Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 30, 2016

2016 Best Translated Book Award Longlist – combined reviews

It’s a long longlist – 25 books!  The Best Translated Book Award is managed by Rochester’s Open Letter Books, and it’s designed to create awareness of the wealth of translated fiction to enrich our reading lives.

I’ve read five of the longlist and reviewed four of them which is not too shabby, but as with the Man Booker International Prize, I’ll be doing my best to harvest reviews from my trusted friends in translated fiction as well…

Links on the titles are to where you can source the books.   Links to reviews are in the order in which I found them. (It takes a while to search for 25 titles, I’m working my way through each blog one at a time).

Last updated 10/4/16

A General Theory of Oblivion by José Eduardo Agualusa, translated from the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn (Angola, Archipelago Books)

Arvida by Samuel Archibald, translated from the French by Donald Winkler (Canada, Biblioasis)

Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell (South Korea, AmazonCrossing)

The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, translated from the French by John Cullen (Algeria, Other Press)

French Perfume by Amir Tag Elsir, translated from the Arabic by William M. Hutchins (Sudan, Antibookclub)

There are over 700 reviews of this at Goodreads but they’re all in Arabic!

(update 12/4/16)

The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy, Europa Editions)

Sphinx by Anne Garréta, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan (France, Deep Vellum)

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel (Bulgaria, Open Letter)

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman (Mexico, And Other Stories)

Moods by Yoel Hoffmann, translated from the Hebrew by Peter Cole (Israel, New Directions)

Beauty Is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan, translated from the Indonesian by Annie Tucker (Indonesia, New Directions)

The Sleep of the Righteous by Wolfgang Hilbig, translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole (Germany, Two Lines Press)

The Four Books by Yan Lianke, translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas (China, Grove Press)

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated from the Portuguese by Katrina Dodson (Brazil, New Directions)

The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney (Mexico, Coffee House Press)

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila, translated from the French by Roland Glasser (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Deep Vellum)

The Body Where I Was Born by Guadalupe Nettel, translated from the Spanish by J. T. Lichtenstein (Mexico, Seven Stories Press)

The Things We Don’t Do by Andrés Neuman, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia (Argentina, Open Letter)

I Refuse by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Norway, Graywolf Press)

War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Spain, Open Letter)

One Out of Two by Daniel Sada, translated from the Spanish by Katherine Silver (Mexico, Graywolf Press)

Berlin by Aleš Šteger, translated from the Slovene by Brian Henry, Forrest Gander, and Aljaž Kovac (Slovenia, Counterpath)

The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya, translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon (Russia, FSG)

Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie (France, Wakefield Press)

Mirages of the Mind by Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi, translated from the Urdu by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad (India, New Directions)

You might also like to visit the Rochester University’s Three Percent website to see their ‘Why This Book Should Win’ series, which is covering all the long-listed titles book-by-book and which includes contributions by a frequent visitor to this little blog of mine, Rough Ghosts, (championing Sphinx and I Refuse).  Alas,  the Three Percent site uses the loathsome Disqus to manage comments, and I refuse to use Disqus, so my thanks to Joseph for a beaut review are here, not there.  Tony from Tony’s Reading List also has a review there, of Nowhere to Be Found... it is nice to see our network of reviewers of works in translation in other online places too!




  1. Hi Lisa – I’ve actually already reviewed twelve of these if that helps…

    Agualusa, Bae Suah, Daoud, Ferrante, Garréta, Kurniawan, Yan Lianke, Luiselli, Mwanza Mujila, Neuman, Petterson & Rodoreda :)


    • Be a darling and find the URLs for me please?
      PS Please email them to me or they’ll go into my spam box, set to do that if anyone posts more than two links…


  2. Thanks for all the links! What a plethora of magnificent reading to keep me busy for a long time after I finish the Man Booker International Prize long list. ;)


    • You’re welcome:) It’s handy to have them all in one place, I think. One day when I get time I’m going to set up a page for translated fiction, country by country….


  3. Thanks for doing all that leg work for us. Interesting to see that some novels have multiple reviews and others no one has touched. Is that because they are the lesser known names?


    • I think in some cases it might be because they’re published by publishers we’re not familiar with?


  4. […] here for Combined Reviews of the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, harvested from trusted bloggers around the […]


  5. I love the BTBA! I also have a number of reviews for what it’s worth, for General Theory of Oblivion, Arvida (hooray!), Sphinx (not a book that holds up in my memory), I Refuse (one of my favourites), Mersault Investigation, Signs Proceeding the End of the World (so good to see this make the list) and my personal favourite overall Sleep of the Righteous.


    • Thanks, RG, I have added them all:)
      I’m still looking for reviews of some of the hard-to-get titles like French Perfume…


      • Thanks for linking my reviews Lisa. As for French Perfume, I searched Abe Books and found 3 copies with an American dealer. The price even with shipping was very reasonable so I ordered one. But with a delivery window of 7-30 business days I may not get it before the whole affair is over. I ordered a used copy of Berlin too, also from the US. My UK orders have been taking more than 7 weeks this year and my guess is that customs is causing the delay, so I don’t hold my breath!

        I am trying not to get carried away with the long list although there are a number of titles that are on my TBR wishlist and one (Physics of Sorrow) that I’ve had since it came out. But then there are many new releases calling to me and I have three back to back major critical reviews scheduled for Numéro Cinq over the next few months. So discipline is important. (Not my middle name when it comes to books – I spent an hour or two clearing some shelf real estate today, just in case I weaken.)


        • Shelf real estate, I love it.
          Yes, I find it a constant tension between reading & reviewing ANZ lit and the internationals, of which (since I discovered Stu’s Winston’s Dad blog) translated fiction is the greater part. I maintain that I can’t review OzLit in isolation, I need to know about the best available elsewhere, but it’s so very hard to keep up with it all…

          Liked by 1 person

  6. […] Body Where I Was Born was longlisted for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award.  Do check out Charlotte Whittle’s thoughts in Three Percent’s Why This Book Should […]


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