Reading works that do not originate in our own culture can be enlightening as well as entertaining. This month’s staff selections span the gamut of everything from fiction, to memoir, to philosophy, and much more. The one thing all of these picks have in common? They weren’t originally written in English. Check out our collection of DVDs in a foreign language while you’re on the second floor, and get your fill of cross-cultural exchange.
Want to dip in your toe before you dive into this subject by considering the role of the translator? Check out Why Translation Matters by Edith Grossman. The author makes a strong case for the cultural importance of the translator as a scholar and artist who should be held in great literary esteem. She says, “Translation always helps us to know, to see from a different angle, to attribute new value to what once may have been unfamiliar.” This book will give you a whole new appreciation of the translator’s work, and will be available on the staff picks shelf this month. Here are a few more of our staff’s favorite titles:
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson ; translated by Anne Born
This book is one of my favorite reads of 2013. A haunting novel about a widower who moves to a remote cabin in Norway to live out his retirement years. A chance encounter with a neighbor revives memories of his 15th year when he spent the summer with his father in another cabin in the woods. Beautifully told (and translated); the imagery evokes a stark yet beautiful country. - recommended by Diane
Phantoms on the Bookshelves by Jacques Bonnet ; translated by Sian Reynolds
Sian Reynolds is one of my favorite translators; she also translates Fred Vargas’s (highly recommended) mysteries. This book is a meditation on the ways that our personal libraries reveal our true natures. Is your library extensive or selective? Tightly-organized or a hodge-podge? Well-read or aspirational? This is a charming book about how we interact with the books on our shelves. – recommended by Heather
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (graphic novel) by Stieg Larsson ; adapted by Denise Mina
A two-pronged translation: language (Swedish to English) and format (novel to graphic format). Even if you've read the book and/or seen the movie, the gritty artwork and storytelling of this adaptation will allow you to explore the start of the Millennium trilogy anew. The second and third parts of the series are coming in 2013 and 2014. - recommended by Jeremy