Titles written by foreign authors and translated into English.
The Accordionist's Son by Bernardo Atxaga
Called the "great Basque novel," The Accordionist's Son covers the years 1936-1999, and reveals struggles of a family and town whose culture is slowly dying. This is a political as well as a “coming of age” tale originally written in Basque and then translated into Spanish.
Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
In this imaginative, philosophical novel set in a bourgeois apartment in Paris, we meet several interesting characters, including Renee, the concierge who is much more than she appears to be, and Paloma, a highly precocious twelve-year-old. The two strangers are brought together and transformed by Kakuro, a Japanese business man who moves into their building. Part philosophical and part commentary on the culture and politics of the day, the book is both humorous and sad as the lives of its characters unfold. Barbery's novel met with critical acclaim in Europe and should be savored S L O W L Y. Translated from French.
Brodeck by Philippe Claudel
Reminiscent of the works of Franz Kafka and J.M. Coetzee, this mesmerizing novel offers a powerful and moving exploration of a stranger who incites frenzy in a complacent town by exposing the dark secrets the villagers desire to keep hidden. Translated from French.
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
Ninni Holmqvist's debut novel is a chilling portrayal of a society's experiment to rid itself of those deemed "expendable," that is, the unemployed, childless, and elderly (beyond sixty). Perhaps for fans of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Translated from Swedish
259 Leaps, The Last Immortal by Alicia Kozameh
Kozameh’s book of contemporary exile reveals the harrowing sense of displacement modern pilgrims endure when faced with language barriers, cultural shock, and political upheavals. Her book has great relevance for modern day exiles as the author was imprisoned in Argentina for three years. Translated from Spanish.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
When octogenarian Henrik Vanger decides it is time to find the truth behind his niece’s disappearance 40 years previously, he hires a crusading journalist, recently convicted of libel for exposing a crooked businessman, and a 22-year-old woman whose tattoos and piercings camouflage a genius for computer hacking. Together they uncover the dark secrets and corruption of Vanger’s wealthy family. This moody crime thriller was a bestseller in Europe. Translated from the Swedish.
Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier
In this quiet, psychological novel, a strange encounter with a mysterious woman coupled with the discovery of a book written by a Portuguese poet impel a solitary, bookish language teacher to board a train to Lisbon and find out what happened to the author. Translated from German.
Suite Française by Irene Nemirovsky
Her promising literary career, along with her life, was tragically cut short when author Irene Nemirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz. Foreseeing such an end to her life in German-occupied France, Irene began what she hoped would be a five-part suite of novellas revealing life in occupied France but Suite Française contains the only two parts she was destined to complete. These stories are made all the more bittersweet with the knowledge of the author’s tragic death in a concentration camp. Translated from French.
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
Fleeing from recent tragedies in his life to an isolated cabin, 67 year old Trond Sanders soon learns that there is no escaping loss. Despite his reclusive lifestyle, Trond runs into an old boyhood friend and thus begins a flood of long forgotten memories of a boyhood horseback ride gone horribly wrong. Those who enjoy the geographically descriptive powers of Hemingway and Steinbeck will also enjoy Out Stealing Horses. Translated from Norwegian.
The Loop by Jacques Roubaud
This is Roubaud’s second novel in his “Proustian Series.” Alix an author is devastated by the death of his young wife and ponders the extreme emptiness of his own existence. Eventually he begins to realize the only way he can live is to write from memory about his early years and about the nature of memory itself. Translated from French, The Loop is considered a contemporary classic by some critics.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Set in shadowy Barcelona just after World War II, 10-year-old Daniel is taken by his bookseller father to the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books’ where he selects a book to protect – a task that takes on sinister aspects when he discovers someone is destroying every existing copy. Translated from Spanish, this fantastical and complex gothic adventure was a best-seller in Spain and a must-read for bibliophiles.
Yankee Invasion: A Novel of Mexico City by Ignacio Solares
A vivid, fictionalized account of the American invasion of Mexico City in 1847, and the loss of almost half of its territory. Abelardo is an eye-witness to these events and with humor and pathos depicts a rich, vivid picture of nineteenth century Mexico while his own life unfolds before the reader. Translated from Spanish, the political upheavals of this novel are known by few Americans, yet their effects still reverberate within Mexico today.
English by Wang Gang
Through the character of 12-year-old Love Liu, author Wang Gang creates a picture of his own experiences during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. A coming of-age story and a polemic on the power of language, Gang’s novel depicts the suspicion and betrayal poisoning all aspects of Chinese life during the mid-sixties to seventies. Translated from Chinese.
Feathered Serpent by Xiaobin Xu
An outstanding example of contemporary Chinese literature, this epic, historical novel encompasses five generations of women played out against the culture, history, and religion of the 20th century. Relationships among grandmother, mother, and sisters are explored and as with all families, distinctions among reality, memory and myth are often blurred. A possible read-alike for Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang. Translated from Chinese.
The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert
Oversize 958.1045 GUI
This documentary is the photo/journal (Graphic Novel) of Didier Lefevre's three week trek across the mountains of Northern Afghanistan in 1986, with Doctors Without Borders. Hired by Doctors to record the human cost of war, Lefevre and Emmanuel Gilbert used their photos and drawings, respectively, to illustrate the wonderful Afghani people, the heroism of the health care workers, and the daily struggles of all to survive in a dangerous and extremely hostile world. Translated from French, this book has sold thousands of copies in Europe.
See also World Mysterious -
Mystery & Suspense Fiction in Translation.