Check out these titles for #WIT Month
The Unwomanly Face of War : an Oral history of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich; translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”
In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women–more than a million in total–were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies
Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara: Sara traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal Amy, but when she arrives she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor–there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair. You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with Sara the tourist in charge.
You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and…customers. The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be funnier, more eccentric and surprising than she thought.
Windward Heights by Maryse Condé ; translated from the French by Richard Philcox
Prizewinning writer Maryse Condé reimagines Emily Brontë’s passionate novel as a tale of obsessive love between the “African” Razyé and Cathy, the mulatto daughter of the man who takes Razyé in and raises him, but whose treatment goads him into rebellious flight. Retaining the emotional power of the original, Condé shows the Caribbean society in the wake of emancipation.
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas ; translated by Daniel Hahn
The inspiring international bestseller of a seemingly ordinary woman who uses her talent and courage to transform herself first into a prestigious couturier and then into an undercover agent for the Allies during World War II.
An outstanding success around the world, The Time in Between has sold more than two million copies and inspired the Spanish television series based on the book, dubbed by the media as the “Spanish Downton Abbey.” In the US it was a critical and commercial hit, and a New York Times bestseller in paperback. It is one of those rare, richly textured novels that enthrall down to the last page. María Dueñas reminds us how it feels to be swept away by a masterful storyteller
The Vegetarian by Han Kang; translated by Deborah Smith
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams–invasive images of blood and brutality–torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.
In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story–of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.
Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write–initially in her journal–solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.
Earthlings by Sayaka Murata; translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori
As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit in with her family. Her parents favor her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut, who talks to her. He tells her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. One summer, on vacation with her family and her cousin Yuu in her grandparents’ ramshackle wooden house in the mountains of Nagano, Natsuki decides that she must be an alien, which would explain why she can’t seem to fit in like everyone else. Later, as a grown woman, living a quiet life with her asexual husband, Natsuki is still pursued by dark shadows from her childhood, and decides to flee the “baby factory” of society for good, searching for answers about the vast and frightening mysteries of the universe–answers only Natsuki has the power to uncover.
The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda; translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts
On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.
The Dead Girls’ Class Trip : Selected Stories by Anna Seghers ; translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo
This selection of Seghers’s best stories, written between 1925 and 1965, reflects the range of her creativity over the years and includes her most famous stories, such as the autobiographical “The Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” as well as those translated into English for the first time, like “Jans Must Die.” Here are psychologically penetrating stories about young men corrupted by desperation and women bound by circumstance, as well as enigmatic tales of bewilderment and enchantment, stories based on myths and legends like “The Best Tales of Woynok the Thief,” “The Legends of Artemis,” and “The Three Trees.” Seghers used the German language in especially unconventional and challenging ways in her stories, and Margot Bettauer Dembo’s sensitive and skilled translation preserves this distinction.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk; translated by Jennifer Croft
From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.
Snowdrift / Helene Tursten ; translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy
It’s been fourteen years since Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom’s best friend disappeared from a nightclub, but Embla recognises her voice on a surprise call before it is abruptly disconnects. Embla is thrilled to learn Lollo is still alive, but before she can find out more, she gets another call this time from a relative. A man has been found shot dead in one of the guest houses he manages in rural Sweden. Could she come take a look? When Embla arrives on the scene, she receives another shock. The dead man is Milo Stavic, a well-known gang member and one of the last people seen with Lollo.