Winstonsdad books of year

Well I have spent a long  time thinking  of this year’s best books  and finally got down to ten books which I must admit two of which Ive  not reviewed on blog yet,so here we go  in no particular order –

Down the rabbit hole  by Juan Pablo  Viilalobos  – A young Mexican  boy wants a pygmy Hippo and his dad is a Mexican drug baron,so he might just get it . This book is a glimpse of  another world that of the drug cartels . A wonderfully crafted novella from a new publisher .

Tomorrow Pamplona by  Jan Van Mersbergen – I still amazed at Laura’s translation of this book how well she kept the maleness of the voices so well and I love the story of men at a crossroads in their life .As they head to the annual Bull running in spain .

Parallel stories  by Peter Nadas Is maybe one of the true epic books of the 21st century ,ok it has a lot of sex but also you feel the dirt and grim of everyday communist life in eastern europe through the eyes of his characters within its covers .

Phantoms of Breslau by Marek Krajewski  A dark atmospheric crime novel set in post world war Poland ,I love his use of language and the way he brings Breslau to life .The best crime novel I ve read this year.

Beauty and the Inferno by Roberto Saviano This book typifies  non fiction at it best from a writer that is fearless these pieces range from the trivial stories of footballers to the deadly serious with pieces on the environment , all written in Saviano’s wonderful prose style

Kamchatka by Marcel Figueras -This is  my favourite south american book this year in what has been a good year for Argentina fiction ,a little boy on the run with his parents in the seventies that dark time in Argentina  and the best of a number of books about this time that came out this year .

Khirbet Kizah by S Yizhar is  the first of his two masterpieces to  reach us  English his epic follow-up to this due out sometime in the next few years ,this book follows a battle in a small Palestine  village from the view of the Israeli soldiers doing the mission.

I was born there ,I was born here by Mourid Barghouti  yet again his poetic prose bring his homeland to life ,not with angry voices but with quiet words showing the everyday to him that seems outrageous to us .A must read for anyone that wants to know the Palestine side of the conflict

Glorious  Nemesis by Laidslav Kilma another gem turned up by the wonderful twisted spoon this follows a man haunted by an old women he saw briefly and its driven him mad and to poverty.

New finnish grammar by Diego A book about language , memory ,learning who you are .This by a man who is found and assumed to be finnish by the contents of his bag .I was told about this at the Iffp by the Nick Lezard of the guardian and finally read it last week this maybe just nudges book of the year.If push comes to shove .

So that is that all of my books of the year are translations ,it what has been a great year for translations .

What was your translation of the year ?

If your on twitter hashtag it with #translationthurs for all I will rt them all .


28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bythefirelight
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:38:24

    Great list, Stu. I loved Khirbet Kizah when I read it a few years ago. I can’t wait for the follow up. Thanks for the tip off. I’m looking forward to Down the Rabbit Hole. It sounds interesting.


  2. The Book Whisperer
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 00:47:08

    Great to see your faves of the year, Stu. I was already tempted by Phantoms of Breslau after your review and now I intend to add I Was Born There, I Was Born Here to my list too 🙂


  3. Lynne
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 01:47:50

    You’ve done my book budget no good, Stu. Thank you! I’ve done so much reading for work this year that I don’t really have a best translated novel. Hope to rectify that this winter and definitely over the course of the next year.

    Thanks much for this round-up.


  4. Tony
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 02:19:49

    Shusaku Endo’s ‘Silence’ would be up there, along with the two of Oe I read (‘The Silent Cry’ & ‘A Personal Matter’) plus Stefan Zweig’s ‘Schachnovelle’. I was also impressed by all of the Peirene books I read, but especially F.C. Delius’ ‘Bildnis der Mutter als junge Frau’ (‘Portrait…’).

    Would love to try a few of those you recommended, especially ‘New Finnish Grammar’ and ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’; I’ll be rereading (then reviewing) ‘Open Door’ soon 🙂


  5. Rise
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 03:45:13

    Stu, what great diversity. An all-round must-have titles..


  6. Richard
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 05:36:03

    Thanks for the tips, Stu. Saviano’s awesome Gomorrah is the only work I’ve read by any one of these authors, but almost all the works you highlighted sound very interesting. Proust’s Swann’s Way, lovingly translated by Lydia Davis, was far and away my favorite work read in translation this year. Happy Holidays to you!


  7. gaskella
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 07:19:35

    Amazingly I’ve read one on your list which was Tomorrow Pamplona which was great. I do have Kamchatka on my pile though which I bought after your review. Cheers!


  8. Nana Fredua-Agyeman
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 11:15:06

    Interesting list. I remember the Nadas book and a few others. All of these I’ve never read before. I hope to read them one day.


  9. amymckie
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 13:03:48

    Really interesting list of books Stu, most of which I’ve not read at all. I do have Down the Rabbit Hole on my pile to be read though! Also, EVERYONE seems to love Tomorrow Pamplona best of the Peirene books but it’s still my least favorite. I feel like I missed something!


  10. Gavin
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 15:55:17

    Wonderful list, Stu, I have several on my TBR stack. Thank you again for the introduction to Kamchatka. It is in my top ten list for 2011.


  11. Parrish
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 20:45:39

    Down the rabbit hole is on my wishlist, I’ve read Tomorrow Pamplona, have Beauty and the Inferno, so the one that attracts me most is New finnish grammar. My own favourite reads would be Manguel’s A reader on Reading,Perec’s A Void, Of gentle Wolves, an Anthology of Romanian Poetry & Juno Charm by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, This list is open to change & is not necessarily the definitive answer to the question.


  12. Lisa Hill
    Dec 23, 2011 @ 06:48:12

    Hi Stu, I was delighted to discover in today’s mail my copy of Ordained by the Oracle, which you reviewed for Kinna’s Ghanian Literature Week. I found it second-hand at BetterWorldBooks, and I’m going to save it for next year’s Ghanian Book Week. How’s that for getting ready well in advance LOL?
    I only read 15 books in translation this year, but I’m hard-pressed to choose a favourite. I’m reading my first Murakami ever for the Shadow Man Asian LitPrize and enjoying it, but it’s not quite in the same league as Blindness by Jose Saramago, The Accident by Ismail Kadare or The Twin by Gerhard Bakker.
    A couple of classics really impressed me too: Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) by Jose Rizal was my first ever Filipino read, and I read Zola for the first time too (Germinal).
    In 2012 I plan to read some of my growing Russian TBR pile (some of which are recommendations from you) and I’m really looking forward to that.
    While I’m here I want to send my best wishes for the festive season to you and the family (including Winston of course) and to thank you for enriching my reading with your terrific reviews during 2011. Have a very happy Xmas and New Year! Lisa *virtual hug*


  13. Sigrun
    Dec 23, 2011 @ 07:14:41

    An interesting list. I have Nadas on the top of mine, together with Sara Stridsberg’s: “Darling River” which isn’t out in English yet – but you should be looking out for it: its a fantastic variation on Nabokov’s Lolita, told by four different women and a monkey …


  14. Bina
    Dec 25, 2011 @ 18:38:26

    Great list, Stu! I covet the Krajewski! Merry Christmas to you 🙂


  15. maphead
    Dec 31, 2011 @ 22:00:22

    Looks like a cool list. I’m very thankful you are out there blogging about these kind of books. Thanks and please keep doing what you have been doing !!


  16. Martine Frampton
    Jan 01, 2012 @ 10:52:15

    I have not heard of a single one of these and feel ashamed that I stick so much to ‘english’ literature, I am quite inspired to seek out a better variety of reading.
    thanks for sharing


  17. WordsAndPeace
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 00:39:49

    great titles! I have not made top book in translation category, I should have, but 1Q84 would have definitely won. I had to give up on Nadas! see my recap:


  18. farmlanebooks
    Jan 03, 2012 @ 21:13:08

    I haven’t read any of these yet, but Down the Rabbit Hole and the Breslau books are high on my wishlist. I hope I enjoy them as much as you did when I get around to them. Have a wonderful 2012!


  19. Kinna
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 00:05:38

    My translation of the 2011 is Death in Spring by Merce Rodoreda. Your list sounds fantastic.


  20. novelinsights
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 23:36:39

    I do like spying on your globetrotting book choices. My favourite translation this year is a book of short stories by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.


  21. Vishy
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 16:29:25

    Wonderful list of favourites, Stu! I love the title ‘New Finnish Grammar’ 🙂 ‘Kamchatka’ evokes beautiful emotions and makes me think of the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia. I have to say that you are the King of translated fiction – whenever I want to know anything about translated fiction, I can search for it in your blog.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 05, 2012 @ 23:13:19

      Thanks Vishy I try and bring the world to every one I love translation so uch and am so passionate about it and its importance to us as readers ,all the best stu


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