Hello and welcome! This is the Third Annual Karissa Reads Books Literary Awards. It’s a literary award that I made up and means essentially nothing. I choose the categories and assign the winner. The winner receives nothing. As I said, essentially meaningless, but I have fun doing it and it’s a way to look back at and share some of my favourite reads of the year. You can check out some previous posts here, if you so desire. The eligible books include everything I read from December 2019 until the end of November 2020.
The categories tend to vary from year to year, depending on what I’ve read but this year’s categories will be:
Best Translated Work
Best Young Adult Novel
Best Christian Writing
So without further ado, let’s begin with Best Translated Work:
One of my reading goals for 2020 was to read more books translated from languages other than English. Around about April, I let go of all of my 2020 reading goals and focused on just getting through the year and reading what I could. In the end, I only read 6 works of translation. I am cautiously hoping to make it a goal in 2021.
Honourable mention in this category goes to:
It Would Be Night in Caracas – by Karina Sainz Borgo. (HarperVia, 2019)
This novel was translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Bryer. This is a book I probably read because it was a translation and while it wasn’t one of my favourite reads this year, it did offer an eye-opening look at life in Venezuela and inspired me to learn more about politics and history there. Which, I think, is one of the huge benefits of choosing to read books outside of my own language and culture.
The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant – Michel Tremblay (Talonbooks, 2008)
This novel was translated from the French by Sheila Fischman) While this novel is set within my own country, it takes place in a time and place largely unfamiliar to me. Tremblay really brings the Montreal neighbourhood to life and there’s some terrific writing here that demonstrates the deep divides between communities. He also does some really interesting things with storytelling and narration that make the book fun to read.
And the Winner Is….
Little Eyes by Samantha Schweblin (Riverhead Books, 2020)
Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell.
I waffled for a while between Schweblin and Tremblay (I think I wanted my fellow countryman to win) but Schweblin won out because despite the fact that I read this book way back in April, it has stayed with me. Thinking of it now, I can easily recall how creepy it was, how uneasy I felt as I read it, even sitting in the sunshine on my back deck. Schweblin creates an eerily familiar world with slight, unsettling differences. She uses an array of characters to convince the reader of how possible the scenario could be and she does especially well at portraying people from all around the world, each with their own unique history and backstory. I think this win is well-deserved.
How many translated works did you get to read this year? Any favourites? Have you read any of my picks?
I’ll be back Monday with the Best Young Adult Novel!