Year End Review #3: In Translation

Last year I gave books read in translation their own review – the aim was to encourage myself to read more in 2018 – I managed just 14 (10%) in 2017.

This year, (up to Christmas Day cut-off) I’ve read 25 novels originally published in other languages which is just under 18%, so I’ve done a lot better.  I also read more widely – last year was more Euro zone-centric.  In 2018, as usual, France dominates, but I managed to include three Japanese novels, my first Latvian read, and novel in Arabic by a Sudanese author. As always, the title links will take you my reviews.

French – France/Belgium

  • Bird in a Cage by Frédéric Dard, tr David Bellos.  Superb noir from 1961
  • Savages: The Wedding by Sabri Louatah, tr Gavin Bowd – first in a quartet – will be interesting to see how it continues.
  • Lullaby by Leila Slimani, tr Sam Taylor – the bestseller by Macron’s literary ambassador
  • Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan, tr Patricia Clancy – rural French goings on!
  • Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes, tr Frank Wynne.  Can’t wait for the final volume of this trilogy.
  • A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon, tr David Coward.  Surprise I only read one Maigret this year.
  • Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain, tr Louise Rogers Lalaurie. My least favourite Laurain, but still good.
  • Billie by Anna Gavalda, tr Jennifer Rappaport
  • La Femme de Gilles by Madeleine Bourdouxhe, tr Faith Evans.  Adultery and its consequences, written in 1937.
  • In Paris With You by Clementine Beauvais, tr Sam Taylor. A YA novel in poetry – loved it.
  • A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos, tr Hildegarde Serle.  Vol 1 in a quartet. Wonderful world-building and politicking.
  • The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain, tr Emily Boyce and Jane Aitken. Yes him again – I’ve read them all now. This is up with the best.
  • Strike Your Heart by Amelie Nothumb, tr Alison Anderson. Another quirky novel from the Belgian author.



  • Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, tr Geraldine Harcourt. A beguiling novella from the late 1970s about a young mother making a new life after separation from her husband.
  • If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura, tr Eric Selland – simply brilliant and the best cat on the cover.
  • Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, tr Ginny Tapley Takemori. Dark, funny, quirky. Loved it.



  • The Goodbye Kiss by Massimo Carlotto, tr Lawrence Venuti. Features a really nasty and amoral protagonist!


  • Under the Knife by Arnold van de Laar, tr Andy Brown. A history of surgery through 28 operations.

Spain – Catalan and Spanish

  • Wabi-Sabi by Francesc Mirailles, tr Julie Wark (Catalan) – A lovely story with a Japanese feel.


  • 18 by Paul Bankovskis, tr Ieva Lešinska – my first Latvian novel.

Arabic – Sudan

  • Telepathy by Amir Tag Elsir, tr William Hutchins

5 thoughts on “Year End Review #3: In Translation

    • AnnaBookBel says:

      I’m always shocked at how much I love French novels! The three Japanese ones I read this year were all superb though. Which were the ones you want to read?

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