Read the World: Translated Fiction

For many of us, if we want to read fiction written in a language other than English we need the help of a translator. This past week Frank Wynne, the chair of the 2022 International Booker Prize, called for publishers around the world to not only recognize the work of translators with full book cover credit, but to pay translators more fairly and to grant copyright to the translator for their creative work. I confess that I have not been reading much international fiction lately, but Wynne’s call to action prompted me to delve into some translated works recently published in the United States.

Blood Feast by Malikah Moustadraf, translated by Alice Guthrie
Moustadraf had already established herself as a vital voice in Morocco before her death in 2006 at the age of 37. This translation gathers together her short stories, unflinching vignettes of characters living precarious lives on the margins of society due to poverty, abuse, illness, or gender. (Morocco)

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sō­­suke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai
High school student Rintaro Natsuki is closing up his grandfather’s secondhand bookstore when he’s approached by a talking cat, Tiger, who convinces Rintaro to join him on an adventure to rescue mistreated books. (Japan)

Lucky Breaks by Yevgenia Belorusets, translated by Eugene Ostashevsky
The stories in this debut collection, set in the coal-mining regions of Eastern Ukraine, are snapshots of the lives of women in the aftermath of the 2014 conflict. Formerly a photojournalist, Belorusets’s images appear alongside her text. (Ukraine)

The Old Woman with the Knife by Byeong-mo Gu, translated by Chi-Young Kim
For four decades, Hornclaw has worked as an assassin, always careful to maintain emotional distance. Now 65 years old and nearing the end of her career, an injury leads to personal connections with a doctor and his family, threatening to derail her peaceful retirement. A mordantly funny novel. (South Korea)

Pollak’s Arm by Hans von Trotha, translated by Elisabeth Lauffer
Based on the true story of antiquities dealer Ludwig Pollak, best known for finding the missing right arm of the Vatican’s Laocoön sculpture, this novel finds Pollack in 1943 Italy as he recounts his life story to an increasingly panicked Vatican envoy who has come to evacuate Pollak from Rome before Nazi soldiers arrive to round up Pollak, his family, and the rest of the Jewish population. (Germany)

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by María Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead
In Buenos Aires, an art critic and auction house employee set out on the trail of a legendary forger famed for mimicking the style of Mariette Lydis, a portraitist of the Argentinian upper classes. As she investigates, our narrator tracks the story back to a community of artists at the Hotel Melancólico. (Argentina).

Looking for more? check out the 13 titles on the International Booker Prize Longlist.

~ posted by Andrea G.

One thought on “Read the World: Translated Fiction”

  1. The Cat Who…. this is one of my betes noires: we are usually told it should be The Cat That…. to me it always ‘who’, and I can’t help myself, I get riled with the impersonal That

    I’d go for the book whichever it is, though.

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