I’m going rogue with this week’s Top Ten topic. I’m meant to be listing “Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago”. But that’s such an open timeframe I’ll have far too many options. So I’m taking a different path in honour of Women In Translation month.
Many of my choices are novellas. More than a few are dark and unsettling. I don’t go looking for that kind of fiction but somehow these are the stories that have lingered longest in my memory.
Heaven by Mieko Kawakami
An uncomfortable tale of two young victims of bullying in a Japanese town. Unforgettable.
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
Equally disturbing and equally unforgettable. Ogawa imagines a world where an unknown controlling force makes objects and the memory of those things to disappear.
My Grandmother’s Braid by Alina Bronsky
From Russia comes this fabulous study of a grandmother who rules her husband and grandson with an iron fist.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
A sweeping tale of a woman who will do anything she can to protect her family through famine, war and idealogical conflict that besiege VietNam.
Stone In a Landslide by Maria Barbal
Another fictional gem published by Periene Press. This one traces the life of a young girl who is sent from her family home because there are too many mouths to feed. In her new life she encounters happiness, sorrow and love until the Spanish Civil War looms.
Love by Hanne Ørstavik
Norwegian author Hanne Ørstavik sends a young boy out into an icy winter night. His mother doesn’t even know he’s not tucked up in bed when she leaves the house. The plot suggests a thriller but this is instead a penetrating exploration of a mother/child relationship.
Hotel Tito by Ivana Bodrožić
A coming of age novel about the experience of people displaced from their homeland by conflict. It’s set against the background of the Croatian War of Independence but I suspect would find echoes in the current Ukranian conflict.
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
A startling novella focused on a Korean housewife who decides to stop eating meat. Her decision puts her at opposition to her family and her culture and on a path to mental collapse.
In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park
The only non fiction title in my list, this is the chronicle of a young girl ‘s defection from North Korea’s brutal regime. It took her and her mother two years to get to safety in South Korea, via a perilous journey across Mongolia.
Goodbye Tsugumi by Banana Yoshimoto
Let’s end on a more positive note with this atmospheric tale of two girls who were once close friends. Before they leave childhood behind them they spend one last summer in a seaside inn.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules and the list of topics visit the Top Ten Tuesday page on her blog.