Don't let the massive number of devoted Elena Ferrante fans fool you. In the already small percentage of works in translation released to U.S. readers each year, the portion of those works written by a female author is even smaller. Which means that we're missing out on a world of good writing. That's why this month, many readers are observing Women in Translation Month (#WiTmonth on Twitter).
Here at CPL, there's an additional reason to celebrate—if you're doing our Adult Read Around the World Summer Reading Challenge, many of these books fit your needs perfectly!
To start, if you haven't read any Ferrante yet, check out the first book in the Neapolitan Novels, My Brilliant Friend. HBO is going to turn the series into a TV series, in Italian with English subtitles. Make sure you experience this strong saga about two friends growing up in Naples. It's unforgettable!
For fans of literature with a capital L: The Nobel Prize in Literature is quite the seal of approval. Herta Muller won in 2009; check out her The Appointment. Svetlana Alexievich won in 2015; her jarring and singular Voices From Chernobyl is a good introduction to her work.
Please Look After Mom is an intense look at the dynamics of family and motherhood, and an exploration of how well we can know even those closest to us. The author, Kyong-Suk Sin, is well known in South Korea. Her more recent release I'll Be Right There follows a group of friends navigating the 1980s.
Sarit Yishai-Levi's The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem also deals in family dynamics. It traces four generations of Israeli women through times of upheaval. This was a bestseller in Israel and is being made into a movie.
Milena Busquets tells the story of 40-year-old Blanca losing her mother in This Too Shall Pass. Wishing for a break from the pain, Blanca leaves Barcelona for a summer of fun, romance and forgetfulness on the coast. Blanca's search for happiness is told with lots of humor.
If you're looking for a chilling read, try Before by Carmen Boullosa. This short novel is a coming-of-age story—except the girl coming of age... is a ghost. It's funny in parts and beautifully told. Boullosa also wrote the original and delightful Cleopatra Dismounts, in which she imagines three different versions of Cleopatra's life.
There are so many other great works by women in translation. What's your favorite?