They didn’t start in English…


Photo by Robby McCullough on Unsplash

Many popular books were actually written in a different language and then translated into English. Do you know any?

Jeslie Avestruz, Staff writer

While we generally recognize that books tell different stories, we often forget that they don’t always tell them in English first. A good novel can transport you to a different time and place. That is the power of books, no matter what language, the stories within can sweep you off your feet. But what if the book with the best stories for you isn’t in a language you can read?
Translators work hard to get the best books shared with the largest audience. Since English is the most common language in the world, award-winning novels written in other languages are often translated first into English where they can be read around the world. Books like The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larrson have been turned into best sellers in both English and the original Swedish. Popular movies were also made in both languages.
Another popular author whose novels have been translated into English is Karl Ove Knausgaard. This Norwegian author has a six-volume, somewhat fictionalized autobiography called My Struggle. Recently, Ove came out with a book called Autumn. It is the first in a series of four books and was a national success in Norway, before being translated into English and becoming a New York Times bestseller.
Sayaka Murata is a Japanese writer who won the Gunzo Prize for New Writers, the Mishima Yukio Prize, the Noma Literary New Face Prize and Akutagawa Prize. Her books, Convenience Store Woman (2016), and Earthlings (2018), which were translated into English, have received a number of positive reviews.
There are endless foreign novels, written in one language but translated to English.
Maybe you want to consider reading News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Márquez (Spanish), Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Argentine-Spanish), Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba (Spanish), or Tram by Fiston Mwanza Mujila (French).
If you are interested in more information or looking for the next book to read here’s where you can find more incredible novels in translation.

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