This French novel has been languishing on my TBR list for a few years. It was first published in its home country in 2005 and in the United States in 2008 (as a gorgeous Europa edition). The critics love it: notably, it was longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award for Fiction in 2009. My readerly friends are split: some love it, some hate it, some say it's over their heads. I intend to read it for myself. (I've been warned to not give up until Mr. Ozu shows up.)
This international bestseller (and first book of the Millennium trilogy) was originally published in 2005 in Sweden under the title <em>Men Who Hate Women</em>, and is widely hailed as a terrific novel in translation. (Fun fact: the other major change in the English translation is the size of the protagonist's shoulder tattoo: it's large in the Swedish, but much smaller in the English.) This crime novel has been on my reading list for a few years: I've been warned that it's a little gruesome in places. From the publisher: "Murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue combine into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel."
This international bestseller was originally published in Sweden in 2009. It's drawn comparisons to Forrest Gump, because the 100-year-old man of the title finds himself involved in key political moments throughout the course of his long life. Many of you have already read this as your book in translation. Not everyone loves it, but those who do have labeled it "clever," "quirky," and "un-put-down-able."
- by Maria Duenas
Fashion, romance, and ... espionage. If you loved Casablanca, try this novel set during the Spanish civil war. Sira Quiroga works her way from dressmaker's assistant to a premier couturier, putting her in contact with the wealthy and powerful. When the British government asks her to spy for them as World War II gears up, she agrees, stitching secret messages into the hems of dresses. Translated from the Spanish, and the dialogue is a little bumpy in places, but the story is worth it. Is it perfect? No way. But engrossing? Definitely.
- by Leo Tolstoy
“Happy families are all alike;” begins this classic novel, “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” If you’ve never read Anna Karenina, a great time to find out why William Faulkner called this novel “the best ever written.” Whether or not you agree, you’ll be glad you read it.
When a pilot crash-lands his plane in the Sahara, he meets a charming young prince who’s fallen to earth from his tiny home planet, Asteroid B-612. This timeless tale is whimsical and wise, with just the right amount of absurdity. The watercolor illustrations spring to life in this gorgeous pop-up edition.
- by Marie Kondo
If you want to tidy up once and for all, this is the best kick in the pants you can get for ten bucks. This book is more than a little woo-woo, but her extreme approach to decluttering WORKS. Kondo is a Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an “organizer”). She originally wrote her decluttering manifesto to help the Japanese clients languishing on her waiting list. Not all translations are good translations, but this one has been praised for preserving the quirkiness of her voice. (It's quirky, all right.) I love this book (more thoughts on that here).