Women in Translation: Irène Némirovsky

Suite françaiseAugust is Women in Translation Month, celebrating reading translated books by women authors from around the world. So I thought I would take the time this month to mention women authors (and their marvelous translators) whose work I love.

Storm in June, the first book of French author Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française, is about civilians escaping from Paris immediately before the German invasion of the city in 1940. It is one of the most vivid and visceral descriptions of the civilian experience of war that I’ve ever read, which is partly because it was written in immediate response to the war as it was happening.

Suite française contains the first two books in a series of five novels of the war that the author intended to write. The last three books were never completed because Némirovsky, a Jew, was murdered at Auschwitz in 1942.

The enthralling English translation is by Sandra Smith, who has translated all of Irène Némirovsky’s novels available in English.

Paris had its sweetest smell, the smell of chestnut trees in bloom and of petrol with a few grains of dust that crack under your teeth like pepper. In the darkness the danger seemed to grow. You could smell the suffering in the air, in the silence. Everyone looked at their house and thought, “Tomorrow it will be in ruins, tomorrow I’ll have nothing left.”

More Women in Translation

~ by lolarusa on August 5, 2018.

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