Here are five of my absolute favourites. All of the books listed below are available somewhere in audiobook, although they may not be available in every region (pester your audiobook library/retailer until they are!)
The Gravity of Love by Sara Stridsberg (Sweden), translation by Deborah Bragan-Turner, narration by Kristin Milward (MacLehose Press, 2016).
This is my all time favourite book. It’s set in Beckomberga, a former psychiatric institution in Sweden. The original title of the book translates as Beckomberga: An Ode to My Family. Beckomberga is the setting & the story is of a family. Narration & production of the audiobook are splendid. You can read my review here.
Territory of Light by Yūko Tsushima (Japan), translation by Geraldine Harcourt, narration by Rina Takasaki (MacMillan Audio, 2019).
The competition is fierce but this may prove my favourite book of 2019. Following a separation from her husband, a young woman negotiates her new life as a solo parent while working full time. It is an absolutely radiant story.
Takasaki’s narration is clear & engaging.
Geraldine Harcourt translated several of Tsushima’s books into English before she died in June this year. I hope we will see more of Harcourt’s translations in audiobook. It is clear Tsushima was a gifted writer & Harcourt’s translation is stunning.
The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes (Colombia), translation by Daniel Alarcón, narrated by Marisol Ramirez (Penguin Audio, 2017).
Emma Reyes’ was a Colombian realist painter. Her story alone is fascinating, but Reyes’ prose is divine. Originally written as a series of letters & not intended for publication, they were later edited & eventually published posthumously in Colombia in 2012. The audiobook features an introduction by the translator which provides great context.
Daniel Alarcón reads his own translator’s introduction. His & Ramirez’s narration is top quality.
Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (Brazil), translation by Alison Entriken, narrated by Rebecca Morris (Spoken Word Inc., 2018).
Clarice Lispector is a phenomenon, so you can imagine the excitement at my house when several of her books were released in audiobook format. I’ve chosen Near to the Wild Heart for my top 10 because it is visceral, wild & exciting. Lispector is a genius.
Rebecca Morris works hard to give this the narration it deserves & she succeeds.
Jenny by Sigrid Undset (Norway) translation by Tiina Nunnelly, narration by K G Cross (Spoken Realms, 2016). LibriVox, the creators & publishers of free public domain audiobooks have recorded their own edition as well.
The reason I love this book is because of how transgressive it must have seemed at the time of the original publication (1911 in Norwegian, 1921 in English). Jenny is a young artist, living in Rome. Her plans go awry when she has an illicit affair & becomes pregnant. Did I mention that Sigrid Undset won the Nobel Prize in Literature? Undset is possibly better known for her novel set in medieval Norway, Kristin Lavransdatter, but it is Jenny that I love best.
K G Cross’ narration is considerably superior to the Librivox one, as you’d expect.
These are just five of my favourite books by women in translation. Meytal is taking nominations for up to ten of your favourites. Get in touch with her via Twitter @Read_WiT, instagram @ReadWiT or via carrier pigeon, before August 25. Happy reading!