It's been said that of all the books published in English each year, only 3% are translations. This means that by reading translated works, you're sort of entering an exclusive club. That's cool, right? Regardless of your motives, we hope you find something to delight, inform, provoke, or otherwise entertain you from our revolving recommendations here.
This month we present the 2014 Best Translated Book Award longlist.
Seiobo a Japanese goddess has a peach tree in her garden that blossoms once every three thousand years: its fruit brings immortality. In Seiobo There Below, we see her returning again and again to mortal realms, searching for a glimpse of perfection. Beauty, in Krasznahorkai's new novel, reflects, however fleetingly, the sacred even if we are mostly unable to bear it.
On May 16, 2003, fourteen suicide bombers launched a series of attacks throughout Casablanca. It was the deadliest attack in Morocco’s history. The bombers came from the shantytowns of Sidi Moumen, a poor suburb on the edge of a dump whose impoverished residents rarely if ever set foot in the cosmopolitan city at their doorstep.
The second book, following last year's "My Brilliant Friend," featuring the two friends Lila and Elena. The two protagonists are now in their twenties. Marriage appears to have imprisoned Lila. Meanwhile, Elena continues her journey of self-discovery. The two young women share a complex and evolving bond that brings them close at times, and drives them apart at others.
Jorgen Hofmeester once had it all, but recently has been abandoned by his wife, watched his oldest daughter move away, lost his publishing job, and had his savings evaporate. At least he still has Tirza, his youngest daughter. But now she's going away to Africa, from where she'll never return.
An NYRB Classics Original
Part visceral dream-memoir, part fictive journey through a hallucinatory Bucharest, Mircea Cărtărescu's "Blinding "was one of the most widely heralded literary sensations in contemporary Romania, and a bestseller from the day of its release.
A remaking of Emily BrontE's Wuthering Heights set in postwar Japan
The New Republic Best Books of 2013 and World Literature Today Best Books of 2013.
"A simple mystery constructed very cleverly ... an atmospheric and understated book with vivid settings and characters, a true delight to read."-10 Best Books Shorter than 150 Pages, "Publishers Weekly"
Already celebrated far beyond his native Iceland, the novels of Sjon arrive on waves of praise from writers, critics, and readers worldwide. Sjon has won countless international awards and earned ringing comparisons to Borges, Calvino, and Iceland's other literary superstar, the Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness. "The Whispering Muse "is his masterpiece so far.
"Her Not All Her" is a play about, from, and to the great Swiss writer Robert Walser, by the great Austrian writer and Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek. It highlights what Jelinek calls 'the fundamental fragmentation' of Walser's voice, revealing Walser as 'one of those people who, when they said "I," did not mean themselves'.
Dentist Karl Meyer's worst nightmare comes true when his son, Ole-Jakob, takes his own life. This tragedy is the springboard for a complex novel posing essential questions about human experience: What does sorrow do to a person? How can one live with the pain of unbearable loss? How far can a man be driven by the grief and despair surrounding the death of his child?
The stunning final novel from East Germany's most acclaimed writer
Boris Vian (1920-1959) was a magnificent jack-of-all-trades--actor, jazz critic, engineer, musician, playwright, songwriter, translator--not to mention the leading social light of the Saint-Germain-des-Pres scene. His third major novel, "Red Grass "is a provocative narrative about an engineer, Wolf, who invents a bizarre machine that allows him to revisit his past and erase inhibiting memories.
This powerful novel by Mo Yan--one of contemporary China's most famous and prolific writers--is both a stirring love story and an unsparing critique of political corruption during the final years of the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial epoch.
Slauerhoff's "The Forbidden Kingdom" is a blend of historical chronicle, fiction and commentary, bringing together the seemingly unrelated lives of a twentieth century ship's radio operator and the sixteenth century Portuguese poet-in-exile, Luis Camoes.
In this deceptively simple tale—reminiscent of the best of Bolaño—a Columbian of questionable means drifts through Tangier without much of a guiding impulse other than his own satisfaction. In the background, one can sense the barely audible, sinister machinations creaking...
Leg over Leg recounts the life, from birth to middle age, of 'the Fariyaq, ' alter ego of Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, a pivotal figure in the intellectual and literary history of the modern Arab world.
October 1936. Spanish architect Ignacio Abel arrives at Penn Station, the final stop on his journey from war-torn Madrid, where he has left behind his wife and children, abandoning them to uncertainty.
From the award-winning Spanish writer Javier Marías comes an extraordinary new book that has been a literary sensation around the world: an immersive, provocative novel propelled by a seemingly random murder that we come to understand—or do we?—through one woman’s ever-unfurling imagination and infatuations.
Book Two of the six-volume literary masterwork My Struggle flows with the same raw energy and candor that ignited the series’ unprecedented bestselling run in Scandinavia, a virulent controversy, and an avalanche of literary awards. Knausgaard breaks down lived experience into its elementary particles, revealing the wounds and epiphanies of a truly examined life.
Stig Dagerman (1923 1954) is regarded as the most talented young writer of the Swedish post-war generation. By the 1940s, his fiction, plays, and journalism had catapulted him to the forefront of Swedish letters, with critics comparing him to William Faulkner, Franz Kafka, and Albert Camus. His suicide at the age of thirty-one was a national tragedy.
A wealthy Israeli family becomes estranged as war and commerce increasingly define their lives.