Top 10 Translated Books [Literary Lists]

In honour of Han Kang, and translator Deborah Smith, winning the International Man Booker prize for the novelย The Vegetarian, I decided to compile a list of my top 10 translated works.

Translators of books don’t often get the credit they deserve, which is really sad because it is almost on the same level as writing the book in the first place!! Correctly translating all sorts of hidden motives in the original language and all sorts of subtle nuances and even jokes can be a difficult task, even for a native speaker, let alone someone who is fluent from learning. LOVE ALL TRANSLATORS EQUALLY!!!!

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So now I present to you, in no particular order, my favourite translated books!!!

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

20, 000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne & translated by Mercier Lewis

An obvious one, BUT this book more or less jump- started me into reading again way back in 2010 when I read it for the first time and I still find myself thinking about it. I really do love this book so much. And Julesย Verne.ย Especiallyย Jules Verne. And for the record, if you loved reading theย League of Extraordinary Gentlemenย comics, then you really MUST read this book!!!

โžก๏ธ Frenchย ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท



๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

The Neverending Storyย by Michael Ende & translated by Ralph Manheim

I have always loved this book. Well, more like I have always loved thisย story.ย Which is almost the same thing to be honest. I watched the iconic film adaptation as a kid, like most people my age who grew up in the 90s, and it has remained in my imagination since. Best part? FALKOR!!!!

Gotta say though, the film did a good job on adapting the novel and making it easily digestible for kids!! Even though it’s a kids book, I feel like it wouldn’t have captured me in the same way had I read it when I was younger… But if you’re like me and loved the film as a kid, you should totally read it!!

โžก๏ธ Germanย ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช


๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

Perfume: The Story of a Murdererย by Patrick Sรผskind & John E Woods

This was actually an assigned reading from high school that I ended up just adoring. Which is probably not the right descriptor for this kind of creepy novel that is about smells and murder that ends in a massive orgy, bUT I found it just so captivating as a teen. Luckily the film does the book justice especially as the lead actor in it is the BRILLIANT Ben Whishaw.

FACT: I didn’t know that this book was actually published in the late 70s! It honestly felt like it was a much older novel. Which is a good thing because it reads like such a classic. Well I guess now it is a classic!

โžก๏ธ Germanย ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช


๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

Signsย Precedingย the End of the Worldย byย Yuri Herrera & translated by Lisa Dillman

Oh man. I love this book SO MUCH that I decided to take advantage of my somewhat shitty grasp of Spanish and went ahead and bought this book in its original Spanish so I could enjoy itย againย in its “natural form”. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVED THIS.

Yuri writes about travelling across the American border through the perspective of this woman in a way that feels like it’s a SciFi/Speculative Fiction story instead. Iย loveย it when this happens. I JUST LOVE IT. Shout out to whoever decided to feature it with a handwritten recommendation at Foyles in Charing Cross in London. I OWE YOU BIG TIME.

โžก๏ธ Spanishย ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

The Rabbi’s Catย byย Joann Sfar & translated by Alexis Siegel + Anjali Singh

This is such a masterpiece, no exaggeration. Usually when people think of Jews, they picture people who look like me –ย Ashkenazย people of European origin. Which is not what all Jews look like. Just what most of the ones who fled to the Western world during WW2 look like. This comic is important in that it shows you the life of Jews in Algeria –ย Sephardic.ย 

But besides that, it’s such a lovely little book. Quite magical in a way. There was an animated film adaptation of it that was alright, but the ending was quite different!!

โžก๏ธ Frenchย ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

Accabadora by Michela Murgia & translated byย Silvester Mazzarella

I didn’t know what to expect when I decided to take this book home from an Oxfam store. It is set in a small town in Italy in the 50s and is about the “ebb and flow” of this town through the perspective of the unwanted 4th child of a widow. She was adopted by this woman who is seen as a “midwife to the dying”. YEAH. I KNOW.

It felt very magical realism to me, even though it’s far from fantastical. The translation was so rich and I guess, sticking? Either way I couldn’t stop thinking about it sometime after finishing it. It’s quite short and ideal as an Autumn read. IF YOU ASK ME.

โžก๏ธ Italianย ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

Pyongyang: A Journey in North Koreaย by Guy Delisle & translated byย Helge Dascher

If I’m not mistaken, this was his first graphic novel in this sort of unofficial series of his. Actually I have loved all of his autobiographical-travel-journalistic graphic novels. I can’t really pin down what genre they belong in subject wise, but they are just so fun to read. And insightful. Especially in this one. Not a lot of people get to visit North Korea, let alone live and work there for some months!! His books are so easy to read you really don’t have much excuse to NOT read them. Start with this one though. It’s such an interesting perspective on North Korea.

โžก๏ธ French-Canadianย ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

Asterix and Obelix Comicsย byย  Renรฉ Goscinny & translated by Anthea Bell + Derek Hockridge

I can’t decide on JUST ONE as these comics have a special place on this list mostly for the witty puns that make it through the translation process. I attended a talk a couple years back in London in the French Institute that was exactly about that. If you’ve ever read this comics before you’ll have likely noticed the names of the characters. Getafix, Cacofonix, etc. These names are not the same in every translation and the reason for that is that the names are meant to be a play on words!!

Cacofonix is the name of the bard who can’t sing, so his name is from the word Cacophony which means a shit load of loud noises that are bad. Getafix is the name of the druid who makes the magic potion for the Gauls. Get it? Get-A-Fix???? HOW GREAT IS THAT?! What they said in the talk is that the hard part was always trying to figure out how to get these jokes across during translation in the myriad of languages that these comics are published in!!! THIS IS WHAT I MEAN BY TRANSLATION IS JUST AS IMPORTANT AS WRITING THE DAMN THING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

โžก๏ธ Frenchย ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

The Prince of Mistย byย Carlos Ruiz Zafรณn & translated by Lucia Graves

I actually read this novel quite recently and posted a review of it on this here blog! You can find the full review by clicking HERE.

Long story short though, I read this novel all in one go. I quite literally couldn’t put it down!! It was kinda creepy and spooky but also heartwarming in the kind of way that the movie Stand By Me makes you feel.

If this book is any indication on what Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing is like, then I need to get on to it ASAP. I felt like I had to lie down and think about my life after reading it. IT WAS SO GOOD. And quite short too! GO READ IT ASAP.

โžก๏ธย Spanishย ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ

๐ŸŒŽ ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒŽย ๐ŸŒย ๐ŸŒ

The Secret of the Unicorn: Tintinย byย Hergรฉ & translated byย  Michael Turner + Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper

My love for Tintin goes back very far, just as far back as my love for Asterix and Obelix goes. I went through phases of favourite characters and even favourite books. But I think it’s safe to say that I’ve finally settled on Captain Archibald Haddock and The Secret of the Unicorn. I just love that grumpy drunkard Captain. He’s such a reluctant adventurer but I just adore him so much. I DIGRESS.

Tintin comics mean the world to me – excluding the super racist first one which was set in the Congo.ย The 40s was not really a fun place to exist as a minority person… ANYWAY I think we can all agree that Tintin and Chang are the endgame relationship here, that Captian Haddock is my husband and Snowy is a bit of an asshole.

โžก๏ธ Belgianย ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช

โ€œEven now I'm not really sure which parts of myself are real and which parts are things I've gotten from books.โ€ - [Beatrice Sparks] Go Ask Alice ๐Ÿƒโ˜•

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