Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Women in Translation Month’ Category

My first book for Women in Translation Month in August is ‘Barakamon‘ by Satsuki Yoshino. I got it as a birthday present from one of my favourite friends. I read the first part of this multiple volume Manga comic series which has been translated by Krista Shipley and Karie Shipley.

wp-1469197538443.jpg

Barakamon tells the story of a young twenty-something calligrapher, Seishuu Handa. He is successful though he is young, having won many awards for his work. But he loses it when an elderly man criticizes his work and Handa knocks this critic down. Overnight, he becomes a person to be avoided by the calligraphy community. To recover from this, he takes a break and moves to an island. He thinks that the island will be calm and he can practice calligraphy in peace till things become better at home. Unfortunately, he hasn’t reckoned with the islanders. They are curious and intrusive, they walk into his home whenever they feel like it and he discovers that some children have established a base at his home for hanging out and playing games. This annoys him no end and disturbs his peace. But gradually he warms up to the islanders, because they have big hearts and help him when he is in need. Naru, a young girl who is in elementary school, becomes his best friend, always hangs out at his place and is his guide to the ways of life is the island. The experiences and adventures that Handa and Naru have, form the rest of the book.

I loved ‘Barakamon‘ for the way it contrasted city life and island life through the eyes of Handa. I also loved the charming island characters. My favourite character was Naru – she was really cool and awesome, always smiling and always upto something. There were no bad characters in the story and there were no black-and-white situations, and this made the story very realistic, which I loved very much.

In some places I found the translation odd – for example one of the characters said ‘Sonny‘ and many of the characters said ‘Yer‘. I am sure they did not speak that way in Japanese. But there was a note at the end of the book which said that people in that island spoke a dialect which was different from the Japanese spoken in cities and because the translators wanted to highlight that, they used words like this. I was happy to read that explanation, because it shone light on the challenges of translating dialect from one language to another.

I was also reading a Manga comic after a long time and it was an interesting experience to read from the back to the front and read the graphic panels and the dialogues from the right to the left. It annoyed me no end at the beginning, and I frequently found myself reading it the ‘wrong’ way, but at some point I got used to the Manga way and it was fun.

I loved the first part of ‘Barakamon‘. I can’t wait to read the second part.

Have you read ‘Barakamon‘? What do you think about it? Do you like Manga comics?

Read Full Post »

I have not blogged much this year and I miss it very much. The reason for that is that I have not read much this year. I have been wanting to get back my reading mojo for a while now, because it is one of the favourite parts of my life. When I realized that August is Women in Translation Month, I was excited! Because I realized that it was a good time to get back to my favourite activities – reading and blogging. I had wanted to participate in Women in Translation Month last year, but couldn’t do so because I was distracted by life. I was disappointed because I love reading translated works and I love reading women writers. But this time, I am excited to participate.

The exciting part of participating in any reading event is making reading plans. I always enjoy this part. I looked at my bookshelves, tried picking only one book from one language (I made one exception there), avoided thick books (I so wanted to include Sigrid Undset‘s ‘Kristin Lavransdatter‘ and Julia Franck‘s ‘The Blind Side of the Heart‘, but they are thick and so they  will have to wait for another time) and finally arrived at a reading list. I am happy to say books from East Asia, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East and Western Europe made it into my list. I couldn’t get books from Africa (most of them are written in English), Latin America, Central Asia, Russia and Eastern Europe into my list. Hopefully I will be able to do that next time. I may not be able to read all the books on this list in August, but hopefully I will be able to read some of them. So, here is my reading list for Women in Translation Month.

1. Barakamon by Satsuki Yoshino (Japanese) – I haven’t read a Manga book in a while and one of my favourite friends gifted this to me on my birthday. I normally see that Manga comic creators are men and so was happy when I discovered that Satsuki Yoshino was a woman. The story is about a young calligrapher who moves from the city to a remote island and his experiences there. Sounds exciting! It is a multi-volume comic and I hope to read the first volume.

image

2. Novel Without a Name by Duong Thu Huong (Vietnamese) – This is a war novel set in Vietnam and the story is told from a North Vietnamese perspective. This was part of last year’s Literature and War Readalong hosted by Caroline from Beauty is a Sleeping Cat. Unfortunately I could read only a little bit of the book last year. Hopefully I can do better this time.

image

3. River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder (Urdu) – One of the greatest Urdu novelists, Qurratulain Hyder weaves 2500 years of history into this ambitious story which stretches across different time periods. I have wanted to read this for a long time. Hopefully I will in August.

image

4. The Awakening by Anita Agnihotri (Bengali) – I hadn’t heard of Anita Agnihotri till I got this book. The story is quite interesting – it is about a cobbler who wants to make beautiful idols which are used for celebrations during festivals. Of course, this kind of stuff was not possible in India during the casteist times depicted in the book. What happened to our cobbler hero – I can’t wait to read and find out.

image

5. Maryam’s Maze by Mansoura Ez Eldin (Arabic) – Mansoura Ez Eldin is one of my favourite writers and this is her first, and as far as I know, her only novel to be translated into English. It weaves in Egyptian history into a fascinating surrealistic plot. I have read it once before, but it has been a while since I read it. I can’t wait to read it again.

image

6. Collected Poems (1944 – 1949) by Nelly Sachs (German) – Time to get into my favourite German writers. I discovered Nelly Sachs by accident. I was reading about the Georg Büchner Prize and discovered that it was seen as an indicator of potential future Nobel Prize winners. Of course, there are always exceptions and Nelly Sachs turned out to be one – that is, she didn’t win the Büchner Prize but won the Nobel. That fact got me interested in her work and I read her Wikipedia page and fell in love with her before reading a single poem of hers. She is one of those beautiful souls who suffered much in life but continued to be positive and kind. It is reflected in her poetry. I can’t wait to read this collection.

image

7. Nowhere Ending Sky by Marlen Haushofer (German) – Marlen Haushofer is one if my most favourite writers. Only three of her books made it into English translation. Her most famous work is ‘The Wall‘ which is one of my alltime favourite books. I also loved ‘The Loft‘. This is the third and the last. I have been saving it for a rainy day, but now I think it is time.

image

8. Nada by Carmen Laforet (Spanish) – ‘Nada‘ tells the story of a young woman who moves from a small town to Barcelona in post Civil-war Spain. Three of my favourite bloggers recommended it and I can’t wait to read it.

image

9. Memoirs of a Bitch by Francesca Petrizzo (Italian) – This is the story of the Trojan War told from Helen’s perspective. I read a retelling from Cassandra’s perspective by Christa Wolf last year and loved it and I am looking forward to reading this one.

image

10. Chéri by Colette (French) – I have never read a book by Colette before and this has been there on my shelf for a long time. So I thought it was time to take it out and read my first Colette book.

image

11. Come Close (poems) by Sappho (Greek) – We keep using the word Sapphic and I thought it was time to read the works of this legendary poet who gave her name to this famous adjective.

image

So, that is my reading plan for Women in Translation Month in August. Are you participating? What are your planning to read?

Read Full Post »