Holiday Reading and Women in Translation

Instead of my July round-up, this is more of a July and August holiday reading list. Since August is WIT month, I decided to take it one step further and focus predominantly on women writers for both months. So here are the plans and what I’ve read to date (marked with a bold R at the start of the line). Completely gratuitous holiday pictures from previous years included, just to put myself in the mood. Please don’t mention how far behind I am with the reviews…

Fake beach at Vevey.
Fake beach at Vevey.

Crime fiction:

Kati Hiekkapelto: The Defenceless (Interview with the author and review to come on Crime Fiction Lover)

Fred Vargas: Temps glaciaires – was snatched away from my loving arms by another reader who had requested it at the library (I was overdue, to be fair, should have started reading it earlier), but I’ll try to find it again

Karin Fossum: The Drowned Boy

Ancient plane tree in Crete.
Ancient plane tree in Crete.

Other fiction:

Valeria Luiselli: Faces in the Crowd

Alice Quinn: Queen of Trailer Park

Therese Bohman: Drowned

Judith Schalansky: The Giraffe’s Neck

Virginie Despentes: Apocalypse Baby

Tove Jansson: The True Deceiver

Renate Dorrestein: The Darkness that Divides Us

To complete this diet of women in translation, I’m also adding this category:

Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture, Paris
Nikki de Saint Phalle sculpture, Paris

English-speaking Women Writers

Sophie Hannah: A Game for all the Family

Lucy Atkins: The Other Child

Denise Mina: Blood Salt Water

Sarah Ward: In Bitter Chill

Rosamond Lehmann: The Echoing Grove

Anya Lipska: A Devil Under the Skin

Men Who Snuck in There:

Reread: F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender Is the Night

Emmanuel Carrere: L’Adversaire

Max Blecher: Scarred Hearts

Botanical Garden, Geneva
Botanical Garden, Geneva

I abandoned the book about Isadora Duncan, as it was flitting about too much from scene to scene, country to country, without a coherent structure or mood.


Just to do a brief round-up: I read 14 books, of which only 3 by men, abandoned one. Half of them were in translation or in a different language.

In case you are wondering, my two crime fiction picks for the month of July are: Sarah Ward’s In Bitter Chill and Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Defenceless. For Overall Book of the Month, I’ve read so many good books this month, it is really hard to choose a favourite. One that whacked me on the head and took me for a ride, leaving me slightly breathless and laughing with exhilaration: Apocalypse Baby. But the one that has stayed with me, slightly haunting my dreams, is Valeria Luiselli.

View from Montmartre, Paris.

After the holiday, I need to focus on getting my Netgalley request shelf in manageable order. I am back up to 31 books now and soooo out of date (not that I care, but the publishers probably do!). Here are some that really tempt me for September:

Simon Unsworth: The Devil’s Detective

Richard Beard: Acts of the Assassins

David Lagercrantz: Fall of Man in Wilmslow

Johan Theorin: The Voices Behind

Don Winslow: The Cartel

Malcolm Mackay: The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter

What do you think, too much testosterone after two months of predominantly female authors or a necessary redressing of the balance?

24 thoughts on “Holiday Reading and Women in Translation”

  1. So glad you enjoyed the Luiselli. It is a rather haunting story, one I would love to reread at some point. Her prose is beautiful, almost poetic at times. Enjoy your August reading – I’m looking forward to WIT Month, too!

    1. I’m feeling a little smug, as I’ve done some ‘pre-reading’ for WIT month – but not reviewing – with Luiselli, Despentes and Bohrman. But I just hope I haven’t been over-ambitious with the remaining reads.

    1. I just received the latest Peirene book today ‘The Looking-Glass Sisters’ and it looks very tempting. I might add that to the list, as it’s by a woman author.

  2. What a wonderful selection! I often find if I’ve read a lot of books by one sex I then have to switch to another for a while to balance it. But I plan to read as many women as possible this month!

    1. Yes, too much of a good thing one way or another… like over-indulging on chocolate or crisps (not that -ahem!- I would know anything about that, of course).

  3. That’s a good list! I’m particularly interested in In Bitter Chill and in Fall of Man in Wilmslow – I’ve recently watched The Imitation Game, an excellent film – and also because I grew up near Wilmslow.

    1. There are a few book bloggers linked with Wilmslow, isn’t that interesting? I too feel attracted to Turing, because I heard a lot about him and his life in Cambridge while I was there (and his arguments with Wittgenstein).

    1. Stylistically it may not be the greatest book ever, but she is like a force of nature, that author, isn’t she? A real-life rollercoaster of a book and she doesn’t spare anyone! Yes, I will most certainly review it.

  4. What a great list you have there, Marina Sofia! And I’m not in the least surprised at your top picks. It’s interesting; sometimes I go through times when I read more male than female writers, and sometimes the other way. In the end, I think it all does balance out, even when we’re not planning it. I really wonder what you’ll make of the Mackay when you get there; it’s quite a different sort of book.

    1. I’ve heard very many people recommend the Mackay, so I have high hopes for it! As for the male vs. female writers, I don’t usually worry too much about it, because it does balance itself out in the end.

  5. I was a bit disappointed in Drowned.

    I read Winslow’s California Fire and Life which is excellent but then gave up on Winslow after reading a book that was full of clichés and stereotypes. Too bad.
    Well you know what I think about Mackay…

    1. Drowned was by no means perfect, but there was something about the writing… Still, at times I wanted the author to settled down and not be quite so descriptive. I’ve never read any Winslow, and this is supposed to be a good one, so we’ll see.

  6. Fingers and toes crossed that Malcolm Mackay proves a winner with you. One of my absolute favourites… And thank you for so beautifully adding to my TBR list- so many temptations here…

    1. Only fair to add to your list, when you are constantly adding to mine. I’ve had the Mackay for ages on my reader, you and many others have really sold it to me! So it’s about time I got round to reading it.

  7. I recall The Giraffe’s Neck as appearing on the IFFP long list this year; I hope you enjoy it. (I never did get around to reading it, so I have no light to shed.) I had every intention of reading for WIT month, and yet a gracious invitation to join in the Shadow Jury for the Man Booker tempted me even further. So, I will look at your posts, and those of others’, with pleasure as I note titles for next year. And, although you say your photographs may be from previous years, I enjoyed them as if I had taken the vacation myself.

    1. You are very kind about my pictures – and I hope to have some for this year too when I do finally go on holiday at the end of August. But, to be honest, just reading and writing without pressure (well, OK, maybe some pressure for writing) or plan or schedule is the best holiday already!

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