We've reached the season when several publications are choosing the best of the year in different categories. When it comes to literature, I'd like to highlight three lists and check how many of the best books of 2012 are translations from a foreign language into English.
It seems that the three-percent trend still applies here...
Starting off with Amazon's Best Books of the Year, FOUR of the 100 selected were translations, but only one was identified as such. Hopefully I didn't miss any titles due to a publisher's oversight.
SUDDENLY, A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
By Etgar Keret, translated from Hebrew by Nathan Englander, Miriam Shlesinger, Sondra Silverston
Next up are the 75 Best Books of the Year by Kobo, a strong competitor for Amazon on the ebook front, which highlighted many of the same titles. Besides listing Jo Nesbø's Phantom, Kobo also featured other two translations, for a total THREE translations. None of them were identified as such, though, so once again I hope I didn't miss any titles.
Finally, The New York Times disclosed its list of the 100 Notable Books of 2012 last week and FOUR are books translated into English. Fortunately, all of them were properly identified as translations on the list and in separate reviews, with due credit to the respective into-English translator.
By Daniel Sada, translated from Spanish by Katherine Silver.
By Laurent Binet, translated from French by Sam Taylor.
By Orhan Pamuk, translated from Turkish by Robert Finn.
THREE STRONG WOMEN
By Marie NDiaye, translated from French by John Fletcher.
On the NYT review of "Three Strong Women," a compelling case is made for literature in translation:
Americans have a curiously limited vision of France. We may be wild about Chanel sunglasses, Vuitton handbags, Champagne or Paris in the spring, but when it comes to the kinds of contemporary French culture that can’t be bought in a duty-free shop, most of us draw a blank. Luckily, this veil of benign ignorance is being lifted as publishers in the United States introduce American readers to a new generation of hugely gifted French writers who are reworking the boundaries of fiction, memoir and history (Emmanuel Carrère, Laurent Binet, the American-born Jonathan Littell) or of high art and snuff lit (Michel Houellebecq)
Is anyone else going to take the lead?