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40 of the Most Popular Translated Books on Goodreads

In celebration of World Book Day, Goodreads recently announced 40 of the most popular translated books on the site, writing that “the joy of reading is universal—that’s why we’re shining a spotlight on some of the most popular translated books on Goodreads!” So what made the list?

It’s a mixture of classics like Anna Karenina and The Odyssey, current bestsellers like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and A Man Called Ove (two of the four Swedish books on the list), and some others that I initially couldn’t figure out why they had made the list but then realized that many of them had movie/TV adaptations. You might recognize John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let Me In by its movie title, Let the Right One In.

I was pleasantly surprised by two newer titles that made the list: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin, translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell, and Human Acts by Han Kang, translated from Korean by Deborah Smith. Both are dark, unsettling, and very interesting new titles that have captured the attention of readers. Their presence on the list is wonderful.

None of this, however, makes up for one glaring failing. One that can’t be overlooked. There is not a single African novel on this list! Not one! If nothing else, So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ and translated by Modupé Bodé-Thomas deserves to be on this list. It’s a classic. I’d also recommend recent favorites of mine like Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila and translated by Roland Glasser, La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono and translated by Lawrence Schimel,

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