Found in Translation

Did you celebrate bibliophile’s favorite holiday tradition, the Jólabókaflóð?

The “book flood” is when Icelanders exchange presents of books on Christmas Eve and spend a cozy time reading. It’s become famous among book lovers across social media, who sigh wistfully and wish their own countries would adopt this custom. If you were lucky enough to get books for the holidays, you’re likely starting this year with a large TBR (that’s a to-be-read pile in readerspeak!)

Reading can unite people from very different places. We’re lucky to be living in an era where world literature is available in translation. Here are a few international books that have been on the radar recently:

What You are Looking for is In the Library, Michiko Aoyama (Japan)

Translated by Alison Watts

A heartwarming book about a special librarian and how the perfect book can change a person’s life, this book has been listed for booksellers’ awards the world over.

A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman (Sweden)

Translated by Henning Koch

Adapted by Hollywood as “A Man Called Otto,” this story of a curmudgeonly man spent almost a year on the New York Times bestseller list.

What You Can See From Here, Mariana Leky (Germany)

Translated by Tess Lewis

In the genre of magical realism, this bittersweet story of love and community at all stages of life, set in West Germany, was also adapted to the screen in 2022.

Time Shelter, Georgi Gospodinov (Bulgaria)

Translated by Angela Rodel

Winner of the 2023 International Booker Prize, this Kafkaesque novel follows a clinic for Alzheimer’s patients whose treatment via reproductions of the past begins to draw others.

Living Abroad provides information on cultural norms and holiday customs like the book flood to give you a taste of the place you’re about to encounter. Our destination information can also be a jumping off point to looking more deeply into a culture, giving you practical context for the works of local authors as you gain insight into the heart of your new home.