6 December 07 | Chad W. Post

Rather than reply in the comments of the earlier post about the idea of a “Best Translations of 2007” list, I thought I’d post a little update and respond to the various questions people have asked about this.

First off, I think we should definitely include poetry on this list. At first I was going to list it separately, but with only two collections recommended so far, it didn’t seem right to ghettoize them.

I do want to try and restrict this to titles originally published in English in 2007 though, so I didn’t include Jasmine Isle by Ionanna Karystiani, translated from the Greek by Michael Eleftheriou on the list below, but I’ll mention it here instead. (I’ve heard a lot of great things about this book . . .)

In terms of criteria, I think the quality of the original book and the quality of the translation should go hand-in-hand. So the books on the list should be great books in great translations. A great book in a poor translation will unfortunately come off as a mediocre book to readers unable to read the original, and a great translation of a crappy book doesn’t deserve to be on the list. (I hope that’s clear.)

Listed below is what I have so far. But please keep sending in recommendations (chad.post at rochester dot edu) or posting them in the comments below.

  • How I Became a Nun by Cesar Aira, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions)
  • Amulet by Roberto Bolano, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (New Directions)
  • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (FSG)
  • Christ versus Arizona by Camilo Jose Cela, translated from the Spanish by Martin Sokolinsky (Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Autonauts of the Cosmoroute by Julio Cortazar, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean (Archipelago)
  • Ravel by Jean Echenoz, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (New Press)
  • Guantanamo by Dorothea Dieckmann, translated from the German by Tim Mohr (Soft Skull)
  • The Little Girl and the Cigarette by Benoit Duteurtre, translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell (Melville House)
  • The Collected Poems: 1956-1998 by Zbigniew Herbert, translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz, Peter Dale Scott, and Alissa Valles (Ecco)
  • Today I Wrote Nothing by Daniil Kharms, translated from the Russian by Matvei Yankelevich (Overlook)
  • Sunflower by Gyula Krudy, translated from the Hungarian by John Batki (New York Review Books)
  • Montano’s Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Dunne (New Directions)
  • The Flying Camel and the Golden Hump by Aharon Megged, translated from the Hebrew by Vivian Eden (Toby Press)
  • In Her Absence by Antonio Munoz Molina, translated from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Other Press)
  • Day In Day Out by Terezia Mora, translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim (HarperCollins)
  • Lost Paradise by Cees Nooteboom, translated from the Dutch by Susan Massotty (Harcourt Inc.)
  • The Unforeseen by Christian Oster, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter (Other Press)
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born (Graywolf Press)
  • Ice by Vladimir Sorokin, translated from the Russian by Jamey Gambrell (New York Review Books)
  • The Complete Poetry: A Bilingual Edition by Cesar Vallejo, translated from the Spanish by Clayton Eshleman (Univ. of California Press)
  • The Assistant by Robert Walser, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (New Directions)
  • I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-ha Kim, translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim (Harcourt Inc.)

Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Madmen of Benghazi
The Madmen of Benghazi by Gerard de Villiers
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .

Read More >

The Four Corners of Palermo
The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza
Reviewed by Patience Haggin

The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .

Read More >

Writers
Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

Read More >

My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

Read More >

Stealth
Stealth by Sonallah Ibrahim
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .

Read More >

Miruna, a Tale
Miruna, a Tale by Bogdan Suceavă
Reviewed by Alta Ifland

Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .

Read More >

Kamal Jann
Kamal Jann by Dominique Eddé
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .

Read More >

I Called Him Necktie
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.

Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .

Read More >

Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >