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2022 | Best Fiction in Translation

Updated: Dec 16, 2022

This year's French fiction in translation is a diverse crop! From a beautifully illustrated graphic novel by Magali Le Huche, to the latest in contemporary fiction by the likes of Fatima Daas, Scholastique Mukasonga and Hervé Le Tellier; as well as recent translations of classic texts, this selection highlights the diversity of French literature, made accessible to a wider English speaking audience for the first time.

Book cover: Nowhere Girl by Magali le Huche

Nowhere Girl, Magali Le Huche, translated by Jessie Aufiery | Nobrow

This is the story of a girl growing up in the 1990s – a middle-schooler who finds herself lost in the gulf between childhood and adolescence, developing paralysing fears of failure, school, other people, and her own changing body. She becomes obsessed with the Beatles… which might be just what she needs to find her way back to being okay. Yeah yeah yeah! Magali Le Huche was the Institut français' artist in residence in 2019. In the footsteps of The Beatles in Liverpool and London she developed drawings and her ideas for this stunning graphic novel.

Book cover: The Last One by Fatima Daas

The Last One, Fatima Daas, translated by Lara Vergnaud | HopeRoad

A lyrical first novel from Fatima Daas. An account of life in the banlieue, growing up Muslim in France, and the author’s attraction to women. Laid out in short chapters, the text repeats itself as the author introduces herself and her family, building on itself and weaving together across chapters. Over the course of the novel, we see her grow into her identity as a Muslim lesbian, and begin to explore her love of writing in earnest. As much about family and heritage as it is about lesbian identity, this is easily one of our favourite novels of last year and after such a strong debut, we can’t wait to read more from Fatima Daas!

Book cover: The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier

The Anomaly, Hervé Le Tellier, translated by Adriana Hunter | Penguin Books

In his eighth novel Hervé Le Tellier tells the story of a dozen passengers on a Paris-New York flight whose destinies are disturbed by a mysterious temporal phenomenon. Combining different genres the Oulipian writer explores existential questions about identity and perception, resorting to humour, pop culture and literary references. This Goncourt Prize 2021 winner is definitely one of the most exciting novels to be translated this year!

Book cover: The Barefoot Woman by Scholastique Mukasonga

The Barefoot Woman, Scholastique Mukasonga, translated by Jordan Stump | Daunt Books

A moving, unforgettable tribute to the author's mother, a Tutsi woman who did everything to protect her children from the Rwandan genocide, by the daughter who refuses to let her family's story be forgotten. Recording her memories of their life together in spare, wrenching prose, Mukasonga preserves her mother's voice in a haunting work of art. From the author of the critically acclaimed novel Our Lady of the Nile, a delicately wrought work memorialising a lost childhood, community and way of life.

Book cover:  The Penguin Book of French Short Stories volume 2

The Penguin Book of French short stories, edited by Patrick McGuinness | Penguin Books

This two-volume short story collection gathers the best of French literature from across the centuries. Volume 1 spans 400 years of literature, with readers transported from Marguerite de Navarre’s 16th century France to Marcel Proust’s Belle Epoque, whereas Volume 2 collects the crème de la crème of French authors from the 20th and 21st century, from Colette to Despentes, including several stories translated into English for the first time. From ghosts, labourers, noblemen and burglars, to dissatisfied housewives and robots, this anthology bubbles with a panoply of voices and genres, making it a fascinating and varied read, and providing an entryway into the works of over 80 French authors.

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