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.)

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