THE FOREIGN LIBRARY: THE BEST 200 NOVELS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH SINCE 1950
The intended volume will offer brief introductions (250-300 words) to the best novels written after 1950 in any language other than English that are available in English translation.
The formula we are looking for is that of The Modern Library: The Best 200 English Novels since 1950 (eds. Carmen Callil and Colm Tóibín), first published in 1999. In fact, the intended volume will respond to Callil and Tóibín’s by providing a similar list of novels coming from all over the world.
It will not be a list of the most influential, best known, highly appreciated and talked about novels (although many of these will, of course, find their way into the volume). Indeed, some might have remained obscure, known only to specialists and discussed only in the academia.
Unlike Callil and Tóibín who “were as one in [their] determination to ignore the distinction between so-called popular fiction and literary fiction (also so-called),” we believe this distinction is still relevant today. What we are looking for is a list of the most innovative novels, brimming with literariness.
A caveat: it is not a list of the best translations, but of the best novels in translation.
A few suggestions:
Italo Calvino, The Baron in the Trees (1957; first English translation, 1959)
Julio Cortázar, Hopscotch (1963; 1966)
Clarice Lispector, The Passion According to G.H. (1964; 1988)
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; 1970)
Marģeris Zariņš, Mock Faustus (1973; 1987)
Augusto Roa Bastos, I, the Supreme (1974, 1986)
Osman Lins, The Queen of the Prisons in Greece (1976; 1994)
Mario Vargas Llosa, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977; 1982)
Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (1979; 1981)
José Saramago, Baltasar and Blimunda (1982; 1987)
Roberto Calasso, The Ruin of Kasch (1983; 1989)
Javier Marías, A Heart So White (1992; 1995)
César Aira, How I Became a Nun (1993; 2007)
Georgi Gospodinov, Natural Novel (1999; 2005)
Enrique Vila-Matas, Bartleby & Co. (2000; 2004)
Pascal Quignard, The Roving Shadows (2003; 2011)
Roberto Bolaño, 2666 (2004; 2008)
What to avoid:
short-story collections; best-selling “genre” novels; novels appreciated mostly for their political content (children soldiers, anti-colonial sentiment, etc.); novels appreciated for being “frescoes” of a country and/or period; novels that have been praised because they offer that image of a country which matches a certain stereotypical representation (corruption, civil war, human trafficking, etc.); the latest Scandinavian fad.
PLEASE SEND INQUIRIES/PROPOSALS TO firstname.lastname@example.org by October 15, 2017.