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#FoylesFive: Translated Fiction

11th January 2017 - Jay Moran

#FoylesFive: Translated Fiction 

If translated fiction is your thing, Jay from our Birmingham branch has a few titles to feed your reading habit.


At the beginning of 2017 we're forming ideas of what our resolutions for New Year will be. If you are a bookish person, your goals will perhaps orientate around all things book related. How many you're going to read, what classics you're going to get round to, or a series you're going to try. One of my own personal goals is to read more translated fiction. Over the last year, I have become somewhat obsessed with hunting down interesting books from around the world that I had never heard of before, and every one that I've read has become a firm favourite. There are so many fascinating stories from around the world that I have yet to discover. So in this list I will name five translated books that I would either personally recommend or books that I myself am looking forward to reading. 


Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist 

Harbour is an eerie book set in a supposedly cursed island in Stockholm, where the population is small and a strange fog always hangs low. Anders, his wife and their young daughter Maja go for a walk one winter day to see the lighthouse, but Maja does not return with them. Anders becomes obsessed in his search for her but something sinister is pursuing him and it may just be Maja. Lindqvist is a genius at creating unsettling atmospheres and crafting abnormal circumstances in such a way that they seem almost plausible. You will find the pages running through your fingers as you race through to the end.


The Family Moskat by Isaac Bashevis Singer 

This impressive novel follows a Jewish family in living in Warsaw with the threat of World War Two brewing over their heads. This is one of those books that is overflowing with characters, embedding you firmly into the lives of this one family throughout the generations. We witness their weddings, births, multiple trials, their heartache, their hope. You genuinely immerse yourself into this time and place, and it's very difficult to part with this book upon completion. Also if you enjoy this, I encourage you to pick up Shosha by Singer which also follows similar themes.


Human Acts by Han Kang 

I think that practically everyone owns a copy of The Vegetarian by now. The harrowing story of a woman who expels all meat, eggs, and dairy produces from her diet, to the utter bewilderment and horror of her family. The Vegetarian is fantastic, but I personally prefer this one and urge you to pick it up, regardless of whether or not you've read her other books. Based on the 1980 Gwangju uprising in South Korea, we follow a student caught up in a storm of extreme violence and chaos, searching for the body of his friend. It's truly haunting at points and Kang's writing is, as per usual, superb and completely engaging.


They Were Counted by Miklos Banffy 

This is the first part of a stunning trilogy set in Hungary prior to the First World War and it follows two Transylvanian cousins, Count Balint Abády and Count László Gyeroffy. We witness their ludicrous wealth and luxury, contrasting with the hardships of the Romanian mountain peasants, and how one of the cousins attempts to help only to be shunned by his family and disdained by the lower classes.


For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian

Translated into English for the first time this year by Phillip O Ceallaigh, For Two Thousand Years depicts the struggles of a young Jewish student as he attempts to make sense of an anti-Semitic world. This is predominantly a coming of age story, set against a backdrop of seething tensions and complete tragedies. It is truly heart wrenching at times yet it also contains a lot of hope, humour and love.




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John Ajvide Lindqvist; Marlaine Delargy
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