For the month of January I’ll be focusing on reading fiction and nonfiction by writers in translation, from Haruki Murakami to Marguerite Duras.
This month I’ll be moving to Chicago, where I’ll be staying until the end of May, but I’m hoping to find the time to still read every day. My job is temporary and involves a lot of mandatory overtime, which definitely will cut into my free time, but if the work winds up being repetitive enough, I should be able to listen to audiobooks while working.
As I mentioned in my 2018 wrap-up post, I’m following a theme for each month of 2019, and January’s is books in translation. I’m also planning on participating in Women in Translation month in August. I’ve not read many authors in translation in the past, and having two months dedicated to translated lit this year seems like a good way to fix that.
Last month I organized my reading by weekly themes, but since I’m reading fiction and nonfiction from around the world this month, I’m instead focusing on authors in January. Along with a handful of contemporary novels and memoirs in translation, I hope to read at least two books from each of the following authors over the course of the month.
(1) Clarice Lispector: To start off January I read two of Lispector’s novels, The Hour of the Star and The Passion According to G.H. While I wasn’t a huge fan of either, Lispector’s prose is brilliant, and I’ll have to revisit her work sometime. I enjoyed her stories in college, so I might choose to read The Complete Stories in August for #WITmonth.
(2) Qiu Miaojin: Miaojin has recently had her two novels, Notes of a Crocodile and Last Words from Montmartre, published in English through the NYBR. Miaojin committed suicide in 1995, but her work has exploded in popularity in her home country of Taiwan and abroad since the time of her death. I just finished both of her novels and am glad to have begun my year of reading on such a high note.
(3) Haruki Murakami: For Murakami, I’m planning on reading one of the author’s most famous novels, Norwegian Wood, with a lesser known memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. While I’m reading a lot of fiction in January, I want to intersperse nonfiction throughout the month, and memoirs seem like a useful way to do that. This will be my first experience with Murakami, and I’m looking forward to checking out his books.
(4) Marguerite Duras: As with Murakami, I’ll be pairing a novel and memoir, The Ravishing of Lol Stein and The War, when I revisit Duras’s work. Lol Stein is one of Duras’s most well-known novels, while The War is the author’s diary of life in occupied Paris during WWII. I already consider Duras to be a favorite writer, and I’m excited to explore more of her work.
(5) Italo Calvino: Calvino, like most of the writers on this list, is another new-to-me author I’ll be reading for the first time in January. I’ve decided upon reading two of his most famous books, If on a winter’s night a traveler and Invisible Cities. Calvino’s style seems lyrical and precise from the little I’ve read so far, and both books have interesting premises.
(6) Maryse Condé: I’ll be ending the month with Condé’s inventive novel reconstructing her grandmother’s life, Victoire, as well as her historical epic, Segu. Condé recently won the 2018 Alternative Nobel prize in literature, and I’ve heard great things about her fiction. The length of Segu, nearly 500 pages, is intimidating to me, but I’m trying to get over my aversion to longer books this year and this seems like a great novel to start with.