World Literature Today’s 75—Make That 100—Notable Translations of 2021

November 30, 2021

The covers to a selection of the books covered in the list below.2021 was a robust year for literary translations. This list kept growing, and we didn’t resist. As always, though, we recognize there are, thankfully, many more and hope you’ll add them in the comments, along with those you’re eagerly anticipating in 2022.

2021 was also a robust year for new initiatives. Here at World Literature Today, after ninety-five years of publishing translations, WLT finished the year by publishing its first all-translation issue: all bylined pieces in translation and thirty-nine translation reviews, many of which take a deep dive into translation. For example, Emily D. Johnson’s review of Maria Stepanova’s The Voice Over: Poems and Essays considers the book’s incorporation of the translators: “This explicit discussion of translation strategies within the volume will give readers a great deal to think about and highlights current trends and points of debate in literary translation.” Rita Signorelli-Pappas writes about how Anne Carson “deliberately cast aside literal translation” in the graphic novel Euripides’ Trojan Women, laying “bare the central emotion of the women in the play.”

One of our favorite new initiatives was #WorldKidLitMonth. A group of volunteers created #WorldKidLitMonth, which ran in September and celebrated world literature for kids and teens, especially fiction and nonfiction translated to English from other languages. The group’s blog includes resources for locating books in translation, searchable by age, language, region, and more.

September also saw the advent of a major push by translators and authors to encourage publishers to include translators’ names on book covers. This conversation continues. Beginning in our January 2022 issue, you’ll see the translators’ names moved up in the print edition to be given equal billing at the beginning of a piece, not just at the end. We hope every book on next year’s list will include the translator’s name on the cover.

Finally, new indie publisher Red Comet Books opened with four translations of beautiful children’s books, with more to come in 2022.

Thank you for being in conversation with us this past year. We wish you good health and good reading in 2022.

* * *

Yassin Adnan, Hot Maroc, trans. Alexander E. Elinson (Syracuse University Press)

Agnès Agboton, Voice of the Two Shores, trans. Lawrence Schimel (Flipped Eye)

Mari Ahokoivu, Oksi, trans. Silja-Maaria Aronpuro (Levine Querido)

Ai Weiwei, 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows, trans. Allan H. Barr (Penguin)

Tove Alsterdal, We Know You Remember, trans. Alice Menzies (HarperCollins)

Kjell Askildsen, Everything Like Before, trans. Seán Kinsella (Archipelago Books)

Basma Abdel Aziz, Here Is a Body, trans. Jonathan Wright (Hoopoe)

Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Amkoullel, the Fula Boy, Jeanne Garane (Duke University Press)

Simone de Beauvoir, Inseparable: A Never-Before-Published Novel, trans. Sandra Smith (HarperCollins)

Tahar Ben Jelloun, The Pleasure Marriage, trans. Rita S. Nezami (Curbstone Books)

Nina Berberova, The Last and the First, trans. Marian Schwartz (Pushkin Press)

Ivana Bodrožić, We Trade Our Night for Someone Else’s Day, trans. Ellen Elias-Bursać (Seven Stories Press)

Mitja Čander, Blind Man, trans. Rawley Grau (Istros Books)

Magda Cârneci, FEM, trans. Sean Cotter (Deep Vellum)

Chen Jiatong, White Fox in the Forest, illus. Viola Wang, trans. Jennifer Feeley (Chicken House)

Choi Eunyoung, Shoko’s Smile, trans. Sung Ryu (Penguin Random House)

Choi Jin-young, To the Warm Horizon, trans. Soje (Honford Star)

Bora Chung, Cursed Bunny, trans. Anton Hur (Honford Star)

Maryse Condé, Waiting for the Waters to Rise, trans. Richard Philcox (World Editions)

Mia Couto, Sea Loves Me: Selected Stories, trans. David Brookshaw with Eric M.B. Becker (Biblioasis)

Alonso Cueto, The Wind Traveler, trans. Frank Wynne & Jessie Mendez Sayer (University of Texas Press)

Louis-Philippe Dalembert, The Mediterranean Wall: A Novel, trans. Marjolijn de Jager (Schaffner Press)

Najwan Darwish, Exhausted on the Cross, trans. Kareem James Abu-Zeid (NYRB)

Tove Ditlevsen, The Copenhagen Trilogy, trans. Tiina Nunnally & Michael Favala Goldman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Manuela Draeger, Eleven Sooty Dreams, trans. J. T. Mahany (Open Letter)

Mariana Enriquez, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed, trans. Megan McDowell (Penguin Random House)

Federico Falco, A Perfect Cemetery, trans. Jennifer Croft (Charco Press)

María José Ferrada, How to Order the Universe, trans. Elizabeth Bryer (Tin House)

Fernanda García Lao, Out of the Cage, trans. Will Vanderhyden (Deep Vellum)

Betina González, American Delirium, trans. Heather Cleary (Henry Holt)

Angélica Gorodischer, Jaguars’ Tomb, trans. Amalia Gladhart (Vanderbilt University Press)

David Grossman, More Than I Love My Life, trans. Jessica Cohen (Knopf)

Mortada Gzar, I’m in Seattle, Where Are You?, trans. William Hutchins (Amazon Crossing)

Thóra Hjörleifsdóttir, Magma, trans. Meg Matich (Black Cat)

Sonallah Ibrahim, Warda: A Novel, trans. Hosam Aboul-Ela (Yale University Press)

Natsuko Imamura, The Woman in the Purple Skirt: A Novel, trans. Lucy North (Penguin Books)

Mieko Kawakami, Heaven, trans. Sam Bett & David Boyd (Europa Editions)

Sahar Khalifeh, My First and Only Love, trans Aida Bamia (Hoopoe Press)

Mohamed Kheir, Slipping, trans. Robin Moger (Two Lines Press)

Kwon Yeo-sun, Lemon, trans. Janet Hong (Other Press)

Jhumpa Lahiri, Whereabouts, trans. Jhumpa Lahiri (Knopf)

Lee Juck, One Day, illus. Kim Seung-youn, trans. Asuka Minamoto, Lee Juck, and Dianne Chung (Enchanted Lion Books)

Mariana Leky, What You Can See From Here, trans. Tess Lewis (Macmillan)

Li Juan, Winter Pasture: One Woman’s Journey with China’s Kazakh Herders, trans. Jack Hargreaves & Yan (Astra House)

Daniel Lipara, Another Life, trans. Robin Myers (Eulalia Books)

Cixin Liu, To Hold Up the Sky, trans. various (Tor Books)

Zülfü Livaneli, Disquiet, trans. Brendan Freely (Other Press)

Bruno Lloret, Nancy, trans. Ellen Jones (Two Lines Press)

Ariel Magnus, Chess with My Grandfather, trans. Kit Maude (Seagull Books)

Charif Majdalani, Beirut 2020: Diary of the Collapse, trans. Ruth Diver (Penguin Random House)

Andreï Makine, The Archipelago of Another Life, trans. Geoffrey Strachan (Arcade Publishing)

Yamen Manai, The Arden Swarm, trans. Lara Vergnaud (Amazon Crossing)

Saadat Hasan Manto, The Dog of Tithwal, trans. Khalid Hasan & Muhammad Umar Memon (Archipelago)

María Eugenia Manrique, The Caiman, illus. Ramón París, trans. Amy Brill (Amazon Crossing Kids)

Hubert Matiúwàa, First Rain, trans. Juana Adcock (Flipped Eye)

Friederike Mayröcker, The Communicating Vessels, trans. Alexander Booth (A Public Space)

Emmanuel Mbolela, Refugee: A Memoir, trans. Charlotte Collins (from the German trans. by Alexander Behr)(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

Semezdin Mehmedinović, My Heart, trans. Celia Hawkesworth (Catapult)

Minae Mizumura, An I-Novel, trans. Juliet Winters Carpenter with the author (Columbia University Press)

Mahsa Mohebali, In Case of Emergency, trans. Mariam Rahmani (The Feminist Press)

Eto Mori, Colorful, trans. Jocelyne Allen (Counterpoint Press)

Haruki Murakami, First Person Singular: Stories, trans. Philip Gabriel (Knopf)

Mikael Niemi, To Cook a Bear, trans. Deborah Bragan-Turner (Penguin Random House)

Alex Nogués, One Million Oysters on Top of the Mountain, illus. Miren Asiain Lora, trans. Lawrence Schimel (Eerdmans)

Dorthe Nors, Wild Swims: Stories, trans. Misha Hoekstra (Graywolf Press)

Achy Obejas, Boomerang / Bumerán, trans. Eduardo Aparicio, Jimena Codina, Mabel Cuesta, Amanda Fleites, and/or the author (Beacon Press)

Mariana Oliver, Migratory Birds, trans. Julia Sanches (Transit Books)

Pola Oloixarac, Mona, trans. Adam Morris (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Ursula Andkjær Olsen, Outgoing Vessel, trans. Katrine Øgaard Jensen (Action Books)

María Ospina, Variations on the Body, trans. Heather Cleary (Coffee House Press)

Leonardo Padura, The Transparency of Time, trans. Anna Kushner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Sergi Pàmies, The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat, trans. Adrian Nathan West (Other Press)

Annie Perreault, The Woman in Valencia, trans. Ann Marie Boulanger (QC Fiction)

Hyam Plutzik, 32 Poems || 32 Poemas, ed. George B. Henson, trans. various (Suburbano Ediciones)

Jaap Robben, Summer Brother, trans. David Doherty (World Editions)

Manon Steffan Ros, The Blue Book of Nebo, trans. the author (Deep Vellum)

Manuela Santoni, Brontë, trans. Matteo Benassi (Graphic Universe)

Mayra Santos-Febres, Boat People, trans. Vanessa Pérez-Rosario (Cardboard House Press)

Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, Brotherhood, trans. Alexia Trigo (Europa Editions)

Pablo Servigne, Raphaël Stevens & Gauthier Chapelle, Another End of the World Is Possible, trans. Geoffrey Samuel (Polity Press)

Constantin Severin, The Cities of Giorgio de Chirico / Oraşele lui Giorgio de Chirico, trans. the author & Slim FitzGerald (Cyberwit)

Geetanjali Shree, Tomb of Sand, trans. Daisy Rockwell (Tilted Axis Press)

Davide Sisto, Remember Me: Memory and Forgetting in the Digital Age, trans. Alice Kilgarriff (Polity Press)

Krzysztof Siwczyk, Defense Mechanism, trans. Piotr Florczyk (Textshop Editions)

Vanessa Springora, Consent: A Memoir, trans. Natasha Lehrer (HarperVia)

Saša Stanišić, Where You Come From, trans. Damion Searls (Tin House)

Pajtim Statovci, Bolla, trans. David Hackston  (Penguin Random House)

Jón Kalman Stefánsson, Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night, trans. Philip Roughton (HarperCollins)

Maria Stepanova, In Memory of Memory, trans. Sasha Dugdale (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Kim Thúy, Em, trans. Sheila Fischman (Seven Stories Press)

Olga Tokarczuk, The Books of Jacob, trans. Jennifer Croft (Fitzcarraldo Editions)

Khal Torabully, Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude, trans. Nancy Naomi Carlson (Seagull Books)

Tran Le Khanh, the beginning of water, trans. Bruce Weigl (White Pine Press)

Kateřina Tučková, Gerta, trans. Véronique Firkusny (Amazon Crossing)

Elisa Victoria, Oldladyvoice, trans. Charlotte Whittle (And Other Stories)

Juan Villoro, Horizontal Vertigo: A City Called Mexico, trans. Alfred MacAdam (Pantheon)

Yulia Yakovleva, Punishment of a Hunter: A Leningrad Confidential, trans. Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (Pushkin Press)

Samar Yazbek, Planet of Clay, trans. Leri Price (World Editions)

Genzaburo Yoshino, How Do You Live?, trans. Bruno Navasky (Algonquin Young Readers)

Alice Zeniter, The Art of Losing, trans. Frank Wynne (Picador)

Photo by Shevaun Williams

Michelle Johnson is WLT's managing and culture editor.