In 2022, I’ve spent a lot of time reading (& hoarding—I mean, purchasing) translated fiction. More specifically: translated horror and horror-adjacent titles.
It all started when I read Tender is the Flesh in 2020. That book blew my mind. I didn’t realize it was translated, well if I did it was more subconsciously—I didn’t really process what that meant. Since then, I’ve been actively seeking out translated fiction. Why? Well, many reasons but mostly because:
- It’s darker.
- It’s grittier.
- It’s bleaker.
- It. Just. Hits. Different.
Trust me. If you feel like nothing can shock or disturb you anymore, I just might have what you’re looking for.
With the new year approaching, now is a great time to set some reading goals for 2023. Adding (or adding more) translated fiction to your list of goals not only diversifies your reading but also allows you to be fully immersed in other countries. You are able to experience other cultures from the comforts of your own home.
Check out one of these titles and see if you find a new favorite.
Tender Is the Flesh
Translated from Spanish by Sarah Moses
Like I said above, Tender is the Flesh was one of the first translated horror books I ever read so I consider it a modern-day classic. It’s a thrilling dystopian novel with one of the most jaw-dropping endings I’ve ever read. If you haven’t read this one yet—let me preface by saying if you’re not already a vegetarian, you just might be by the end of this book.
The Laws of the Skies
Translated from French by Rhonda Mullins
Twelve six-year-olds go on a camping trip with a few chaperones and nobody comes out alive. This book is truly shocking and brutal. Coming in at just over 150 pages, you will most likely read this in just one or two sittings. Find a buddy to read this one with because you’ll definitely need some emotional support.
Translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes
Hands down one of my favorite reads of 2022. Discovering this book was one of the turning points in my reading journey this year. It’s told in a nonlinear narrative as well as a third-person narrative. There are also like zero paragraph breaks, barely any sentence breaks and there’s a total of about 8 chapters. It’s a unique style but it’s compelling. It feels URGENT. It is about the events surrounding the murder of the Witch of La Matosa, an impoverished fictional town in Mexico through which Melchor explores violence and masculinity in Mexican society.
Translated from Korean by Deborah Smith
The Vegetarian is a three-part novel that takes place in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of a woman who stops eating meat after a recurring nightmare. What unfolds is truly heartbreaking and tragic. I read this book in just a couple of days. The writing is captivating and the message was so much deeper than I had anticipated.
Translated from Japanese by Robert B. Rohmer
After four teens mysteriously die after watching a videotape, one of their uncles starts his own personal investigation to figure out why. Yes, this IS the book that inspired the iconic Ring movie franchise. I always feel like if there is a book behind a movie, I will need to read it at some point and this was one of those instances. The atmosphere in the book is so dark. Even thinking back on it, I can still see the gray fog and rainy weather that permeates throughout this little book.
Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell
Described as, “A visionary novel about the collision of technology and play, horror and humanity, from a master of the spine-tingling tale.”, this book is strange and unusual and I LIKE IT. It’s weird and creepy and a reminder of why we should not have furbies or trust technology.
The Dangers of Smoking in Bed
Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell
There’s no way I could let this list go on without adding some Mariana Enriquez to it. Once again, I am asking you to please read something by Mariana. As more of her work is being translated, there are fewer excuses to give regarding why you haven’t read anything of hers. I promise you will love her.
The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories Vol 1
This is the best way to visit many countries in the shortest amount of time. In this collection, you will go to 19 countries on five continents and read stories that were originally written in 13 different languages. All 20 of the stories in this collection have been translated into English for the first time ever! That’s really cool and there are so many unique stories in here.