This holiday season, give your family and friends the gift of international literature. Below, we recommend recent books in translation that the readers in your life are sure to enjoy.
History buffs will love Shen Fuyu’s The Artisans, which tells the stories of the skilled workers of the author’s rural Chinese hometown through fifteen moving, interlinked vignettes that bring to light a rapidly disappearing way of life. Translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang. (Astra House)
Read an excerpt from The Artisans.
Fans of dark humor will appreciate The Leash and the Ball by Rodaan Al Galidi, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature. The novel tells the story of Samir, an Iraqi asylum seeker who has finally gained his Dutch citizenship after a nine-year wait. Translated from the Dutch by Jonathan Reeder. (World Editions)
Read an excerpt from The Leash and the Ball.
True crime enthusiasts will devour Alia Trabucco Zerán’s feminist, genre-mixing When Women Kill, an account of the lives of four women who committed murder. Translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes. (Coffee House Press)
Read a short story by Alia Trabucco Zerán.
For fans of short stories and the supernatural, try National Book Award finalist Yoko Tawada’s Three Streets, a collection of stories that transport readers to other dimensions. Translated from the Japanese by Margaret Mitsutani. (New Directions)
Read an interview with Yoko Tawada and Margaret Mitsutani.
For those drawn to epic narratives and complex character studies, pick up the harrowing Salka Valka by Halldór Laxness, a coming-of-age novel set in a small northern fishing village in post–World War I Iceland. Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton. (Archipelago Books)
Mithu Sanyal’s darkly comedic and linguistically inventive Identitti, which follows the life of a mixed-race graduate student who discovers her postcolonial studies professor is not South Asian but white, will satisfy those interested in satire and identity politics. Translated from the German by Alta L. Price. (Astra House)
Read an interview with translator Alta L. Price.
Children and the young at heart will be charmed by Andrus Kivirähk’s Oskar and the Things, an exploration of friendship and the power of imagination. Translated from the Estonian by Adam Cullen. (The Emma Press)
Read an essay by Adam Cullen on Estonian literature.
The poets in your life will be moved by Palestinian poet Maya Abu Al-Hayyat’s rich and textured You Can Be the Last Leaf, a portrait of life under Israeli occupation. Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. (Milkweed Editions)
Read a review of You Can Be the Last Leaf.
You can’t go wrong with this year’s award-winning titles, including Samanta Schweblin’s Seven Empty Houses (2022 National Book Award for Translated Literature, Spanish tr. Megan McDowell, Riverhead) and Geetanjali Shree’s Tomb of Sand (2022 International Booker Prize, Hindi tr. Daisy Rockwell, Tilted Axis Press).
Read an interview with Samanta Schweblin and Megan McDowell.
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