26 Books in 2017 Book 20: A Book That Has Been Translated

The Millennium Trilogy by Steig Larsson.

Unlike most of the other books in this challenge, number 20 was an easy choice and came to mind immediately. Originally written in Swedish and subsequently translated into English (the language in which I read them), this dark, psychological, crime thriller trilogy ranks amongst my most favourite ever reads.

Okay it’s three books but to me they’re very much a unit. The set consists of:

  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2005)
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire (2006)
  • The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (2007)

The translator is Reg Keeland for publisher MacLehose/Quercus

For me these novels were compulsive reading. The main characters in all three books are Lisbeth Salander – a damaged, feisty, feminist, techie fighter for justice, and Mikael Blomkvist – an investigative journalist – and they are a totally beguiling partnership. The stories are intriguing, shocking and completely gripping.

I read them all before seeing either the TV series or the film versions and, yes, the books were better.

So, what about you? Have you read any good, or maybe not so good, translated books?

‘Beside the Sea’ – turmoil below the surface in a book of icy beauty

Beside the Sea by Véronique Olme

This book is a small treasure– a wee jewel of a book. And that’s just the physical feel of it. It’s a beautiful artefact – feels lovely to hold, looks gorgeous.

As to what’s between the covers of this very slim volume – it’s heart-rending – desperately sad and tragic. I don’t want to give too much away so I’m not going to say too much about the story. Suffice to say it’s about a mother’s love and fear for her children. It won’t take you long to read it but it will stay with you for a long time after you finish it.

The writing is beautiful – icy and precise – and yet, at the same time, the words ache with love.

 It’s no surprise that the book is a French literary bestseller. It has been translated into all the major European languages and has sold more than 100,000 copies in Germany alone.

It’s published by Peirene Press and is the first book, out of three so far, published by them. I first heard about this press on – yeah, you’ve guessed it – the Eight Cuts site. Check them out at http://www.peirenepress.com – even the website is good-looking.

Their mission is to publish contemporary European literature (in English translation) – books that are ‘thought-provoking, well-designed, short’. They only publish novels that are 200 pages or less. It’s a neat idea and neatly packaged. Definitely proof that small is beautiful .