Why We Need Challenges

I don’t usually write posts that are acting as responses to other posts, but I saw a comment recently that suggested that it’s a little silly to have reading challenges for reading outside of our language/country and another that readers should already be naturally exploring translated fiction. Since this seems to crop up from time to time, especially in connection with the concern that we readers, from all countries, tend to focus too much on the English-language dominated “canon,” I thought I’d chirp in, at least so that I can focus my own thoughts.

While some of these points may be valid or well-intentioned, and while I think the whole discussion is ENTIRELY different for those whose first language is not English (see: this article about the reading habits of Europeans, many of whom apparently prefer English-language books), it seems a bit naïve to me to believe that readers—especially US readers—will naturally gravitate to translations or works from outside their country. To illustrate:

In 2007 I created a LibraryThing account and entered all the books I had read at that point. I have kept a list of what I’ve read since mid-1997, so the numbers go back that far: 343 books read since 1997. Of these, 30 were translations. Another one was half-read but not completed (so not in my completed list), and one was read in the original language. Four were written in English by authors originally from outside the US/Canada/UK.

I categorize them as follows:

Books read for school (required, high-school & university)

    1. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes) [half-read—shhh—don’t tell my teacher!]
    2. One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel García Márquez)
    3. Selections from the Decameron (Giovanni Boccacio)
    4. Waiting (Ha Jin)
    5. The Odyssey (Homer)
    6. The Romance of Tristan and Iseult (Joseph Bedier retelling)
    7. La Casa de Bernarda Alba (Frederico García Lorca) [read in Spanish]
    8. Medea (Euripides)
    9. Antigone (Sophocles)
    10. Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
    11. All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
    12. Night (Eli Wiesel)
    13. The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)

Books read on my own

    1. Bible (Anonymous)
    2. Daughter of Fortune (Isabel Allende)
    3. Portrait in Sepia (Isabel Allende)
    4. Eva Luna (Isabel Allende)
    5. City of Beasts (Isabel Allende)
    6. Zorro (Isabel Allende)
    7. The General in His Labyrinth (Gabriel García Márquez)
    8. The Club Dumas (Arturo Perez-Reverte)
    9. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
    10. The Three Musketeers (Alexandre Dumas)
    11. Arabian Nights (Husain Haddawy translation)
    12. The Alchemist (Paolo Coelho)
    13. The Metamorphosis (Ovid)
    14. Perfume (Patrick Susskind)
    15. Around the World in 80 Days (Jules Verne)

Books read because of online challenges/readalongs

    1. The Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)
    2. The Name of the Rose (Umberto Eco)
    3. The Savage Detectives (Roberto Bolaño)
    4. Santa Evita (Tomás Eloy Martínez)

Books in English

    1. Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe, for school)
    2. In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez, for school)
    3. Ilustrado (Miguel Syjuco)
    4. Saving the World (Julia Alvarez)
    5. Waiting (Ha Jin)

Not counting the last 4, that means 32/344 [includes incomplete book] were translated works, or  9.3%. That’s it. In 15 years. If it hadn’t been for school requirements, I might not yet have read the 13  for school,  and another 6 from my “on my own” list, having discovered their authors through school. That would bring my average down to 4%.

Why do I tell you all this? Because I think it’s fairly reflective of a typical American reader. Go to the library, the bookstore, and the books on the shelves are far and away mostly works in translation. In fact, I’ve had to request several books from outside my library system because they weren’t available (and my library system isn’t small). Or, if you don’t believe me, look at the Classics Club lists—over 150 of them and the vast majority (not all!) are heavily focused on American/British fiction. (I should note, a number of these lists are by readers for whom English is a second or third language, so they are reading outside their tradition.) So when I see a reader saying that they feel it should just be a given that someone spends, say 10% of their time with works from outside their language or country, I feel it is naïve at best. There are all sorts of reasons (excuses?) many readers aren’t doing so, good or bad. Some of those I can think of:

  • An abundance of choice within one’s own region.
  • A lack of readily available choice from outside of one’s region.
  • Marketing successes and/or failures: success at promoting the local market, failure to promote the “outsiders”
  • Those pesky lists: while they can be great—the international edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die includes many, many non-US/UK authors I’d never heard of—, many of them are very English-centric. One prominent example: the MLA 100 top books of the 20th century. Among the criteria for books on this list was that they be originally in English. The list is full of great books (and room for debate, of course!), they just happen to be all in English.
  • Fear. Fear that we won’t get it, because the culture is foreign, or the references are meaningless. (This is a good reason for good annotated texts!) Fear that the translation will “feel” like a translation—that it will be rough or bumpy. Fear of names we can’t pronounce. (Actually, for me, this is a major annoyance—I want to say it correctly, darnit!) Fear that it will just be plain hard.
  • Bad experiences with bad translations.
  • Plain ol’ lack of interest. If I as a reader prefer a particular genre/style and I can’t find translated works in that genre/style, I might see no reason to bother.
  • Too many books already on our lists! Even though I’ve lived my entire life in the US, there are still an abundance of books by American authors I’ve never read—I’ve read almost none of the 20th century “great” books.
  • Not knowing how to find them. Finding non-English classics from before 1900 or so can require a lot of research if you want to go beyond to obvious, such as Dumas, Hugo, Dante, etc. (The best suggestion I’ve seen relative to this is to ask a professor of literature of that language.)
  • We’ve not been exposed to other literatures or cultures or are actively biased against them.
  • I’m sure there are others…

So this is why I think it’s naïve—and can come across at times as downright snobbish—to express dismay at other-language/country challenges or to confidently assert that most readers should be reading works in translation without difficulty. Challenges remind us when we’re not doing as well as we might like. They introduce us to books we might not otherwise find—not to mention other readers and points-of-view.

Now there’s another little pickle as part of this: the “serious” reader, which is often part of the conversation. I both agree and disagree with the notion that a “serious” reader should be naturally looking outside their comfort zone.


  • Even if you are focused on just one area of literature, there are usually foundational texts that are commonly referenced within in that tradition. For example, the Bible and the Ancient Greeks are common sources to literatures of many countries. So even if you aren’t “studying” the books you are reading, it can be useful to know these background works so you can follow the story.
  • I think anyone who has spent a lot of time thinking about reading and books will likely realize that there is so much more out there than they now read. (And then panic. How can we get to it all?)
  • I am almost always in favor of expanding our own boundaries and 100% in favor of life-long learning. (Although…have you heard about the guy with 29 degrees? That’s an extreme I can’t imagine going to…maybe if I were independently wealthy…)
  • The most famous works from other countries are often part of the cultural conversation, just as works from our own countries are. It just makes sense to read them.


  • The Definition Problem. What do we mean by “serious reader”? I think a lot of people might say “someone who takes literature seriously” (wow, is that circular logic or what, Amanda?), but to some that might mean nothing more than reads a lot, regardless of the level of their reading. I have a feeling this could be one of those definitions that could result in a lot of contentious debate. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a definition, just that it could be hard to arrive at a consensus. (To be clear, I think a “serious reader” is more about the quality of reading rather than the quantity, but I think it becomes really sticky when we start trying to qualify which those quality reads “should” be.)
  • If someone has already spent a good chunk of time focusing on another country or language or style, and has chosen to move on/return to their comfort zone should we figuratively wrap their knuckles for not pushing the boundaries?
  • If someone is just starting out their explorations, they may not yet realize how interconnected so much of literature is, or the value of exploring other-language predecessors. I certainly never thought about it until a year or two ago. (Thanks, Dante!) I don’t see the need to scare someone away by questioning how “serious” they are if they aren’t pushing the boundaries.
  • The risk of turning someone off a real exploration of reading by telling them they’re not (already) serious enough. This might not bother some people, but I’d rather not do that. Baby steps.

So I’ve probably dipped my foot into a highly charged topic, but I figured if I was running the thoughts through my brain, I might as well type them up. And also depress myself at the thought of how many books I still have to read. Please, ancestors, tell me I have your longevity genes—it looks like I’m gonna need every year I can get and then some!

As for me personally, why do I wish to explore works from other countries/why do I join challenges?

Mostly, the honors Colloquium I as required to take in college: most of the books we covered were from other countries. One Hundred Years of Solitude (plus all that high-school Spanish) really sparked my interest in Latin American fiction. Also, my semester in Italy prompted me to consider I haven’t read much in the way of Italian fiction (one book to date, eek!). One thing just leads to the next. So, the best thing I think we as bloggers can do is promote, promote, promote—and not just among ourselves, but everywhere. Italy had nothing to do with reading for pleasure, but it certainly enriched my life—and hopefully my reading.

Promote, encourage, celebrate!

Some challenges I’m currently aware of:

Edited to add: Tom quite correctly pointed out in the comments that Waiting (Ha Jin) was actually written in English. I’ve relocated it, but not adjusted the math.

35 thoughts on “Why We Need Challenges”

  1. Great post! You made a lot of really excellent points; I don’t read nearly enough books from other countries — besides a few Russians, Murakami, and Seven Years In Tibet, I think all the books on my shelf were originally written in English. I think there are a plethora of reasons behind this; as an American I’m exposed mostly to American/British books, there are so many amazing books within my culture that it’s easy to not even think about investigating books from other countries, and it’s difficult to know where to start when branching out into literature from other cultures (if I decided I wanted to start reading Spanish fiction, I would have no idea what to look for, whereas it’s so easy to look at a list like the Top 100 Books of the 20th Century and have tons of fantastic English-language books at your fingertips).

    That said, I agree that it is really important to read books from other cultures! It seems like such a fantastic way to learn about the world around us. I actually didn’t know of any challenges for reading outside of the the Western canon, but I think I’ll check those out! Nothing like a little motivation to get you on the right track 🙂

    1. I’m glad you’re interested in exploring other cultures! I haven’t done nearly enough myself, as I’ve proven above. Tom has linked an excellent group of lists below–you still might have to dig a little for non-English language books. Some other lists I’ve seen:

      St. John’s Eastern Classics list
      50 Outstanding Translations
      Africa’s 100 Best Books of the 20th Century
      Compilation of Spanish Language Lit Lists from 1950-today
      Obooki’s Spanish Canon

      Some Classics Club lists which have lots of non-English books (these are the ones I remember):

      Hope these are helpful!

  2. What is the source of this bloggish disease in which people refuse to link to the subject of their argument? Tony’s post is right here. He can handle contention.

    I introduced the “serious reader” phrase in a comment on that post. I can say what I mean. A serious hobbyist is one who 1) spends an inordinate amount of time practicing his hobby and 2) spends an inordinate amount of time learning about his hobby. So the serious reader of fantasy novels reads a lot of fantasy novels but also reads a lot about them, about the history of the literary tradition of fantasy fiction. He reads books and articles about the thing itself, more than most fantasy readers.

    A strong signal of seriousness is giving up income, health and happiness to pursue an advanced degree in literature where you spend several years doing nothing but reading about, thinking about, talking about, and writing about literature. A dedicated amateur hobbyist can be plenty serious, too. but I have a measure – am I as serious a reader, as dedicated to literature, as The Little Professor? Clearly not.

    I say all this as someone who believes that few people should take any steps to increase the quantity of translations in their reading. Mostly they should continue doing whatever they are doing, as well as possible.

    PS: Wasn’t Waiting written in English?

    PPS If readers like Leah are really having a trouble finding lists, here is a collection of many fine lists.

    1. Ha ha, you caught my cowardice out! Although, I also in part didn’t mention Tony’s post as I only sporadically read his blog and have never commented–I just feel kind of weird linking to someone who doesn’t know me. (Which I think is the opposite of the way this blogging thing’s supposed to work…) Now that you’ve pointed this out, I was also thinking of the comment on Jen’s challenge (ill-worded if nothing else) and the discussion on this post of Richard’s. Plus the general on-going nature of the debate.

      You hold serious readers to a high standard, Tom! Thanks for explaining what you mean by “serious reader.” I think that’s an excellent definition, but I suspect that a lot of people don’t think of serious reading as involving background reading; rather they think of it as judging the actual books being read. As I’ve gotten further into my explorations of literature, I’m coming to see how important this is, but honestly, I hadn’t considered it before recently. I like your perspective that we just need to do what we’re already doing better–it’s more encouraging than the “oh, no, you need to do this” that seems more common.

      And yes. Waiting was written in English. Whoops! I should have known that.

  3. I don’t know that readers should necessarily “naturally gravitate to translations or works from outside their country,” Amanda, but I do wonder why readers don’t do it sooner than many are admitting to. For me, it’s simple: even if I weren’t as big of a language geek as I am, I’d still be curious about what the literary (or cinematic or culinary…) highlights are from different countries. Why would I choose to limit myself to one language’s literary production when I can easily have access to multiple countries’ literary productions via reading in translation? The apparent lack of curiosity manifested by bloggers who are anti-reading in translation or who just aren’t interested in reading outside of English for whatever reason or reasons is what really puzzles me here, but to each his/her own. P.S. Thanks for the links!

    1. You’re welcome!

      I don’t think the general reading environment in the US (meaning bookstores/libraries) strongly encourages a trend towards reading outside American authors, but it does seem to me that as our world grows smaller, we would be more likely to see other perspectives out. On the other hand, as regards curiosity, I’m unfortunately a bit cynical on the matter, but I’m inclined to believe that people in general (bloggers/non & readers/non) don’t seem to have enough curiosity–or at least not as much as I think they should have. (Admittedly, my own bias here.) I don’t know if this is because of a focus on the self or if it reflects a particular educational background type where discovery and wonder aren’t adequately encouraged or what. Of course, I wonder whether what sometimes appears as lack of curiosity is actually a conscious decision to focus on something else because of lack of time or feeling overwhelmed. I don’t know; it can be sometimes hard to accurately measure people through the medium of the computer screen.

  4. I agree with a lot of what you have written here, and I too feel that the English ‘canon’ is so thorough and varied that sometimes readers feel it is plenty to be getting on with.
    Personally, I have a love of all things foreign (especially languages) and on my own list of the books I’ve read, I always make a note of where the books are set.
    You would think that with the internet, and the whole international community aspect to so many things, we would have branched out more by now. I think that people are (mostly) not shunning foreign literature, but are too scared to try it; therefore not much publicity; therefore people are scared to try it and so on and so on forming a vicious cycle!
    Hopefully more ‘international reading’ will arise in the future! 🙂

    1. Adam, you touch on something I don’t quite understand: why should people be “scared” to try a book just because it was originally written in a foreign language? This makes no sense to me.

      1. It makes no sense to me either, Richard. I think people just naturally stick to the ‘norm’ and for the many reasons listed by Amanda above, are reluctant to break into foreign literature when they are content with what they have on offer at home.
        Maybe scared was the wrong word to use; apprehensive or reluctant are probably more accurate.

      2. Best I can think of is a general fear of the unknown. Coupled with limited amount of time available in general vs. the amount of time it takes to read a book. But yeah, if the book’s now in a language I speak, it doesn’t make sense.

    2. Yeah, you would think the internet would have created more readers of international lit by now–especially as we virtually meet people from all over. Maybe it is, to some extent, and it’s just a slow process.

      I think that vicious cycle you mention is especially prevalent in the selection of books for translation/publication and their subsequent marketing. I don’t know how such a cycle is broken, although it always helps when there’s a runaway hit such as The Girl Who… series.

  5. Nice thought piece Amanda and thanks for mentioning the Aussie Author Challenge. I set up the challenge for a very personal reason, to change my own behaviour and focus, and it has achieved that. Now that I am more aware of the talent in my own backyard I will be challenging myself to read more translated works. Why? Simply because I have enjoyed immensely almost all translated fiction I have read to date. I have found the different cultural viewpoints of the original authors refreshing.

    1. You’re welcome! I’ve never read any Aussie authors myself, although I’m sure I will at some point. I like your point about varying cultural viewpoints. I’ve been following Ann’s challenge to read a book from each UN recognized country (A year of reading the world) and it’s been really fascinating to read her accounts of the different perspectives authors have. (North Korea was especially interesting.)

  6. Fantastic post, Amanda. I love that you mention foreign readers of English literature, we tend to be overlooked most of the time.
    I have just counted, and of the 20 books I’ve already read this year 16 were English, 2 were translations into German and only two were actually written in my mother tongue.
    So yes, I am focusing too much on the English canon too, but in my case it is not quite the same problem. I openly admit that while I am immensely interested in literature from all around the world, I am very suspicious of translations in general. When I was younger I read A Christmas Carol in German and I almost fell asleep. Dickens, possibly my favourite author ever, bored me to death because of a bad translation. It’s funny, but I actually regard English literature as my comfort zone. I don’t know why, perhaps as some strange subconscious form of teenage rebellion I’m having problems with German and Austrian authors.
    Anyway, I’m totally agreeing that we should push our boundaries, so I’ve been toying with the idea of maybe maybe maybe hosting a German/Austrian Literature Challenge. There doesn’t seem to already be one, but fact is, I don’t know if anyone would be interested in it at all. It would probably be far more challenging for me than for anyone else 🙂

    Oh, and: I think anyone who has spent a lot of time thinking about reading and books will likely realize that there is so much more out there than they now read. (And then panic. How can we get to it all?) This. Today. So much. I actually wrote an anxiety-ridden post about it!

    1. Yeah, I think there’s a definite difference in the discussion when it’s readers whose first language isn’t English reading English books (original or translation)–there it’s less about reading or not in translation and more about “why is the canon so English?” The best I can tell, the current concept of the Western canon originated in American Universities, so that’s probably a huge part of it. But certainly, I can’t say that you’re not reading outside your country! 🙂

      I never really thought about translation issues until I read Dante, but when I read that, I realized both the challenges of translation and the importance of reading a good translation when we don’t have the option of reading the original language. For example, I can’t read a word of German, so I would have to read any Austrian or German authors in translation.

  7. Any German and/or Austrian sort of challenge would be great! I’m looking through my various lists, and I don’t believe I have a single Austrian author on any of them (yet), so that would be interesting even just to learn what’s out there. Anyone not familiar with Tom’s challenge rules, he’s got a really fun concept, at variance with most of the challenges you see around.

  8. Caroline of Beauty Is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy’s Literary Life hosted a German reading month last year in October with a ton of participants. Lots of great reading ideas to be found on both blogs while that month lasted ‘though I’m not sure whether the two hosts have yet decided whether or not to host the event again this year. Super cool Austrians: Robert Musil and Thomas Bernhard.

  9. The benefit of concentrating on Austrians as a group, as a project is, or I think is, that the transition to Modernism happens very rapidly in Vienna and is fairly clearly marked. Freud for example is right there, walking around, smoking cigars.The case study will, I hope, be clarifying.

    And then there are a long series of keen-sounding writers (keeping in mind I will impose an early-20th century cutoff): Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Musil, Rilke, Kafka (widening the definition of Austrian just a bit), etc. etc. The musical and visual art names are similarly promising.

    1. That does sound like an interesting concentration. I’ve sort of wanted to pick a topic such as that to concentrate my reading around, but I’ve never had the discipline to do so myself. Also, thank you for more names.

  10. I don’t really understand why you would feel the need to limit your reading to local works. I think that translation is a great tool that highly depends on the translator’s skills. I’m Spanish but almost bilingual so reading English works translated feels like cheating, but what about the rest of the world? I am a huge crime-fiction fan and the Scandinavian writers have proved themselves really good at it, so what am I supposed to do? Learn Finish, Swedish and Norwegian? That’s impossible!

    This local-focus kind of feels a little bit nationalistic (in a bad way) to me.

    1. I could see limited time or limited available selection (say at a library) leading to a limitation on one’s reading choices, but I don’t readily understand why someone would outright say “I don’t read translations.” I know some people struggle with the feeling that they aren’t really reading the (original) writer’s “real” words, but they usually say this in context of acknowledging that they can’t possibly learn every language out there and thus translation is necessary.

      I would guess that in actuality, nationalism plays only a small role in book decisions. In the US at least, readers have to look much harder for translations (unless they’re really popular such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), so I think most readers just don’t think about it. And the ones who turn down translations on principle are probably more often afraid (for no good reason–just like people are often afraid of classics) than taking a nationalistic stance. (It probably also doesn’t help that the “canon” is generally English.)

      1. I love your comment on US fiction. I had never stopped to think about it. Right now, the crime sections in bookshops in Spain are flooded with Scandinavian authors and we are more than grateful for it and we see it as normal. Maybe Europe has more literary “traffic”? I thought you got all these authors too in the US. But it is wonderful that you have such a wonderful national production too. So, can I ask you for American crime writers? 🙂

        I agree also with the canon being English, even here Dickens is a must and translated editions can be really, really good (and up to 44€ approx. 50$).

        1. I think it varies depending on what’s popular; there seem to be a lot of Scandinavian mystery authors here right now too, and certain authors such as prize winners are more likely to show up. But I’ve seen reviews from European bloggers for books I can’t get here.

          Hmm…American crime writers…I don’t think I’ve actually read too many contemporary Americans. I know you like Castle; have you tried any of the authors who’ve made cameos on the show? (Stephen J. Cannell, James Patterson, Dennis Lehane, and Michael Connelly) In the more “mystery” vein, I really like Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series, set in Venice. NPR has a series on crime writers (American and non) who are associated with various cities, HERE.

  11. challenges our great way to motivate reading ,I m looking forward to seeing everyones choices for spanish lit month my self ,all the best stu

    1. I agree! I realized yesterday that almost every book I’ve had to “force” myself to finish for a challenge has ended up as a book I really enjoyed, too. Can’t wait for Spanish lit month myself!

  12. I agree with some of what you say, but I still don’t buy it 🙂

    No, you’re not going to find a lot of translated fiction in a book shop (in fact, in many you’re lucky to find much outside the current top ten anyway), but The Book Depository is just a click away… I think what you said in brackets is the reality – many of these are excuses to avoid translated literature, not reasons.

    As for lists… one day, I’ll have to make up a list of ‘101 Reasons Why Lists Are Completely Issue-Laden, Useless And To Be Avoided At All Costs’. Although I’ll probably have to work on the name a little first 😉

    1. It’s a very good point about the Book Depository (or ILL for that matter), which makes me think I left off an excuse–an element of laziness. I look at my dad for example–he just wanders down the library shelves and picks up whatever catches his eye. He’ll read about anything, but doesn’t go out of his way to look for books, which is where availability comes in. If the library stocked more translations, I imagine he’d be more likely to actually pick one up. I don’t know how to encourage more readers to move from that point of sticking with what is convenient to exploring beyond our boundaries, especially when many readers are content with where they’re at. Complicated problem!

      Certainly, I think lists have their problems (it rankles me a bit whenever a list name includes the word “must”), but I see them as a jumping off point for further exploration. Unfortunately, I don’t think we “jump” often enough. I’m a sucker for lists, though (LOVE making them 🙂 ) so I’d love to see yours! The name might need a little tightening. Perhaps “101 Reasons Lists are Letdowns”?

      Thanks for stopping by, Tony!

  13. I think I’m in support of Tom’s comment about serious readers. In America it’s always been difficult to find books in translation. Most people don’t look for particular types of books, they look for books they’ll enjoy reading. People who lean towards being serious readers start with the basics, the low hanging fruit. In an English speaking country, these are English language books. There are lots of them. More than you’ll ever get through. And since England ‘ruled’ so much of the world, you can read only books written in English and still read books from around the world.

    I consider myself a serious reader. I meet Tom’s definition in that I do read books about books and I even gave up a good deal of person wealth to pursue advanced degrees in English literature. But it took many years of reader before I began to pursue books in translation. I was never afraid of reading them, how can anyone be ‘afraid’ of reading, but there was so much in English that I wanted to read.

    For the last several years I’ve been actively looking for books in translation and loving it. One great benefit of reading books in tranlsation is that a book has to be a certain level of quality or popularity or both before a publisher will take the trouble to translate it. I’ve found that NYRB Editions are a very good source. They publish quite a few books each year, a large percentage of them in translation. Europa Editions are also a very good source.

    Fascinating post by the way and you have excellent commentors.

  14. Thanks! I’m actually inclined to think the comments have proven better than the post.

    I really like Tom’s definition of serious readers too. When I first read the phrase “serious reader,” I was thinking of a less stringent definition–that most people would consider a “serious reader” one who merely reads a lot, but I think Tom points out that to be truly serious about anything requires a commitment even greater than mere time. (At this point I don’t consider myself a serious reader by that definition–I have too many other interests!)

    Some excellent points, both about the reason for the domination of the English language (as seen by authors who choose to write in English rather than their first language) and about the quality of the books that make it into translation. I hadn’t thought of that before, but that certainly could go a ways to explaining why I haven’t had a bad experience with a translated novel yet.

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