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Expand Your Reading With These 14 Translated Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books

Explore the world with these acclaimed works.

translated sff books

As an advocate for inclusive literature, I’ve been making conscious strides to expand my own reading. However, upon revisiting my own shelves a few months ago, it dawned on me that almost all my books were written by authors who are either American or are native English speakers. And the more I reflected on this, the more outlandish it seemed to me, a reader whose mother tongue is Tagalog.

There’s a wealth of fascinating stories in translated fiction. I’m genuinely perplexed with myself for not diving deep into translated books a lot sooner—what a missed opportunity. But thankfully, no more! 

I’ve added so many titles to my TBR ever since I decided to explore the intriguing world of translated science fiction and fantasy—and I am beyond excited to share my SFF finds with you. Let’s diversify our reading together!

horror novels in translation

A Luminous Republic

By Andrés Barba (translated by Lisa Dillman)

Described as "Lord of the Flies "from the other side" by author Juan Gabriel Vásquez, this Spanish novel introduces the unremarkable city of San Cristóbal. The town is suddenly plunged into chaos upon the bizarre arrival of 32 kids—who seem to be jungle-born and unquestionably violent.

automatic-eve

Automatic Eve

By Rokurō Inui (translated by Matt Treyvaud)

First published in Japanese, this is a unique steampunk fantasy steeped in political scheming. 

Tensions between the shogunate and the empress increase astronomically with the introduction of Eve, a superhuman automaton whose creation is tangled with a groundbreaking secret that may threaten the line to the throne.

eartheater

Eartheater

By Dolores Reyes (translated by Julia Sanches)

Originally written in Spanish, and steeped in magical realism, this book follows a young Argentinian woman whose puzzling fixation with eating dirt results in her learning terrifying truths.

the goddess chronicle

The Goddess Chronicle

By Natsuo Kirino (translated by Rebecca Copeland)

In this fantastical reimagining of an ancient Japanese creation myth, two sisters from a family of oracles are led towards opposite destinies: Kamikuu is chosen as the Oracle of light, while Namima is forced to spend eternity in the dark underworld.

harbart

Harbart

By Nabarun Bhattacharya (translated by Arunava Sinha)

Translated from Bengali, this South Asian novel offers a character study on Harbart Sarkar. His supernatural abilities helped him deliver messages between the living and the dead—up until his unfortunate suicide that no one can seem to explain.

hybrid child

Hybrid Child

By Mariko Ōhara (translated by Jodie Beck)

For readers intrigued by artificial intelligence, this Japanese science fiction novel takes place in the very far future.

Humans are at war with the Adiaptron Empire of Machines, and a rogue cyborg escapes a facility and assumes the appearance of a dead child murdered by her own mother.

lonely castle in the mirror

Lonely Castle in the Mirror

By Mizuki Tsujimura (translated by Phillip Gabriel)

In this Japanese portal fantasy, seven students seek escape from their stressful lives and explore a magnificent castle where they hope to find a hidden key that can grant the wish of its finder. This novel offers a heartwarming tale that delves into human vulnerability and empathy.

the route of ice and salt

The Route of Ice and Salt

By José Luis Zárate (translated by David Bowles)

This Mexican Gothic fantasy novella delivers a reimagining of Dracula's voyage to England that's steeped in horror, bloodlust, and queer longing.

strange beasts of china

Strange Beasts of China

By Yan Ge (translated by Jeremy Tiang)

First published in Chinese, this sci-fi novel is told through the eyes of a budding cryptozoologist who is commissioned to study the rumored beasts of Yong'an city. 

This is a good read for fans of detective stories and metaphysical inquiries into existentialism.

RELATED: Asian Fantasy and Sci-Fi Book Releases to Read in 2022

they will drown in their mothers tears

They Will Drown in Their Mothers' Tears

By Joannes Anyuru (translated by Saskia Vogel)

Through a journalist's interview with an enigmatic woman living in a hospital for the criminally insane, this Swedish book portrays a warning about a dystopian future wherein unpatriotic people are relegated to a ghetto.

alien invasion books the three-body problem

The Three-Body Problem

By Liu Cixin (translated by Ken Liu)

For readers with an interest in extraterrestrial life, this science fiction masterpiece delves into alien assimilation during China's Cultural Revolution. 

When the military successfully establishes contact with an alien species on the brink of extermination, humanity must determine if these creatures are friend, foe, or an untapped opportunity. 

RELATED: 17 Must-Read Hugo Award-Winning Books

the tower of fools

The Tower of Fools

By Andrzej Sapkowski (translated by David French)

Penned by the author known for the legendary Witcher series, his latest epic fantasy saga is brimming with rich European history and magic. 

Originally written in Polish, The Tower of Fools follows a doctor-magician-nobleman who lands himself in the Narrenturm, a notorious asylum in which he must fight to keep his own sanity.

ulirat

Ulirát: Best Contemporary Stories in Translation from the Philippines

By Tilde Acuña, John Bengan, Daryll Delgado, Amado Anthony Mendoza III, and Kristine Ong Muslim

As hinted by the title, this is a unique anthology of short stories set in modern-day Philippines. It beautifully interweaves current realities with rich folklore and supernatural elements. 

With contributions from Filipino authors living in different parts of the archipelago, this humble collection boasts fiction from Filipino, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilocano, Waray, Kinaray-a, and Akeanon translated into English for the first time.

vita nostra

Vita Nostra

By Marina Dyachenko and Sergey Dyachenko (translated by Julia Meitov Hersey)

Originally published in Russian, this highly-acclaimed novel follows young Sasha Samokhina's journey into the Institute of Special Technologies, wherein cruel personal punishments are doled out for the transgressions and failures of students. 

It's perfect for fans of dark academia in speculative fiction.