Monday, March 30, 2015

Read Harder Challenge: Translated Books

When was the last time you read a book that was originally published in another language? Part of the Read Harder Challenge is to give one a try!

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. This book made quite the splash when it was published in English from the original French in 1955, not only for the content - a story of a teenage girl exploring her feminine wiles and interjecting herself into her father's love life - but also because the author herself was only eighteen when her book was published. A short read, reminiscent of Fitzgerald's Lost Generation of the 20s mixed with themes of the burgeoning Beat movement of the 50s, seemed very exotic to American readers at the time. If you're interested in reading something scandalous from half a century ago, this might be one to try.

Palace Walk by Naguib Maufouz. Another title published in English from the 1950s, but this one set around the time of World War I in Egypt. The story focuses on the Egyptian Arabic family the Ahmads, run by a controlling patriarch who more or less terrifies his family into obeying him. The novel rotates between the stories of the father, mother, sons, and daughters of the family, all with their own motivations and desires, while the Egyptian Revolution is taking place. An engrossing look at religion, politics, family life, and gender roles in a time period you might not be as familiar with.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. A more recent title, this one set in Paris and focuses on a cantankerous apartment concierge who observes the tenants of her building closely without them noticing her, and a twelve-year-old genius who decides she's going to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday. Lots of intellectual thought, and a read that will give you pause throughout.

And here are a few more suggestions from the Book Riot staff:

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