Readersforum's Blog

October 8, 2013

The 20 Best Books in Translation You’ve Never Read

Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books, which specializes in great books in translation, as well as the Web Site Three Percent, gives us the benefit of his years of working with world literature–he’s narrowed his best books in translation list to 20.

True deceiverAs the director of Open Letter Books and Three Percent—and former Associate Director of Dalkey Archive Press—I’ve spent most of my adult life reading literature in translation. Why? In part because I find it fascinating to learn about other parts of the world, but mostly because there are so many incredibly good works in translation available to English readers.

On the surface, this seems to run counter to the commonly cited statistic that only 3% (or less) of the books published in the United States are originally written in another language. Quantity doesn’t necessarily relate to quality though. Even though there are just over 400 original translations of fiction and poetry being published in the States every year, the vast majority of these are top notch books—titles that are critically acclaimed in their own country, and often are written with a style and structure that can expand your ideas of what’s possible in fiction.

When Stephen Sparks of Green Apple Books and I started talking about putting together a 20-book list of translations, we immediately wanted to get away from some of the more obvious authors that populate lists of this sort—Garcia, Cortázar, Proust, Kafka, Tolstoy, etc. Not that these books aren’t amazing—they definitely are—but those are authors that most engaged readers have already heard of, oftentimes in a college class, or from one’s reading buddies.

So instead, we chose 20 of our favorite translations from around the world. Obviously, this could be expanded and expanded, but hopefully you’ll find at least a few new works of international literature to check out.

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October 4, 2012

Michael Henry Heim (1943-2012)

 

Michael Henry Heim (1943-2012)

By Chad W. Post

I’m really not sure how to write this post . . . I didn’t know Michael Henry Heim as well as a lot of other people, such as Esther Allen, Susan Bernofsky, Sean Cotter, and the like, but I did have a number of really amazing interactions with him, and his passing is incredible sad and hitting me pretty hard. We’re quickly organizing a number of events at ALTA to honor Mike, who was definitely one of the greatest translators ever (not a hyperbole), and whose kindness, brilliance, passion, and giving nature have impacted more people than can be named. Simply put, in ways explicit and secret, Michael Henry Heim accomplished more for international literature over the past half-century than probably anyone else in the world. (Read to the bottom for a truly newsworthy revelation. And yes, I know I’m burying the lede, but I have my reasons.)

First off, just look at this incomplete list of authors that Mike translated: Milan Kundera, Bohumil Hrabal, Danilo Kis, Karel Capek, Peter Esterhazy, Dubravka Ugresic, George Konrad, Bertold Brecht, Gunter Grass, and Anton Chekhov. Yes. All of them.

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January 31, 2011

Fiction Longlist Announced for 2011 Best Translated Book Awards

By Hannah Johnson

Now in its fifth year, the Best Translated Book Awards (BTBA) fiction longlist highlights 25 translated works of literature published in the United States in 2010. The longlist represents authors from 19 countries writing in 12 languages.

The award was started in 2007 by Three Percent, a blog about literature in translation from Open Letter Press. Co-founder Chad W. Post said the list is a “testament to the number of high-quality works in translation that are making their way to American readers, thanks to a number of talented translators and exciting publishing houses.”

Criteria for selecting was based on the quality of both the original work and the translation.   …read more

                                         

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