Books in translation

Here are some books I’m considering reading for Kate’s Reading Across Borders challenge:

Lots of good possibilities there, right? The question will be deciding which ones to read. I’ve committed myself to five. And other interesting ones may come along in the meantime …


Filed under Books, Lists

16 responses to “Books in translation

  1. Great list! I’m already plotting to read the Chang stories, and I’ve been tempted by the Mahfouz trilogy, and I might just add some of your other options to my list of possibilities as well… I do like the flexibility of a very long list of possibilities to choose from.


  2. That’s a great list. I want to read Mariama Ba, too, but I will need to invest in a copy or see if my library has it. I’m afraid of committing myself to sepecific titles too early on as I just end up changing my mind as I go. Every time I see someone else’s list I add titles to my own list! I am also curious about the Tanizaki!!


  3. This is a very substantial list. In fact, I would call it heavy-weight. Story of the Stone has 5 volumes, so it’s definitely a long-term commitment. Kind of like Proust for endurance. You up for that, huh?

    I like Tanizaki, but never read Makioka Sisters – wanted to, but the length of it daunts me.

    This is some heavy reading ahead. Good luck.


  4. Interesting to see the Bhagavad Gita in your list. Are you referring to the translation “The Song Celestial” by Sir Edwin Arnold? It is a nice book – strictly a translation – and leaves you to interpret the verses.

    There are other English translations of the Gita, some of them extremely rare, others extremely dubious. An example of the latter is the translation peddled by ISKON – the Society for Krishna Consciousness. I have rarely come across a worse job done on such a great work.

    The best and rarest English versions that I have come across is the one by B. S. Sukhtankar. This is not strictly a translation but an interpretation in great detail. The book is, in turn, a translation of a tremendous landmark Marathi book called “The Gita Rahasya” by Balgangadhar Tilak – a revolutionary Indian freedom fighter – and was written when he was jailed by the British for 6 years in Burma. As a non-religious person, this is the only interpretation of the Gita that I have come across, whose message appeals to me.


  5. Oops. Sorry, my browser was acting up and now I see that it was Eknath Easwaran’s book that you are referring to. I haven’t had the chance to read this. If you do read it, it will be interesting to hear your thoughts.


  6. Danielle and Kate — I’m trying to keep the list long so I have choices, since I already have named some titles I’m definitely reading this year. I’m looking for flexibility too.

    Dark Orpheus — I’m not going to take on the whole Story of the Stone — yet — but I might try Volume 1. But so much seems possible from this perspective at the beginning of the year, doesn’t it?

    Polaris — sorry, I was lazy about the link to the Baghavad Gita and didn’t put in the one to the book I actually have, but it’s fixed now. I own the Penguin edition translated by Juan Mascaro. Do you know anything about that translation? If it’s not good, I’m happy to get another edition.


  7. What a great list. I’ll have to save this for when I need books to nominate for my foreigh authors book group. We did read The Makioka Sisters several years ago and it was generally well received.


  8. Great list. I am putting one together too and want to try and read some Yukio Mishima. I’ve been wanting to read the Bhagavad Gita for ages but didn’t even think of it for this challenge. I might have to add it to my list too!


  9. w

    Love this list. I just bought Mariama Ba’s So Long a Letter because of it!


  10. Great list! I’m Chinese. I’ve read all of the Chinese books in your list except one — Qiu Xiaolong’s A Loyal Character Dancer. In my opinion most of his books are just contemporary bestsellers. The other books in your list are great. Especially Cao Xueqin’s The Story of the Stone(What a pity he didn’t finish the story!) and Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City.


  11. LK

    Very impressive! I am looking forward to hearing more about these, none of which I’ve heard of (must less read). Except for the Gita.


  12. Hasn’t this challenge provoked some exotic and unusual reading lists? Can’t wait to hear how you get on with the books detailed here, Dorothy. Should be some very intriguing reads.


  13. Great list. I haven’t read any of these except Vargas Llosa (of course. I can lend that to you, if you’d like) and the Mahfouz, which I loved, but I never went on to read the rest of the trilogy.

    P.S. I’m very impressed with those of you who bother to link to the books at Amazon, etc. I think I’d be driven nuts if I tried to do that. I can barely manage one link in a post, and I think three is my absolute maximum.


  14. I’m glad your group liked The Makioka Sisters, Iliana — perhaps I should choose that one, especially since it’s one I already own.

    Stefanie — I’ve read Mishima’s The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea and liked it a lot, and I expect I’ll like The Temple too. I do recommend him!

    W — I hope you like it! So Long a Letter is one I’m highly likely to read this year.

    Polycrystal — thank you for your thoughts about these books! If you have any recommendations, I’d be thrilled to hear them.

    LK — that’s one reason I’m grateful for Kate’s challenge — it’ll be a lot of fun to try new things. That’s exactly it litlove! I’ve enjoyed reading people’s lists.

    Thank you Emily! I’m glad you liked the Mahfouz — that makes me more likely to try it.


  15. Max

    A couple of book on your list have made me laugh – you’ve probably gathered I did Chinese for my undergrad degree with the emphasis on literature, and I have to blush to say I never made it all the way through either Soul Mountain or Story of the Stone (the latter really is exceptionally long, and I did have to read it in the semi-classical literary language which was a lot harder). Still rather disgraceful, however. Both those are on my tbr pile, too! I’d also recommend a translation of another Chinese classic called Monkey by Arthur Waley; it is a much abridged version of a longer novel and reads very well. It is one of the great classics of Chinese literature and every Chinese person knows the story, and since you seem quite interested in reading something from China, you might enjoy that one.


  16. Well, I’m not going to tackle Story of the Stone all at once, although I always am tempted by long projects (e.g. Proust). And thanks for the Waley recommendation — I’ll add it to my TBR list.


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