Translation Reading Challenge 2013 – Wrap-up

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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. Continue reading

Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto

Do you have your dream kitchen? Surprisingly, my un-renovated seventies kitchen is perfect in every way – tonnes of cupboard space with clever recessed shelves, strategically placed lighting so that you’re never chopping in shadow and the most fabulous original orangey-red tiles. I wouldn’t change a thing (even though my mum says the tiles give her a headache).  When it comes to domestic fantasies, mine are actually about laundries – don’t get me started, the plans are grand. And if you have a ‘European laundry’ (i.e. a washer in a cupboard), I weep for you*.

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Kitchens. It brings me to Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen. First published in Japan in 1988, Kitchen won a handful of prizes and quickly became a best-seller in Japan. Which is why it might seem somewhat sacrilegious to Yoshimoto fans when I say I just didn’t get it. Continue reading