Finally, I’m getting around to a minimal report on the books I read in 2015. Clearly, as I have admitted before, I had too much time on my hands, as I appear to have read something like 160 books. About 20 of these, or about 12 percent, were works in translation; I suppose this is above average, but still seems low considering how I swaggered (internally) to think of myself as a big foreign-book reader.
The book I most often recommended last year was probably Sybille Bedford’s A LEGACY, a memoirish novel of a family and a childhood in the transforming, not to say collapsing, Europe of the early 20th century. Written in English as a second or third language, it almost counts as a work in translation—pre-translation, so to speak. I connected A LEGACY with Gyorgy Krudy’s ADVENTURES OF SINDBAD, also highly recommended, which apparently I read in some earlier year. Another book I talked up was Robert Sackville-West’s THE DISINHERITED, a family memoir of the troubled and occasionally dastardly Sackville-West family (not primarily about the famous Vita). Sensing a theme here? Another in the same dying-Europe family: THE EMPEROR’S TOMB by Joseph Roth.
TO BE CONTINUED.