Jyotirmoyee Devi Sen (1894-1988), a pioneering Bengali feminist writer in the first part of the 20th century, is well-known for her novel Epar Ganga, Opar Ganga (The River Churning: A Partition Novel) and her short story collection Sona Rupa Noy (Not Gold and Silver) for which she received the prestigious Rabindra Puraskar, the highest honorary literary award in West Bengal, in 1973. Born in Jaipur, the present-day capital of Rajasthan in India, she spent her childhood in the princely state where her grandfather worked as dewan or prime minister to the maharaja of Jaipur. 

In 1980, a year after Mridula Garg’s Hindi-language novel Chittacobra was published, two policemen appeared at her door at night to arrest her under sections 292, 293, and 294 of the Indian Penal Code, commonly referred to as the Act of Obscenity. The case was built around a scene of just two pages that described Manu, the novel’s protagonist, having sex with her husband Mahesh, whom she no longer loves.

The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in titles translated from Japanese into English. While many of these novels and short stories collections are by rising authors, publishers also present readers with classic works by authors already well-known outside of Japan. These include Osamu Dazai, long celebrated for his No Longer Human, first translated into English by Donald Keene in the 1950s. Dazai’s A New Hamlet was translated by Owen Cooney in 2016. No Longer Human was released in a new translation by Mark Gibeau as a Shameful Life in 2018. The short-story collection Early Light debuted in the fall of 2022. The Flowers of Buffoonery is the latest addition to his oeuvre in English.

Coming from a literary family, Hajra Masroor and her sister Khadija have been referred to as the Brontë sisters of Urdu fiction. While Khadija was known for her novels, Hajra was a writer of short fiction and plays. A new translation of a collection of Hajra Masroor’s work, The Monkey’s Wound and Other Stories, by translator Tahira Naqvi, now gives English readers an opportunity to read eighteen of her stories, all centered around the hardships of being a woman in pre-Partition India and the new state of Pakistan. Masroor lived from 1929 to 2012 and started writing in the early 1940s, several years before Partition.

Island of Bewilderment is a recent English translation of Jazire-ye Sargardāni, a historical novel by the late Simin Daneshvar, originally in Persian and published in 1992. Daneshvar (1921- 2012) was considered Iran’s first female novelist. Her books were about the lives of ordinary people, especially women, through the lens of political and social events in the country. She was also a renowned translator and counted Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard among her translations into Persian. She was the wife of the famous social critic and writer, Jalal Ale-Ahmad, also a writer of acclaim.