2020 Best Translated Book Awards for Fiction

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The Best Translated Book Awards is annually announced with a feature of the longlists, followed by the shortlists, and then the winners for fiction and for poetry. Founded by Three Percent in 2007, this award is to maintain that reading literature and sharing ideas from other countries is vital to a vibrant book culture, and also bolstering the appreciation of international literary works. Each year, they produce a diverse list of titles, authors, and translators from various publishers, both large and small. You can view the 2020 award winners for fiction and for poetry exclusively on The Millions as well as the past years’ winners.

If you are new to translated works, Hoopla features a Books in Translation category to help get you started, and you can also further explore through other categories on Hoopla, such as Asian VoicesLatina & Latino Voices, and Literary Collections with additional categories of continents, identities, and more. In the meantime, check out some of the fiction titles featured on the Best Translated Book Awards longlists below and tell us about some of your favorite translated works.

Are you interested in more book recommendations? Fill out our Book Recommendation form and a librarian will curate a list of suggestions for you! You can access Overdrive and Hoopla through our eResources page or by downloading the Libby or Hoopla app to your device. You can view tutorial videos here for more information. Contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh on any of our social media platforms or email us at info@carnegielibrary.org if you have any questions.

Animalia

Eleonore is a child in the small village of Puy-Larroque, southwest France in 1898, where she resides with her pig farmer father, God-fearing mother, and cousin Marcel. When WWI arrives, Eleonore gets a sense of the changes to comes as the twentieth century rolls forward. In part two, we explore Eleonore’s life in the 1980s, aged into the matriarch with the family running a large, industrial pig farm. Filled with powerful emotion and beauty combined with the brutality waged against the animals brings a chilling tale of man and beast. This book is translated from French by Frank Wynne. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Beyond Babylon

Two half-sisters coincidentally meet in Tunisia as their lives, combined with their mothers and elusive father, come together in an engrossing tale spread across three nations – Argentina’s dirty war, final years of Siad Barre’s brutal dictatorship in Somalia, and modern-day excess of Italy’s right-wing politics.  This book is translated from Italian by Aaron Robertson. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

China Dream

Ma Daode has been appointed Director of the China Dream Bureau, tasked with overwriting people’s private dreams with President Xi’s great China Dream of National Rejuvenation. When he starts living his grand life, things take an uneasy turn with flashbacks and nightmares of the Cultural Revolution. This book is translated from Chinese by Flora Drew. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla and as eBook on Hoopla.

Death is Hard Work

When the father Abdel Latif dies peacefully, his final wish is given to his youngest estranged son Bolbol to bury him in the family plot in their ancestral village of Anabiya. Bolbol, despite his feelings towards hi father, arranges for his older brother Hussein and sister Fatima to accompany him across Syria, currently a war zone. This book is translated from Arabic by Leri Price. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Die, My Love

A woman is battling her demons in the forgotten French countryside, craving freedom and wanting to burn the house down, while also desiring a family life and wanting to belong. Despite the amount of leeway given, she feels even more stifled. With raw intensity, motherhood, womanhood, the terrifying feeling of love and desire are explored with a uniquely brutal language. This book is translated from Spanish by Sara Moses and Carolina Orloff. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

In a remote Polish village, Janina spends her dark winter days translating William Blake’s poetry, studying astrology, and caring for the summer homes of the wealthy Warsaw residents. Suddenly, her neighbor Big Foot turns up dead, with only more bodies discovered shortly after. In these increasingly unusual circumstances, Janina starts to investigate the murders, despite the resistance from others. This book is translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

A Girl Returned

In the beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy, a 13-year-old unnamed girl is sent away from the family she thought was hers to be with her true birth family. She starts a new life of struggle, tension, and conflict, particularly with her mother, as she finds the strength to start again along with the help of her new siblings, Adriana and Vincenzo. This book is translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

The Memory Police

On an unnamed island, most of the inhabitants are oblivious to objects disappearing – hats, ribbons, birds, roses, and more. However, a few have the power to recall those lost objects and live in fear of the Memory Police, who are committing to making sure all things gone are forgotten. A young novelist discovers her editor is in danger from the Memory Police and concocts a plan to hide him. This book is translated from Japanese by Stephen Snyder. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Overdrive/Libby and as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Parade

During a conversation between Tsukiko and her former high school teacher, Tsukiko tells the story of awakening to something with a dark red face and something with a pale red face arguing in her room as a child. Referred to as tengu from Japanese folktales, these creatures have attached themselves to Tsukiko and follow her everywhere. Where did they come from and why are they here? This book is translated from Japanese by Allison Markin Powell. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

77

In Buenos Aires, during the darkest days of the Videla dictatorship in 1977, Gomez tries to keep a low profile as his friends and students begin to disappear. He realizes that nobody is safe as asking too many questions can have lethal consequences, and his life becomes a paranoid nightmare. Things become even more complicated when he takes in two dissidents, increasing his life being at risk, particularly as he continues his affair with a homophobic, sadistic cop. This book is translated from Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Vernon Subutex 1

Vernon Subutex, former proprietor of an infamous music shop in Paris called Revolver, finds himself without any direction in life after closing his shop due to the rise of the internet and his declining sales. When a mysterious rocker who has been paying Subutex’s rent suddenly dies from a drug overdose, he finds himself homeless and about to become a panhandler when a throwaway comment he made on Facebook takes the internet by storm. Subutex is carrying the VHS tapes filmed by that dead rock musician and people want them bad. This book is translated from French by Frank Wynne. You can also check out this title as eBook on Overdrive/Libby.

Welcome to America

Ellen thinks she may had killed her father and stops talking. Her brother locks himself in his room and their mother, a famous actress, carries on as normal. However, darkness seeps in everywhere and in their individual worlds, they each long for togetherness. This book is translated from Swedish by Martin Aitken. You can also check out this title as eBook on Hoopla.

Will and Testament

After twenty years of fleeing, Bergljot is drawn back to the orbit of her family as her mother and father decide to leave two island summer homes to her sisters, effectively disinheriting the two elsest siblings from the most significant part of the estate. While seemingly about property ownership and favoritism, Bergljot understands the gesture to be a final attempt to suppress the truth. This book is translated from Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund. You can also check out this title as eAudio on Hoopla.