Of Things in August Hoped For

I abandoned The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende today. I had intended to read it for both Spanish Lit Month and the Japanese Literature Challenge 9, but I tired of feeling I was  outside of the book, separated from the characters by a relentless narrative of facts. Normally, Allende’s writing completely engrosses me, particularly with The House of Spirits, and I’m not sure if it’s her or if it’s me to blame for becoming frustrated.

For I am rather excellent at being frustrated these days. The sinus infection from a tooth implant gone awry has lasted my whole entire summer, which I wouldn’t mind so much if it didn’t have an accompanying thump in my upper jaw. And with the arrival of August is the arrival of a new school year, at least in my part of the world; the first day of school for the dear children and I is August 20. Twentieth. Which is still summer as far as I’m concerned.

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Lest I continue my bitter complaints, let me point out some positive things about August. There’s Austen in August for which I purchased this gorgeous annotated edition of Emma for $3.00 at our library. (‘Cause if it isn’t Nora Roberts, they don’t keep it on the shelf.)

And, there’s Women in Translation month for which I plan to read the third book of the Neopolitan novels, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante. I hope to get in another Japanese novel as well, quite possibly Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto.

imageAnd, I’m folding the most beautiful stars for my classroom. There are many, both big and small, which I will string on invisible thread to cascade down from the ceiling at the back of my room. Because if you’re going to be hot, in an un-air-conditioned upper room at school when you should be at the beach, you should at least have something pretty to look at.

Women In Translation Month: Books I Own, Books You May Want To Try

These are the hard copies of books I own which fit Women in Translation Month this August. I’m sure I have more on my Kindle and Nook, but I will have to go through those carefully to complete the list for next year:
The School of Possibilities by Seita Parkkola (translated from the Finnish by Annira Silver and Marja Gass)

Short listed for the 2006 Finlandia Junior Prize

Who Ate Up All the Shinga? by Park Wan-Suh (translated from the Korean by Yu Young-Nan and Stephen J. Epstein)

Me, Who Dove Into The Heart of the World by Sabina Berman (translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman)

Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone (translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar)

Swimming to Elba

The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller (translated from the German by Philip Boehm)

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly by Sun-Mi Hwang (translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim)

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly


The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Panchol (translated from the French by William Rodarmor and Helen Dickinson)

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan (translated from the French by Irene Ash)

Out by Natsuo Kirino (translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder)

Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich)


The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ito Ogawa (translated from the Japanese by David Karashima)

The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto (translated from the Japanese by Michael Emmerich)

Short listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize

I would have loved to participate in this challenge hosted by Biblibio, which many of my friends from the IFFP Shadow Jury (Jacqui, Tony M. and Tony) are doing. However, I have set aside August for Haruki Murakami’s latest release, Colorless Tzukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage. That novel, and the preparation for a new school year, will occupy my month most fully.
Still, I wanted to see what I own and offer up to you some reading possibilities. I know that Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea loved The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. And my favorite from the list, though far from all are read, is Swimming to Elba. That novel is actually in my top five favorite adult books ever, the other four being Possession by A. S. Byatt, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami.