Five essential books for translators for summer 2018

May 30, 2018
Five essential books for translators for summer 2018

It’s time to think about which parts of the world you want to see this summer if, indeed, you haven’t already booked something. That means it’s also time for the Tomedes top five books for translators for summer 2018! Twice a year we recommend five fabulous books that those providing professional translation services may find particularly appealing. Here are the latest five – we hope you enjoy them! 

Flights, Olga Tokarczuk

Winner of the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, Flights interweaves a range of narratives, with core themes of travel and human anatomy. The book explores life, death, motion, and migration in its musings on the human body and travel, taking the reader from the 17th century to the present day. 

This is one of the finest contemporary examples of fiction in translation – hence it winning the Man Booker International Prize!  

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018

If Flights inspires you to do some travelling of your own, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 is an essential read. Detailing the most outstanding places on the planet, this book covers everything from the best culture trips and top small-ship expedition cruises, to the best private islands that everyone can use. It’s a cracking read for anyone looking for travel inspiration for summer 2018. 

How Not to Travel the World, Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff’s painfully funny (and sometimes just painful) account of her disaster-prone backpacking adventures is a fantastic read for anyone who loves travelling. How Not to Travel the World follows Lauren as she ricochets from one disaster to the next. Sometimes laughing with the author and sometimes at her, the reader is taken on a whirlwind travel adventure that somehow serves to inspire a desire for travel even while showing just how dangerous travelling can be! 

Translation and Paratexts, Kathryn Batchelor

If your summer break means you finally have time to put some thought into your career, then Translation and Paratexts could well deserve a place in your suitcase, particularly if literary translation is of interest to you. The book looks at paratexts as the ‘thresholds’ through which readers access texts and provides an important overview of recent scholarship, as well as a framework for further research. Perhaps not the lightest of holiday reads, but a great book for literary translators who are looking to use the summer break to hone their craft. 

Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi

Just pipped to the post by Flights, Frankenstein in Baghdad certainly deserved its place on this year’s Man Booker International Prize shortlist. This is another book that is a long way from the ‘light beach read’ category, but its gripping, dark humour makes it a real page turner. 

The story focuses on a scavenger called Hadi, who roams the rubble in US-occupied Baghdad, collecting human body parts in order to compile them into a corpse. His aim is to give the corpse a proper burial by forcing the government to recognise the body parts as people. However, things go awry when his project disappears, just as a string of murders starts, along with the appearance of a horrendous-looking villain who cannot be killed… 

While the story ranges from horror to humour, the underlying images of life in a city at war are only too real. This extraordinary novel won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and is an important read for anyone seeking to see the world from another perspective this summer. 

Final thoughts

What is on your essential reading list this summer? Which books would you recommend to your fellow translators, either to inspire their travels or in relation to the craft of translation itself? Leave a comment below to share your recommendations.