The OF Blog: Translated Fictions: A Challenge site and books read

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Translated Fictions: A Challenge site and books read

Meant to blog about this several days ago, but I was reading through E.L. Fay's blog, This Book and I Could Be Friends, when I came across a link she had posted to a challenge called Lost in Translation, where readers are challenged to read at least six books in translation (I presume in English translation from non-English language authors). Since I love promoting translated fiction (and non-English fiction that I read in the original, usually Spanish but sometimes Portuguese and Italian), I thought I'd list the books I've read to date that I either read in translation or that I read in the original language but which might be available in English translation:

Translated Fictions Read:

Thomas Bernhard, The Loser

Einhard and Notker the Stammerer, Two Lives of Charlemagne

Zoran Živković, The Last Book

Ferenc Karinthy, Metropole

Roberto Bolaño, The Romantic Dogs (bilingual edition; read both the original and the translation)

Czeslaw Milosz, The Captive Mind

Alexandre Dumas, Georges

Yuri Andrukhovych, The Moscoviad

Zoran Živković, The Bridge

Jonathan Littell, The Kindly Ones

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

Naguib Mahfouz, Voices from the Other World

Dino Buzzati, The Tartar Steppe

Marjane Satrapi, Chicken with Plums

António Lobo Antunes, Knowledge of Hell

Ismail Kadare, The Palace of Dreams

Thomas Glavinic, Night Work

Read in Spanish or Italian, but also available in English (or will be by 2010):

Horacio Castellanos Moya, Tirana memoria

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El Juego del Ángel

Roberto Bolaño, Nocturno de Chile

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El príncipe de la niebla

Roberto Bolaño, Amuleto

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, El palacio de la medianoche

Ernesto "Che" Guevara, Diarios de motocicleta

Roberto Bolaño, La literatura nazi en América

Roberto Bolaño, El gaucho insufrible

Roberto Bolaño, El secreto del mal

Roberto Bolaño, Tres

Roberto Bolaño, La Universidad Desconocida

Roberto Bolaño, Amberes

Roberto Bolaño, Entre paréntesis

Roberto Bolaño, Monsieur Pain

Dino Buzzati, Il deserto dei Tartari

Dino Buzzati, La boutique del mistero

Dino Buzzati, Poema a fumetti

Evelio Rosero, Los ejércitos

Italo Calvino, Le città invisibili

Guillermo Arriaga, El búfalo de la noche (in progress)

Almost all of these are reads that I would highly recommend to others and hopefully at least one of these books will lead to further investigations by at least one reader. Care to share what translated fictions you have read and if you have met the Lost in Translation Challenge?


Terry Weyna said...

So far this year I've read Zoran Zivkovic's 12 Collections & The Teashop and Steps through the Mist; Alessandro Baricco's Silk; Jamyang Norbu's The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes; and Luis Fernando Verissimo's Borges and the Eternal Orangutans. While I loved the Zivkovic, the Verissimo was unquestionably my favorite -- and I think it would be right up your alley.

While these books were all on one list or another before I started paying close attention to your blog, I think I've become much more attuned to translated fiction because I've been reading here. I appreciate that you've opened my eyes to fiction written elsewhere -- I read much more of it last year than I've ever read before, including one of the best books of the year for me, Jose Carlos Somoza's The Art of Murder. I still find myself haunted by that book.

I've challenged myself on my blog to spend the third quarter of this year reading primarily contemporary works in translation. Tune in to my blog to see how that turns out.

Oh, and I'm almost finished with Calvino's Invisible Cities. I've been reading it slowly, like poetry -- been reading it a city at a time or so for months now. I'll be talking about it on my blog shortly, and will be taking your review on directly (not that I disagree with you, I don't think, just that I want to discuss your ideas in the context of my own).

E. L. Fay said...

I just got a windfall from Autumn Hill Books, in addition to the books I already get from Open Letter Press, so I'm rolling in translations right now! I just finished Igor Štiks's A Castle in Romagna, which starts out very slowly but then got much better. Definitely gives me hope for An American Tragedy, which I have been plodding through for months now.

Margaret said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Ausema said...

I don't keep a list of what I read when, but these come to mind from the last year or so:

Italo Calvino's Castle of Crossed Destinies (a reread--I've read and reread just about everything of Calvino's I can get my hands on for the past ten years). I bet it was within the past year that I read his series of Six Lectures (which is actually five) as well.

Milorad Pavic's A Landscape Painted with Tea (loved many individual sentences, the descriptions of characters especially...but was less than thrilled with the book as a whole)

Umberto Eco's The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loanna (some parts of the book felt like a "you know you grew up in Italy in the 30s when..." email/Facebook quiz, but other parts were quite good, even if it's my least favorite of Eco's novels)

Zoran Zivkovic's Impossible Encounters (excellent--nothing more needs be said)

Shusaku Endo's The Samurai (his Silence is among my all-time favorite novels, so it was good to get a taste of another of his books)

Hmmm, that's all that comes to mind at the moment. That's very male-dominated, and apart from Endo very European. Will have to do something to rectify that.

E. L. Fay said...

Hmmm, Night Work is averaging only 2.5 stars on Amazon. It still sounds like a great book, but I'm going to wait for your review before buying it.

daydream said...

Hi, I am a bit embarrassed by the spamming and such, but I am organizing a new event for review bloggers to get to know other review bloggers [mainly because I want to interact with the community]. It’s called “Reviewer Time” and will post each Sunday a review of a review blog and an interview of its owner and contributors, if any are game.

I really like your blog and such, so I hope you would be game. Here is the link for the original post, where you can sign up for the interview part at least, if you want to:

Eric said...

Eight translated works if Ancient works count. Otherwise zero.

Clouds by Aristophanes

Protagoras by Plato

Wasps by Aristophanes

Gorgias by Plato

Peace by Aristophanes

Lysistra by Aristophanes

Women at Thesmophoria Festival by Aristophanes

Frogs by Aristophanes.

I reviewed all of them on the blog. Maybe I should contact the guy and volunteer to cross-post?

By the way, Larry, you can read Italian too now? Have you read any Leopardi, and if so what did you think?

Larry said...

Sorry that I'm late in responding everyone, but ACT test administering on Wednesday wiped me out. I'll try to comment more in the afternoon, but I think I ought to sleep again soon, since I have to be up in 4 hours. Joy.

José said...

This is a challenge that we, non English-speaking readers of speculative fiction, meet every year without difficulty, even the slow readers like me. Why? Certainly because the majority of the production (the masterpieces but also the crap), at least in SFF, is originally written in English, but also, I think, because we know that some writers creating in our first language or in the few languages we speak or read fluently may be as good as the big Anglo names, thus prompting us to also look towards the production in other languages (this reminds me that I still have to read Andreas Eschbach's "The Carpet Makers"). Anyway, this might not be the right place to post this comment, since OF Blog of the Fallen is probably the blog that best promotes translated non-English speculative (and general) literature.
By the way, Larry, since you read so many books in Spanish & Portuguese, I wonder if you've heard of Albert Sánchez Piñol, an author writing in another Iberic language (Catalan) whose reputation has grown very solidly not only in Spain but also and in the French-speaking countries.

José said...

I'm just rephrasing one sentence of my previous comment :
"...because we know that some writers creating in the few languages we speak or read fluently (others than our first language) may be as good as the big Anglo names..."

Nephtis said...

One author I'm looking forward to reading is Elisabeth Vonarburg, already purchased 4-5 of her books, my expectations are that high.

Fabio Fernandes said...

Hey, I hadn´t heard of it yet! Good idea! I´ll try it - although, in my case, I´m afraid it won´t amount to much compared to you: I can read Spanish, French, and Italian (aside from my native Portuguese), but what I´ve been reading mostly for the last couple of years is English. I´m in love with this language - so in love I´m seriously considering stopping entirely writing in Portuguese and dedicate all my spare time to write science fiction in English.

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