A few posts back I reviewed Daniel Kehlmann’s F introducing it by saying I didn’t read as many translated books as I ought to. Claire from Word by Word pointed out in a comment that my previous post had been just that – Philippe Claudel’s Parfums – and that she knew I’d been reading Per Petterson’s I Refuse which I posted on later the same week. Three books in translation in a week – perhaps I was in denial. Not only that but I had This Should be Written in the Present Tense in the works as well. So what’s changed? Step forward Jacqui at Jacquiwine’s Journal and Claire, herself, not to mention sundry other individuals who fly an awful lot of flags for translated fiction in the blogosphere.
Time was that we in the UK had a lousy reputation for reading translated works. Very hard to shift in my bookselling days apart from the odd roaring success such as Peter Høeg’s Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow. It was Scandi crime fiction that upped the stakes considerably, although Simenon’s Inspector Maigret books have always sold steadily so perhaps crime readers are less blinkered than the rest of us. It could well be that the success of Jo Nesbø, Stieg Larsson, Arnaldur Indriðason, Karin Fossum et al has migrated to mainstream fiction although I’ve not noticed it in the bestseller lists. Any booksellers out there care to put me right?