Ten Months, Fifteen Novels in Translation

Back in January, I made my short, impromptu list of reading goals for the year: read at least thirty titles, read more about Medieval England, more Jewish Literature, and more Disability Visibility (the last of which, to be honest, I’ve made no progress toward). Novels in translation wasn’t a category that made the list, but it appears to have done so unconsciously. To set the scene, aside from manga, I’ve only read one novel in translation since 2017 (Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman, which I read in 2020); in the years before that, I never read more than two or three a year. In the past ten months, though, (December 9th to today, September 4th) I’ve read fifteen separate titles, one of them twice! I discovered all but one – Takami’s Battle Royale – while working shifts at the library; Takami’s novel is one I’ve read every few years since I first read it back in 2014. In total, nine were translated from Japanese, four from South Korean, and two from Swedish. And so, in order from most recent to last, here’s the booklist:

Salvation of a Saint / Keigo Higashino (Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
The Devotion of Suspect X / Keigo Higashino (Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
Three Assassins / Kotaro Isaka (Chiba Prefecture, Japan)
The Plotters / Kim Un-Sun (South Korea)
An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed / Helene Tursten (Sweden)
An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good / Helene Tursten (Sweden)
Before the Coffee Gets Cold (Tales from the Cafe) / Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
Before the Coffee Gets Cold / Toshikazu Kawaguchi (Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
The Strange Library / Haruki Murakami (Kyoto Prefecture, Japan)
Almond / Sohn Won-Pyung (South Korea)
The Old Woman with the Knife / Gu Byeong-mo (South Korea)
Battle Royale / Koushun Takami (Hyogo Prefecture, Japan)
The Cat Who Saved Books / Sosuke Natsukawa (Osaka Prefecture, Japan)
Bullet Train / Kotaro Isaka (Chiba Prefecture, Japan) which I read twice in the past ten months (once this past December, and again this August)
Lemon / Kwon Yeo-sun (South Korea)

Of these, my favorites have been Kotaro Isaka’s Bullet Train and Three Assassins, as well as Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X. I mean, clearly Bullet Train was a favorite, seeing as I reread it so soon after finishing it (usually, I’ll wait at least two years before rereading something), though I’ve got no plans to see the film. That aside, there actually wasn’t a single title on the list that I disliked. I’ve got a few more translated novels checked out from the library at the moment, too, though we’ll see if I get through them by the end of the year. It always surprises me which books I end up reading, despite setting my TBR goals in January. I already have an idea as to what genres and subjects I’d like to focus on next year, but I’m beginning to think I should expect to see at least a handful of translated novels on that list, too.

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