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The days are getting longer and spring is in the air. Granted, I’m writing this in the middle of another New England snowstorm and it’s nothing like spring, but supposedly it’s happening. And while waiting for better weather, I can take advantage of the spring 2022 news in translation. There’s something for everyone this season, with exciting debuts, thoughtful documentaries, superb poetry collections and more. Readers will be especially thrilled to see new titles from favorite authors like Olga Tokarczuk, Elena Ferrante and Yūko Tsushima, and beloved translators like Jennifer Croft, Ann Goldstein and Geraldine Harcourt.
I’ve scoured the catalogs and galleys and highlighted some of the best new Spring 2022 releases in translation, and because there’s so much to choose from, I’ve added notes for others you should also to research ! Going through the lists, I noticed that there was even more amazing literature translated from Spanish this season than usual, more than I could fit in this list, so if you need some additional suggestions , consult Wonders by Elena Medel, translated by Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead, Linea Nigra: an essay on pregnancy and earthquakes by Jazmina Barrera, translated by Christina MacSweeney, and Portrait of an unknown lady by Maria Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead.
Best new books in translation for spring 2022
Blood Feast: The Complete Short Stories by Malika Moustadraf Translated by Alice Guthrie
Malika Moustadraf is a feminist icon of contemporary Moroccan literature but she is little known outside the country. blood feast reckon with this loss, bringing together a comprehensive collection of its vivid and gripping news – on gender, sexuality, class, disease, and more. Moustadraf is a brilliant observer and thinker, and her short stories are razor-sharp and endlessly exciting. I am particularly grateful for the detailed and nuanced translation note of translator Alice Guthrie and for all the Moroccans to whom she attributes this important work of literary recovery. (Feminist Press, February 8)
And don’t miss violets by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur. (Feminist Press, April 22)
Tender by Ariana Harwicz, translated by Annie McDermott and Carolina Orloff
Maternity, femininity, lust, death, madness. There’s a reason so many readers, myself included, are obsessed with Ariana Harwicz’s dark and relentlessly good writing. Harwicz is one of the most radical figures in contemporary literature, often compared to Nathalie Sarraute, Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath. Tender is the third and last book of his “Involuntary Trilogy” after Die, my love and Freeble-mindedand it finds us back in the French countryside, this time following Harwicz’s unnamed narrator’s complex and destructive relationship with her teenage son. (Charco Press, February 15)
There’s no way I can choose just one other Charco Press title to recommend, so do yourself a favor and buy a subscription.
On the sidelines: on the pleasures of reading and writing by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein
In the margins brings together four new essays by Elena Ferrante, author of Neapolitan novelsand more recently The lying life of adults. In these new essays, Ferrante talks about her literary influences and her beginnings as a reader and writer. She discusses the work of artists that appeal to her, including Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, and Ingeborg Bachmann, among others. Thoughtful and engaging, these essays are another fascinating insight into the artistry and spirit of Ferrante. (Europa Editions, March 15)
You Can Be the Last Leaf: Selected Poems by Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, translated by Fady Joudah
Maya Abu Al-Hayyat is director of the Palestine Writing Workshop and author of four novels, numerous children’s books and four books of poetry. You can be the last leaf is his first collection published in English, translated by the famous poet Fady Joudah. It includes poems from his four collections published over two decades, allowing readers to see the extent of his talents. As Joudah writes in his foreword, “the multifaceted Palestinian voice lives in [her] words, ordinary like grief and everyday like laughter. And there is so much heartache and laughter in this collection, of loss and love, as we watch the poet over time in endless occupation. This relentless violence also seeps into his inner world, his home and his mind. But she still fiercely claims space for desire, laughter and hope.(Editions Milkweed, May 10)
And don’t miss The Life and Death of a Minke Whale in the Amazon: Dispatches from the Brazilian Rainforest by Fábio Zuker, translated by Ezra E. Fitz. (Editions Milkweed, May 10)
Jacob’s Books by Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft
First published in Poland in 2014, Jacob’s Books has long been considered one of Nobel Prize-winning author Olga Tokarczuk’s most important and ambitious novels. In fact, the Nobel Prize committee described it as his magnum opus. And now, thanks to Booker International Prize-winning translator Jennifer Croft, it’s available in English. Set in mid-18th century Europe and based on historical characters and events, the novel follows Jacob Frank, a charismatic self-proclaimed messiah, and his followers. It’s nearly impossible to capture this vast and expansive epic in a few words, but I encourage everyone to read this clever, funny, and unimaginably rich work for themselves. (Riverhead, February 1)
Woman running in the mountains by Yuko Tsushima, translated by Géraldine Harcourt
Yūko Tsushima is considered one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation, known for her stories centering on women’s lives. I have always known and loved her for her painfully beautiful novel Territory of Light, which follows a woman who starts her life over with her young daughter after being abandoned by her husband. Géraldine Harcourt’s translation is particularly exquisite and I was delighted to discover that this first work would be published. Set in 1970s Japan, Woman running in the mountains is another story of a young single mother struggling to find her place in the world. It’s an equally invigorating novel about single parenthood, but with a scale and shimmering beauty that ultimately feel like a mighty act of defiance. (NYRB Classics, February 22)
Maxillary by Mónica Ojeda, translated by Sarah Booker
Ecuadorian writer Mónica Ojeda was included in the Bógota39 list of the 39 best Latin American writers under 40 in 2017, and in 2019 she received the Prince Claus Next Generation award. Maxillary is its English debut and follows Fernanda and Annelise, two inseparably close friends from an elite Catholic school who become increasingly involved in the occult with their classmates. “It’s only fun if it’s dangerous,” says Annelise, perfectly capturing the experience of reading this chilling nightmare of youth and adolescence, full of body horror, pleasure and pain. (Coffee House, February 8)
And don’t miss when women kill by Alia Trabucco Zerán, translated by Sophie Hughes. (Coffee House, April 5)
This Is Us Losing Count: Eight Russian Poets by Alla Gorbunova, Irina Kotova & others, translated by Elina Alter & others
I’ve loved the Calico series from Two Lines Press since its inception. The series presents cutting-edge works of translated literature in remarkably crafted ― and eminently collectable ― editions. This superb bilingual collection presents eight contemporary Russian poets and seven translators. I was struck by the range of voices in the collection, diverse in age, style and from across Russia – some are overtly political, queer and feminist, while others are more quietly subversive. Through each distinct section of the collection there is the flowing line of memory and time, past and present, and ultimately the future. We’re the ones losing count is a fascinating insight into modern Russian poetry that makes me want to know more. (Two Lines Press, March 8)
Looking for even more great recommendations? Check out these 24 must-read books in translation in 2022.