London Book Fair was back this month, with a new cultural focus. This year the spotlight was on Indonesia: the country of thousand islands as a symbol of ethnic, cultural, religious and literary diversity. Our March translations list matches such a current interest, proposing works translated from Indonesian which will please both children and adult readers.
#1 The Adventures of Na Willa by Reda Guadiamo, translated by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Kate Wakeling and illustrated by Cecillia Hidayat (The Emma Press).
#2 When it Rains, written and illustrated by Rassi Narika, translated by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Emma Wright (The Emma Press).
Award-winning The Emma Press is introducing the adventures of two little Indonesian girls. The brave Na Willa may be young, but not afraid to be herself (The Adventures of Na Willa), while little Kira finally learns to enjoy herself even when it rains (When it Rains). Here are two smart books, that grown-ups too can enjoy. Reading about Na Willa’s adventures, for example, you will also learn more about life on the Indonesian island of Java and a few words of Indonesian too, explained in useful footnotes.
You can read here an interview with Kate Wakeling, Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul and Reda Guadiamo, co-translators and author of The Adventures of Na Willa.
#3 Sergius Seeks Bacchus by Norman Erikson Pasaribu, translated by Tiffany Tsao (Tilted Axis Press)
Tilted Axis pays homage to this year’s LBF cultural focus too by publishing this month the prize-winning debut of young Indonesian writer Norman Erikson Pasaribu. Winner of the PEN Translates Award in 2018, Sergius Seeks Bacchus is his first book of poems, reflecting on how issues of sexuality, religion and ethnicity are experienced by the minority.
#4 Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles (Tilted Axis Press)
Another translation not to miss this month, also by Tilted Axis Press, is the novel Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, born in Japan of Korean parents. Miri brings us to modern-day Japan, critically re-explored through the life of Kazu, born in Fukushima in 1933. This is the story of various coincidences which link the protagonist to the Japanese Imperial family and the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo, where he spends his last days as a homeless man and which he haunts after his death, on the background of the recent events shaking his nation.
We have selected this novel as our March Translated Book of the Month and recommend it for its newness and for Miri’s critical outsider’s perspective on social issues in today’s Japan.
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