Found in Translation

Apologies St Jerome, we’re a bit late with our International Translation Day celebrations in the Comma office but we got there in the end! Here is a list of our favourite works in translation…

The Engineer of Human Souls by Josef Skvorecky, Trans. from Czech by Paul Wilson

41V2TX59uRL._SX310_BO1,204,203,200_A note about the novel: A comic novel that investigates the journey and plight of novelist Danny Smiricky, a Czech immigrant to Canada.

A note about the translator: Paul Wilson is a freelance writer, editor, radio producer and translator. In the ’60s he moved to Czechoslovakia where he performed as a singer in a band called The Plastic People of the Universe. Later, he was expelled by the Communist government for being an active member of the dissident movement so he moved back to Canada, where he’s originally from. His Translation of The Engineer of Human Souls was awarded the Governor General’s Award for Fiction (1984).

Chosen by: Sarah Hunt – Engagement Manager

Tales from the Thousand and One Nights Trans. from Arabic by N. J. Dawood (Penguin ed: 1973)


A note about the book: This collection of stories depicts an enchanting world of sorcerers, princesses, and magical lamps. Despite the fantastical nature of the literature, it is rooted in reality, representing the culture of a medieval eastern world.

A note about the translator: Nessim Joseph Dawood, known as the ‘Jewish master of Arabic’, is an Iraqi translator who is best known for his translation of the Koran. He was invited by Sir Allen Lane (founder of Penguin books) to translate this work, which was then combined for the later edition, published 1973, gaining a wide readership in the Western world.

Chosen by: Jim Hinks – Digital Manager

A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka, Trans. from German by Willa & Edwin Muir

8090217117A note about the story: This story was first published (in Germany) in 1922. The protagonist is a hunger artist who gradually notices the decline and appreciation of his craft. In true Kafka style, there are themes of futility, death, spirituality, isolation, and art.

A note about the translators:  Willa and Edwin Muir, husband and wife, translated many of Kafka’s works from German into English. In 1958, Edwin and Willa Muir were granted the Johann-Heinrich-Voss Translation Award. Many of the Muir translations are still in print today.

Chosen by: Ra Page – Founder and Managing Editor

One Moonlit Night by Caradog Pritchard, Trans. from Welsh by Niall Griffiths


A note about the novel: Told from the perspective of a young boy growing up in a remote village in Wales alongside his two friends Huw and Moi, this story traces the realisations, irritations and joys of growing up.

A note on the translator: Niall Griffiths is an award-winning author and Professor of Creative Writing, this is one of his only works in translation and it was accompanied with a foreword by Jan Morris. One Moonlit Night was originally translated by Philip Mitchell.

Chosen by: Daisy Kidd – Marketing and Production Assistant

Campo Santo by W. G. Sebald, Trans. from German by Anthea Bell

51ZXRlfBLoL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_A note about the collection: Campo Santo is a highly-praised final collection of essays, written by W.G. Sebald before his death in 2001. Sebald pays articulate attention to the ills of the world, especially in Germany, with recurring themes of lost spirituality, time, memory, and literary insights into the works of Kafka, Gunter Grass, and Nobokov.

A note about the translator: Anthea Bell is an English translator who has translated numerous novels, comics, children’s books, and essays. She has won many awards for her translation work, including: the Marsh Award for her translation of Christine Nostlinger’s A Dog’s Life, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for her translation of W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz . 

Chosen by: Sarah Hunt – Engagement Manager

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