If you’re looking to diversify your reading lists, then I suggest that you start adding translated works into the mix. I’ve put together this list of 6 books translated to English that I would recommend.
There’s something extra special about a good translated book. Think about it – not only has someone managed to write a book that’s gone on to be published, but another clever person has translated it, which is an art in itself! Each language has a distinct style and rhythm, so a translated book transports you in a way that others cannot. They teach us about other cultures and countries and provide us with new perspectives.
Written by Ariana Harwicz, translated by Sarah Moses and Carolina Orloff
A sharp yet stunning story about a woman on the verge of madness. Living in the French countryside, a place that’s not her home, the unnamed woman is suffocated by family life. On every page you’re left wondering what the woman will do next and how violent a turn it will take. A dark and unsettling book that talks about motherhood, desire and identity that is reminiscent of Syliva Plath.
Written by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel
The beautiful and heartbreaking tale of Nana the cat who is on a journey with his beloved owner Satoru. Nana doesn’t know it but Satoru is looking to find him a new home as he can no longer keep him. The journey takes them down memory lane, visiting friends and cities from the past. This book is incredibly moving and tender – oh and heads up, you might need some tissues.
Written by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated by Lucia Graves
I’ve previously reviewed this book so I won’t go into too much detail here, but trust me it’s fantastic. It follows Daniel whose father allows him to choose one book from the Cemetery of Lost Books. He selects The Shadow of the Wind, a choice that will change his life. A sprawling gothic tale full of mystery and plot twists, this book is impossible to put down.
Written by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith
A book told in three parts about Yeong-hye, a woman who decides to become vegetarian after suffering from blood-filled nightmares. It’s told from the perspectives of people around her who watch as her subversive act of defiance spirals into more tragic and devastating forms. This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. It left me unsettled and full of questions, which I loved.
Written by Simonetta Agnello Hornby, translated by Alastair McEwen
Here’s a book that I’ve never really heard anyone talk about. Set in Sicily in the 1960s, this is a slow, simmering mystery. At the centre of the story is Mennu, an indispensable servant for the Alfallipe family, who has died. It’s rumoured that she is rich and her death has captivated the town. An extremely atmospheric book that makes you feel like you’re in the Italian sunshine as the story unfolds around you.
Written by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Allison Markin Powell
I enjoyed this heartwarming story about Hitomi and the other quirky characters who work Mr Nakano’s Thrift Shop. Hitomi has fallen for her awkward colleague Takeo, but she’s not sure how he feels about her. She asks for advice from Mr Nakano’s sister who has her own eccentricities, so might not be the best person to ask. A quietly funny book full of characters who never fully reveal themselves yet who remain interesting.