English PEN Translated Literature Book Club

Join us on a journey of literary discovery!


The English PEN Translated Literature Book Club was set up in 2015 by Jonathan Ruppin, a member of English PEN’s Writers in Translation committee and a bookseller for nearly 20 years. Monthly Book Club meetings take place on Mondays at the Free Word Centre in London. A rolling itinerary takes us around the world, so that even the most well-read members will encounter books from countries whose literature is entirely new to them.

Most books are chosen by Book Club members, but there are detours to delve into English PEN’s World Bookshelf. We also feature occasional guest appearances from translators, publishers and authors, to offer behind-the-scenes insights.

The next two dates are 3rd October and 7th November. In October we will be discussing The Winterlings by the Galician novelist Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, translated from Spanish by Samuel Garrett.

The Book Club is currently at maximum capacity, but there is a waiting list for those who wish to join (membership of English PEN is not required, though of course it is recommended!). If you are interested in being added, or if you have any other questions, please email englishpenbookclub@gmail.com.

Here are the main discussion points from our meetings so far:

August 2015: The Silence and the Roar by exiled Syrian writer Nihad Sirees, translated from Arabic by Max Weiss.

September 2015: The Vegetarian by South Korean writer Han Kang – we were joined for the discussion by Han Kang’s English translator Deborah Smith.

October 2015: The Whispering Muse by Icelandic writer Sjón, translated by Victoria Cribb.

November 2015: Signs Preceding the End of the World by Mexican novelist Yuri Herrera, translated from Spanish by Lisa Dillman.

December 2015: Our Musseque by Angola’s José Luandino Vieira, translated from Portuguese by Robin Patterson.

[No notes from our January 2016 book, The House in Smyrna by Brazilian novelist Tatiana Salem Levy, translated from Portuguese by Alison Entrekin. But you can find out more about the book on the World Bookshelf website.]

February 2016: The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov, translated from Russian by Andrew Bromfield.

March 2016: Subtly Worded and Other Stories by Teffi, translated from Russian by Anne Marie Jackson, Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Clare Kitson, Irina Steinberg and Natalia Wise.

April 2016: The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated from Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen.

May 2016: Dry Season by Gabriela Babnik, translated from Slovenian by Rawley Grau.

[No notes from our June 2016 book, The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares, translated from Spanish by Ruth LC Simms. But you can find out more about this classic of Argentinian literature here.]

July 2016: The Vegetarian and Human Acts by Han Kang, translated from Korean by Deborah Smith.

August 2016: Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall, translated from Polish by Philip Boehm.

September 2016: Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli, translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney.

October 2016: The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade, translated from Spanish by Samuel Rutter.

You can keep in touch with what the Book Club is up to and find out about translated literature news and events by joining our Facebook group or following us on Twitter.