A Month in Translation

Did you know August is Women in Translation Month? For the literary community, this annual event is time to shine the spotlight on incredible contributions of women bridging cultures and languages through the power of storytelling.

The abundance of books published in languages readers can’t get their hands on because of language barrier. This is where translated books come in! They break down those barriers, linking us up despite our differences, and opening these whole new worlds of cultures and perspectives. Thanks to the magic of translation, stories, emotions, and unique perspectives get to travel beyond language barriers, inviting us into new and exciting realms.

So, as we join in the celebration of Women in Translation Month, we are putting some fantastic book recommendations your way that perfectly capture the essence of Women in Literature Translation Month. Get ready to be transported!

Men Don’t Cry by Faiza Guene (Translated by Sarah Ardizzone)

Award-winning book, Men Don’t Cry invites readers into the lives of Algerian immigrant family in France, where family dynamics, the clash of traditionalism, modernity and feminism instigated by their estranged first daughter, Dounia. When the family patriarch’s illness disrupts the status quo, Mourad embarks on a transformative journey from his mother’s cooking to the fast-paced Parisian suburbs. A poignant tale of adaptation, values, and the pursuit of identity, Men Don’t Cry is a must-read.

Why Do You Dance When You Walk by Abdourahman A. Waberi (Translated by David and Nicole Ball)

In this poignant novel, a simple question from his daughter—”Papa, why do you dance when you walk?”—becomes a poignant catalyst for Aden’s introspective journey. Revisiting his formative years in Djibouti on the cusp of independence, Aden shares the pivotal moment that forever reshaped his existence and the subsequent battle that sculpted his maturity. Mohammed Aïssaoui, an insightful voice at Le Figaro Magazine, lauds the book as “a heartfelt confession, where a father explains his life’s hurdles to his daughter… This elegant dance of wisdom between father and daughter illustrates that literature is a profound form of legacy.”

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth by Meryem Alaoui (Translated by Emma Ramadan)

In her breakout debut novel, Alaoui offers a raw and intimate glimpse into the tumultuous life of Jmiaa, a young Moroccan woman determined to break societal norms. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Casablanca, the novel navigates Jmiaa’s unconventional journey, blending humor and poignant reflection as she grapples with love, ambition, and self-discovery in a world that constantly challenges her. Alaoui’s vivid storytelling invites readers to connect with Jmiaa’s resilience, unveiling a narrative that unveils the complexities of modern womanhood in a changing society.

La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono (Translated by Lawrence Schimel)

Named the first book from Equatorial Guinea by a woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that takes us into the heart of Equatorial Guinea, where the spirited orphan Okomo yearns to carve her own path in a traditional society. Navigating themes of identity, gender, and cultural expectations, Obono weaves a captivating narrative that challenges norms and celebrates the strength of individuality. Through Okomo’s determined journey, the book explores the struggle for self-acceptance and the timeless quest for belonging. This evocative story sheds light on a richly textured world, offering a profound exploration of the complexities of heritage and personal freedom.

So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba (Translated by Modupe Bode-Thomas)

A classic in African literature, So Long a Letter is a poignant and beautifully crafted epistolary novel that delves into the lives of two Senegalese women, Ramatoulaye, and Aissatou. Through a series of heartfelt letters, Bâ eloquently explores themes of friendship, love, betrayal, and the resilience of women in a patriarchal society. Set against the backdrop of post-colonial Senegal, the novel offers a profound reflection on tradition, modernity, and the complexities of personal choices. Bâ’s lyrical prose and authentic portrayal of women’s experiences make “So Long a Letter” a timeless and impactful exploration of womanhood, culture, and societal change.

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