Classics and award winning books from other languages translated into English. Curated by Ashley Lee.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
Original language: Russian
Suppressed in the Soviet Union for twenty-six years, Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece is an ironic parable on power and its corruption, on good and evil, and on human frailty and the strength of love. Featuring Satan, accompanied by a retinue that includes the large, fast-talking vodka-drinking black tom cat Behemoth, the beautiful Margarita, her beloved – a distraught writer known only as the Master – Pontius Pilate, and Jesus Christ, The Master and Margarita combines fable, fantasy, political satire, and slapstick comedy into a wildly entertaining and unforgettable tale that is commonly considered one of the greatest novels ever to come out of the Soviet Union.
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Original language: Chinese
The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience the Hugo Award-winning phenomenon from China’s most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Original language: French
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With the intrigue of a psychological thriller, The Stranger—Camus’s masterpiece—gives us the story of an ordinary man unwittingly drawn into a senseless murder on an Algerian beach. With an Introduction by Peter Dunwoodie; translated by Matthew Ward.
Behind the subterfuge, Camus explores what he termed “the nakedness of man faced with the absurd” and describes the condition of reckless alienation and spiritual exhaustion that characterized so much of twentieth-century life.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Original language: Italian
The year is 1327. Benedictines in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate. When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective. His tools are the logic of Aristotle, the theology of Aquinas, the empirical insights of Roger Bacon—all sharpened to a glistening edge by wry humor and a ferocious curiosity. He collects evidence, deciphers secret symbols and coded manuscripts, and digs into the eerie labyrinth of the abbey, where “the most interesting things happen at night.”
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Original language: Spanish
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Original language: Swedish
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Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Original language: Japanese
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.
As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
Wizard of the Crow by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o
Original language: Kikuyu
In exile now for more than twenty years, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o has become one of the most widely read African writers of our time, the power and scope of his work garnering him international attention and praise. His aim in Wizard of the Crow is, in his own words, nothing less than “to sum up Africa of the twentieth century in the context of two thousand years of world history.”
Commencing in “our times” and set in the “Free Republic of Aburĩria,” the novel dramatizes with corrosive humor and keenness of observation a battle for control of the souls of the Aburĩrian people. Among the contenders: His High Mighty Excellency; the eponymous Wizard, an avatar of folklore and wisdom; the corrupt Christian Ministry; and the nefarious Global Bank. Fashioning the stories of the powerful and the ordinary into a dazzling mosaic, Wizard of the Crow reveals humanity in all its endlessly surprising complexity.
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea
Original language: Arabic
When Rajaa Alsanea boldly chose to open up the hidden world of Saudi women—their private lives and their conflicts with the traditions of their culture—she caused a sensation across the Arab world.
Now in English, Alsanea’s tale of the personal struggles of four young upper-class women offers Westerners an unprecedented glimpse into a society often veiled from view. Living in restrictive Riyadh but traveling all over the globe, these modern Saudi women literally and figuratively shed traditional garb as they search for love, fulfillment, and their place somewhere in between Western society and their Islamic home.
*All summaries courtesy of the publisher unless otherwise noted.