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Grimm, Top 10

Top 10: Translated Novels

26.08.11 | Comment?

So what are people reading in other languages? Wellington City Libraries has a small but growing collection of translated young adult fiction (as well as the super popular manga series). If you’re interested in reading something that started life in another language here’s a fairly comprehensive list of what we’ve got. Also, here are a few highlights:

  1. The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nagaru Tanigawa (Japanese) – this is the first in a series of books about Haruhi Suzumiya, a teen with the ability to destroy the universe. In Melancholy, Haruhi and her friends set up an after school club dedicated to “finding aliens, time travelers, and other forms of supernatural life, with the intention of having fun with them”. Cool. Also, recommended by library staff.
  2. Nothing, Janne Teller (Danish) – a bleak rumination on nihilism that has received awards nominations and very positive reviews (here at the library also). Thirteen year old Pierre decides there’s no point to life, so his classmates set out to prove him wrong, with increasingly disturbing consequences.
  3. In the Sea there are Crocodiles, Fabio Geda (Italian) – new to the library! (Here’s a description.)
  4. Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier (German) – Interestingly set in London, although translated from German. Gwyneth’s cousin Charlotte is supposed to have the time-travelling gene, so she’s been prepared and trained for it since she was young. However, it’s Gwyneth, not Charlotte, who has the gift, so Gwyneth must find out why her mother has been trying to shield her from the truth, while travelling back in time to 18th century London with Gideon, a gifted traveller. One review suggests re-reading the first chapter after you’ve finished for insight into what’s going on. The first in a trilogy.
  5. No and Me, Delphine de Vigan (French) – Lou lives in a quietly disfunctional family, where her father is barely holding up and her mother hasn’t left their appartment for years. She meets No, a homeless girl, and invites her to live with them. A novel about ” the true nature of home and homelessness”.
  6. The Prince of Mist, Carlos Ruiz Zafon (Spanish) – A ‘haunting story of magic, mystery and adventure’, about a boy who moves to a house overlooking the sea and the mysterious (and terrifying!) Prince of the Mist. And a weird, staring cat.
  7. Message in a Bottle, Valerie Zenatti (French) – a story set around the Palestine-Israeli conflict. After witnessing a bombing in Tel Aviv, an Israeli girl pours her heart into an open letter and places it in a bottle, requesting her brother to throw it into the Gaza Sea. It is found and read by a young Palestinian man, who is at first angry, but responds and eventually their exchanges turn to friendship.
  8. Winter Song, Jean-Claude Mourlevat (French) – the Amazon.co.uk description is good: “Four teenagers escape from their prison-like boarding schools to take up the fight against the tyrannical government that murdered their parents fifteen years earlier. Fleeing across icy mountains from a pack of terrifying dog-men sent to hunt them down, only three of the friends make it safely to Jahn’s Restaurant, the headquarters of a secret resistance movement. It is here they learn about courage, freedom and love, and discover the astonishing power of one voice as the battle begins – to free a depressed and terrified nation from a generation of cruelty, and to save their captured friend, forced to fight to the death in a barbaric ancient game.”
  9. The Book of Everything, Guus Kuijer (Dutch) – The Book of Everything is nine-year-old Thomas’ diary, in which he writes his thoughts on everything. Thomas is ingenious, but his home life, especially with his ultra-religious father, is stifling Thomas’ ambition, which is to be “happy”.
  10. Planet of the Apes, Pierre Boulle (French) – easy to forget with all the movies that this was originally a French book, La Planète des singes. This is on our Classic Novels list here.

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