It is said that the late Argentinean writer, Jorge Luis Borges, learned English so he could read Shakespeare and other English classics in their original language. He probably believed in the Italian proverb, "Traduttore, traditore" (Translator, traitor). In other words, every translation is a treason.
But what else can we do? Unless we spend our lives unraveling the mysteries of Babel, we would miss on so much rich literature. I confess to be an accomplice of treason by reading Russian (my favorite is Dostoievsky) and French authors, German and Portuguese novelists. Yes, they were all translations, but I still enjoyed them.
If I can read the language, I would get the original, of course, as it was the case recently with Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind, of which I bought the original Spanish version, La Sombra del Viento.
Growing up in South America, I spent most of my teen years devouring books by Latin American writers, and have some favorites that you may or may not be familiar with. Here's a list of recommendations for you (you're allowed to read a translation if you can't read Spanish):
There are many more that I'm leaving out, of course, but this is a good start. What about you? What are your favorite non-English novels?
- Cien Años de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel García Márquez -- I re-read this book every couple of years. It's the climax of Magical Realism.
- Rayuela (Hopscotch) by Julio Cortázar -- Not your typical novel, it's an intellectual adventure that will challenge and amaze you.
- El Aleph (The Aleph and Other Stories) by Jorge Luis Borges -- a delightful collection of short stories.
- Sobre Heroes y Tumbas (On Heroes and Tombs) by Ernesto Sabato -- a bit dark and weird, but fascinating.
- La tejedora de coronas (The Crown Weaver) by Germán Espinosa -- mind-boggling, especially because he only uses periods at the end of the chapters--the rest is just commas. Sadly, there's no English translation.
Nick Daniels is a Christian suspense novelist, an avid reader and audiobook listener, and he loves chocolate ice cream and smooth jazz. Nick is deeply in love with Jesus. Check out the trailer of his novel here.