It was Curiosity Killed the Bookworm’s Translation Challenge that I found the most ‘challenging’ of this year’s reading challenges. But it also delivered some of the best and most thought-provoking books I read this year.
I started and finished the challenge with books about mothers (both were brilliant) – Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother by Xinran and The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. Xinran’s stories will never leave me – steel your heart a little before beginning it although regardless of how prepared you feel, you’ll finish in tears.
Some books fell flat – Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone, The Infatuations by Javier Marías, Someone I Loved by Anna Gavalda and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto were all best-sellers in the authors’ own countries but missed the mark for me.
At the time of reading, I gave Muriel Barberry’s The Gourmet, five stars. The book also counted toward the Foodies Reading Challenge and as ‘foodie fiction’, it is brilliant. Yet when I look back over the twelve books I read for the Translation Reading Challenge, the stand-outs are The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig and Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother. I’ll certainly be seeking more by Zweig next year.
For the record, my reading took me to China, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Norway and Japan. See the full list of titles here.