Book Bingo: Translated from Another Language

    – Posted by Selby

Translated from Another LanguageThis summer The Seattle Public Library, in partnership with Seattle Arts & Lectures, is excited to offer a summer reading program for adults called Summer Book Bingo! In order to help you along on your quest to complete your bingo sheet, we have pulled together some book suggestions based on each category. Follow this series throughout the summer!

There is an often cited statistic in the literary world which says that only 3% of the books published in the US each year are translated from another language. When I heard that statistic I instantly thought how difficult it would be to write this post about translated book. Then I started researching translated books to recommend to all you great readers and realized that many classics and well-loved books are actually translated.

For example, Grimm’s Fairy Tales are German, The Little Prince, Babar and Madeline are French, Pippi Longstocking is Swedish and The Little Mermaid is Danish. For the more adult minded reader there is Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphosis and the whole lot of Greek Tragedies.

If those options are too old then you could try War and Peace by Tolstoy, Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky, The Tree Musketeers by Dumas, Les Miserables by Hugo or Don Quixote by Cervantes.

All those classics are great but each year more books worth reading make their way into the English language.

Haruki Murakami may have become a popular author in the US with books such as Norwegian Wood and 1Q84 but he is far from the only author from Japan worth reading, even with that surname. Ryu Murakami’s Audition is one of the most terrifying horror novels ever written, while Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen is a poignant and deceptively simple story of loss and resilience.

In recent years a number of Scandinavian crime writers have come onto the scene. If you like your mysteries dark and cold then look for works by Jo Nesbo, Henning Mankell, Hakan Nesser or Maj Sjowall. And if you have read the best seller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson, read it again and you can check off two boxes at once.

Increasingly, we in the US are starting to get more and more books from African authors. While some do write in English there are many whose work is being translated. If politics and human rights interest you then books such as Abdourahman Waberi’s In the United States of Africa, Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga or The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra might be of interest to you.

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