Best Books of 2022: Fiction in Translation

Salt Crystals
by Cristina Bendek, translated by Robin Myers, Charco press £11.99

With its contentious past, the Colombian island of San Andrés is a cauldron of mixed and often conflicting identities. So is Victoria, born on the island though long an expatriate, who returns to her place of origin after a messy divorce only to find she no longer belongs there.

Book cover of 'Gel, Sam, If You Still Can'

Scream, Sam, if you still can
by Maylis Besserie, translated by Clíona Ní Ríordáin, Lilliputian £13

This daring debut (the first installment in a projected trilogy) depicts the final months of Samuel Beckett’s life in a nursing home in Paris, haunted by memories of his recently deceased wife, long-dead mother and estranged daughter. Maylis Besserie’s Beckett – like Beckett’s characters – is a faltering presence steeped in gloom and black humour.

Book cover of 'Solenoid'

by Mircea Cărtărescu, translated by Sean Cotter, Deep parchment £17.99

Presented as the elaborate diary of a failed writer who teaches at a Bucharest primary school who fantasizes about escaping the ugly life under communism, this novel by Romania’s best-known contemporary author is alternately mundane and metaphysical, surreal and viscerally political.

Book cover of 'Eastbound'

by Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore, The Fugitives £10.99

Although first published in France 10 years ago, there is contemporary resonance in this sleek tale of a young Russian conscript, Aliocha, who tries to escape the army on the Trans-Siberian Railway and meets Hélène, a fellow refugee on fleeing from her own past. .

Book cover of 'A book full of lies'

A book full of lies
by Jaan Kross, translated by Merike Lepasaar Beecher, Quercus £16.99

The last part in Jaan Kross’s Between three plagues series. These historical novels – hailed as the Estonian answer to wolf hall (although originally published decades earlier) – chronicles the personal trials and political maneuverings of Balthasar Russow, a genuine 16th-century priest and scholar, set against a backdrop of European wars.

Books of the Year 2022

Throughout the week, FT writers and critics share their favorites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Business by Andrew Hill
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Thursday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ choice

Book cover of 'Still Born'

Still born
by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey, Fitzcarraldo Editions £12.99

When they first meet, Laura and Alina bond over their shared belief not to want children of their own. One undergoes sterilization. The other eventually has a daughter, only to discover that motherhood is not what she expected. A bright and raw exploration of motherhood, childlessness and friendship from an outstanding Mexican author.

Book cover of 'Nights of the Plague'

Nights of the Plague
by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Ekin Oklap, Faber £20

The latest offering from the Turkish Nobel laureate is a historical murder mystery set in 1901, in the last days of the Ottoman Empire, amid an epidemic of bubonic plague. A wry meditation on nationalism and identity, on history and myth, on science and superstition, delivered with Orhan Pamuk’s trademark narrative flair.

Book cover of 'Identitti'

by Mithu Sanyal, translated by Alta L Price, V&Q Books £12.99

Questions of race, culture and belonging abound in this entertaining debut by German journalist and academic Mithu Sanyal. Blogger and graduate student Nivedita finds her assumptions about identity challenged when her mentor, a popular professor of postcolonial studies, turns out not to be the “person of color” she claims to be.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list – and which books did we miss? Tell us in the comments below

Book cover of 'My pen is the wing of a bird'

My pen is a bird’s wing: New fiction by Afghan women
various authors and translators, MacLehose press £9.99

This collection of 18 short stories, written in Dari and Pashto, was commissioned by a UK-based non-profit organization that seeks to develop and amplify the voices of writers marginalized by conflict. torn country as it reveals the resilience and deep humanity of its people.

Book cover of 'Diary of a Void'

Diary of a Void
by Emi Yagi, translated by David Boyd and Lucy North, Harville Secker £12.99

Mrs. Shibata, a company employee charged with the menial duties that her male colleagues consider a woman’s job, announces one day that she is pregnant – although she is not. Her efforts to keep up the deception are at the heart of this hilarious and angry take on sexism in Japanese corporate culture.

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Best Books of 2022: Fiction in Translation

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