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The art of translating in literature has really been a boon to humanity because without it we would have missed a huge piece of masterpieces! It is very difficult to find translated works that retain the authenticity of their original counterparts. So it is safe to say that the translator’s genius must be equal to that of the writer. If you are someone who wants to immerse yourself in the world of books written in languages you are not familiar with, fear no more! Here is a list of five translated novels that would captivate you and ask for more!
Fly Already: Stories by Etgar Keret, translated by Sondra Silverston
There is no one like Etgar Keret as his stories end in places you could never have imagined! Unpredictable and quirky, this anthology of 22 short stories ranges from fantastic to humorous. Topics cover everyday things like parenting, marijuana, cake, and thoughts of suicide. He finds the extraordinary in the ordinary, while always keeping his readers tied down to the last line. Changes in plot can occur at any point in time and each sentence is very complex. The translators did an excellent job of making this book accessible to non-Hebrew readers.
My brilliant friend of Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
Translated from Italian to English by Ann Goldstein, the way this book understands women in a way only other women can is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s the story of Elena and Lila, very poignant and intuitive in its style, and would definitely leave readers in awe of Ferrante’s writing. In addition to being a thoughtful sketch by Elena and Lila, this book is a tribute to their friendship and relationship that is constantly evolving to keep up with the times.
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, translated by Polly Barton
When it comes to technological advancement, no other country has made such excellent advances in a few decades as Japan. But under the guise of urban planning, Japan still has a regressive attitude towards its women. The author returns to the world of Japanese folk tales and ghost stories and places them in modern Japan to expose the country’s injustice regarding women. A perfect mix of fabulism, horror and dark humor, this book is indescribably insightful.
Chowringhee by Sankar, translated by Arunava Sinha
Set in Calcutta, India in the 1950s, this book tells the intimate life of the managers, employees, guests and performers of a prestigious hotel called Shahjahan. Shankar, the newest recruit, shares the characters’ varied but interrelated narratives that are so dissimilar to the superficial glamor and charm of the hotel it advertises. Mixed with a good dose of humor, adultery, friendships, and romances, this book is absolutely human in every way. The life of this group of unusual characters transports readers back in time and gives them a glimpse into a metropolis in the post-independence era.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Keiko Furukura, a Tokyo resident, started working in a supermarket at the age of 18. She is now 36 years old and completely satisfied with the way she has gone through life. However, her life is always a hot topic of speculation among her family members who think she is not ambitious enough and needs to improve her game to survive. After working in the same place for so many years, it’s hard to tell where it ends and where her personality begins, now that she has become part of her identity. Now we see Keiko wondering if she should be nothing more than a supermarket worker. This book raises important questions about why our women are still plagued by social and cultural expectations, and how they must navigate this area in order not to be classified as an outsider.
Can’t you get enough translated fiction? Check out our other In Translation posts too!