The Woman Beyond The Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levy #BlogTour #BookReview @FMcMAssociates #TranslatedFiction

Today I am bringing you a beautiful story written by Sarit Yishay-Levy, and translated by Gilah Kahn-Hoffman.

The Blurb

A mesmerizing novel about three generations of women who have lost each
other—and the quest to weave them back into a family.
An immersive historical tale spanning the life stories of three women,
The Woman Beyond the Sea traces the paths of a daughter, mother, and
grandmother who lead entirely separate lives, until finally their stories and their
hearts are joined together.
Eliya thinks that she’s finally found true love and passion with her charismatic
and demanding husband, an aspiring novelist—until he ends their relationship
in a Paris café, spurring her suicide attempt. Seeking to heal herself, Eliya is
compelled to piece together the jagged shards of her life and history.
Eliya’s heart-wrenching journey leads her to a profound and unexpected
love, renewed family ties, and a reconciliation with her orphaned mother,
Lily. Together, the two women embark on a quest to discover the truth about
themselves and Lily’s own origins…and the unknown woman who set their
stories in motion one Christmas Eve.

My Review

The Woman Beyond the Sea by Sarit Yishai-Levi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Firstly, I want to say that translated fiction can be quite hard to read. Sometimes things literally get ‘lost in translation’. Phrases used commonly in the original language can sound strange when written to suit a different tongue.
However, despite taking a little time to get into it, The Woman Beyond The Sea was a beautiful story about a daughter, her mother, and their relationships.
Eliya finds herself in emotional turmoil after her marriage breaks, especially since she was warned against the union by her family.
She goes through several unstable phases, including suicidal thoughts, which are not helped by her mother, Lily, who can’t seem to find love or compassion for her only daughter,
Lily, herself, is a damaged creature with no stable foundations and far too much heartache, despite having the love of a good man forever behind her and beside her.
Ultimately this is a story of discovering one’s self, and in The Woman Beyond The Sea, Lily and Eliya go on a bumpy ride to find out why they feel the way they do about one another and those around them.
Sometimes there was repetition and more than one POV in a named POV chapter, but I was immersed in the story and spent an entire day in bed wanting to read more!

About the Author

Sarit Yishai-Levi is a renowned Israeli journalist and author. In 2016 she published her first book, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. It immediately became a bestseller and garnered critical acclaim. The book sold more than three hundred thousand copies in Israel, was translated into ten languages, and was adapted into a TV series that won the Israeli TV award for best drama series. It also won the Publishers Association’s Gold, Platinum, and Diamond prizes; the Steimatzky Prize for bestselling book of the year in Israel; and the WIZO France Prize for best book translated into French.
Yishai-Levi’s second book, The Woman Beyond the Sea, was published in 2019. It won the Publishers Association’s Gold and Platinum prizes and was adapted for television by Netflix. Yishai-Levi was born in Jerusalem to a Sephardic family that has lived in the city for eight generations. She’s been living with her family in Tel Aviv since 1970.

About the Translator

Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann moved from Montreal to Jerusalem after studying theatre, literature, and communications at McGill University. Starting out as a freelance journalist, translator, writer, and editor, she became a feature writer at The Jerusalem Post and, subsequently, editor of the paper’s youth magazines. Later, during a stint as a writer at Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma, she discovered how fulfilling it is to work for the benefit of others and moved to NGO work in East Jerusalem and the developing world. In recent years, she’s come full circle to her first loves and spends her best hours immersed in literary translation.

The Blunder by @muttlon #BlogTour @fmcmassociates

Today I am hosting a translated fiction release by Mutt-Lon, The Blunder.

The Blurb

From a bold voice in African fiction comes a satirical and unputdownable reimagining of an overlooked episode in Cameroon’s colonial past.

Cameroon, 1929. As colonial powers fight for influence in Africa, French military surgeon Eugène Jamot is dispatched to Cameroon to lead the fight against sleeping sickness there. But despite his humanitarian intentions, the worst comes to pass: seven hundred local villagers are left blind as a result of medical malpractice by a doctor under Jamot’s watch.

Damienne Bourdin, a young white woman, ventures to Cameroon to assist in the treatment effort. Reeling from the loss of her child, she’s desperate to redeem herself and save her reputation. But the tides of rebellion are churning in Cameroon, and soon after Damienne’s arrival, she is enlisted in a wild plot to staunch the damage caused by the blunder and forestall tribal warfare. Together with Ndongo, a Pygmy guide, she must cross the country on foot in search of Edoa, a Cameroonian princess and nurse who has gone missing since the medical blunder was discovered.

As Damienne races through the Cameroonian forest on a farcical adventure that unsettles her sense of France’s “civilizing mission,” she begins to question her initial sense of who needed saving and who would save the day.

You are lucky enough to read an extract from The Blunder here, today!

Damienne Bourdin’s first priority, as she emerged from the airport, was to track down the Pygmy guide who’d saved her life in 1929. She hadn’t set foot in Cameroon for thirty-two years, and wondered if it might be a waste of time to look for him. Most of the protagonists of “the blunder” were no longer living, and the guide might have died too, like Dr. Jamot and native chief Atangana. It was important she find out, because if that strange fellow was still alive, Damienne wouldn’t dare return to the scene of the revolt without him.
The France-Soir she was leafing through mentioned a monument in honor of Dr. Jamot in front of the Ministry of Public Health and also the facilities he’d left behind in 1931, now a hospital bearing his name. In the taxi on the way to the hospital, she kept her nose glued to the window. How Yaoundé had changed! There was asphalt in the city center, electricity, a big traffic circle, and people weren’t wandering around in loincloths. Some blocks of houses still had mud walls, but only a few were thatched or had roofs covered in straw or woven raffia mats. Buildings were going up, Peugeots and Renaults racing around them every which way, like ants. Drivers shouted through open windows as they passed each other on either side, but Damienne didn’t mind the chaos, she was just relieved she wouldn’t have to walk the whole way to Bafia this time.
The area around the hospital was completely transformed, not one landmark from her time there survived. Still, Damienne recognized the hospital itself right away. She noticed as she approached that no additions had been made; at most, they’d slapped a coat of lime on a few walls.
Inside, she found that Dr. Jamot’s apartment had become the radiology department, and the room where she’d spent the night was now a pulmonologist’s office. Since sleeping sickness had been largely eradicated, the Jamot Hospital focused on psychiatry and fighting tuberculosis—there were sickly people with emaciated faces everywhere. Damienne offered a prayer that this new prevention campaign, unlike the last, would be blunder free, and that no other French doctor would experience what she’d lived through under Dr. Jamot.
The director of the hospital was reading a newspaper, its front page dedicated to President Kennedy, assassinated six days earlier. He greeted Damienne with the particular courtesy reserved for those who regularly appear in the press. He was honored to meet her, he’d read almost all of her books, and particularly loved the last one, about the Jamot Mission, for which she’d won numerous prizes. Since the book was about to be made into a film, he offered to put the hospital facilities at the disposal of the film crew. Damienne was obliged to answer all his admiring questions, and even accept an invitation for dinner with him and his wife, before she could raise the subject she had come to discuss. Was the Pygmy still alive? After what felt like an eternity, the director gathered all the hospital personnel together, and they found an old nurse who said he’d met Ndongo, the Pygmy in question. T
he nurse had last seen him toward the end of the 1930s, before Ndongo went home to Bipindi.
So Damienne went to Bipindi to look for him. Bipindi was in a part of the bush that hadn’t changed for thousands of years, and Damienne thought to herself that in some ways, the town seemed more backward than the remote villages she’d gone through back in 1929. Here, everyone was a hunter, even the women, and no one needed to go far from their home to hunt game. One inquiry and two false leads later, the Pygmy was found. Ndongo was alive. When at last she saw him, Damienne
hugged and kissed him without hesitation, and burst into tears before his whole surprised clan. Ndongo hadn’t changed much, still wiry and stunted, but now an old man. Like Damienne’s, the skin on his hands was paper thin. He lived with his wife and children in mungulus, huts made of branches and green leaves, which she’d once seen him build in just a few minutes, on that unforgettable day when they were lost in the forest . . .
What struck her most was his attire: Ndongo still wore a loincloth fashioned from an animal hide. He was bare chested and had the same amulets tied around his waist and biceps as he’d worn on the day they’d said farewell. She couldn’t believe it! In his small, lively eyes, Damienne saw a flash of that primitive man she remembered so well. There was one remarkable change: Ndongo spoke French. She was almost chagrined that she no longer needed to act things out for him.
He agreed to go with her to Bafia.

My Review

An interesting book based on a historical event, but with a fictional twist.
Mutt-Lon has taken the little-known pandemic of Sleeping Sickness that swept Cameroon in the early 2oth century and its subsequent mishandling by a white doctor and added his own flavour.
We follow the story through the eyes of another white doctor, female, Damienne Bourdin, who is sent to help ease tensions in the villages where it has become apparent that the incorrect treatment by one particular doctor has resulted in many natives getting better from the pandemic, but ending up blind.
Reading fiction that has been translated is always hard, as the passion that comes through the native tongue of a writer is tough to replicate in other languages, however, the translator has done a pretty good job of giving a true feel for the story and the characters.
There is a little jumping around within the story, in terms of the present and the past, and sometimes points of view are a little erratic, but, once I got into the story, I really wanted to know what happened at the end, and whether everything was resolved!

Mutt-Lon is the literary pseudonym of author Nsegbe Daniel Alain. His first novel Ceux qui sortent dans la nuit (Those Who Come Out At Night, 2013), brought him critical claim when it received the prestigious Ahmadou Kourouma Prize in 2014. Les 700 aveugles de Bafia (2020), published in English as The Blunder, is his third novel and the first to be translated into English. He lives in Douala – Cameroon’s most international and cosmopolitan city – and speaks English fluently

Amy B. Reid is an award-winning translator who has worked with authors from Cameroon, Côts d’Ivoire, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Haiti.

Translated Fiction Blog Tour for Karitas Untitled by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir @fmcmassosciates @amazonpub

I am over the moon to be able to launch the book tour for one of two newly translated releases by Amazon Crossing.

Today’s book is Karitas Untitled, by Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir.

Growing up on a farm in early twentieth-century rural Iceland, Karitas
Ólafsdóttir, one of six siblings, yearns for a new life. As an artist, Karitas
has a powerful calling and is determined to never let go of her true
unconventional self. But she is powerless against the fateful turns of real
life and all its expectations of women. Pulled back time and again by
design and by chance to the Icelandic countryside―as dutiful daughter,
loving mother, and fisherman’s wife―she struggles to thrive, to be what
she was meant to be.
Spanning decades and set against a breathtaking historical canvas,
Karitas Untitled, an award-winning classic of Icelandic literature, is a
complex and immersive portrait of an artist’s conflict with love, family,
nature, and a country unaccustomed to an untraditional woman―but
most of all, with herself and the creative instincts she has no choice but
to follow.

I am able to share a sneak peek chapter of the book for you to peruse at your leisure.

Untitled 1915
Pencil drawing
The morning is misty gray.
The colors of the sea, the mountain, and the valley have dulled, as if the thin strip of fog painted over a picture in haste before fleeing the bitter cold that crept into the bay in the small hours.
Over the heath, still white with snow despite it being Whitsuntide, goes a cart, pulled by sturdy workhorses. Men from the valley escort the widow to her ship.
She rides straight-backed, with Halldóra next to her, shoulders slumped. The two elder brothers follow the cart, listening to its every creak.
Among the trunks, knitting machine, and sacks huddle we two younger sisters, bundled in wool. Our youngest brother rests in the arms of Bjarghildur, who hums to him, while I sit scrunched between two trunks, watching the shoreline recede.
A horse-drawn cart on a white heath.
Anxiety at the trip over the heath has kept me from sleeping for many nights. I know that an evil spirit dwells here, luring travelers and dragging them to a deep bowl hidden among the steep, landslide-ridden slopes. I look bitterly at my siblings, who have never sensed the presence of trolls and monsters as I have, let alone perceived ghosts, and I regret not having stayed behind like the maid.
Over the white heath hangs a fog that is waiting to swallow us.
All around me in the cold stillness, I hear whispering.

The hold’s hatches and the opening to the staircase had both been shut after the sea worsened, and the sour smell of vomit hung over the prostrate passengers. The families had prepared makeshift beds on the floor, while two women not in the death grip of seasickness propped themselves on their elbows and entertained each other with birthing stories. Steinunn was speaking.
“Karitas came from the sea, but Bjarghildur from the ground like any old potato plant. I was home digging up potatoes when I began having contractions, and everyone else was out in the fields. At first, I ignored the disturbance because the potatoes needed harvesting no less than the hay, and I was convinced I had enough time as it had taken three days to bring my eldest daughter into the world. But when the pangs intensified and I thought I had better go inside, it was too late: all I could do was squat there in the potato patch and let nature take its course. Two years later, when I had my third daughter, it was the same story, but that time, I was down at the beach gathering seaweed when the contractions began. From my previous experience, I knew how things would go, so I went behind a big rock where I would have sand beneath my feet, but as I was delivering, the tide began coming in, and it was only by the grace of God that the child wasn’t swept away. After two births in nature, I didn’t dare venture far from the farmhouse the next times I was due, and because of that, it was soft bedclothes that received my three boys, not sea and soil.”
It was evident from the other passenger’s expression that she wasn’t certain whether Steinunn was telling her what really happened or a dream. Still, it being an excellent story, she decided not to ask, although she did peer at the sisters as if trying to guess which had come from where and which had come into the world the ordinary way. They lay sprawled over each other like kits in their den, deathly pale and helpless from nausea, but their brothers, apart from the youngest, sleeping in his mother’s lap, were no longer susceptible to seasickness and had stayed on deck with the crew.
Steinunn’s fellow passenger had no such stories of her own, having delivered all of her children indoors, but in order not to be outdone by the widow, she resorted to relating some unusual delivery stories that she’d heard. After chatting long enough to reach the point when conversants begin sharing their personal circumstances and plans, Steinunn told the woman briefly about her desire to provide her children with educations. The woman, astonished at Steinunn’s daring, rocked on her mattress and asked whether it wasn’t madness for the widow to rush off into the unknown with six children and an empty purse. Steinunn replied that in this case, having no money made no difference.
“In Iceland, no one who works dies.”
Her fellow passenger agreed, but said that she, poor commoner that she was, could never have imagined sending her children to school, and in any case, it was too late now, since they’d all grown up and moved away. Yet she couldn’t resist mentioning one of her sons, who was a highly distinguished person, “and a deckhand on the Gullfoss itself, neither more nor less, the new ship that arrived in the spring. On board, they dance and sing, I’m told; the ship is so big and steady that there’s hardly any rolling out on the open sea. The cabins are all first class, and when the ship glides into the ports of Europe, all of the passengers, most of whom are higher-ups, gather on deck and wave at the crowd waiting on the quay.” Steinunn, who’d had to settle for a place in the ship’s hold to spare expenditure and had little desire to hear about the luxuries of the upper class, thought for a moment before replying that she doubted that people waited on the quay in foreign lands—“at least not the men, because as far as I know, all of Europe is at war, and they’re most likely on the battlefield, and although I don’t doubt the magnificence of the ship, I can hardly imagine that women on the Continent have any more time than we do for loitering on the quay, even if a ship docks.” At this reminder of the war being fought on the Continent, Steinunn’s fellow passenger grew anxious about her son and didn’t hear it when Karitas asked quietly whether she had any idea what it cost to sail aboard such a fine ship. When no answer came, Karitas gave Bjarghildur a little nudge and whispered in her ear: “Do you think we’ll ever sail overseas aboard such a ship?” Bjarghildur responded crustily to the irritating whispering, waved Karitas off, and exhaled weakly, “Leave me alone; I have no home.” Karitas saw that there was little to be gained from her in the state she was in and turned to Halldóra to ask the same thing, but stopped when she saw her sister’s expression. It didn’t result from nausea alone, that much she knew, and she stroked her sister’s arm to express affection and sympathy. Her sister just lay there, curled up and miserable on her makeshift bed, although the suffering on her face did nothing to spoil her comeliness. She resembled an image of the Savior on the cross.
Gloom settled over the hold; they were out on the deep, and the rolling intensified. The vomiting worsened, the little ones wet themselves, and the sisters held their noses, tried to breathe through their mouths. Then they felt the ship slow down; the engines hiccupped and stopped. People propped themselves on their elbows and stared at the hatches. For several moments, neither a cough nor a groan was heard.
“Ice,” someone then groaned from one corner. “Damned ice.”
The hatches were torn open.
Freezing sea air streamed into the hold.

Purchase your copy, here!

Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir is one of Iceland’s most acclaimed writers and the
internationally bestselling author of numerous novels, including Karitas Untitled,
a Nordic Council Literature Prize nominee; Street of the Mothers; Chaos on
Canvas; and Seagull’s Laughter, which was adapted for the stage and also into
an award-winning film. She received her degree in 1991 from the University of
Iceland and has also worked as a teacher and a journalist. Among Kristín Marja’s
many honors are the Knight’s Cross of the Icelandic Order of the Falcon for her
achievements in writing and her contributions to Icelandic literature, the Jónas
Hallgrímsson Prize, and the Fjöruverðlaun Women’s Literature Prize. Kristín Marja
lives in Reykjavík.
Philip Roughton is an award-winning translator of many of Iceland’s best-known
authors, including Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness, Jón Kalman Stefánsson,
Þórarinn Eldjárn, Bergsveinn Birgisson, and Steinunn Sigurðardóttir.

My interactive peeps!

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