26 December 07 | Chad W. Post

After consulting with our international literature experts, we finally came up with our list of the top 10 translations of 2007 (see below). Unfortunately, no collections of poetry made the top 10, so I’m listing the three favorites separately to make sure these titles get some attention.

I know 2008 is still a week away, but we’re already thinking about next year, how to improve this process, etc. I won’t bore you with the details, but throughout 2008, we’ll be gathering recommendations so that the longlist will be available in November, and we’re planning on having an expanded panel of experts help select the top 10.

Anyway, here’s the list for 2007:

  • The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer (FSG)
  • Autonauts of the Cosmoroute by Julio Cortazar, translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean (Archipelago)
  • Guantanamo by Dorothea Dieckmann, translated from the German by Tim Mohr (Soft Skull)
  • Missing Soluch by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, translated from the Persian by Kamran Rastegar (Melville House)
  • Ravel by Jean Echenoz, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (New Press)
  • Sunflower by Gyula Krudy, translated from the Hungarian by John Batki (NYRB)
  • Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born (Graywolf Press)
  • Omega Minor by Paul Verhaeghen, translated from the Flemish by the author (Dalkey Archive)
  • Montano’s Malady by Enrique Vila-Matas, translated from the Spanish by Jonathan Dunne (New Directions)
  • The Assistant by Robert Walser, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (New Directions)

And the top 3 works of poetry:

  • The Drug of Art: Selected Poems by Ivan Blatny, translated from the Czech by Justin Quinn, Matthew Sweney, Alex Zucker, Veronika Tuckerova, and Anna Moschovakis (Ugly Duckling)
  • The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 edited and translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Princeton)
  • The Collected Poems: 1956-1998 by Zbigniew Herbert, translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz, Peter Dale Scott, and Alissa Valles (Ecco)

Just for kicks—and since we may not be posting much of anything the rest of the year—we’ll put up a poll in a minute so that all of you can vote on your favorite title . . .


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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

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Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

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Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

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Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

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Sphinx
Sphinx by Anne Garréta
Reviewed by Monica Carter

Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .

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Morse, My Deaf Friend
Morse, My Deaf Friend by Miloš Djurdjević
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .

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The Crimson Thread of Abandon
The Crimson Thread of Abandon by Terayama Shūji
Reviewed by Robert Anthony Siegel

The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .

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