Best Books Read in 2017 Yet to Be Translated

I’m lucky enough to be able to read books in a couple of languages other than English, but there is so much out there that doesn’t get translated and that I can’t read. Luckily, there are a few independent publishers who are exploring cultures which have hitherto been closed to me: Charco Press with Latin American literature, Istros Books (now merged with Peter Owen) with trans-Danubian countries and the Balkans, Pushkin Press with the Russians (and others), Strangers Press for Japanese literature (which I’d now struggle to read in the original – perhaps in a bilingual edition?) and Seagull Books for pretty much everything else, especially its African and Arabic lists.

For those books below, they fall into what my friend Emma from Book Around the Corner classifies as a ‘translation tragedy’ category – or ‘what a shame that this hasn’t been translated, what are you waiting for?’ So here are my favourite reads of 2017 which deserve to find a publisher in the English-speaking world soon:

Marcus Malte

Marcus Malte: Les harmoniques

Crime fiction with a difference, a strong musical element, a playful use of language and a way of blending farce and strong emotions which reminds me of Antti Tuomainen’s latest book. Malte is a poet with a plot. (France)

Bogdan Teodorescu: Spada

Slightly biased here because of the Romanian background, but this is a thought-provoking book about political intrigue, mass manipulation via the media and how easy it is to create a sense of ‘perfidious other’ at the national level. (Romania)

Thomas Willmann: Das finstere Tal

Socialist realism meets rural noir and brooding Western – a book that sounds grim in description but is rather splendid in execution, if slightly predictable. (Germany)

Alice Rivaz

Alice Rivaz: Sans alcool

An absolute pitch-perfect mastery of the inner and outer dialogues between couples or the self-delusion of individuals: poignant and unforgettable. (Switzerland)



9 thoughts on “Best Books Read in 2017 Yet to Be Translated”

  1. I can only read in English and I’m so grateful to the presses that are commited to bringing an ever-increasing range of translated literature to the market. But there are still so many translation tragedies out there 😦

  2. I couldn’t agree more, Marina Sofia, about the value of making books available in other languages. There is so much good literature out there in different languages, that I’d love to see it get a wider audience. It’s good to know some publishers are doing just that.

  3. Yes, am also slightly envious of those who can read several languages. I, alas, only read English, although I can find themes in Spanish and French newspapers.
    I read your list and find I am enthralled by all four books. Please, let publishers read your
    appeal for translations of all these books.

  4. Dear Marina
    You are a star reviewing and promoting like this. Just FYI – Istros Books is once again independent, having amically parted ways with Peter Owen. We will continue to bring our the ‘Best of the Balkans’ – this year we have works from Mircea Eliade, Pavel Villikovsky, Faruk Sehic, Evald Flisat and more…..

Do share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.