The 2019 GLLI Translated YA Book Prize shortlist is now out, and it’s full of some amazing YA novels from across the globe. GLLI stands for Global Literature In Libraries Initiative: a group who works to “raise the visibility of world literature for adults and children at the local, national and international level”. They have some amazing resources about translated fiction on their website—go give them some love!
Here’s what made the GLLI Translated YA Book Prize shortlist for 2019:
Alpha by Bessora and Barroux, translation: Sara Ardizzone.
This comic follows Alpha on his journey from the Côte d’Ivoire through to Paris. It’s drawn in materials that Alpha might have found on his journey, and delivers some powerful emotional hits. If you’d like to find more comics about refugee experiences, check out this excellent round-up from one of my fellow Rioters.
Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translation: Helen Wang.
Set during China’s Cultural Revolution, and written by the award-winning author Cao Wenxuan, Bronze and Sunflower depicts the truth of life in rural China. It’s a powerful story of friendship, family and the natural world – perfect for readers aged 9+.
Defying the Nazis: The Life of German Officer Wilm Hosenfeld by Hermann Vinke, translation: H.B. Babiar.
The first nonfiction title on this list, Defying The Nazis is the story of the German army officer Wilm Hosenfeld. Familiar to those of you who saw The Pianist, Hosenfeld helped Władysław Szpilman hide in the Warsaw ghetto by bringing him food and showing him a better place to hide. Defying The Nazis looks at the story of this remarkable man.
La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translation: Lawrence Schimel
A powerful LGBT coming of age story, La Bastarda is the first novel written by a woman from Equatorial Guinea to be translated into English. Forbidden to find her father, orphaned teenager Okomo looks instead to her friends and fellow social outcasts – a group of ‘indecent’ girls…
Max by Sarah Cohen-Scali, translation: Penny Hueston
The second novel on this list about World War Two, Max discusses the Lebensborn programme. Lebensborn worked to raise the birth rate of Aryan children – by any means necessary. Konrad is a model Aryan, growing up in a world where the horrendous is everyday – but one day, he meets a boy who challenges all that.
My Brother’s Husband: Vol. 1 & 2 by Gengoroh Tagame, translation: Anne Ishii
The only Manga on this list, My Brother’s Husband offers a beautiful and heartbreaking look at Japanese gay culture. Yaichi and his family live in Tokyo, but their lives change one day when a Canadian man arrives on their doorstep. His name is Mike and he’s the widower of Yaichi’s estranged twin, Ryoji. Mike’s here to find out more about Ryoji’s past, and so Yaichi and his family take him in…
Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais, translation: Clementine Beauvais
Theatre and film adaptations are pending of this funny, eccentric and rather gorgeous road trip novel. Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have been voted the three ugliest girls in school, and they’re not going to sit around and cry about it. They are going to cycle to Paris and be kind of amazing instead…
Rasha by Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, translation: Arunava Sinha
Fifteen-year-old cosmopolitan Rasha lives in Dhaka. At least, she did. She’s been abandoned by her mum, and forced to live with her grandmother in a rural village where things are very different. But just as she’s settling into her new life, a nightmarish past looms…
The Secret of the Blue Glass by Tomiko Inui, translation: Ginny Tapley Takemori
Yuri has been tasked with filling the blue glass with milk to feed the Little People – a tiny family who live in her library. The Little People have lived with the Moriyama family for generations, and Yuri is the latest in a long series of guardians. But she is living in extraordinary times. Japan is caught up in the Second World War, and her nationalistic older brother is dividing the family. Can Yuri keep the Little People safe?
Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translation: Laura A. Wideburg
The coming of age story of a young musician, Wonderful Feels Like This is the story of Steffi and Alvar. She’s a schoolgirl and he lives in a retirement home, but both of them find a freedom and escape in music. Their powerful friendship helps Steffi start to make some choices in her life – can she break away from small town life for good?