– “Norwegian Forest” by Haruki Murakami
Haruki Murakami’s fifth novel, The Norwegian Forest, caused a stir in Japan when it was first published in 1987. Despite its success, it was not widely available in English until 2000, but few outside the author’s country had heard of it. for him until then. his other editions were later published in English. It is said that American publishers initially assumed that “Norwegian Forest” would not be popular with a wide audience. But once it finally appeared in the English-speaking world, it spread across the country and ended up selling millions of copies globally.
This is just one example of a well-known phenomenon: some books and authors are widely read abroad, but find popularity in American markets only a few decades later.
– “Why this world?” Benjamin Moser
Benjamin Moser’s 2009 book on the biography of Brazilian-born Ukrainian writer Clarisse Lesper, entitled Why This World ?, helped launch a project to translate her works into English. Although Tanzanian novelist Abd al-Razzaq Garnah writes mostly in English, the writer was little known to the American public before winning the Nobel Prize in Literature last October, although he was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize and published 10 novels. . Now, the American publishing house “Riverhead” has rushed to get some of the titles of Garnah’s new and old novels, such as “The Escape” (2005) and “Bahr” (2001), and his latest novel “After Life”. “will be published in the United States just two years after its publication. Better late than never.
The nine titles presented below are just a few of the many books that have continued to live a kind of second life in English translation after their first prominence or completion in another language. Late publications owe much to the dedicated love of translators and publishers — but, as I recalled while researching this article, they may have been lucky too.
Naguib Mahfouz Trilogy
The Nobel Prize in Literature for Mahfouz in 1988 was the first prize won by an Egyptian or an Arab. The entire trilogy was first published in Arabic in 1957, and then translated into English between 1990 and 1992. The three-part novel follows three generations of the “Syed Ahmed Abdel Gawad” family through the turbulent rise of Egyptian national identity, started in the years before the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The architecture of their various multi-storey house is a symbol of their social relationships, open or forbidden to some family members (especially women). This hierarchy manifests itself in the rhythms of sharing meals and political debates, including the ideologies that sometimes drive revolutions.
Mahfouz focuses on Amina, the mother, the head of the family, as a microcosm of decades of change. In the novel Sukkari, the third of the trilogy, the women sit together around the warmth of the chimney on a cold January day, and although the family coffee hour rituals continue, they differ markedly from the riots of years past: some chairs remain empty.
“Breasts and eggs” by Miko Kawakami How much does the body control the existence of a woman? In Breasts and Eggs, Kawakami examines the issue of femininity, as well as the examination of the self and the external judgment that inspires it. Three working-class women gather in Tokyo: Makiko, a mother of her almost teenage daughter, Midoriko, who visits her younger sister and aunt Midoriko, and Natsuko, a 30-year-old unmarried girl who later suffers from the absence of childhood and its position in society. They face internal troubles. Navigating the past and present of her family, Natsuko, facing aging and insecurity, thinks about breast augmentation, while Midoriko, who has turned to her diary, is speechless and exhausted from emotional loads. of adolescence. Kawakami brings brotherhood, sacrifice, and tensions between generations into an intimate emotional relationship in the first part of the novel, with seemingly soothing notes. “What can we do only with eggs?” asks one of the characters as he checks the fridge opposite. As it turns out, with eggs a lot can be done. The novel expanded from its short version in 2008 to a full two-part novel, and was published in English in 2020, then the pace of “Corus and Eggs” slows as Natsuko moves from mediating the sister-niece conflict. its. to take care of her closed dreams. This, of course, requires considerable effort and more determination.
– “Sparkle and Sunrise”, by Lobby K. Santos
Shine and Sunrise first appeared in book form in 1906 and was translated into English in 2021. A prominent author, translator, and senator in the Philippines, Santos wrote a life-influencing novel during the Filipino-American War while supporting the active arm. left the ideologies of the time, and was a participant in the country’s first modern trade union federation, the Democratic Federation of the Philippines.
In this love story, which looks like a political pamphlet, friends Delphine and Philip share the negative and positive feelings of everyday life. The first is socialist, and the second is anarchist. Their ideas do not always match, and they struggle to drive capitalism out of their lives, especially when it complicates their relationship.
The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood, Youth, and Addiction, by Tove Detlevsen. The first volumes of her memoirs were published in 1967, 9 years before her suicide, however her full English translation was not published until 2019. Initially the author seeks to understand the meaning of life as she faces the stigma of poverty. , then the voice of “Youth” rises. ” He refuses to fall into such a situation. Detlevsen longs for freedom, even though it oscillates between abiding by established rules and abandoning them.
“Life and Fate” by Vasily Grossman
Grossman’s life and destiny illustrates the special nature of warfare in fascinating, brilliant prose, and provides an unparalleled realistic description of the Battle of Stalingrad between 1942 and 1943. The novel ended in 1959, on the eve of post-Stalinism, and the novel’s characters include the Shaposhnikov and Strom families, as well as German, Soviet soldiers, intellectuals, and ordinary people. Their individual destinies are intertwined and linked to the survival of the city, and Soviet figures are caught between defending their country and supporting their murderous regime. Despite suggestions of political openness in the late 1950s, the “life and fate” condemnation of state-sanctioned atrocities crossed borders; The draft of Grossman’s novel was confiscated by the KGB during its presentation to publishers. His friends managed to smuggle a hidden copy of the draft to Switzerland, where the novel was finally published in 1980 and then translated into English in 1985. The truth of the novel stems from the extraordinary moral clarity of its author. As a journalist, Grossmann himself witnessed incomprehensible massacres and wrote early reports on Nazi crimes. However, Grossman was unable to save his mother from Berdishev in Ukraine, where the Nazis killed her along with about 30,000 other Jews.
– “Selected writings” by Nimrod
Chad-born writer Nimrod has published more than 20 books in French since 1989, and has won the Edouard Glisson Prize and the Apollinaire Prize for Poetry, among other Francophone literary distinctions. Frida Ekoto, a professor of literature at the University of Michigan, oversaw the publication of Nimrud’s most evocative and evocative texts in 2018, making them available to an English-speaking audience for the first time. Through these essays, short stories, and poems, Nimrod explores whether the French language can embody the emotions, desires, and love of a postcolonial world.
“The Road to the City and the Dry Heart” by Natalia Ginzburg
First translated from Italian a few years after its publication in the 1940s and most recently republished in 2021, this novel is a complex tale of the desire and fullness of adult femininity in parentheses: marriage and motherhood. In these interconnected stories, spread across the covers of a book, the characters of the novel desire meaning and mutual love. One is keeping a child out of wedlock and the other is trying to maintain her happy marriage to her emotionally cold husband. The city seduces the first lady, while the second leads an isolated life on the outskirts. Author Natalia Ginzburg is a literary voice who appeared in Italy in the 1940s and 1950s, preoccupied with the topic of betrayal and its consequences, and asked if women should seek more than stability.
– Bras Cubas posthumous memories by Machado de Assis
The late nineteenth-century Brazilian writer Machado de Assis was firmly ahead of his time when he reinterpreted the main character in his novel Memoirs of the Death of Bras Cuba, which he wrote in 1881. It was translated into English in 1952, 1955 and 1997., with two new translations to appear in 2020, in a book that brings out the splendor of modernity. Bras Cubas, the late figure, was born in 1805 and had never achieved grace or glory in his life.
“Artisans: A Missing Chinese Village” by Shen Fuyu
Shen Fuyu’s love for his 600-year-old village in southeast China extends as much as his quest to preserve family memories. It is an urgent task for the author of more than a dozen books living in Paris, because the way of life of his village fades painfully over the days. Every time he returns to the village, he notices that more houses are being demolished and that the village is “developing” at an alarming rate. Through this rapid transformation, artisans represent an endangered class. Shen Fuyu paints a social and emotional portrait of a country over a century.