Big pile o' translated books

After my summer class prof said something silly and infuriating about translated novels, I decided to dedicate a large portion of my reading for at least the next month to translated books. To sort of prove her wrong, maybe. Anyway! I don’t actually have a lot of translated books at home; in fact, after sticking them all together they fill up less than a full shelf in my bookcase (which I’ve fixed, btw! It no longer titls alarmingly to one side. Huzzah!).

What I did have, however, were one Japanese light novel, several German children’s fantasies, the odd Alexandre Dumas book, one historical fiction MG book translated from Hebrew (one of my favorite books, actually), a Russian urban fantasy series, an Umberto Eco book I’ve never been able to read, and some Arturo Perez-Reverte mysteries. Oh, and a lot of Japanese comic books. It’s a good(-ish) variety, but I’ve already read most of them and I didn’t feel up to tackling the rest of the Russian books just yet (the first book’s translation is extremely dense). I needed more choices!

So I bought some new books from! And requested another through PaperbackSwap!

“But Anastasia, you were supposed to be working on DECREASING your TBR, not INCREASING it!” I hear you say. And to you I say “pooh-pooh.”

Here’s a crappy picture of what came in the mail today:

(That top book isn’t actually a translated novel. Ignore it And YES, I accidentally bought two of the same book. Ignore that, too.)

All of them are Japanese novels, since those were the ones I could find the most information on during the course of my searching on Google. And after I read these (and maybe the Russian urban fantasy books), I’ll branch out to another country, like…I don’t know. Mexico, maybe. Or Italy.

Here’s where you can help: what’s your favorite book that’s been translated into English? I don’t particularly care about genre, so let ‘er rip.

Meanwhile, I’ll be combing through Eva’s blog, since I know she focuses a lot on international novels. Two other blogs I know talk a lot about translated books are In Spring It Is The Dawn and Contemporary Japanese Literature— do you know of any others?

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12 thoughts on “Big pile o' translated books”

  1. If you like noir fiction, I can highly recommend the French writer Sebastian Japrisot. You might have heard of THE VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT which was made into a movie not long ago. My favorite of his is TRAP FOR CINDERELLA.

  2. Do you read graphic novels? Persepolis is a translation and I’ve heard good things about The Rabbi’s Cat too (which I haven’t read).

    I can also recommend Isabel Allende’s books. I really enjoyed The House of the Spirits, as well as her memoir Paula (although it’s very sad).

  3. I’d recommend Kirino Natsuo who wrote ‘Out’, ‘Grotesque’ and ‘Real World’.
    oh, and I love Jose Carlos Somoza. ‘Art of Murder’, ‘The Athenian Murders’ and ‘Zig Zag’ are the only 3 that I know of translated into english… unfortunately.

  4. Good for you! And down with your professor although I have probably said loads of stupid things about translating books. What did your prof say that sent you on this rampage?

    1. I don’t know if she MEANT it this way, but to me it sounded like she said England has the best books and the best and longest literary tradition and every other country (including America) couldn’t compete. And then someone said “well what about China?” and she said it didn’t count because it got interrupted somewhere in its history.

      It just really, really irritated me, mostly because it was impossible for her to prove her point because how do you measure “best?” or “most successful?” And yeah, England hasn’t had an interruption in its literary history like some other countries have, but does that mean anything when it’s still a relatively new history compared to other places? And so on.

      And then she tried to get us to name non-American/British authors, as if the fact that we didn’t know that many proved that every book that came from outside of England (and maybe America) was suckier than ones that came from within. BUT POPULARITY DOESN’T MEAN QUALITY and omg it really pissed me off.

      PLUS there’s loads of other things like regarding what’s taught in schools (OLD BRITISH DUDES), etc, and it really makes me mad that I couldn’t stand up to her more than I did. But she’s a really intimidating lady. (And she SAYS she wanted to start arguments, but then dismisses any argument made against her? ugh.)

    1. Man, I tried listening to that thing as an audiobook and nearly threw my iPod against the wall. Admittedly I think it was because the narrator was really awful, but do you think I’d have a better time with the paper version?

  5. It’s been over five years but I remember enjoying a couple of novels by Isaac Bashevis Singer, who wrote in Yiddish. Apparently, he would write his books again in English, so I don’t know if that strictly counts as translation – I think in addition some were translated. Anyway, of his books The Family Moskat and The Slave stand out in my mind.

    I’ll be interested in what you say about Spice & Wolf. I’ve been intrigued by that book, but I can’t find it in the library, even with interlibrary loan.

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