8 Horror Books in Translation

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“Jessica has been a voracious reader since she was old enough to hold chapter books right side up. She has an MA in English from the University of Maine, and has been writing about books online since 2015. She started out writing about the Romance genre, but in recent years she has rekindled her love for Horror, Sci-Fi, and Fantasy, with an emphasis on works of queer fiction. You can follow her on Twitter, Bluesky, and Instagram.

Hey there ghasts and goblins, I hope this February finds you as well as can be in a world full of so much chaos and strife. (And for my fellow Northern Hemisphere horror fiends, I hope it finds you keeping as warm as can be!) I know there’s a lot going on in the world right now, so thanks for taking these few minutes to come celebrate horror with me, and I hope you walk away with a few exciting new additions to your to be read list! Today, we’re talking about horror in translation, a subset of horror fiction that is quickly becoming near and dear to my heart!

Translation is an art form that requires not only a fluency in the original language of a text but also a deep understanding of the text’s historical, social, and cultural contexts. Every time I read a translator’s note, I’m struck again by how much translation is an act of love, both because a translator has to really love a text to spend so much time intimately dismantling and reassembling it and because, in doing so, they are allowing the text they love to be shared with so many other readers.

I have immense respect for translators and the work they do, and every time I see a list of genre fiction in translation, it makes me so freaking happy. Because these books deserve to be read by everyone, and their translators deserve recognition for all the work and love that went into making that possible. So today, we’re not just celebrating these fantastic books, we’re also celebrating their incredibly talented translators!

HORROR NOVELS IN TRANSLATION

cover of sing, nightingale by marie helene poitras translated by rhonda mullins

Sing, Nightingale by Marie Hélène Poitras, translated by Rhonda Mullins

Sing, Nightingale was the first book that jumped to mind when I started working on this list. This was one of those books where I read the synopsis while doing research for a post last year, then immediately hopped into a new tab and ordered a copy. What can I say? I’m a sucker for old houses with bad histories and stories with more than a kiss of Angela Carter’s dark, fantastical influence. Malmaison is aptly named. It has been home to generations of men, women, and children, but their fates inside the great house could not be more different. The women are relegated to the shadows and doomed to die tragically. It’s a house where the violence, grief, and anger are sown deep. But something is changing deep in the forest around Malmaison. Something is waking up, and its violent promise spells doom for the master of the house and his newly returned son and heir.

cover of Nefando by monical ojeda and translated by sarah booker

Nefando by Mónica Ojeda, translated by Sarah Booker

The talented duo of author Mónica Ojeda and translator Sarah Booker (previously of Jawbone fame) are back with another incredible-sounding horror book: Nefando. Billed as techno-horror (which, yes please), Nefando is the story of six young artists roommates sharing an apartment in Barcelona who find themselves drawn into a mysterious, controversial video game. Nefando offers them a new reality free from the baggage they carry around with them in real life and the chance to play out a whole new life that doesn’t adhere to the ethics and morals that govern life in the real world. But how far is too far? And what happens when the line between game and reality begins to blur?

strega by jhanne lykke holm translated by saskia vogel cover

Strega by Johanne Lykke Holm, translated by Saskia Vogel

Johanne Lykke Holm’s Strega, skillfully translated by Saskia Vogel, is a Gothic novel set in a remote hotel high in the mountains, and it is a fantastic example of alpine horror, which is fast becoming one of my favorite sub-genres. Maybe it’s the remoteness of the setting or the way that a landscape so vast can feel so inexplicably claustrophobic. Who can say? But whatever it is, I will happily eat it up with a spoon. In Strega, 19-year-old Rafa and eight other young women are delivered to the remote Olympic Hotel, perched high on the side of the mountain above the village of Strega. They’re moved into a dorm, given uniforms, and put to work cleaning and preparing the hotel for guests. But, as the day goes by, the hotel remains empty. Until night, when a lavish, wild party descends on the Olympic and the first of the young women suddenly disappears…

cover of a luminous republic by adres barba translated by lisa dillman

A Luminous Republic by Andrés Barba, translated by Lisa Dillman

Andrés Barba’s A Luminous Republic, translated from Spanish into English by Lisa Dillman, is the only book I’m going to hand out now when people ask me why there are so many scary children in horror. Because yikes. I mean, on the one hand, go on and tear society down to its foundations, kids. I appreciate the mission. On the other hand: creepy children are so freaking terrifying. A Luminous Republic is about the small but prosperous city of San Cristóbal in Argentina, which is suddenly beset by a group of 32 children who seem to arrive out of nowhere. No one knows exactly what they want or why they’ve come to San Cristóbal. But as the 32’s actions escalate in violence and more and more of the children of San Cristóbal begin to join in the chaos, it becomes clear that something must be done before the entire city is reduced to rubble and ruin.

HORROR SHORT FICTION COLLECTIONS IN TRANSLATION

cover of Your Utopia: Stories Bora Chung; yellow with a white robot with red eyes

Your Utopia by Bora Chung, translated by Anton Hur

Author Bora Chung and translator Anton Hur are back with an exciting new collection of short stories! If you loved Cursed Bunny, make sure you add this one to your TBR list because this is going to be a must-read. The stories in Your Utopia explore the many avenues of humanity’s possible future, from sentient AI and cannibalism to the travails of living through the end of the known world and the dangers of being held accountable for what happens in our dreams. Chung has a talent for blending dark humor with horror to produce a bleak, unforgettable reading experience, and I can only imagine how well that’s going to complement the crumbling, collapsing, dying world she’s created in Your Utopia.

cover of flowers of mold by ha seong-nan translated by Janet Hong

Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Ha Seong-Nan, translated by Janet Hong

If you just can’t get enough of short story collections (me), and one will just never be enough (like potato chips), I’ve got you covered! Because Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold & Other Stories, brilliantly translated by Janet Hong, is another collection you won’t want to miss. There’s something so intensely uncomfortable (complimentary) about Seong-Nan’s work, and Hong’s ability to carry that tension over into the translation is the epitome of what I mean when I say translation is an art. These stories are must-read examples of what horror short fiction can accomplish as a form, and they will stay with you long after you put Flowers of Mold back on the shelf.

HORROR ANTHOLOGIES IN TRANSLATION

cover of through the night like a snake anthology of latin american horror in translation

Through the Night Like a Snake: Latin American Horror Stories, ed. by Sarah Coolidge (March 12)

This is the first of two forthcoming releases that I have the pleasure of including in this list! Through the Night Like a Snake is a collection of horror stories in translation from contemporary Latin American writers that will be published in March, so be sure to add it to your shopping list! Featuring the work of authors like Mariana Enriquez (tr. by Megan McDowell) and Mónica Ojeda (tr. by Sarah Booker and Noelle de la Paz), the ten stories in Through the Night Like a Snake showcase some of the most exciting voices in Latin American horror and promise a catalog of nightmares to keep you up at night. Abandoned houses, secrets, suspicious fog — there’s a little something for every reader, particularly those who like things a bit on the weird side.

cover of sinophagia collection of chinese horror short stories in translation edited by Xueting C Ni

Sinophagia: A Celebration of Chinese Horror 2024, edited and translated by Xueting C. Ni (September 24)

The second forthcoming title is also an anthology! You’ll have to wait until September to get your hands on Sinophagia, but it will definitely be worth the wait. Sinophagia is a compilation of 14 horror stories from contemporary China that Xueting C. Ni has translated into English for the first time and brought together into one exciting new anthology. From monster tales to psychological horrors, Sinophagia offers readers a cross-section of some of the most talented Chinese horror writers currently working in the genre, from the well-known authors of nightmares to the new arrivals and all the fresh terrors they bring with them to the genre.


Can’t get enough fiction in translation? Make sure to check out our In Translation archive for even more recommendations. And, as always, you can find me over on X as JtheBookworm (because I’m not leaving until they pry me out) and Instagram as JAtheBookworm, so come and say “Hi”! There’s nothing I love more than talking about books.

Read original article here.

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