Broadly Speaking: Mieko Kawakami and Fernanda Melchor
'The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’
English-language publishers are increasingly embracing works in translation. What new worlds does this open up for readers? What does feminism gain from more translated women's voices in fiction?
For this conversation, we spoke with two international authors with major works recently published in English. Mieko Kawakami is the author of several books in Japanese. Her first full-length work to be translated into English is Breasts and Eggs, a bold novel about fertility, cosmetic surgery and bodily autonomy, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd. Fernanda Melchor is a Mexican journalist and novelist, whose powerful English-language debut about femicide in Mexico, Hurricane Season, was shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize, translated by Sophie Hughes.
Hosted by Roanna Gonsalves , these exceptional authors discussed radical representations of womanhood in fiction, and the limitations and possibilities of translation today. Interpretation and subtitles provided by Hitomi Yoshio.
The Broadly Speaking series is proudly supported by Krystyna Campbell-Pretty AM and family.
Fernanda Melchor was born in 1982 in Veracruz, Mexico. She is widely recognised as one of the most exciting new voices of Mexican literature. In 2018, she won the PEN Mexico Award for Literary and Journalistic Excellence and in 2019 the German Anna-Seghers-Preis and the International Literature Award for Hurricane Season, which has also been longlisted for the US 2020 National Book Awards, Translated Literature, and shortlisted for the 2020 International Booker Prize.
Born in Osaka prefecture in 1976, Mieko Kawakami began her career as a singer and songwriter before making her literary debut in 2006. Her first novella My Ego, My Teeth, and the World, published in 2007, was nominated for the Akutagawa Prize and awarded the Tsubouchi Shoyo Prize for Young Emerging Writers. The following year, Kawakami published Breasts and Eggs as a short novella. It won the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s most prestigious literary honor, and earned praise from the acclaimed writer Yoko Ogawa. Kawakami is also the author of the novels Heaven, The Night Belongs to Lovers, and the newly expanded Breasts and Eggs, her first novel to be published in English. She lives in Japan.
Roanna Gonsalves is the award-winning author of The Permanent Resident, published in India and South Asia as Sunita De Souza Goes To Sydney. Her writing has been compared to the work of Alice Munro and Jhumpa Lahiri. Her four-part radio series On the tip of a billion tongues, commissioned and broadcast by ABC RN’s Earshot program, is a portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. Roanna is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award and The Bridge Awards’ inaugural Varuna – Cove Park Writing Residency 2019 in Scotland. Roanna serves on the Board of Writing NSW and teaches in the Australian university sector.