2018 In Translation Reading List

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Thanks to everyone who responded for my call out for help for recommendations for novels in translation – the response was fantastic and the range of books you all recommended was fantastic.

I’ve picked twelve books that I’d like to read this year – one a month – and my choices are based on some books that I already had and some that really piqued my interest. Click on the titles to take you to the Goodreads descriptions.

January – Her Father’s Daughter by Marie Sizun (France)

February – This Too Shall Pass by Milena Busquets (Spain)

March –  The Poor Mouth by Flann O’Brien (Ireland)

April – The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (Russia)

May – Life A User’s Manual   by Georges Perec (France)

June – Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama (Japan)

July – My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (Italy)

August – Seeing Red by Lina Meruane (Chile)

September – Vernon Subutex by Virginie Despentes (France)

October – Mirror, Shoulder Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark)

November – Iza’s Ballad by Magda Szabó  (Hungary)

December – Blindness by José Saramago  (Portugal)

The order of books may chop and change depending on my mood throughout the year and I also have a good few books as back up in case I need them! I have a few books from Peirene Press and my lovely friend Charlotte sent me a few books when she heard of my plans to read more work in translation!


So, any favourites among my choices? Any I really should have included?

I’m really looking forward to reading more widely in 2018.




novels in translation

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

48 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Delighted to see Her Father’s Daughter at the top of your list, also Life A User’s Manual. I read Iza’s Ballad last year on holiday and wished I’d kept it for home. It’s quietly beautiful and I didn’t give it the attention it deserved.

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  2. Some of my favourites in translation:
    The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart (My Outstanding Read of 2016), Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan tr. Irene Ash (also a Top Read of 2016), The Yellow Rain by Julio Llamazares (brilliant, lyrical novella, hommage to a lost way of life in the mountain villages of Spain), Brodeck’s Report by Philippe Claudel (haunting, brilliant, now out in graphic novel form too), Tales from the Heart by Maryse Condé (essays of the great writer’s childhood, exquisite), Woman at Point Zero by Nawal el Saadawi (based on a true story, packs a punch).

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  3. That looks like a fascinating list, I hope you enjoy it. The Master & Margarita completely messed with my head though I have encountered many people that love it. I’ll be interested to see how you respond to that one. Ferrante is excellent, if you read My Brilliant Friend and enjoy it I would b surprised if you didn’t find yourself committed to reading the rest of the series. Saramago is pretty good too. I haven’t read Blindness (though it’s on my shelf, I’m reminded I need to read it) but a number of others. The Cave is particularly good. His style takes a bit of getting used to – massive chunks of text, unbroken; he doesn’t punctuate dialogue or separate it from the mass of text. It can be a bit daunting, but it’s worth persevering because his work definitely pays off in the end.
    You may have read her, but Tove Jansson is, I think, my favourite writer in translation and is always worth a look. Cees Nooteboom should be more widely known outside of Holland, in my opinion. If you fancy some non-fiction, Svetlana Alexievich is worth a look though her work is harrowing (but important). Chernobyl Prayer is an extraordinary book, if a little unsettling.
    I imagine you are flush with recommendations and options, there’s a lot of love for translated fiction in the blogging world. Enjoy your reading. I look forward to reading about your experiences.

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  4. What a great list!

    I’ve got The Master and Margarita on my end table right now. I was hesitant to read it at first because I thought I needed a better understanding of Russian lit, but I’ve since been told that it’s fine to read on its own. (My edition has footnotes that will likely come in handy.) I have yet to hear anyone say anything bad about this book and hope to start it this weekend.

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  5. really cool list!
    I really enjoyed Blindness. I wish I could forget what happened to be able to enjoy again ad again the stunning surprise at the beginning of the book. So well done.
    I also really liked The Mater and Margarita. Be sure to use a good translation with notes (essential to really understand the book). I suggest you go to see what Matt had to say about it. His 2nd post listed here is precisely about translations: https://mattviews.wordpress.com/?s=master+and+margarita
    I’m actually planning to read Life A User’s Manual this year (in French), as well as Six Four


  6. I listened to a review of The Master and Margarita in a podcast and decided it wasn’t for me (I just can’t get on with books that have non realist elements) but a lot of your others do sound promising. I need to get back to my Reading the World project having neglected it rather last year… you are acting as a good role model!

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