Translated Books That Should be on your ‘Priority’ TBR

Translated books are only worth your money if the translation is flawless and is capable of keeping the essence of the original text intact. Here are a few books with great translation, unique characters, and interesting themes:

  • The Vegetarian by Han Kang (Translated by Deborah Smith): A woman turns vegetarian after a nightmare and her entire family is caught in this strange turn of events. With themes like sexual awakening, mental health, and strange fascinations, ‘The Vegetarian’ is one bizarre and crazy ride.
  • The Unseeing Idol of Light by K. R Meera (Translated by Ministhy S): When Deepti mysteriously vanishes, her husband Prakash loses his eyesight because of grief. He desperately wants to look for her, but it’s not an easy job. Rajani, on the other hand, is drawn towards Prakash. The story has elements of grief and how it is different for everyone. The Sense of longing and pain has been well explored too.
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus (Translated by Sandra Smith): The Stranger, also known as ‘The Outsider’ is a story of murder and absence of remorse. Meursault is drawn towards murder and his life in prison and the subsequent trial is based on one event only- his absence of remorse for his dead mother.
  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami (Translated by Jay Rubin): After Dark takes us into a metaphysical level of storytelling, and is an atmospheric and suspenseful book. Eri and Mari, two sisters find themselves in an unrealistic and realistic world, respectively.
  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman (Translated by Henning Koch): Meet Ove, a grumpy, old man eventually finds himself a lovable cat and some friends. This is a story that is witty, fluid and evocative.
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (Translated by Michael Henry Heim): The story revolves around four characters mainly, each with a different past, a difficult present, especially in midst of a Russian invasion, and an unsure future. The author also takes his time to tell us his opinion about the Russian Invasion as the story is mostly set in the late 1960s. The opinion has been conveyed through his characters and sometimes very directly.
  • No Presents Please by Jayant Kaikini: Mumbai Stories (Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana): Translated from Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana, these stories are translated keeping in mind the backdrop, the language and the typical way of life the Mumbaikars lead. The stories are not about Mumbai, but how the city brings out the best in people and how these people, born from its belly cling to the city for dear life. Kaikini’s ‘No Presents Please’ has certain surrealism to it, a feeling that is brought about by characters pushed into the everyday mayhem of life in Mumbai and how the city accepts its all with an open heart and sustains countless souls.
  • Ha Ha Hu Hu by Viswanadha Satyanarayana (Translated by Velcheru Narayana Rao): The author, renowned as one of the greatest writers of the Telugu literature believed in the acceptance of one’s language and traditional values. He opposes the implementation of modernity. Two distinct stories on the importance of religious texts, ‘Ha Ha Hu Hu’ is hilarious, logical and sends across the message loud and clear.
  • The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (Translated by Philip Gabriel):  Satoru adopts a street cat and names him Nana. Most of the story has been narrated by Nana, and hence we get a glimpse of what goes on inside an egoistic, proud and super smart cat’s head. Nana’s way of perceiving the world humans adds a funny element to the plot and is dangerously realistic.
  • The Aunt who Wouldn’t Die by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay (Translated by Arunava Sinha): With only 140 pages long, this novella gives us three women, who are poles apart yet connected in the most ordinary ways. Somlata- a newlywed has a difficult time getting in terms with her in-laws, especially her pishima (father-in-law’s sister)- Roshomoyee. If I had to describe how I felt after finishing this book, I would say terrific, satisfying and effortless. And this description encompasses the writing and characters and the translation.



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