As an English speaker, I seem to feel a sense of entitlement that books should be available in my language. Not every book, sure. But if a book is important enough to translate, shouldn’t it be translated into English, the dominant language of international communication? In my attempts to read a book from every country, I’m learning that this definitely isn’t the case. I’m very privileged as an English language reader to have access to a huge range of books (not to mention Wikipedia articles). As a result I had never really paid attention to translation as a limitation to reading.
I asked for a book recommendation for Bulgaria from a friend who grew up there. She suggested Tobacco by Dimitur Dimov. I looked it up and it sounded like an interesting book. It was made into a film that was shown at Cannes and was recently selected as Bulgarians’ third favorite book of all time. So you would think it would have been translated into English at some point. But no, as far as I can determine it was only translated into Turkish, Russian, Armenian, French, and Japanese.
There are other Bulgarian novels that have been translated into English, so I’m not stuck for choices, but I feel thwarted nonetheless.