Why We Did This
These days, it’s no secret that translated literature gets short shrift. It has become a well-known fact that just three percent (or less) of all literature published in the United States is translated from another language. These days, too, its hardly less well-known that many publishers and book pages still shy away from translated lit for fear that the taint of a foreign language will chase away coveted consumers.
Still, translation is in a much better place now than even ten years ago. Thanks to the work of some inspired publishers and advocates, the worth of translated lit—and our gross negligence in not publishing more of it—is becoming better known. We’re even getting a certain amount of access to some of the best contemporary writing the world outside the United States has to offer.
So far we’ve come, yet still so far to go. We have the Tolstoys, yes, we even have the Murakamis, but there is so much classic and contemporary literature still out there that has never been published in English—never ever. So, to acknowledge all that’s out there, to inspire readers to thirst for more literature not originally written in English, and to do a service for those publishers in search of the next great translated book, we offer this collection of recommendations.
We’ve talked to some of the top translators into English working today; we’ve talked to publishers big and small; we’ve talked to agents, journalists, and foreign-language authors. We’ve asked them all for the best books that still aren’t in English. And have they responded. They’ve told us TRANSLATE THIS BOOK!, and now we pass that on to you.
To read Translate This Book! in a single page, click here.
To download Translate This Book! as a PDF, click here.
Buy Translate This Book! as a physical book.
Our Panelists and Their Picks
Kareem James Abu-Zeid on Rabee Jaber
Chris Andrews on La Orilla Africana (”The African Shore”) by Rodrigo Rey Rosa
Jeffrey Angles on Toge-nuki Jizō: Shin Sugamo Jizō engi (”The Thorn-Pulling Jizō: New Tales of the Jizō at Sugamo”) By Hiromi Itō
Marcelo Ballvé on ¡Que viva La música! (”Let Music Live!”) by Andrés Caicedo
Susan Bernofsky on Der Kramladen des Glücks (”The Curiosity Shop of Happiness”) by Franz Hessel
Ellen Elias Bursac on Tin Ujević
Charles Cantalupo on Aynfelale (”Let Us Not Separate”) by Alemseged Tesfai
Sergio Chejfec on Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto
Jessica Cohen on Hayei Elyakum (”The Life of Elyakum”) by Benjamin Tammuz)
Peter Constantine on Njeriu me top (”The Man with a Gun”) by Dritëro Agolli
Margaret Jull Costa on La Casa (”The House”) by Manuel Mujica Lainez
Steve Dolph on Rosario Castellanos
Karen Emmerich on I Papissa Ioanna (”Pope Joan”), by Emmanuel Roidis
Michael Emmerich on Dogura magura (”Dogura Magura”) by Yumeno Kyusaku
George Fragopoulos on “The Cows” by E.H. Gonatas
Juan Francisco Ferré on El Dorado by Robert Juan-Cantavella
Edward Gauvin on Sainte Barbegrise by Noël Devaulx
Juan Goytisolo on La fiesta del asno by Juan Francisco Ferré
Jason Grunebaum on Basharat Manzil by Manzoor Ahtesham
Susan Harris on Pol Pots leende (”Pol Pot’s Smile”) by Peter Fröberg Idling
Charles Hatfeld on Todos se van (”Everybody’s Going”) by Wendy Guerra
Dwayne Hayes on Tre dagböcker by Ingmar Bergman
Fady Joudah on “Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me” by Ghassan Zaqtan
Rohan Kamicheril on Godavari by Fahmida Riaz
Ilya Kaminsky on Poems of Miron Bialoszewski
Jim Kates on Vladislav Khodasevich
Tina Kover on Spiridion by George Sand
Andrea Lingenfelter on Chengshi jifeng (”Urban Currents”) by Yang Dongping
Charlotte Mandell on Les ombres errantes by Pascal Quignard
Christopher Merrill on Shanhei Rumeng by Ge Fei
François Monti on Fragments de Lichtenberg by Pierre Senges
Javier Moreno on Cuentos Completos de Juan Carlos Onetti
Murat Nemet-Nejat on Histoire Du Cinema Jean-Luc Godard
Idra Novey on Adios Mariquita Linda by Pedro Lemebel
Chad Post on Dogura magura (”Dogura magura”) by Yumeno Kyũsaku
Sal Robinson on “The Explosion of the Radiator Hose” by Jean Rolin
Adam Rovner on The Streets of the River: The Book of Dirges and Power by Uri Zvi Greenberg
Matt Rowe on The Stories of Machado de Assis
Sophie Schiavo on Là où les tigres sont chez eux (”Where Tigers Feel at Home”) by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Marian Schwartz on Bessmertniy (”The Immortal”) by Olga Slavnikova
E.J. Van Lanen on Karnevál by Béla Hamvas
Enrique Vila-Matas on El fondo del cielo, (”The Bottom of the Sky”) by Rodrigo Fresán
Charles Waugh on “The Tale of Kieu” by Nguyen Du
Jeffrey Yang on Kitab al-Hayawan (”The Book of Animals”) by Al-Jahiz
Read More on this Subject:
More from The Quarterly Conversation:
- Only Poems Can Translate Poems: On the Impossibility and Necessity of Translation Robert Frost famously said, "Poetry is what gets lost in translation." But what if it's really not so black and white?...
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