The New York Public Library Launches Its First World Literature Festival Highlighting its Multicultural Collections and Resources for New York’s Diverse Communities

The festival begins April 12 in honor of Immigrant Heritage Week and features recommended book lists, top checkouts, and bilingual author talks highlighting works from around the world

The New York Public Library will host its first World Literature Festival beginning April 12, featuring a series of virtual events, book lists, and programs honoring the Library’s commitment to serving the diverse communities of New York City. Launching at the start of Immigrant Heritage Week and running through April 30, the World Literature Festival showcases Library resources that reflect the wide-ranging cultures and languages of the New Yorkers that NYPL serves.

The Festival specifically highlights the Library’s World Languages collection—which includes books and materials in over 60 languages available digitally and at branches throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island—and will offer a robust selection of literary events with authors from around the world, book discussion groups, and bilingual storytimes for children. The Library will also release a series of book lists, launching with two:

  • “World Literature In Translation,” a curated selection of 25 books originally published in languages other than English that have been translated and are now available to borrow through NYPL
  • A list of NYPL’s most checked out titles in a wide range of languages for both adults and children. Patrons can attend events and learn more at nypl.org/worldliteraturefestival.

Multilingual programs with English interpretation will be held throughout April and will feature a wide variety of guest speakers and authors, such as National Book Award winner Ha JinNicole Dennis-BennAlexander StessinNaomi Hiraharadon Miguel Ruiz, and Colombe Schneck. Each discussion will be held in the author’s native language. The Library’s signature event series, LIVE from the NYPL, will also host two special events:

  • Names of New York: Joshua Jelly-Schapiro with Suketu Mehta on April 21 at 8 PM.  Join Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, author of Names of New York: Discovering the City’s Past, Present, and Future Through Its Place Names, and Suketu Mehta, author of Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found, to trace the ways in which the native Lenape, Dutch settlers, British invaders, and successive waves of immigrants have left their marks on the map of New York City. Patrons can register for the event here.
  • A Thousand Years of Persian Poetry by Women: Readings, Music & Conversation on April 29 at 8 PM. Poets, artists, and activists share and reflect on centuries of poetry from women across Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and India. Join musician Arooj Aftab, Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, translator Dick Davis, authors Roya Hakakian and Dina Nayeri, poet, playwright, and translator Sholeh Wolpe, and Wazina Zondon, co-founder of Coming Out Muslim: Radical Acts of Love, for readings, music, and conversation. Patrons can register for the event here.

As part of the Festival’s children’s programming, bilingual storytimes will be hosted virtually by local branch staff that reflect the neighborhoods we serve throughout New York City. The storytimes, available directly from the Library’s Vimeo page, will highlight books from the Caribbean, Latin America, China, Albania, Russia, and more. The Library will also debut two additional languages—Russian and Japanese—on Story Line, its new service (launched early this year) that allows families to call the Library and hear a children’s book performed over the phone. The recordings currently feature stories in English, Spanish, and Mandarin, and new stories are updated each week.

Virtual book discussions, author trivia, and other events will round out activities held throughout the month. For more information about the events commemorating the Library’s World Literature Festival, visit www.nypl.org/events/world-literature-festival.

Patrons interested in exploring cultures from around the world can also find recommendations from expert librarians at NYPL, who collaborated on a list of 25 essential books published outside the United States and translated into English. The complete book list, titled “World Literature In Translation,” is available online and contains titles that are available to borrow in a range of formats from the Library’s digital and physical collections, including accessible editions. The books featured on the list are:

  • Celestial Bodies: A Novelby Jokha Alharthi, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Booth;  
  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, translated from the Farsi; 
  • I Didn’t Talk by Beatriz Bracher, translated from the Portuguese by Adam Morris; 
  • Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen; 
  • The Wondrous and Tragic Life of Ivan and Ivana by Maryse Condé, translated from the French by Richard Philcox; 
  • A Horse Walks into a Bar: A Novel by David Grossman, translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen; 
  • Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman;
  • River of Fire by Qurratulain Ḥyder, translated from the Urdu by the author; 
  • Papi: A Novel by Rita Indiana, translated from the Spanish by Achy Obejas; 
  • The Doll: A Portrait of My Mother by Ismail Kadare, translated from the Albanian by John Hodgson;
  • Human Acts: A Novel by Han Kang, translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith; 
  • Beauty Is a Wound: A Novel by Eka Kurniawan, translated from the Indonesian by Annie Tucker; 
  • Jokes for the Gunmen by Mazen Maarouf, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright; 
  • Black Moses: A Novel by Alain Mabanckou, translated from the French by Helen Stevenson; 
  • The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump; 
  • La Bastarda: A Novel by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel; 
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder; 
  • The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap; 
  • Beyond Babylon: A Novel by Igiaba Scego, translated from the Italian by Aaron Robertson; 
  • Fever Dream: A Novel by Samanta Schweblin, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell; 
  • The Man Who Couldn’t Die: The Tale of an Authentic Human Being by Olga Slavnikova, translated from the Russian by Marian Schwartz; 
  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel by Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; 
  • The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán, translated from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes; 
  • Fox by Dubravka Ugrešić, translated from the Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursać and David Williams; and
  • The Neighborhood: A Novel by Mario Vargas Llosa, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman. 

In honor of Immigrant Heritage Week and those who have traveled far and wide to make New York their home, the Library also shared the top foreign language books checked out by patrons. The following lists reveal the most popular title over the past year for both adult and children’s books in individual languages:

TOP CHECKOUTS—ADULTS:

  • Shqip (Albanian):
    Arti i të gatuarit — Vangjel Kullaj & Miço Garuli
  • العَرَبِية (Arabic):
    المجموعة الكاملة لمؤلفات جبران خليل جبران. العربية [al-Majmūʻah al-kāmilah li-muʼallafāt Jubrān Khalīl Jubrān. al-ʻArabīyah] — جبران خليل جبران | Kahlil Gibran
  • বাঙালি (Bengali):
    বাদশাহ নামদার [Bādaśāha nāmadāra] — হুমায়ূন আহমেদ | Humayun Ahmed
  • 中文 (Chinese):
    如何解套人生的種種痛苦 [Rú hé jiě tuō rén shēng de zȟong zȟong tòng ǩu?] — 苦海還願人 | Ǩuȟaihuányuànrén
  • Français (French):
    L’étranger — Albert Camus
  • Deutsch (German):
    Das große deutsche Märchenbuch — Helmut Brackert
  • kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian-Creole):
    Les “Proverbes haïtiens” d’Edmond Chenet, transcrits en orthographe moderne et annotés — Max Manigat
  • עבר׳ת (Hebrew):
    אהבת תורה: דברים על פרשת השבוע [Ahavat Torah: Devarim ʻal parashat ha-shavuʻa] — חיים סבתו | Hayim Sabato
  • हिन्दी (Hindi):
    भगवत की कथाएं [Bhāgavata kī kathāem] — मनुहरि पाठक | Manuhari Pāṭhaka
  • Magyar (Hungarian):
    Kard és kasza — Albert Wass
  • Italiano (Italian):
    Ritorna malinconia — Liala
  • 日本語 (Japanese):
    白河夜船 [Shirakawa yofune] — 吉本ばなな | Banana Yoshimoto
  • 한국어 (Korean):
    토지 [Tʻoji] — 박경리 | Pak Kyongni
  • Polski (Polish):
    Angielski bez tajemnic, czyli uczmy się na cudzych błędach — Lidia Kosonocka-Taber
  • Português (Portuguese):
    O Burrinho Pedrês — João Guimarães Rosa
  • Русский (Russian):
    Очищение : зачем Сталин обезглавил свою армию? [Ochishchenie: Zachem Stalin Obezglavil Svoiu Armiiu?] — Виктор Суворов | Viktor Suvorov
  • සිංහල (Sinhalese):
    යුගාන්තය [Yuganthaya] — මාර්ටින් වික්‍රමසිංහ | Martin Wickramasinghe
  • Español (Spanish):
    Hija de la fortuna — Isabel Allende
  • Türkçe (Turkish):
    Kürk Mantolu Madonna— Sabahattin Ali
  • українська (Ukrainian):
    Свіча в свічаді : поезії [Svicha v svichadi: poeziï] — Васи́ль Семе́нович Стус | Vasyl Stus
  • اُردُو (Urdu):

قران کا مطلوب انسان [Qurʼān kā ma̤tlūb insān] — ریحان احمد یوسفی | Rehan Ahmed Yusufi

TOP CHECKOUTS—CHILDREN:

  • Shqip (Albanian):

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes…: Albanian & English — Annie Kubler (illustrator)

  • العَرَبِية (Arabic):
    عادات الجيدة [al-ʻĀdāt al-jayyidah] — Hakan Şan Borteçin (designer)
  • বাঙালি (Bengali):

গাছপালা [Gāchapālā] — Christangelos Seferiadis

  • 中文 (Chinese):

我會折摺紙. 綜合篇 [Wo hui zhe zhe zhi. Zong he pian]

  • Français (French):

Martine fait ses courses — Gilbert Delahaye, illustrated by Marcel Marlier

  • Deutsch (German):

Mit Jule durch den Tag — Ulrike Schultheis, illustrated by Petra Probst

  • kreyòl ayisyen (Haitian-Creole):

Hap, Hap — Catherine Hnatov

  • עבר׳ת (Hebrew):
    אני בעצמי [Ani be-ʻatsmi] — כתבה ואירה טויה טאולו ; עריכה, עמנואל בן-סבו | Ṭuyah Taʼulo, illustrated by ʻImanuʼel Ben Sabo
  • हिन्दी (Hindi):

13 वीं पहेली [13 vṃī pahelī] — कहानी नडीन डिसूतज़ा, चित्र अजंता गुहाठाकुरता | Nadine D’Souza, illustrated by Ajanta Guhathakurta

  • Italiano (Italian):

Le famiglie Topini va a schuola — Haruo Yamashita, illustrated by Kazuo Iwamuro, translated by Su Kumura

  • 日本語 (Japanese):

14ひきのかぼちゃ [14 hiki no kabocha] — いわむらかずお | Kazuo Iwamura

  • 한국어 (Korean):

과자마녀를 조심해! [Kwaja manyŏ rŭl chosimhae!] — 정희재, 김영수 | Hee-Jae Jung, Young-Soo Kim

  • Polski (Polish):

Rogaś z Doliny Roztoki— Maria Kownacka, illustrated by Janusz Grabiański

  • Português (Portuguese):

Harry Potter e a Pedra Filosofal — J.K. Rowling

  • Русский (Russian):

Вавилонская башня и другие библейские истории [Vavilonskaya bashnia i drugie bibleiskie istorii] — под редакцией Корнея Чуковского | Korney Chukovsky (ed.)

  • Español (Spanish):

¡Perros! ¡Perros! Dogs! Dogs! — Ginger Foglesong Gibson

  • Türkçe (Turkish):

Vahşi Ormanda Spor Günü — Jill Newton, translated into Turkish by Rina Bakis

  • українська (Ukrainian):

Азбука для малюків [Azbuka dli︠a︡ mali︠u︡kiv] — Г. Я. Шевчук

  • اُردُو (Urdu):

Taste ذايقه [Ẕāʼqah] — Erdem Seçmen, translated from the Turkish by Alvin Parmar, illustrated by Chris Dittopoulos

Patrons can download many of these books using the Library’s e-reader app, SimplyE, which provides access to over 300,000 free e-books and audiobooks with an NYPL card. (The app can also be used to sign up for a library card) Books are also available for pickup at open branches for Grab & Go service. 

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