Books are a great escape from worldly affairs, and they have the ability to teleport us to unknown places where we can feel, think and see the world with a whole new perspective. However, books are not just limited to the English language. You can find great works of history, fiction, autobiographies, classical literature and even graphic novels in foreign languages. Sounds interesting? Below are a few picks to give you a taste of famous books translated into English. These books were initially written in German, Korean, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, and other languages.
And why is it necessary to read translated books? The reason is simple. Since we are living in a globalized world, it is essential to understand other cultures and rituals to collaborate with them and build a connection of global harmony. Moreover, all of the world’s knowledge and wisdom cannot be available only in one language. In other words, to expand your mind, you have to explore the world of translated books.
List of the Best Books Translated into English Of All Time
1The Little Prince
Being versatile in theme and having an impressive illustration, The Little Prince is one of the most books translated into English ever. It is a story about a young prince who visits earth and makes observations about nature, life, friendships, love & loneliness.
|Author||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.|
|Original Title||Le Petit Prince.|
|Translated by||Katherine Woods, Bonnie Greer, and others.|
|Genre||Children’s literature, Novella.|
|Copies Sold||140 million.|
|Available in languages||380+ languages.|
|Awards Won||Retro Hugo Award for Best Novella.|
|Adapted into||Radio plays, ballets, and operas. In 2015, Mark Osborne adapted it into an animated fantasy film.|
|Famous Lines||“All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.”|
It is a three-part novel about the story of a homemaker named Yeong-hye, who stopped eating meat because she was against animal slaughter. It makes her distant from her own family. The story starts off with her husband’s remarks about herself.
|Publishing Year||30 October 2007 in South Korea.|
|Translated by||Deborah Smith.|
|Genre||Contemporary fiction, Asian culture, Literary fiction.|
|Copies Sold||Around 20,000 copies in 9 years.|
|Available in languages||13 languages, including Spanish, French, and Chinese.|
|Awards Won||International Booker Prize.|
|Famous Lines||“Why, is it such a bad thing to die?”|
Interesting Facts that May Interest You:
The translator of the book, Daisy Rockwell, said that it took almost 20 years to translate this book, and she was so inspired by the whole experience. Moreover, she said that in this novel, every element has profound meaning. In short, culture, history, and literature are richly included in it.
It is considered the best write-up of Kafka that moved many readers worldwide. It is all about the story of a salesman named Gregor Samsa. He woke up one morning and found out that he had turned into a massive insect (into an insect according to different adaptations). Later Kafka wrote about the struggles he faced as a new specie and his family’s behavior towards him.
In different literary circles, this story is interpreted in slightly different ways.
|Original Title||Die Verwandlung.|
|Translated by||Susan Bernofsky.|
|Available in languages||Many languages, including Spanish, Arabic, and Russian.|
|Awards Won||Theodor Fontane Prize (a German-language literary award).|
|Adapted into||Several plays, comics, movies, animations, theatre plays, video games, and radio shows.|
|Famous Lines||“He was a tool of the boss, without brains or backbone.”|
4A Wild Sheep Chase
Moreover, A Wild Sheep Chase is the marvelous work done by Murakami, and it is more of the raw writing he has ever done. It is a story of a 30-year-old divorced protagonist who was on a mission to search for a strong sheep. Basically, it is a story of a man facing a midlife crisis and his journey to cope with it. It is one of the best Japanese books translated into English.
|Original Title||Hitsuji o meguru bōken.|
|Translated by||Alfred Birnbaum.|
|Genre||Fantasy fiction, Novel.|
|Awards won||Noma Literary Newcomer’s Prize.|
|Famous Lines||“Most everything you think you know about me is nothing more than memories.”|
Svetlana Alexievich has created an entirely new genre because of her unmatched writing style and her grasp over what she is writing about. In this book, she wrote about the experiences and memories of children who witnessed the destruction and brutality of World War II. In other words, the deep trauma and suffering they had gone through are written in this memoir-style book.
|Publishing Year||July 2019.|
|Translated by||Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.|
|Genre||Personal narrative, memoir, non-fiction.|
|Testimonials||“There is a special sort of clear-eyed humility to [Alexievich’s] reporting.” — The Guardian.|
|Famous Lines||“I am a person without childhood. Instead of childhood, I had war.”|
Interesting Facts that May Interest You:
The writer Svetlana Alexievich interviewed almost 100 people to know their experiences of World War II when they were children. They had seen brutality, burning, invasions, and killings with their own eyes. Many people showed her the images of their towns and villages where gardens, sweet homes, and happy families could be seen. But then, they watched their homes burnt, parents killed, and brutality that they can never forget.
6The Shadow of the Wind
It is a story within a story. The plot has many layers. And it starts when the protagonist (who is a ten-year-old boy) picks up an old book. The writer of that book was not in this world. As he read the book, curiosity about getting to know more about the author sparked in him.
|Author||Carlos Ruiz Zafón.|
|Original Title||La Sombra del Viento.|
|Translated by||Lucia Graves.|
|Genre||Mystery, Novel, Gothic Horror.|
|Copies Sold||18 million copies.|
|Awards Won||Barry Award for Best First Novel.|
|Famous Lines||“Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”|
7Temple Alley Summer
Lastly, Sachiko Kashiwaba is a famous children’s writer. To be exact, this story is about the mysterious adventure of a kid one summer evenings. It also encompasses paranormal creatures and magic.
|Publishing Year||August 2011.|
|Original Title||Miho Satake (Illustrations).|
|Translated by||Avery Fischer Udagawa.|
|Genre||Paranormal fiction, Ghost story.|
|Awards Won||2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Award.|
|Testimonial||“This imaginative tale, enchantingly written and charmingly illustrated by veteran Japanese creators for young people, has a timeless feel. Its captivating blend of humor and mystery is undergirded with real substance that will provoke deeper contemplation. Udagawa’s translation naturally and seamlessly renders the text completely accessible to non-Japanese readers. An instant classic filled with supernatural intrigue and real-world friendship.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review, Best Middle-Grade Fiction of 2021.|
According to the writer himself, the story talks about multiple walls. One is a wall of frustration that builds around the lower middle class. Some walls are thin, and some are thick. As these walls fall in the mind of the protagonist, the light of awareness illuminates his mind, and he starts to see life more clearly.
|Original Title||गिरती दीवारें (Girti Divarein).|
|Translated by||Daisy Rockwell.|
Finally, many translated books are available for reading enthusiasts to satisfy their cravings as well as it can be considered as an ideal gift for fresh college graduates to explore global cultures. To know different cultures and to read about a variety of topics, there should be translated books on your TBR lists.
Related Content: Books Based on True Stories