Fiction in Translation

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Loyalties by Delphine de Vigan (transl. George Miller): Silence is not always golden

I read Delphine de Vigan’s Based on a True Story around this time last year and knew it would be one of my books of the year. I was delighted, then, when I spotted Loyalties on the publishing horizon. It tells the story of a young boy, caught up in the fallout from a bitter …

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And the Wind Sees All by by Guđmundur Andri Thorsson (transl. Björg Árnadóttir and Andrew Cauthery)

Guđmundur Andri Thorsson’s And the Wind Sees All is the third in Peirene’s ‘Home in Exile’ series. I reviewed Soviet Milk here earlier in the year but chickened out of Shadows on the Tundra, billed as Lithuanian survival literature. I’m sure it’s very good, I’ve yet to read anything published by Peirene that isn’t, but …

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States of Passion by Nihad Sirees (transl. Max Weiss): A tale of old Aleppo

Nihad Sirees is Syrian which is what attracted me to States of Passion with its promise of a glimpse into the world of old Aleppo. Poor Syria is less often in the headlines these days despite her destruction grinding on relentlessly. First published in 1998, Sirees’ novel spins a tale of love, passion and jealousy …

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Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk (transl. Antonia Lloyd-Jones): Animals have rights, too.

Keen readers of translated fiction will recognise Olga Tokarczuk as the winner of this year’s Man Booker International Prize but it was Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead’s backdrop that attracted me to it. It’s set in southwest Poland, not too far from WrocƗaw where H and I spent a few days …

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The Tree of the Toraja by Philippe Claudel (transl. Euan Cameron): Death, grief and hope

If you haven’t yet come across Philippe Claudel’s books you may know his work from I Loved You So Long starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Ranging from Parfums, a sensuous fragrance memoir, to Monsieur Linh and His Child, one of the saddest pieces of fiction I’ve read, his writing is as elegantly understated as his movies, …

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An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans (transl. David Colmer): The folly of war

If you want an introduction to literature from around the world, much of it hardly known to English speakers but often celebrated in its country of origin, you might like to keep an eye on Pushkin Press’s list. Willem Frederik Hermans’ An Untouched House is a fine example. Set towards the end of the Second …

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The Summer House by Philip Teir (transl. Tiina Nunnally): A smart piece of summer reading

I reviewed Philip Teir’s debut, A Winter War, back in 2015 when I described it as the perfect winter read, a book to tuck yourself up with. It may seem a little lazy but it’s hard to resist describing The Summer House as the perfect summer read. Set against a backdrop of a long holiday …

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Acts of Infidelity by Lena Andersson (transl. Saskia Vogel): Balancing the emotional books

I reviewed Lena Andersson’s sharply observed, witty novella Wilful Disregard here a couple of years ago. It’s a study in obsession that has you squirming in your seat. Acts of Infidelity sees its main protagonist, Ester Nillson, once again in the grips of monomania, this time for Olof who is performing in her play, Threesome, about …

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The Gradual Disappearance of Jane Ashland by Nicolai Houm (transl. Anna Paterson): Enduring love

I seem to have read more novellas than usual this year. Not entirely a conscious decision – I love that feeling of sinking into a doorstopper, particularly in winter – but several of the shorter novels I’ve reviewed have packed much more of a punch than a luxuriously fat, piece of storytelling often does. Nicolai …

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One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century by Roland Schimmelpfennig (transl. Jamie Bulloch): A wolf takes a walk

Impossible not to comment on that title which makes the old bookseller in me wonder just how much it will be mangled in customer enquiries. I’m sure the publishers breathed a sigh of relief that Twitter have extended their 140-character limit, too. That said, it was the title which attracted me to this novella along …

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