Top Ten Books Not Originally Written In English

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Tales from foreign lands in foreign tongues are so often eye-opening. It's a new way of looking at life, it's a view of another culture, and it brings a freshness to literature. These are the best foreign language books that have been translated into English. There are a couple of well-known classics, as well as some less-familiar reads that we heartily recommend you take a chance on. Whilst we're at it, let's take a moment to applaud the translators, whose work is so often taken for granted - without them, even the best foreign authors wouldn't make it to these shores. Why not tell us about your favourite foreign language books?


The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

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The Devil visits Stalin's Moscow - and mayhem ensues in this unique combination of a love story, vicious satire, philosophical treaty, fantasy, horror and re-telling of the Christian Gospel story. Wholeheartedly recommended to anybody who can cope with several interwoven stories and a quite serious helping of fantasy and the grotesque. Full review...

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow by Peter Hoeg

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Fans of crime fiction should take note that Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow is not a particularly successful detective story, despite its Silver Dagger award. What it is, though, is a lyrical, beautiful book full of moods and atmosphere. Full review...

The Post Office Girl by Stefan Zweig

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The tragic tale of Christine, suddenly taken from a Spartan existence in a provincial post office in the drab penny-pinching aftermath of WW1 to the indulgence and glamour of a luxury hotel by long-lost rich relations, only to be just as suddenly dropped and thrown back to interminable dreary toil. Her life is never the same and her meeting with an equally embittered soulmate leads to an unexpected yet inevitable denouement. Exquisitely written and breathlessly paced, it's a classic piece of literature from a master story-teller. Full review...

The Dog by Kerstin Ekman

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A classic story of the development of a bond between a man and a wild dog - beautifully told with no sentimentality and highly recommended. Full review...

The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza

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A complex, cleverly crafted book. It's a translation from Spanish of a story set in ancient Greece, with a parallel modern-day story told in footnotes. Full review...

The Armies by Evelio Rosero

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The Colombian civil war reaches, again, the small mountain town of San José and its residents have to face their pasts and uncertain futures. We follow the narrator Ismael, retired school-teacher, as he searches for his wife and for his lost self. Poetic, harshly beautiful, echoing truths about the modern world that we usually choose to ignore. Full review...

Novel 11, Book 18 by Dag Solstad

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A petite modernist novel in three thirds, which successfully intrigues with its humdrum hero having an unusual goal in life. Full review...

Detective Story by Imre Kertesz

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A chilling novella from the Nobel Laureate hears the confession of a police 'interrogator' after his regime has fallen. Perfectly written, it could perhaps have benefited from being expanded into a larger work. Full review...

Barbarian in the Garden by Zbigniew Herbert

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A travelogue and a collection of essays about history and art of Italy and France by one of the foremost Polish poets of the last 50 years. Evocative, wise, wonderfully written & highly recommended. Full review...

The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker

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Set in the flat landscape of the Netherlands, The Twin tells the story of an unwilling farmer and how, despite everything being against him, there might be hope for a better future. Highly recommended. Full review...

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