prizes for their work - prizes never given - and they died horrible deaths as a result. Those living nearby the reactor were later displaced, but explanations were not given to them as to why, and they were not compensated for their exposure, leaving behind their homes, livelihoods, and animals. Eventually, some of them returned because it was the only place they knew as "home." There are also those who ran from war in Chechnya and other places and went to Chernobyl because no one would bother them there and there was no war. Better radiation poisoning than what they had come from. For me the saddest were the mothers who had to watch their children dying, often having lived without a childhood because they spent their too short lives in hospitals. The following are a few of the quotes that struck me:

That's how it was in the beginning. We didn't just lose a town, we lost our whole lives.

I have my own memories. My official post there was commander of the guard units. Something like the director of the apocalypse. Laughs. Yes. Write it down just like that.

Our neighbors put down a new floor this year from the local forest, and then they measured it, its background radiation was a hundred times over the limit. No one took the floor apart, they just kept living there, figuring everything would turn out fine, somehow, without their help, without their participation. In the beginning people would bring some products over to the dosimetrist, to check them - they were way over the threshold, and eventually people stopped checking.

Sep 3, 2017, 9:02am Top

Since I frequently return to this thread to find new writers to explore, I thought I'd post this link here:

Women translating women

There is a nice list of writers mentioned that the various translators are in to.

Edited: Sep 3, 2017, 12:54pm Top

>96 southernbooklady: Thanks for that link (I think!). I am now contemplating several titles from it.

I would also like to mention Teffi (Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokvitskaya), partially translated by Anne Marie Jackson of LT. Here is an article on Teffi:

Also see >77 wandering_star: above

Sep 4, 2017, 9:52am Top

It seems the lack of translated works by women writers is back in the zeitgeist. Here's a Guardian article about it: Lost to Translation
So, August was Women in Translation Month, and I only heard about it today. This article I linked to was published on August 31st. It would be so nice if once in a while, mainstream newspapers told us about events before they end...
Also, The Warwick Prize for Women in Translation will be announced on November 15th, and I'm excited.

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