A Baker’s Dozen of 2021 Translations

There’s never enough space to cover them all, but in an effort to account for as many titles as possible, here are thirteen 2021 translations for your reading list, including novels, nonfiction, poetry, young-adult, and a children’s book.

Yassin Adnan

Hot Maroc

Trans. Alexander E. Elinson

Syracuse University Press

In this debut novel, a dark comedy translated from the Arabic, Yassin Adnan gives readers a portrait of contemporary Morocco and the city of Marrakech.

 

Mari Ahokoivu

Oksi

Trans. Silja-Maaria Aronpuro

Levine Querido

Finnish folklore—mothers, daughters, legends, gods—populate this graphic novel for young adults that School Library Connection called “a must for libraries with folklore and world culture collections.”

 

Choi Eunyoung

Shoko’s Smile

Trans. Sung Ryu

Penguin Random House

In this debut collection of stories, Choi Eunyoung balances the personal with the political in her intimate portraits of the lives of young women in South Korea.

 

Louis-Philippe Dalembert

The Mediterranean Wall: A Novel

Trans. Marjoljin de Jager

Schaffner Press

This novel from Haitian writer Louis-Philippe Dalembert, translated from the French, follows three women—from Nigeria, Eritrea, and Syria—as they struggle to find freedom in Europe.

 

Betina González

American Delirium: A Novel

Trans. Heather Cleary

Henry Holt

A small Midwestern city is unraveling in this novel by Argentine author Betina González. Deer, dropouts, and discord cause a taxidermist at the natural history museum to get involved.

 

Mortada Gzar

I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?

Trans. William Hutchins

Amazon Crossing

In this memoir translated from the Arabic, Iraqi writer Mortada Gzar writes of love at first sight and his marginalization in both Iraq and then the US.

 

Natsuko Imamura

The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel

Trans. Lucy North

Penguin Books

This Akutagawa Prize–winning novel from Japan has a woman in a yellow cardigan watching a woman in a purple skirt. Off-kilter and suspenseful, the story comments on the vulnerability of unmarried women.

 

Tran Le Khanh

the beginning of water

Trans. Bruce Weigl

White Pine Press

A master of the luc bat form (alternating lines of six and eight syllables), Tran Le Khanh is considered one of the poets bringing fresh air to Vietnamesse poetry.

 

Emmanuel Mbolela

Refugee: A Memoir

Trans. Charlotte Collins (from the German trans. by Alexander Behr)

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Persecuted for his political activism, Emmanuel Mbolela left the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2002. Six years later, he received political asylum in the Netherlands. Here he documents his odyssey, bringing into focus migrants’ lives.

 

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr

Brotherhood

Trans. Alexia Trigo

Europa Editions

This debut novel takes place in an imaginary town where a fundamentalist Islamist government has spread its brutal authority. Brotherhood won the Grand Prix du Roman Métis, the Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, and the French Voices Grand Prize.

 

Alex Nogués

One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain

Illus. Miren Asiain Lora

Trans. Lawrence Schimel

Eerdmans

This translation from the Spanish, written by a geologist, offers a journey through the movements of seas, strata, and tectonic plates for kids ages six through ten.

 

Manuela Santoni

Brontë

Trans. Matteo Benassi

Graphic Universe

Translated from the Italian and illustrated in black and white, this graphic novel brings to life the Brontë sisters.

 

Juan Villoro

Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico

Trans. Alfred MacAdam

Pantheon

This translation from the Spanish finds Juan Villoro walking through Mexico City, describing what he sees, drawing connections, and reflecting on the city’s social history.

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