In Translation

Please Translate This, or, The Frustration of Wanting People to Read Your Favourite Untranslated Book

Having a language other than English as your native, while still managing English fluently, is really cool, but when it comes to books it can be a bit frustrating. Sure, it is nice to have a native understanding of a language other than the common one most people speak, and it’s obviously a benefit in many fields. When it comes to books, however, more specifically when your favourite authors don’t have books translated into another language than the one they were originally written in, it can feel a bit like you’re just there sitting on your own, with no one to talk to, very often just screaming into the void. It sucks.

There are many Portuguese authors, and books written in Portuguese, that I would love to mention on Book Riot, because their writing and their stories are a thing of beauty. I always end up refraining from doing so, since I can’t direct people to an English translation: it just doesn’t exist. In the same way, most books that were such an important part of my childhood aren’t known outside of Portugal, so I always struggle to find someone who understands and relates to them in English speaking communities. Sure, I can talk about these with a few Portuguese people, but the feeling of bookish worldwide connection gets a bit faint when there are only a few people in one country who have heard about that story and characters.

On the other hand, I’ve also listened to other people speaking about books they love, but being unable to find such stories in a language that I understand, there’s nothing for me to do than wait for the book to come out in a language I can tackle, or start learning another language: and many times, the latter would actually be faster than the former.

How about you? Which books do you love which haven’t yet been translated into English?