Returning to Blogging and My #WITMonth Plans

Posted August 6, 2020 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 12 Comments

I have somehow fallen off the blogging bandwagon, which really disappoints me. I love this blog; I have had it for eleven years now and I think it has been a great reflection of how much I have changed as a reader. There was a time where I considered myself a literary explorer, I would read from all genres, trying to find what I like and did not like. I used the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list as a guide to try out books and discover my reading personality. I think I have found it now; I want to read the world. Translated literature has become my focus and I tend to navigate towards women in translation because I realise just how easy it is to throw off the gender balance in my reading. This is not by desire but more the fact that around a third of all books being translated into English are by women, which means that if I don’t focus on women in translation my reading balance will be all wrong.

There was a time when I thought people should read whatever they want and while this is true, we need to also be aware just how biased our own reading can become. If I look at my reading spreadsheet, 35% of all the books I have read (since 2009) were women. However, last year 79% were from female authors, this gives you an indication of just how messed up my reading balance was in the past and how much of a struggle it can be to get that balance back to an acceptable level. This is why events like #WITMonth have become an important part of my reading life, but I do think it is more #WITForever for me. Also, it is just so great to see readers talking about translated literature and reading the world. Not to mention the fact that these are books I am interested in and want more people to discover how great it is to read outside of US and UK literature.

I tend not to plan my reading, I find it hard to read on a schedule and I know I am very much a mood reader, but I did pull out a pile of women in translation books that I would like to focus on and thought it might be a good idea to list them here as a way to promote #WITMonth and maybe get suggestions on which to prioritise. I did make a YouTube video on the same topic, but this list includes audiobooks and ebooks as well.

Here is my list;

  • The Book of Anna by Carmen Boullosa (translated by Samantha Schnee) – I am currently reading this one because of the 2MR podcast
  • Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami (translated by Sam Bett & David Boyd)
  • Bright by Duanwad Pimwana (translated by Mui Poopoksakul)
  • Claudine in Paris by Colette (translated by Antonia White)
  • Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Susan Bernofsky)
  • Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann (translated by Philip Boehm)
  • Katalin Street by Magda Szabó (translated by Len Rix)
  • The Notebook by Ágota Kristóf (translated by Alan Sheridan)
  • Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli (translated by Christina MacSweeney)
  • A Winter Book by Tove Jansson (multiple translators)
  • A Man’s Place by Annie Ernaux (translated by Tanya Leslie) – I wanted to read another Ernaux and this was her highest rated on Goodreads so just picked that one
  • Last Witnesses by Svetlana Alexievich (translated by Richard Pevear & Larissa Volokhonsky)
  • Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterrica (translated by Sarah Moses)
  • Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo (translated by Jamie Chang)
  • Inheritance from Mother by Minae Mizumura (translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter)
  • The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
  • Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (translated by Alison Entrekin)
  • Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex by Oksana Zabuzhko (translated by Halyna Hryn)
  • Dark Constellations by Pola Oloixarac (translated by Roy Kesey)
  • Gourmet Rhapsody by Muriel Barbery (translated by Alison Anderson)

12 responses to “Returning to Blogging and My #WITMonth Plans

  1. I enjoyed your thoughts on reading balance. The sex of an author never influences me when deciding to read a book, but this year only 25% of my reading has been by male readers and I’d like to bring that into better ‘balance’. But I still just want to read the books I want to read regardless of gender, and don’t prioritise certain books based on the author’s gender. It’s an interesting topic.

  2. welcome back, wow, 11 years!
    I want to read Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, I so enjoyed her previous book
    Gourmet Rhapsody is good, but not as great as The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Enjoy your reading month. I do read a lot in translation, but whether the book is written by a man or a woman doesn’t matter for me, in fact sometimes I don’t even know util I look to write my review. For me, the quality of the writing (and/or of the translation) is all that counts

  3. Welcome back. After 11 years it would be such a shame to abandon the blog but of course other priorities can get in the way. I’m trying to broaden my reading by looking for books by authors from a broader range of countries so will keep an eye out for your reactions to the authors on your list.

  4. Welcome back! I have made a return after a big hiatus and I have found that I have a renewed joy in blogging now. Maybe a break has helped you distil your thinking and direction! Good to see you back.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.