A read for Women in Translation Month that I can’t tell you about

Bibliobio is hosting a Women in Translation Month right now, to call attention to the gender disparity in books translated into English, and to celebrate the works of female international authors whose books are being translated into English. It’s a wonderful initiative, even if you are like me and you have a hard time with books in translation, and you should definitely check out the hashtags for the month (#WITMonth or #WomeninTranslation) to see what folks are reading!

I have struggled long and hard to write a post about the first book I read for Women in Translation Month, and there just isn’t any version of the post I can write that will spare you from major important spoilers. Because here is the thing: The first book I read for Women in Translation Month bears certain very strong similarities to this one American book that you have all heard of, and so I can’t talk about either one of them without spoiling them for people who haven’t read both.

The first book I read for Women in Translation Month is about some people who find themselves in a new situation that’s not totally comfortable to them, and it brings out some traits in them that were already present but maybe not quite so noticeable. It’s also about this other person who’s not totally comfortable with the new people who are around him/her, and the new people bring out some traits in him/her that were also already present but maybe not quite so noticeable at first. I’d like to say a little bit here about point of view, but I think it would make the comparison to that one American book you’ve all heard of too obvious.

When I read that one American book you’ve all heard of, I knew what was going on because I had heard about it from the internet. When I read the first book I read for Women in Translation Month, I didn’t know what was going on at first because it’s way less famous than that one American book you’ve all heard of. But then I read the end, so it was okay. Just like in that one American book you’ve all heard of, the ending of the first book I read for Women in Translation Month turns out okay for some people and less okay for other people. You have to draw your own conclusions about what happens to some of the characters, but that is okay by me.

If you liked that one American book you’ve all heard of, you might like this one too, or you might feel like one of the two books was the lame version of the other one. In any case, I can’t really recommend this book based on your liking for the American book, because if I did that you’d know all the spoilers for this one, and if you’re a spoiler-disliker, that might ruin your enjoyment of it and cancel out how much you might have liked it on the basis of its similarity to that one American book you’ve all heard of. But if you do happen across the first book I read for Women in Translation Month, just know that I enjoyed reading it (though probably not as much as that one American book you’ve all heard of, because I really do struggle with reading books in translation), and I’d say go ahead and try it! if I could do that without spoiling everything for you.

I’ve said too much. I’d better stop.

Edit to add: I swear I just meant this post as a joke, but everyone says it comes off like a riddle. Not intended to be one! If it had been a riddle I would have given some legitimate clues. So now I’m going to tell you what the two books are. But just know that if you read one of them, it will spoil you for the other one. You can highlight the following text to learn which books they are. The German book is Juli Zeh’s newest, Decompression, and the American book you’ve all heard of is Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Sorry! I didn’t mean to be mysterious, just funny.