As we usher in the new year, our staff, contributors, and board members share the books in translation they're most looking forward to in 2022.
In 2022, I'm particularly looking forward to Jokha Alharthi's Bitter Orange Tree, due out in May from Catapult in Marilyn Booth's translation. Words Without Borders was the first to publish Alharthi's work in the United States, in our May 2019 issue. It was particularly thrilling, nearly a year after commissioning the work, to learn just days before publication that Alharthi and Booth had been awarded the International Booker Prize that year. Alharthi's depiction of the mix of regret, estrangement, and shifting ground that often defines the process of building a life abroad is certain to be one of the books of the year.
In 2022, one book that particularly interests me is Mónica Ojeda’s Jawbone (translated by Sarah Booker). I was impressed with Ojeda’s contribution to Granta’s latest Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue, and a novel with elements of cosmic horror, strange rituals, and secret societies has my interest piqued on multiple levels.
Next year I’m excited about a couple of cotranslations: Emma Ramadan and Olivia Baes have a book by Marguerite Duras called The Easy Life coming out in the fall, as do Robin Myers and Ellen Jones—theirs is called The Forgery, by Ave Barrera. Each of these four translators is a genius in her own right; to have them collaborating on a text feels almost too good to be true. There’s also Daniel Hahn’s Translation Diary on his work on Diamela Eltit’s Never Did the Fire, which I can’t wait to read since I am always hungry for insights into other translators’ thought and practices, and of course there is the much-anticipated third and last installment in Damion Searls’s powerful translation of Jon Fosse’s Septology, titled A New Name. I have been utterly entranced by these books since reading the first one and can’t wait to get my hands on the grand finale, which will no doubt be heartbreaking and great.
I’m especially looking forward to Salka Valka, Halldór Laxness’s 1931 novel, newly translated by Philip Roughton and published by the good folks at Archipelago. It’s a “feminist coming-of-age tale,” quite long (I like very long or very short books), and set in a run-down, remote fishing village (I also apparently like books set in remote fishing areas). I became fascinated by Laxness, who won a Nobel Prize, while I was a writer-in-residence at Gullkistan in Laugarvatn, Iceland, last summer. His novel Independent People captured the places I was traveling—including an active volcano that blew my mind open. I was continually moved and surprised on my trip by the reverence that Iceland has for writers. Salka Valka will be a way to travel back there without leaving my apartment.
For 2022, I’m excited to dive into Kristine Ong Muslim’s translation of Marlon Hacla’s poetry collection Glossolalia, forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in September. The collection promises a “rip-roaring romp into Philippine urban legends, psychogeography . . .” and I am very much up for the ride. I’m also looking forward to Eddo’s Souls (Dedalus Books) by Stella Gaitano, translated from Arabic by Sawad Hussain. A work of historical fiction that spans generations, it’s set to be the first South Sudanese novel to be published in the UK.
Several of my brilliant colleagues moonlight as translators, and 2022 promises five titles from WWB staffers alone. On the Spanish side, founding editor Samantha Schnee will publish Jeannette Clariond’s poetry collection The Goddesses of Water (World Poetry) and Carmen Boullosa’s novel The Book of Eve (Deep Vellum). From Portuguese, digital director and senior editor Eric Becker will have two nonfiction titles by the founders of São Paulo publisher Companhia das Letras: Lilia M. Schwarcz’s Brazilian Authoritarianism (Princeton) and Luis Schwarcz’s as-yet untitled memoir (Penguin). And digital marketing and communications coordinator Bruna Dantas Lobato brings us Caio Fernando Abreu’s short story collection Moldy Strawberries (Archipelago), also from Portuguese.
Next year, I'm looking forward to reading Shen Fuyu's The Artisans, translated by Jeremy Tiang. These interweaving vignettes tell the stories of villagers from the author's hometown, artisans who wove bamboo, made lanterns, and fought off their own kidnappers.
In 2022, I'd really like to read this year's Nobelist, Abdulrazak Gurnah—either Paradise or Afterlives. And I'm looking forward to the publication of a nonfiction book I edited, translated by Jefferson Chase: Bernd Brunner's Extreme North: A Cultural History, about the exotic and sometimes dangerous and racist ideas people have had about the North, including that the Garden of Eden was located at the North Pole.
Assistant Editor & Development Coordinator
In 2022, I’m looking forward to Kettly Mars’s I Am Alive, which will be out in the fall in Nathan H. Dize’s translation. I loved the excerpt we published this year, about a Haitian family grappling with an unexpected consequence of the 2010 earthquake, and I’m excited to read more.
I’m looking forward to Jenny Croft’s translation of Sylvia Molloy’s memoir of her dear friend’s deterioration due to Alzheimer’s. We workshopped a piece of this collection of memories at the American Literary Translators Conference in Tucson this year, in a seminar led by Jill Levine and Jill Gibian, and there are some fiendish challenges in the text, including a passage on the two different verbs for “to be” in Spanish, so I’m looking forward to discovering how Jenny approaches them. The book will be published by the wonderful Charco Press, based in Edinburgh, next October; in our seminar we came up with four possible versions of the title, Desarticulaciones, which is rendered as Dismantling, a "working title," on Charco’s site.
In 2022, I am looking forward to reading Camila Sosa Villada's Bad Girls, translated by Kit Maude and forthcoming from Other Press in May. Other Press will also publish La plus secrète mémoire des hommes by Mohamed Mbougar-Sarr, winner of this year's Prix Goncourt. And Riverhead will publish Yu Miri's The End of August in Morgan Giles's translation. Lucky me and us! So many wonderful books. And I am counting down to my next vacation so that I can pull up the drawbridges and (finally) read The Books of Jacob by Nobel winner Olga Tokarczuk, translated by Jennifer Croft!
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Published Jan 7, 2022 Copyright 2022 Words Without Borders