Beautiful Nightmares: At the Intersection of #WITMonth and Horror

We are somehow over halfway through August, which means we are also over halfway through Booklist’s annual Spotlight on SF/Fantasy & Horror. But did you know it is also Women in Translation Month? So, why not feature books where female authors, female translators, and horror intersect? The prose in the following three books is lyrical and haunting, the work of masterful storytellers paired with artistic translators.

Fever Dream, by Samanta Schweblin and translated by Megan McDowell

Have you ever woken up, heart pounding, and then tried to explain your nightmare? Now that you’re awake, it seems to have fewer teeth somehow, but your blood pressure still won’t go down and something just doesn’t feel right. Fever Dream brings that weird, inexplicable nightmare into the light. In Schweblin’s first novel, Amanda lies in a hospital bed. David, a young boy, sits at her bedside, whispering to her. They are not related. If you can’t get enough of Schweblin and her mind-bending world building, check out her new short story collection, Mouthful of Birds, which published in January.

Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories, by Mariana Enríquez and translated by Megan McDowell

This is one of my favorite short story collections of the last five years, hands down. In it, Argentine writer Enríquez summons ghostly waifs and poor, murdered children asking to be let in; an inn haunted by Argentina’s political past; a girl who enters the creepy neighborhood house and never returns. The things that go bump in the night in Enríquez’s world can easily be a ghost—or the ugliest bits of humankind. These stories masterfully blend gothic ghost stories, raw humanity, and Argentinian politics to create a charged, beautiful, and sometimes dangerous collection.

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang and translated by Deborah Smith

Yeong-hye calls them dreams, not nightmares. But they are blood-soaked. These dreams prompt her to give up meat, throwing the well-organized life her husband is used to into chaos. Yeong-hye cannot be forced to eat meat, even as she wastes away, and this rebellion, rooted in horror, offers a larger commentary on Korean society. All the while, the narrative feels as if it’s being relayed through a haze, dragging readers deeper into the “dream.”



About the Author:

Melody’s love of words has taken her on a variety of adventures, beyond the adventures on the page, including librarian, bookseller, literary intern, dramaturg, and script reader. Reading hundreds of books a year, she's constantly seeking that next literary fix.

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