Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
In Translation

5 Translated Works Of Fiction About Life And Culture That You Need To Read Right Away

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Dee Das

Staff Writer

Trying to live, love, and say it well in good sentences. Pronouns: she/her. Contact:

The art of translation in literature has truly been a blessing to humankind, as without it we would have missed out on a huge chunk of masterpieces! It’s very hard to find translated works where the authenticity of their original counterpart has been preserved. So, it’s safe to say the genius of the translator has to be at par with that of the writer. If you are someone who is looking to embark on the world of books written in languages you’re not familiar with, fear no more! Here, is a list of five translated works of fiction that would leave you spellbound and wanting for more!

Fly Already: Stories by Etgar Keret, Translated by Sondra Silverston

There is no one quite like Etgar Keret as his stories end in places you could have never imagined! Unpredictable and quirky, this anthology of 22 short stories ranges from fantastical to humorous. The themes include everyday things, like parenting, marijuana, cake, and suicidal thoughts. He finds the extraordinary in the ordinary, while always keeping his readers hooked till the last line. Plot twists can come at any point and every sentence is packed with a lot of complexity. The translators have done an excellent job in making this book accessible for readers who are not proficient in Hebrew.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, Translated by Ann Goldstein

Translated from Italian to English by Ann Goldstein, the way this book understands women as only fellow women can is nothing short of a masterpiece. It’s the story of Elena and Lila, very poignant and intuitive in its style and would most definitely leave the readers in awe of Ferrante’s writing. This book is not just a thoughtful sketch of Elena and Lila, but also a tribute to their friendship and their relationship, which is ever-evolving to keep up with the times.

Where The Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda, Translated by Polly Barton

When it comes to technological advancement, no other country has achieved such excellent progress within the space of a few decades as Japan. But under the veneer of urban planning, Japan still harbors a regressive attitude towards its women. The author goes back to the world of Japanese folk tales and ghost stories and situates them in modern Japan to expose the country’s injustice when it comes to women. A perfect blend of fabulism, horror, and dark humor, this book is insightful beyond words.

Chowringhee by Sankar, Translated by Arunava Sinha

Set in 1950s Calcutta, India, this book chronicles the intimate lives of the managers, employees, guests, and performers of a prestigious hotel called Shahjahan. Shankar, the newest recruit, recounts the multiple but interlinked narratives of the characters that are so unlike the superficial glamour and charm of the hotel it promotes. Mixed with a good dose of humor, adultery, friendships, and romances, this book is utterly human in every way. Through the lives of this bunch of unusual characters, the readers are transported back in time and given a glimpse of a metropolis in the post-independence era.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

Keiko Furukura, a resident of Tokyo, starts working at a convenience store at the age of 18. Now she is 36 and is perfectly satisfied with her life’s trajectory. However, her life is always a hot topic of speculation among her family members who think she is not ambitious enough and needs to up her game in order to survive. After working at the same place for so many years it’s hard to tell where it ends and where her personality begins as it has now become a part of her identity. Now we see Keiko contemplating if she is meant to be nothing but a convenience store worker. This book poses important questions about why our women are still badgered with social and cultural expectations and how they have to navigate this space to avoid being labeled as a misfit.

Can’t get enough translated fiction? Check out our other In Translation posts!