Written By: Mariana Batchvarova
Here’s the thing – translations used to intimidate the bejeezus out of me. I thought that my reading palate was not refined enough for me to read and enjoy translations. I felt that I just wasn’t a smart-enough or a sophisticated-enough reader, so translations seemed unapproachable – like they were reserved for those interested in dissecting literary masterpieces. As someone who is a big pleasure reader, I felt like I just didn’t belong in this genre. Once I started my translations coursework, though, I soon discovered that translations are not meant to shut readers out. In fact, translations are meant to welcome readers into a world or a story that they may not have been able to discover on their own. Below is a list of three translated books I feel incredibly fortunate to have read and would like nothing more than to share with others.
Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
While mourning the death of her father, George wrote this wonderful novel. Monsieur Perdu sells books from a barge and he calls himself a “literary apothecary.” He has the uncanny ability of knowing exactly what his customers have to read, providing them with books that help them through their times of need. While this may sound like the perfect life for many of us, Monsieur Perdu is not happy as he has been in mourning for the last few decades. After meeting someone new and coming across a letter he never opened, he decides that it’s time to come to terms with the past, so he takes off on an adventure through the rivers of France. He meets others that are also on the search for someone, and together they travel until … well, if I add anything more than I’d be giving the ending away. The book is beautifully written and really does tug at the heartstrings, so I DEFINITELY recommend reading this.
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
This book changed my life. As dramatic as it may sound, I have never been the same since I read this. The novel revolves around a ranch-owning family, but more specifically, it focuses on the youngest daughter, Tita. Tita falls in love with a man, Pedro, who she can never marry because she is expected to stay with her mother and take care of her until she dies. Pedro ends up marrying her sister, forcing Tita to be around her beloved without actually being around her. Tita also has a particular connection to the kitchen, so everything she feels gets poured into her cooking. The novel explores Tita’s life, her relationship with cooking, her family, and her relationship with Pedro in a way that just captivates the reader. It sucks you in and doesn’t spit you out until you’ve finished it.
A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos
The first book of a quartet, A Winter’s Promise focuses on Ophelia, who is from the Ark of Anima. She has the ability to read an object’s history as well as the rare talent of walking through mirrors. Against her will, she is betrothed to Thorn, someone from the wintery Ark of the Pole, who is, at best, cold and harsh. Ophelia is sent to join her fiancé in Pole, where danger lurks around every corner. As Ophelia learns to navigate and survive this cruel society, she discovers that she is being used as a pawn in a game that she doesn’t understand. Her life is in much more danger than she had previously thought. The world-building and the combination of sci-fi and fantasy is unparalleled. Once I picked up this series, I couldn’t stop reading until I had read every book.