PIERCE ALQUIST – 09-17-19
Over the past few months, Women in Translation Month founder Meytal Radzinski has been accepting nominations for the 100 best books by women writers in translation. Votes came in from readers all over the world and almost 800 unique books were nominated! Each reader could send up to ten nominations to contribute to the final list. The final list of 100 titles was presented on August 26 and followed by much excitement and discussion online.
Radzinski notes in her unveiling of the final list that “This is obviously not really a list of the 100 best books by women in translation…because no such list could ever possibly exist! Every canon will be flawed in some form or other, as I’ll be discussing more over the next few days and weeks. Our list is crowdsourced and borne of reader-love…this is a list of 100 books by women writers from around the world that people loved. That’s worthy in and of itself.”
Notably the list is predominantly comprised of books published in the last few years, a factor Radzinski comments on in an earlier post titled “Creating a New Canon” where she writes, “It is obvious that availability and accessibility are often guiding readers in their picks—after all, how can readers vote on books that they’ve never been exposed to?” Many readers, Radzinski included, are deeply disappointed in the Eurocentricity of the list, with 56 of the 100 books originally from Europe, but she plans on revealing all of the nominations with extensive analysis in the future. Hopefully this factor as it’s now been noted will lead readers to expand their reading lists!
You can see the full list of 100 titles here but as a teaser here are the top 25!
- My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
- The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
- Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell
- Human Acts by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
- The Door by Magda Szabó, translated by Len Rix
- Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
- Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
- The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal
- The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
- The Years by Annie Ernaux, translated by Alison L. Strayer
- Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez, translated by Megan McDowell
- Death in Spring by Mercè Rodoreda, translated by Martha Tennant
- Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
- Sphinx by Anne Garréta, translated by Emma Ramadan
- Die, My Love by Ariana Harwicz, translated by Sarah Moss and Carolina Orloff
- Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Megan Backus
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, translated by Mattias Ripa, Blake Ferris, and Anjali Singh
- Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, translated by Tina Kover
- The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated by Jamie Bulloch
- The Notebook Trilogy by Ágota Kristóf, translated by Alan Sheridan
- Innocence: or, Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius Kovály, translated by Alex Zucker
- The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende, translated by Magda Bogin
- The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky
- A True Novel by Minae Mizumura, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter
- The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky
Looking for even more suggestions, with an eye to diversify the 100 Best List? Check out this list of 50 Must-Read Books by Women in Translation and Book Riot’s In Translation archives.