Books in Translation

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Kitty

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Jan 4, 2015
Following on from a thread elsewhere on Litopia, I thought perhaps we could recommend on another some books that are not written by US/UK authors, and have ideally (but not necessarily) been translated from another language. I for one am always keen to read about other cultures and countries. :-)
 
Hmm. My bookshelves are shamefully impoverished. I see Kafka and Maupassant, Umberto Eco and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Not too much else. I should change this. But FYI, the most recent translated acquisition was Murakami: Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki. It's worth reading, tho' I found the ending and one or two subplots a little weak.
 
I won't read the review due to spoiler warning. But I am intrigued now. On balance, is it worth reading?
 
Probably. It was alienating, not for cultural reasons, but because of the strangeness of the traumatized narrator. I didn't feel I had wasted my time. Unlike with other more recent, much-hyped books this year.

A story of physical, cultural and social dislocation in Japan, post-war, and the new losses that came riding on the back of that.
 
It's always worth to catch up on Polish literature ;) I can vouch for the English translation of our classic "Lalka"- I gave it to my partner for one of the birthdays and it's still one of his favorites. One of my top ten is "Chlopi" by Reymont, from roughly the same time (19th century), but much heavier. There has to be a English translation (we have the Dutch version, so come on) . I think you like sci-fi, then anything by Stanislaw Lem- I can particularly recommend "The Cyberiad". Other than that, of course, the unbeatable Russian classics :) "Master and Margarita" is certainly worth checking out.
 
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My bookshelf is full of Isabel Allende in both English and Spanish--her stories are great in any language. And I recently read The Man with the Compound Eyes by Wu Ming-Yi, a Taiwanese author. I enjoyed it a lot. I can't say why, though. I just did. And my husband said the same thing. There's something beautiful about his broken characters, and the way he gradually reveals their stories. And it's set in frighteningly believable future in which humans have destroyed the environment and are oblivious to the destruction while it kills them.
 
I've recently read a novel written by a Japanese novelist, that was well-reviewed and which deserves the praise. A Quiet Place by Seicho Matsumoto is an intriguing mystery and a great portrait of a salary man's way of life.

I really like the cover design, that, for once, is relevant to the plot and which makes the eye swoop around its planes:

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery is excellent, and one of those stories that stay in your mind for a long time afterwards. It was recommended to me by a close friend, which is always a delicate situation, for what if one hates it?

Fortunately, I loved it, and it deserves its best-selling success as a charming and gripping portrait of a Parisian apartment block.

Its got a nice cover too:

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