International Book Club
Since the onset of COVID-19 we have moved our book club online, meeting on Zoom. To keep up to date with our events, join our mailing list, or follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Connect with other book club members in our Facebook group. If you have any questions, email us at email@example.com. Our next meeting will be in February - more details soon!
Please click here for information about our new International Book Club for Schools.
Our last International Book Club meeting was on Wednesday 25th November, and we discussed Gine Cornelia Pedersen’s book, Zero (Nordisk Books), translated from Norwegian. We were joined by the book's translator, Rosie Hedger, who shared her experience of translating this unique book.
Gine Cornelia Pedersen debuted with this explosive novel, which won the prestigious Tarjei Vesaas First Book Award. Compared, in its home country of Norway, with a ‘punk rock single’, the unique lyrical style and frank description of life with mental health problems have come together to create one of the most exciting works of fiction from Scandinavia in recent years.
Rosie Hedger’s translation of Zero was shortlisted for the Oxford- Weidenfeld Translation Prize 2019, and her translation of Agnes Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal won an English PEN Translates Award in 2016. Ravatn’s novel was later selected for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime, broadcast in January 2017, and was shortlisted for the 2017 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. Rosie was a candidate in the British Centre for Literary Translation’s mentoring scheme for emerging translators in 2012, mentored by Don Bartlett. Since then she has worked on a range of projects, more information about which can be found here. She is a member of the Translator’s Association.
Our last Book Club meeting was on Tuesday 4th August. We discussed Matsuda Aoko’s book, Where the Wild Ladies Are (Tilted Axis Press), translated from Japanese. The translator, Polly Barton, joined us for our discussion.
Witty, inventive, and profound, Where the Wild Ladies Are is a contemporary feminist retelling of traditional ghost stories by one of Japan’s most exciting writers. It is the winner of an English PEN award.
In a company run by the mysterious Mr Tei, strange things are afoot – incense sticks lead to a surprise encounter; a young man reflects on his mother’s death; a foxlike woman finally finds her true calling. As female ghosts appear in unexpected guises, their gently humorous encounters with unsuspecting humans lead to deeper questions about emancipation and recent changes in Japanese women’s lives.
Keen to get a taste of the book? One of the stories has been published in Granta, and is free to read online.
“(S)mart and formally inventive (…) Beauty, jealousy and women’s place in Japanese society are all explored in stories which are funny, strange and intriguing.” – Tatler
“In 2020, taking a collection of traditional Japanese ghost stories and crafting them into often humorous yet painfully relevant tales is a move of pure genius by Aoko Matsuda. (…) Witty, biting, and poignant, Matsuda’s collection is a pleasantly haunting surprise.” – Jessica Esa, Metropolis
Aoko Matsuda is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable, was nominated for the Mishima Yukio Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. In 2019, her short story ‘The Woman Dies’ (from the collection The Year of No Wild Flowers), published on Granta online, was shortlisted for a Shirley Jackson Award. Her novella The Girl Who Is Getting Married was published by Strangers Press in 2016. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.
Polly Barton is a translator of Japanese literature and non-fiction, currently based in Bristol. She has translated short stories for Words Without Borders, The White Review and GRANTA. Her full-length translations include Friendship for Grown-ups by Naocola Yamazaki and Mikumari by Misumi Kubo (both Strangers Press) and Spring Garden by Tomoka Shibasaki (Pushkin Press). After being awarded the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Essay Prize, she is currently working on a non-fiction book entitled Fifty Sounds.
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