Books

Travel the World With These International Books In Translation

Task #8 of the 2024 Read Harder Challenge is “Read a book in translation from a country you’ve never visited.” If you haven’t traveled much in your life, this will be easy! There are so many excellent books in translation from around the world. If you’re a seasoned traveler, you might find this one a little trickier, but if you’ve visited every country in the world, I can’t say I feel too sorry for you.

This is such a broad category that it felt strange putting together a short list of recommendations — there are many thousands of books you could choose from! So don’t take these as the definitive list of books in translation from around the world. I chose books in a variety of genres, leaning towards the speculative. Books in translation are often associated with literary fiction, but they span all genres and formats! I also only chose one book per country, to give you the best chance of a recommendation that matches your travel history.

Let me know in the comments what you’d recommend for this task! What’s your favorite book in translation?

Finland:

the cover of Fair Play by Tove Jansson

Fair Play by Tove Jansson, translated from Swedish by Thomas Teal

Tove Jansson is best known for her Moomin children’s books, but she also wrote adult novels, like this one. Fair Play, published in 1989, is about Mari and Jonna, a writer and artist who have lived together for decades. This domestic, slice-of-life story is inspired by her relationship with her partner Tuulikki Pietilä, aka Tooti, whom she lived with for 45 years. It’s a cozy “celebration of everyday queerness.”

Also check out these other Swedish books in translation.

Korea:

Book cover of Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung

Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung, translated from Korean by Anton Hur

From a cozy domestic novel to something much less comforting: this is a collection of unsettling horror and speculative fiction stories that are “by turns thought-provoking and stomach-turning.” Be prepared to visit a dystopian gynecology office and an underground monster fighting ring. You’ll also meet a cursed rabbit lamp. This was nominated for the National Book Award in Translated Literature. Chung and Hur also have a new book of short stories out this year: Your Utopia.

Also check out these other Korean books in translation.

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