A stunning collection of classics from around the world, read around the world.
The World Literature in Translation program aims to represent a truly inclusive and expansive view of literature from around the globe. This growing collection features accessible English translations of literature from Eurasia, Africa, North and South America, and Oceania, bringing works from neglected or marginalized traditions to new, wide audiences alongside fresh translations of well-known works. Focused on the premodern period, the program embraces “literature” in its broadest sense to include everything from lyric poetry to epic, folktale to history. Each volume is crafted to appeal to casual readers and scholars alike, with elegant modern translations, contextualizing introductions, and helpful but unobtrusive notes.
Explore our latest and forthcoming World Literature in Translation titles below.
Fabulous Machinery for the Curious:
The Garden of Urdu Classical Literature
Translated and edited by Musharraf Ali Farooqi
“The complexity and nuance of the South Asian imagination and the prowess of its traditional storytellers are vivid in these translations. These six qissas are extraordinarily rich with poetry, significance, and symbolism. A treat for any reader and a real gift for scholars.”—Annie Zaidi, author of City of Incident: A Novel in Twelve Parts
Fabulous Machinery for the Curious presents the first English translation of some of the finest texts from the qissa genre. In this book, acclaimed translator Musharraf Ali Farooqi gathers the greatest of these tales, written or transcribed in the Urdu language by master storytellers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Spreading from Persia to Arabia to South Asia over 1,500 years, the qissa appropriated verse and prose narratives to become the preeminent storytelling genre. The combined traditions of the many cultures of Indo-Islamic civilization resulted in a flowering of qissas in Urdu. This collection distills a vast body of oral and written literature, from resplendent sagas of romantic love and thrilling adventures in fairyland to picaresque stories of deception and haunting tales of nobility and viciousness. Fabulous Machinery for the Curious brings these forgotten gems to a new generation of readers and reminds us of the abiding power that great stories and ancient genres have for engaging the contemporary world.
The Consuming Fire:
The Complete Priestly Source, from Creation to the Promised Land
Translated by Liane Feldman
“This book will challenge and delight anyone interested in ancient Israel and the Bible. Thanks to its accessible and engaging introduction and its thoughtful translation, it will also be an essential tool for teaching.”—Annette Yoshiko Reed, author of Jewish-Christianity and the History of Judaism
Uncovering an ancient foundation myth, and literary tour de force, obscured within the modern Bible.
Embedded within the Bible lies a largely unknown story of the founding of ancient Israel and its religion, interwoven with other ancient tales nearly two thousand years ago in the process of creating the Torah. Generations of scholars have painstakingly worked to recreate the “Priestly Source,” also known as “P.” The complete text has not appeared until now on its own in either Hebrew or English.
Needle at the Bottom of the Sea:
Bengali Tales from the Land of the Eighteen Tides
translated by Tony K. Stewart
“Access Bengal’s secret heart through this wondrous book. Travel deep into the forest and peek beyond the delta’s edge: balancing scholarly rigor with storytelling elan, Tony Stewart’s tidal tales with their fantastic cast of boundary-crossing characters shed unexpected and much-needed light on the relationship between Bengal, Islam, and the Indian Ocean world.”—Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Infosys Prize winner and author, Partition’s Post-Amnesias: 1947, 1971, and Modern South Asia
The Bengali stories in this collection are first and foremost tales of survival. Each story in Needle at the Bottom of the Sea underscores the need for people to work together—not just to overcome the challenges of living in the Sundarban swamps of Bengal, but also to ease hostilities born of social differences in religion, caste, and economic class. Translated by award-winning scholar of early modern Bengali literature Tony K. Stewart, Needle at the Bottom of the Sea brims with fantasy and excitement. Sufi protagonists travel through a world of wonder where tigers talk and men magically grow into giants, a Hindu princess falls in love with a Muslim holy man, and goddesses rub shoulders with kings and merchants. Across religion, class, and gender, what binds these fabulous stories together is the characters’ pursuit of living honorably and morally in a difficult, corrupt world.
Tales of Merlin, Arthur, and the Magic Arts:
From the Welsh Chronicle of the Six Ages of the World
by Elis Gruffydd
translated by Patrick K. Ford
with an introduction by Jerry Hunter
“For anyone interested in the Arthurian tradition, this is a must-read. In these wide-ranging selections from Elis Gruffydd’s Chronicle, we encounter tales of King Arthur and Merlin, saints and sinners, witches and wise men, dragons and maidens, presented here in lively and vivid translations for the first time.”—Charlene M. Eska, Professor of Linguistics, Virginia Tech
The stories in Tales of Merlin, Arthur, and the Magic Arts deal with well-known figures from medieval Britain who will be familiar to many readers—though not from the versions presented here. These freshly translated tales emerge from the remarkable and enormous sixteenth-century Chronicle of the Six Ages of the World by the Welshman Elis Gruffydd. Tales of Merlin, Arthur, and the Magic Arts revives the original legends of these Welsh heroes alongside stories of the continued survival of the magical arts, from antiquity to the Renaissance, and the broader cultural world of the Welsh. These stories provide a vivid and faithful rendering of Merlin, Arthur, and the many original folktales left out of the widespread accounts of their exploits.
The Heroic Epic of the Kalmyk Nomads
translated by Saglar Bougdaeva
“This translation opens up for an English-reading audience a major work preserved through oral transmission over centuries and despite suppression by outside imperial powers. Standing alongside other traditional epics such as The Odyssey and Beowulf, Jangar is a unique work of the oral imagination with stunning characteristics, both fantastic and surreal, of its own.”—Jerome Rothenberg, Professor Emeritus, Visual Arts and Literature, University of California, San Diego
This is the first English translation of Jangar, the heroic epic of the Kalmyk nomads, who are the Western Mongols of Genghis Khan’s medieval empire in Europe. Today, Kalmykia is situated in the territory that was once the Golden Horde, founded by the son of Genghis Khan, Juchi. Although their famed khanates and cities have long since disappeared under the sands of the Great Eurasian Steppe, the Kalmyks have witnessed, memorized, and orally transmitted some of the most transformative developments, both victorious and tragic, in the history of civilizations. A tribute to the protectors of the mythical country Bumba, Jangar reflects the hopes and aspirations of the Kalmyk people as well as their centuries-long struggle for their cultural existence.
The Complete Haiku of Matsuo Basho
by Matsuo Basho
translated by Andrew Fitzsimons
“Haiku, known in the West for its brevity, would be better served if valued for its spatial radiance. Andrew Fitzsimons’ collection presents spare engaging translations with notes on literary allusion, double meanings, and autobiographical detail. These notes are not interpretations. Rather, they are gifts for your journey, should you care to accept. A uniquely wonderful anthology.”—Kimiko Hahn, poet and author of Foreign Bodies
Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694) is arguably the greatest figure in the history of Japanese literature and the master of the haiku. Bashō: The Complete Haiku of Matsuo Bashō offers in English a full picture of the haiku of Bashō, 980 poems in all. Andrew Fitzsimons’ translation is the first to adhere strictly to form: all of the poems are translated following the syllabic count of the originals. This book also translates a number of Bashō’s headnotes to poems ignored by previous English-language translators. In Fitzsimons’ beautiful rendering, Bashō is much more than a philosopher of the natural world and the leading exponent of a refined Japanese sensibility. He is also a poet of queer love and eroticism; of the city as well as the country, the indoors and the outdoors, travel and staying put; of lonesomeness as well as the desire to be alone.
The Persian Epic of Kush the Tusked
translated by Kaveh L. Hemmat
edited by Hee Soo Lee
“Translator Kaveh Hemmat has provided us a vigorous and fast-moving text. . . . [that] entertains and instructs us as much as it did the readers at the court of the Seljuks.”—Asian Review of Books
The great Persian epic known as the Kushnameh follows the entangled lives of Kush the Tusked––a monstrous antihero with tusks and ears like an elephant, descended from the evil emperor Zahhak––and Abtin, the exiled grandson of the last true Persian emperor. Abandoned at birth in the forests of China and raised by Abtin, Kush grows into a powerful and devious warrior. Kush and his foes scheme and wage war across a global stage reaching from Spain and Africa to China and Korea. Between epic battles and magnificent feasts are disturbing, sometimes realistic portrayals of abuse and oppression and philosophical speculation about nature and nurture and the origins of civilization.
Kingdoms in Peril
A Novel of the Ancient Chinese World at War
by Feng Menglong
translated by Olivia Milburn
“Olivia Milburn has given us a delicious romp through history, this time in her sprightly translation of selections from the romance by the late Ming moralist Feng Menglong. The intrigues retold by Feng became the stuff of edifying proverbs in China and they became so celebrated in Europe that Voltaire adapted one for the Parisian theater. Now, at last, readers can feel the magic in this marvelous translation of an acclaimed book.”—Michael Nylan, Sather Professor of History, UC Berkeley
One of the great works of Chinese literature, beloved in East Asia but virtually unknown in the West, Kingdoms in Peril is an epic historical novel charting the five hundred years leading to the unification of China under the rule of the legendary First Emperor. Writing some fourteen hundred years after the unification, the Ming-era author Feng Menglong drew on a vast trove of literary and historical documents to compose a gripping narrative account of how China came to be China.