Top Foreign Reads – Book and Literature Translation

When travel to all countries is not possible, submerging oneself into a book by a writer from the place and read by many locals can allow another type of visit: mind travel.

“By reading the same books, we have been visitors to the same imaginary territory. For a short time, at least, we have felt comparable things, our thoughts have traveled along similar tracks, and we have common ground.” You can read about Ann Morgan’s project to read a book from every country registered with the U.N. here.

What an amazing journey, not only has she met new people in person and in particular virtually through her project; books were translated specifically for her quest and a film producer decided to obtain the rights to a book based on Ann’s blog about it.

Document Translation Opens Up the World

Translation of literature and poetry is a whole other form of art and allows for the richness of the reading experience to travel across borders. Many translators love the creative challenge of the work; knowledge of the setting and subject matter along with experience make the quality of the translated book.

With literature and fiction in particular, there is so much more to be translated than just text. There are nuances in the language that express regional accents or dialects and social class, how are those translated? How does a ‘Belle’ from the Southeastern part of the USA sound in Russian or Japanese? The translator doesn’t only need to understand exactly what the author is portraying, he also needs to express that image in the language of translation. Expertise and sensitivity to the culture of both languages is necessary.

Then there is non-fiction, which includes specialty literature, for example, books on architecture, gardening, cooking, etc. The meaning of these kinds of writings tends to be clearer cut and unambiguous, the translation therefore can be easier to provide as well. Once a translator has worked on a few architectural books and has mastered the specialty language, any additional piece in the field comes much easier.

Check here for a list of ten great foreign reads, all by living authors and translated into English.


One of my latest favorite reads has been the highly prized “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr (2014). It is not a foreign book, the story is written by and American author and takes place in World War II Europe. The author has to have put an enormous amount of research into the cultures of Germany and Europe at the time, creating fiction that is historically accurate and realistic. The translators of the book must have done the same on their end though it might have been an easier task for Werner Löcher-Lawrence who created the German version. Renowned for his literary translation work, Mr. Löcher-Lawrence has been translating many masterpieces into German over the years and has a strong publishing background with both German and foreign authors.

Looking to have a book or document translatedTell is happy to assist you with any questions you might have about the translation of your piece.