Women in Translation: The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa trans. by Stephen Snyder

Quirky little books soothe my soul. Sometimes you just don’t want a novel but you want something that is longer than a short story. The novella is perfect to feed that need. (oh lord I just sounded like a slim Jim commercial, sorry about that). But you get my point. The quirkier the better. I had heard about this novella by Yoko Ogawa a couple of years ago but hadn’t been able to find it. However, around Christmas I was wandering around Barnes and Nobel and spotted it on the shelf. One lone copy…..I did what any self respecting book nerd does. I snatched it up and carried it around with me. (Before you say gasp and say omg you were out and about….let me just put that in perspective….I have been stuck in the house with my family since last March. I was masked and have hand sanitizer in my bag at all times.) It called to me as I carried it around the store. So it came home with me and satisfied my hunger.

Synopsis: A story of friendship with a interesting twist.

What I liked: The premise of the story is fantastic and I loved it. The writing and the characterizations are something Ogawa really shines. As you are reading you can picture them in your minds eye. The interesting twist is something that I haven’t personally read yet. I really appreciated how Ogawa wove that throughout the story.

What I didn’t like: Nothing!!

Star Rating: 5

My Thoughts: This isn’t a super dark story. It was melancholy in places but in other places it was pure hope and light. The friendship was lovely. It was just pure. The main characters relationship just was lovely. Honestly, this novella is a pick me up. Especially, the end. The end was lovely and I had the sniffles because of it.

Women in Translation: The Memory Police by Yoko Ozawa trans. Stephen Snyder

A couple years ago, I read a book that was based on a Russian fairytale. After I read that I went looking for another book that wasn’t necessarily set in Russia but had the same type of vibe. I ended up reading the epic which is Kristen Lavransdetter by Sigrid Undset. Since then Women in translation has had me hooked. This is the third book by Yoko Ozawa that I have read. I have always enjoyed her work but this was a little uh for me.

Synopsis: A writer lives on a island where things disappear and are “erased” from memory.

What I liked: I really enjoyed the idea of the story. I also like the parallels that the reader can draw with other times in history. Also there were passages that were lush and full. I do like Ogawa’s characters. They usually have quirks or something that makes them unique. I enjoyed the pacing of the main story.

What I didn’t like: I didn’t really enjoy the story that the writer in the book was working on.

Star Rating: 3.5

My Thoughts: I normally like Yoko Ogawa’s stories, but this one was a bit different. I enjoyed the idea of the book but I wasn’t a fan of the story about the typist being inserted. For me it didn’t work. I am sure that there is a thread there that I may have missed. But it just fell flat for me. The rest of the story was flowed well and was enjoyable but the typist story really pulled me out of the main story. The ending also felt a little forced. The story meandered along and then BAM the end. The ending though…..I really liked the doing. I think my heart broke a little.

There is a lot to like in this story, but I don’t think that this is the best of Ogawa’s books. I personally, enjoyed Revenge immensely!!

Women In Translation: Revenge by Yoko Ogawa trans. by Stephen Snyder

Can I just say I am loving Women in translation month. I have heard of Ogawa and have seen Revenge on other people’s TBRs and because it was available at the library I snatched it up. I read this book in one sitting. I would love if everyone would pick up this book and read how the stories are interwoven together.

Synopsis: 11 interrelated short stories.

What I liked: I loved Ogawa’s writing style. It is lyrical and haunting. The stories are interrelated; one thread leading to another thread. Stories discussed within stories. Books discussed within stories. Each story is like a build up. The first couple of stories are simple building up to more complex stories towards the end of the book. The complexity of the stories is what makes the ending of this book intriguing. How Ogawa is able to weave all these stories together. Whether it is a single thread that is mentioned in the next story or a story about a book it is done seamlessly. The pacing of each of the stories are perfect and leaves you wanting more.

What I didn’t like: There wasn’t anything that I didn’t like.

Star Rating: 4.5 stars

My Thoughts: The books I have read this month really highlight why women in translation month is so important. If these books hadn’t been translated I wouldn’t have been able to read them. I would have missed out on these stories. Everyone who has read these would have missed out on these stories. These heartbreaking and hard stories. These stories that were written by women in different parts of the world in different stages of life and work. I want to also thank my wonderful public library for having these books available.