13 Remarkable Works in Translation

Snippets of must-read recently translated literature

Reading translated literature is one of the main ways in which individuals can understand and identify with people from different walks of life. However, literature translated into English is not as highly demanded as literature initially written in English. This is one reason why as few as 3% of annual U.S. literature is made up of translated works. According to Three Percent, a resource for international literature at the University of Rochester, most of the annual 3% of translated literature consists of technical writing or reprints of classical literature, while a mere 0.7% consists of first-time translated fiction and poetry.

“Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” — Anthony Burgess

With such dismal representation of writers who don’t write in English, readers miss out on the opportunity to experience and understand the cultures and lives of others. To bridge this gap, it is crucial for readers to demand translated literature and support the authors who create it. Strand has curated a list of authors with translated literature that you can explore the next time you pop into our store. Don’t forget to ask a bookseller where our Fiction in Translation table is on the Main Floor!

Notable Works in Translation:

1. Poso Wells by Gabriela Alemán, Translated by Dick Cluster

“Poso Wells does not appear on any map. How could it? The last time anyone did a topographical survey, that huge mass of mud dredged from the estuary was still part of the river. And water flows. It’s not subdivided into lots. But there lies Poso Wells, objections be damned.”
Excerpt courtesy of City Lights, © 2018

2. Sexographies by Gabriela Wiener, Translated by Jennifer Adcock and Lucy Greaves

“I suffer from body dysmorphia disorder, the same condition Pankejeff was afflicted with and that psychoanalysts attempted, in vain, to cure. Like the Russian aristocrat, I worry obsessively about things I consider to be defects in my physical appearance[…] There was a time when I used to make collages with cut-out photos of myself. I’d join parts of my imperfect body with clippings of models’ incredible bodies. In one of my self-portraits, I have a ruby on my nipple and the body of an erotic comic book heroine from the seventies.”
Excerpt courtesy of Restless Books, © 2018

3. One Part Woman by Perumal Murugan, Translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan

“ When she menstruated every month, she came to sit and cry in the barn. It was consoling to bury her face in his lap. He’d ruffle her hair and say, ‘Let it go. We should be used to it by now.’ But she kept hoping things would change. Sometimes, her crying made him cry too. So they cried together, lamenting their fate. Ironically, it made him happy on the inside whenever she got her periods on time and came crying to him. The way his mind worked, she was trustworthy as long as she was menstruating regularly.”
— Excerpt courtesy of Scroll.in, with permission from Penguin Books © 2018

4. Aetherial Worlds by Tatyana Tolstaya, Translated by Anya Migdal

At home, you wash them and throw them into the pot. You set the burner on high. Now it’s boiling, raging. Now the surface is coated with gray, dirty ripples: all that’s bad, all that’s weighty, all that’s fearful, all that suffered, darted, and tried to break loose, oinked and mooed, couldn’t understand, resisted, and gasped for breath — all of it turns to muck. All the pain and all the death are gone, congealed into repugnant fluffy felt. Finito. Placidity, forgiveness.”
Excerpt courtesy of LitHub, with permission from Knopf, © 2018

5. Condomnauts by Yoss, Translated by David Frye

“‌The skyscape splayed across the holoscreens turns from pitch black to navy blue to baby blue to milky white. I glance at the instruments and punch in a landing course correction. The numbers on the altimeter fall precipitously, and at last the dense ammonia clouds open up to give me a view of the ground below.”
Excerpt courtesy of Restless Books, © 2018

6. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen

“Back then my wife and I had dissolved our marriage, the divorce papers all signed and sealed, but afterward things happened and we ended up making a go of marriage one more time. I can’t explain it. The cause and effect of how this all came about eluded even those of us directly involved, but if I were to sum it up in a word, it would come down to some overly trite phrase like “we reconciled.” Though the nine-month gap before the second time we married (between the dissolution of our first marriage and the beginning of our second marriage, in other words) stood there, a mouth agape like some deep canal carved out of an isthmus.”
Excerpt courtesy of News18, with permission from Penguin India, © 2018

7. The Emissary by Yoko Tawada, Translated by Margaret Mitsutani

“Still in his blue silk pajamas, Mumei sat with his bottom flat on the tatami. Perhaps it was his head, much too large for his slender long neck, that made him look like a baby bird. Hairs fine as silk threads stuck to his scalp, damp with sweat. His eyes nearly shut, he moved his head as if searching the air, trying to catch on his tympanic membrane the scraping of footsteps on gravel. The footsteps grew louder, then stopped. The sliding door rattled like a freight train, and as Mumei opened up his eyes, morning light, yellow as melted dandelions, poured in. The boy threw back his shoulders, puffed out his chest and stuck out both his arms like a bird spreading its wings.”
Excerpt courtesy of LitHub, with permission from New Directions, © 2018

8. My Struggle: Book Six by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Translated by Don Bartlett and Martin Aitken

“I left the motorway and joined the narrower main road to Höganäs. The warmth outside was visible in the air, something about the substance of light and sky, they seemed veiled in a way, and the glitter the sunshine sprinkled over everything. The world was wide open, that was the feeling of it, and everything shimmered.”
— Excerpt courtesy of Archipelago Books, © 2018

9. Disoriental by Négar Djavadi, Translated by Tina Kover

“In Paris, my father, Darius Sadr, never took the escalator. The first time I went down into a metro station with him, on April 21, 1981, I asked him why. His answer was, ‘Escalators are for them.’ By ‘them’ he meant you, obviously. You, the citizens of this country, with your income taxes and compulsory deductions and council taxes — but also your education, your intransigence, your critical minds and your spirit of solidarity and pride and culture and patriotism, your devotion to the Republic and democracy, you who toiled for centuries to achieve these mechanical staircases installed meters underground.”
Excerpt courtesy of Europa Editions, © 2018

10. The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq by Dunya Mikhail, Translated by Max Weiss and Dunya Mikhail

“I felt my students were too delicate to hear how young ladies were sold in warehouses after being inspected like watermelons — buyers would select the ones they wanted after smelling the girls carefully.”
Excerpt courtesy of New Directions, © 2018

11. Wait, Blink: A Perfect Picture of Inner Life by Gunnhild Øyehaug, Translated by Kari Dickson

“Luckily, every now and then, Jon English would lift her chin with his finger, and her head, which had been bent deep in thought, and her long dark hair (she imagined) were lifted slowly and full of promise by Jon English’s finger under her chin and she looked straight into a pair of eyes that were so clear and blue and full of love and understanding. His eyes shone in just the same way they did in Against the Wind. And Sigrid shone back. And one day, she thought, as she sat there with her chin on the windowsill, looking at the stars, this would actually happen in real life as well, she would be sitting with her head bent deep in thought like now, and someone would lift her chin with his finger.”
— Excerpt courtesy of Macmillan, © 2018

12. Trick by Domenico Starnone, Translated by Jhumpa Lahiri

“I guessed it was Saverio who had called me ugly, in that picture and perhaps in general. Bodies — these tattered shreds of nature — need affinity to get along, and my son-in-law and I had never managed to feel affinity for one another. I still heard the screams, the carpet pounding was getting louder. I examined the facade of the building across the street, where no one was screaming or beating a carpet.”
Excerpt courtesy of Electric Literature, with permission from Europa Editions, © 2018

13. Flights by Olga Tokarczuk, Translated by Jennifer Croft

“I often dreamed of watching without being seen. Of spying. Of being the perfect observer. Like that camera obscura I once made out of a shoebox. It photographed for me a part of the world through a black closed space with a microscopic pupil through which light sneaks inside. I was training.”
— Excerpt courtesy of The Calvert Journal, with permission from Fitzcarraldo Editions © 2018

If you like what you read, give us a 👏 so other readers can enjoy it too!

Follow Strand on Instagram 📷, Twitter 🐥, Facebook 👤, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Sign up for our 📩 Strand Insider Newsletter 💌!

Independent NYC bookstore since 1927. Where books are loved.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store