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Best Books in Translation

Created: 08/18/11

Replies: 4

Posted Aug. 18, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1095


Best Books in Translation

Mij just recommended three translated books in the favorite books discussion. There are so many fantastic books out there in translation that I reckon it's about time we opened up a separate discussion on this topic, starting with Mij's three recommendations....

*The Last Brother, by Nathacha Appanah, about a little-known incident during WWII when Jewish refugees were kept in a camp on the island of Mauritius. The story is seen through the eyes of a little native boy there.

*Purge, by Sofi Oksanen, about Estonia under different occupying governments from WWII through the early '90's, and how the lives of two women are very affected by their circumstances. Could not put this down.

*Agaat, by Marlene Van Niekerk, about South Africa from the 1940's to present time, and the relationship between a black servant and the woman she works for.

For anyone interested in more info on these books there's some information on The Last Brother at

Purge is a Black Cat paperback original (an imprint of Grove) - lots of info at

Agaat is from Tin House Books, loads of info at

For more exceptional books in translation, BookBrowse members can browse our Foreign Language Reading list at

One last thought - the University of Rochester host a website called Three Percent that focuses on books in translation - so called because apparently only 3% of the books published in the USA are translations

Posted Aug. 22, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 2

RE: Best Books in Translation

Oh my gosh, I'm so happy! You have provided me with such GREAT resources for finding translated books. I can hardly wait to investigate further.

One other book that I read this last year that I also loved was The Blindness of the Heart, by Julia Franck. SO good. I learned so much about Germany (between WWI and WWII), seen through the eyes of a half-Jewish woman.

What a great idea to put together your Foreign Language Reading list and the Univ. of Rochester site for us. I am thrilled. To be honest, I have always been sort of an Anglophile in my choices of what I read, and this last year I expanded to other countries, and now I am hooked.


Posted Aug. 23, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1095


RE: Best Books in Translation

The Blindness of the Heart is great, isn't it! We have reviews, excerpt, reading guide and (sadly short) author bio at

Posted Sep. 22, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 7

RE: Best Books in Translation

I liked Snowman by Jo Nesbo and The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen. Both are great mysteries but there is strong violence and graphic scenes. I especially enjoyed the quirky detective in The Keeper of Lost Causes.

Posted Jun. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
nanette s

Join Date: 05/06/12

Posts: 12

RE: Best Books in Translation

I also enjoyed the quirky detective in The Keeper of Lost Causes, Try The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler and the Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg, Both of those were good reads, but one of my favorite reads has been The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A great Story about a young boy who has been given a chance to see the "Cemetery of Forgotten Books", a place where very few has visited. The story continues with a mystery that young Daniel must try and solve before he suffers something terrible. Mr. Zafon has told a story in a manner I have not really encountered much before. Definitely worth reading!


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