What was last year’s best translation? You have a few days left to cast your vote here.
If you were choosing by the author name alone, the Mexican Guadelupe Nettel would be bound to win.
In fact, her Natural Histories, translated by J. T. Lichtenstein, gets my vote. The oddest things seem normal, as the lead characters find themselves reflected in their relationship with a particular animal or even a fungus. They can’t change the course of nature, and it is tragic to observe.
A short story of Nettel’s, Bonsai, translated by Rosalind Harvey, is available free from Words without Borders here. Like Natural Histories, it’s an unsettling reflection on the unsettling closeness of the human and natural worlds, though this time it’s plants, rather than animals. The greenhouse will never feel so safe and warm again…