True Story

Nonfiction for Women in Translation Month

Hello, nonfiction friends! It’s the last Friday in August, which means I can sneak in one newsletter in honor of Women in Translation month, an annual celebration that’s been happening around the book world since 2014.

Given my personal interest, this list of nonfiction in translation is heavy on memoirs and books by journalists, but I did manage to get a pretty decent geographic spread in titles. Let’s go!

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich – This book is an account of the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, told through the personal stories of people affected by the meltdown. As a collection of monologues, the book was the first to truly give voice to that experience. As a result, parts of this book were the basis for the HBO miniseries Chernobyl. Journalist Svetlana Alexievich is the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature, so any of her books would make a great read.


In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri – Twenty years after studying in Italy and falling in love with the country, novelist Jhumpa Lahiri returned to Rome where she began to read and write exclusively in Italian. This book is a “meditation on the process of learning to express herself in another language – and the stunning journey of a writer seeking a new voice.”



I’m Writing You from Tehran: A Granddaughter’s Search for Her Family’s Past and Their Country’s Future by Delphine Minoui – After losing her grandfather in 1998, journalist Delphine Minoui decided to go to Iran, her first visit since the Iranian Revolution. She ended up staying a decade, immersing herself in the country, growing as a writer, falling in love, and learning more about her family history.


Oriana Fallaci: The Journalist, the Agitator, the Legend by Cristina De Stefano – This biography tells the story of one of Italy’s most famous and controversial journalists. During her career, she conducted blockbuster interviews with leaders like Henry Kissinger, Muammar Gaddafi, Indira Gandhi, and more. She also caused her own share of controversies, “leaving behind epic collateral damage in her wake.”


A Massacre in Mexico: The True Story Behind the Missing Forty-Three Students by Anabel Hernández – In 2014, 43 students went missing from a teaching college in Mexico. The young men boarded buses to travel to Mexico City, but disappeared after a confrontation with local police. This book is a definitive account of this mystery that shows the official version of the story from Mexican officials is largely false.

And that’s a wrap! You can find me on Twitter @kimthedork, via email at, and co-hosting the For Real podcast here at Book Riot. Happy reading! – Kim