Hello, friends! Time to talk about some more books on my TBR! This is a series where I talk about a specific subset of books on my TBR. I’ve done a few posts of really long lists of books on my TBR, so for these posts I’m going to try to keep the list fairly small, provide the synopsis from Goodreads, and talk about where I found it and why I want to read it.
Today we’re talking about translated books! I don’t read a ton of translated books, but I want to read more. So here are some of those books.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists.
I’ve heard a ton of good things about this series, and it sounds like something I’d love. I know Jess was raving about it a couple of years ago, so I definitely want to give it a try soon!
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo, translated by Jamie Chang
In a small, tidy apartment on the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul lives Kim Jiyoung. A thirtysomething-year-old “millennial everywoman,” she has recently left her white-collar desk job—in order to care for her newborn daughter full-time—as so many Korean women are expected to do. But she quickly begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her husband, parents, and in-laws: Jiyoung impersonates the voices of other women—alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. As she plunges deeper into this psychosis, her discomfited husband sends her to a male psychiatrist.
In a chilling, eerily truncated third-person voice, Jiyoung’s entire life is recounted to the psychiatrist—a narrative infused with disparate elements of frustration, perseverance, and submission. Born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean baby girls, Jiyoung quickly becomes the unfavored sister to her princeling little brother. Always, her behavior is policed by the male figures around her—from the elementary school teachers who enforce strict uniforms for girls, to the coworkers who install a hidden camera in the women’s restroom and post their photos online. In her father’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s fault that men harass her late at night; in her husband’s eyes, it is Jiyoung’s duty to forsake her career to take care of him and their child—to put them first.
Jiyoung’s painfully common life is juxtaposed against a backdrop of an advancing Korea, as it abandons “family planning” birth control policies and passes new legislation against gender discrimination. But can her doctor flawlessly, completely cure her, or even discover what truly ails her?
This book sounds very me in a lot of ways, and it sounds fantastic. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it. I have it on hold at the library, so hopefully I can read it soon!
Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir, translated by James Kirkup
A superb autobiography by one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century, Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter offers an intimate picture of growing up in a bourgeois French family, rebelling as an adolescent against the conventional expectations of her class, and striking out on her own with an intellectual and existential ambition exceedingly rare in a young woman in the 1920s.
She vividly evokes her friendships, love interests, mentors, and the early days of the most important relationship of her life, with fellow student Jean-Paul Sartre, against the backdrop of a turbulent time in France politically.
I’ve had this book on my TBR for ages, and it sounds really interesting. I love memoirs, especially about friendships and relationships. My library has a copy, so maybe I’ll read it soon!
The Vegetarian by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
Before the nightmare, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary life. But when splintering, blood-soaked images start haunting her thoughts, Yeong-hye decides to purge her mind and renounce eating meat. In a country where societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision to embrace a more “plant-like” existence is a shocking act of subversion. And as her passive rebellion manifests in ever more extreme and frightening forms, scandal, abuse, and estrangement begin to send Yeong-hye spiraling deep into the spaces of her fantasy. In a complete metamorphosis of both mind and body, her now dangerous endeavor will take Yeong-hye—impossibly, ecstatically, tragically—far from her once-known self altogether.
This book sounds bizarre, but in a good way. Everyone I know who has read it either loves it or hated it but highly recommends it. So that means I obviously have to read it.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis—but will it be for the better?
I’ve heard a lot of really good things about this short, little book. People seem to think it’s not brilliant, but still very good. And it sounds very much like a me book, so I definitely need to read it soon. Also, my library has a weirdly high number of copies? So it must be well loved?
The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder
Hat, ribbon, bird, rose. To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed.
When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately wants to save him. For some reason, he doesn’t forget, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult for him to hide his memories. Who knows what will vanish next?
This sounds like such a me book, too. It just sounds fascinating, and I love the cover, so I am very intrigued.
So there are some translated books I want to read soon! Have you read any of these? What were your thoughts? Are there any translated books you want to read? Any recommendations? Let me know!
Also if you have any requests for things you’d like to see on my TBR, let me know!