Women in Translation month is sadly over! I may be biased (I’m totally biased) but this is my favorite readathon of the year. I loved picking up new-to-me books and discovering new favorites, from creepy reads to magical family sagas. My original TBR had a few books more, but it was quite unrealistic to read them all anyway and I am glad for what I read in the end! I also ended up picking up a few I hadn’t planned on at all. There was not a SINGLE flop, they were all brilliant reads!
It Would be Night in Caracas by Karina Sainz Borgo / Review
As I said a few times, this was probably the most important book I’ve read this month – it shines a light on the situation in Venezuela through the story of Adelaida, a woman who’s dealing with grief over her mother’s death, leaving her all alone in a violent country where she isn’t safe and must make a difficult choice to save herself.
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende / Review
A family saga with lots of magical realism and a focus on the amazing women in the story. This has important discussions on feminism, worker’s rights, classism, objectification of natives and so on. It’s nuanced, beautiful and unforgettable! A rare 5 star read for me.
The House in Smyrna by Tatiana Salem Levy / Review
This was the most experimental book of the bunch – the story of an unnamed woman trying to understand her identity and find her roots, this is told in fragmented thoughts and plays with the reader’s naiveté believing the narrator. It’s so, so unique and touching!
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez / Review
This took me entirely by surprise – I picked it up after some really positive reviews from people I trust, but I didn’t expect much. This blew me away! It was so creepy, at times brutal and shocking. All the trigger warnings, but it was an incredible horror read with lots of supernatural twists.
Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk / Review
This slow-paced atmospheric mystery is just the right amount of weird and I had a great time reading this. The main character is an eccentric older woman who is convinced that the deaths in her town are being caused by animals taking revenge on people, and it’s brilliantly written!
Pequeno Manual Antirracista by Djamila Ribeiro
According to the rules of #WITmonth it’s okay to read non-translated stuff, too, if it wasn’t written in English! So I am adding the only non-fiction in this list, an anti-racist manual by a fantastic Brazilian author. This is a quick read and an incredible starting point for non-Black people to think about what they can actually do to start seeing change in the ways structured racism permeates society. I especially appreciate that the author put a LOT of reading suggestions to get deeper into each topic.
Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami
I haven’t finished this yet, but I am highly enjoying this sharp, witty and sensitive novel about three women in Japan as they go through their personal struggles and fears. It’s a book hauled as a major feminist work and I must agree – it touches on so many women-related topics (especially working class women) and it’s truly an incredible book.
The variety (and talent) of writing styles, stories and genres of the books I decided to pick up was truly amazing. It’s hard to pick a favorite because they’re so different from each other, but I’m inclined to say my favorite reads were The House of Spirits and Things we Lost in the Fire as a close second. I haven’t finished Breasts and Eggs yet but it looks like a strong contender for the #3 spot!
From the 7 books I picked up for WITmonth:
- 2 are by Brazilian authors
- 1 is by a Chilean author
- 1 is by an Argentinian author
- 1 is by a Venezuelan author
- 1 is by a Polish author
- 1 is by a Japanese author
Which makes it 5 Latin American authors (~70%), 1 European author (~15%) and 1 Asian author (~15%). I am quite glad to have read so many Latinx authors, but I do need to pick up more Middle Eastern, South Asian, African etc authors. And despite being such a South America-heavy list, it’s still very white – only Djamila Ribeiro (from Brazil) and Mieko Kawakami (from Japan) are authors of color. But one thing at a time – next year I will take more time thinking of a TBR that is more diverse in terms of genres and authors – I joined this in the last minute and didn’t want to buy new books, which of course limited my options. But I’ve found new amazing books and I love adding books from people’s recommendations throughout the month. It’s just such a great time to see what everyone else is reading.