Translations I Want to Read in 2014

translationsOne of my primary goals in 2014 is to read more translations. I barely read any this year – I think I counted one. So for the past few days, I have been researching translations and deciding which ones are high on my list for 2014. Here are a few options that have me wishing I had a bigger book budget!

The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin – Two lovers separated not only by space, but also time, exchange love letters. Shishkin is the only writer to have won all three of Russia’s top literary prizes. This Guardian review convinced me that this is a book that I will fall in love with.

Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung – A fictional world with a lost city called Victoria and the future archaeologists who try to reconstruct it. Dung has been compared to Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino – When I mentioned my quest to read more translations, Aarti suggested Italo Calvino and her favorite of his, Invisible Cities. It seems like there are some similarities between Atlas and Invisible Cities, so I think it might be fun to read them side by side.

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino – This has been on my TBR for so long! It also happened to be the Kindle Daily Deal the other day, so obviously the universe wants me to read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.

A Dictionary of Maqiao by Han Shaogong – The reviews of this one sound amazing, so it breaks my heart a little bit that I’ve never heard of this 2005 novel set in a fictional Chinese village. The novel is organized like a dictionary of the dialect of the town, with each entry a vignette.

The World of the End by Ofir Touche Gafla This post over at has been a great jumping off point for finding science fiction and fantasy novels in translation. For once, I am recommending you read the comments. Ben is destroyed by his wife’s death and is determined to find her, even if that means joining her in the afterlife.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma – This book looks like so much fun! Here is the copy from Goodreads: “Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.” Obviously I will be reading this.

I’m hoping to read  a lot more translations in 2014, though, so if you have recommendations, please share!


20 thoughts on “Translations I Want to Read in 2014

  1. I love that you’re sharing these, because I feel like I’m woefully behind when it comes to translations. If On a Winter’s Night has been on my list for a long time, too. I do have one that I can highly recommend (though, you might have already read it!). I just finished Every Man Dies Alone by Hans Fallada and it was wonderful.

    1. Let me know if you want to do a readalong of If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler! I don’t want it to sit on my kindle app for the rest of eternity, so I could use the push to read it!

  2. I’m hoping to read more translations next year too, although I read a fair bit this year, I’m hoping to branch out into different genres (I mainly stuck with mysteries). I have read Map of Time, and didn’t love it (as it went into the 2nd half), so it’ll be interesting to see what you think of it.

    1. That’s the one on this list that I did buy, so I’ll probably be reading it soon! I’ll have to go through your blog and see which translations you’ve read this year!

  3. Oh these all sound so fun!

    Ummmm….it’s tricky for me to recommend translated books because there are so many I love! lol

    Off the top of my head, and limiting myself to just a few:
    Stephen Mitchells’ version of Gilgamesh
    Armitage’s Sir Gawain & the Green Knight
    Medea’s Children by Lumilla Ulitskaya (Russian)
    anything Volokhonsy & Pevear have translated but I have a special softspot for Chekhov (Russian)
    Anything Tiina Nunnally has translated but especially Sigrid Undset (Norwegian)
    Tove Jansson (Finnish, although maybe she wrote in Swedish? not sure)
    With the Lapps in the High Mountains (a travelogue by a woman in the 30s now translated into English by Barbara Sjoholm)
    The Long Ships (because I can’t mention Scandinavian lit and leave this off the list)
    Lovesick by Angeles Mastretta (Mexico/Spanish)
    Eco’s Name of the Rose (Italian/Latin)
    Twinkle Twinkle (can’t remember author, wonderful Japanese novel)

    and my hands are hurting so I’ll stop there. But if you want more ideas, give me a prompt and I’ll see if anything else comes to mind! 🙂

    1. Eva!! These comments are amazing! I have added SO MANY books to my list!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to list these out.

  4. I had no idea that The Map of Time is a translation! I think I have it on my Nook. Have you read Blindness by Jose Saramago? It’s an amazing book. Other recommendations: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin and the middle grade book The Killer’s Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux. It may be hard to find that last one.

    1. I have read Blindness! It’s definitely one of my favorites. I also was very interested in Please Look After Mom when it came out a few years ago… I remember your post! Thanks for the recommendation on The Killer’s Tears, too.

  5. I kept looking at If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler but never gave in and bought it… I probably would take forever to get around to it… I do have The Map of Time on my TBR, though. I have heard good things about it.

  6. Urgh, only 2 of my recommendations were authors of colour! 😮 I think this is because I read a lot of Caribbean lit, which is usually written in English, Anglophone African authors, stuff from the subcontinent also written originally in English, or authors who are international but nevertheless writing in English (which is why I don’t worry that much about how many translated books I read, I’m more interested in how many are written by non US/UK authors or POC authors).

    Here are a few more authors of colour in translation (and now that I’ve written the list, they’re almost all from Africa!)…
    Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous (fun little book, Italian, author immigrated to Italy from Algeria)
    Naguib Mahfouz (Arabic from Egypt; he wrote everything from everyday novels to more magical realism style)
    The Pillow Book, in Meredith McKinney’s translation (Japan)
    Segu by Maryse Conde (sweeping, epic historical fiction set in West Africa; at times a challenging read but well worth it)
    The Strange Bride by Grace Ogot (might be tricky to track down, but a fascinating retelling of a fable by a Kenyan author who also wrote books in English, but this was translated from the Dholuo, I believe by the author herself)

    any of Anne Carson’s translations (ancient Greek, so not authors of colour but marvelous)

    And now my hands are once again cranky. I haven’t even touched on translated nonfiction! lol Or much of Asia other than Japan…oh dear. You’re going to end up with far too many recommendations as I keep coming back to this post. :p

    1. Once again, amazing. Thank you! So many authors and books on here I haven’t heard of and that I’m excited to read. Thank you thank you!

      1. You’re welcome! I still plan on recommending a few more, if you let me know any particular genres/styles/languages you’re interested in. 🙂 I’m just not always sure what’s translated and what’s not. lol

      2. Oh, how could I forget Eileen Chang? My favourite Chinese writer for sure! Although she’s definitely not a comfort read, a bit like Edith Wharton.

  7. Oh yes, the Universe does want you to read If on a Winter’s Night! I read it this year and loved it.
    In other news, I just finished “La vida doble” by Arturo Fontaine, which was translated to English under the same title. It’s strong stuff, but excellent and I recommend it very much (can’t vouch for the translation though).
    I’m super intrigued by “Lovesick” that Eva mentioned. I’ll investigate this for sure!
    Finally, I second her recommendation of “The Name of the Rose” – it’s great. I would actually say it makes brilliant Christmas reading if you don’t have your holiday reading list set yet!

    1. Bettina, Lovesick of really wonderful: a well written comfort novel. historical fiction set during the Mexican revolution, featuring a strong female lead. Definitely worth looking into. 🙂

      If you read Spanish, Mastretta has written more novels than have been translated into English.

        1. I really feel like I should be keeping up my Spanish language by reading, but I think I’ve already let it slip so much!! Maybe I’ll give it a shot soon!

  8. Love Calvino’s If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler. It is my favorite novel!

    The Map of Time is really good. I’m always glad to see people reading it, since (a) it really deserves more recognition and (b) the author is from Spain (and so am I!)

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