Books in Translation

As a literary translator, I of course absolutely love reading. I even have a blog and an instagram page dedicated to books (among other things). I have worked on translating a non-fiction book and an epic poem/novella in the past and am excited to translate more books. But in this blogpost, inspired by Abbie of @Ab_read‘s fantastic post on Women in Translation, I will talk about some of my favourite books in translation that I’ve read. Admittedly, I haven’t read widely enough in translation, especially as I now read French and Arabic books in their original version, so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!

The Happy Housewife by Heleen van Royen
Translated from Dutch*
*I couldn’t find the name of the translator.
This is the story of Lea, who is a 30-something living the high life and who doesn’t settle well into motherhood when her son is born and she has to swap canapes for nappies.

I read this many years ago, but I remember it being a fairly fun, but very real account of postpartum depression.

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
Translated from Norwegian by Elizabeth Rokkan

A delightful Christmas story told in 24 parts, a chapter to be read every night during Advent. The book follows a little boy, Joachim reading a story in his advent calendar about a little girl called Elisabet who follows a little lamb from Norway to Bethlehem.

This is a very sweet children’s book and I would recommend it to anyone at Christmas-time!

Salvation Army by Abdellah Taïa
Translated from French by Frank Stock

This is an autobiographical memoir of the author’s life growing up as gay in Morocco and then moving to Geneva and how his life changes in the West.

This is actually a rare occasion where I have read both the original and the novel in translation. This is because I chose it as the topic of one of my essays at for my MA in translation and I compared the two. The translation is very faithful to the original and it is a beautifully written and interesting account of a life that might be considered taboo within its own context.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
Translated from Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Keiko was always considered a weird child and her parents worry about how she will cope in the realy world. At university, she takes a job in a convenience store and never leaves, determined to become the best convenience store worker there ever was…

I have to admit I found this book a little weird, because of its subject matter, but it was very interesting to read something from a different culture and in a different style.

I’m always looking to read more books in translation and expand my reading horizons, so if you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments.

And if you have written a book in French or Arabic and would like it translating into English, email me on for a no obligation quote!

Published by verityroat

Verity Roat BA CANTAB MA TRANSLATION CIOL Career Associate is a UK-based Arabic and French > English translator, Copy-writer, Copy-editor, Transcriber, Role-player & Tutor.

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