Fiction in Translation

Cover image for Liminal by Liminal by Roland Schimmelpfennig

Liminal by Roland Schimmelpfennig (transl. Jamie Bulloch): An hallucinatory slice of Berlin noir

Roland Schimmelpfennig’s clever, smartly structured One Clear Ice-cold January Morning at the Beginning of the Twenty-First Century was one of my books of 2018. Set in Berlin’s underworld, Liminal is very different but it also explores the darker side of modern Germany, following a cop whose life has been shattered by a tragic event. Sometimes, […]

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Cover image for Breakwater by Marijke Schermer (transl. Liz Waters)

Breakwater by Marijke Schermer (transl. Liz Waters): ‘Everything is going to be fine’

Early last year I read Marijke Schermer’s quietly powerful Love, If That’s What It Is about the breakdown of a long marriage. I hadn’t twigged that it was her debut otherwise I might have been nervous about second novel syndrome when I spotted Breakwater on NetGalley. Like her first. Schermer’s new novel explores a marriage,

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Cover image for History. A Mess. by Sigrún Pálsdóttir

History. A Mess. by Sigrún Pálsdóttir (transl. Lytton Smith) ‘This day, after I was redie, I did eate my breakfast’

Given that I live with an historian whose PhD we both suffered through, it was inevitable that I would read Icelandic writer Sigrún Pálsdóttir’s History. A Mess. That and it’s published by the excellent Peirene Press who have recently moved to my hometown. Pálsdóttir’s novella follows an unnamed narrator convinced that she’s discovered the identity

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Cover image for German Fantasia by Philippe Claudel

German Fantasia by Philippe Claudel (transl. Julian Evans): The legacy of war

I’m always pleased to spot a new Philppe Claudel in the offing. I’ve read all his books available in translation from Parfums, a strikingly unusual scent memoir, to the achingly sad novella Monsieur Linh and His Child. All of them share a strong sense of humanity and a beauty of expression as does his new

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Cover image for Devils and Saints by Jean-Baptiste Andreaa

Devils and Saints by Jean-Baptiste Andrea (transl. Sam Taylor): Do as you would be done by

Having enjoyed Jean-Baptiste Andrea’s A Hundred Million Years and a Day, I was keen to read Devils and Saints, hoping for more striking, cinematic writing. Andrea’s latest novel reminded me a little of Claire Keegan’s Small Things Like These, partly because it explores similar themes, partly because it seemed to me to fit the Christmas

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Cover image for To Coook a Bear by Mikael Niemi

Five Swedish Novels I’ve Read

Given how much of my viewing time has been spent there thanks to Walter Presents, you’d think I’d have read more Scandinavian fiction but perhaps it’s because so much of the translated variety is crime related. Below are five striking Swedish novels I’ve read, all with links to my reviews, beginning with an award-winning piece

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Cover image for Body Kintsugi by Senka Maric

Body Kintsugi by Senka Marić (transl. Celia Hawkesworth): ‘You are life itself’

I’ve come to expect challenging books from Peirene Press although the last one I read, Marzhan, Mon Amour, turned out to be full of gentle humour and affection for the titular former East Berlin suburb. Senka Marić’s Body Kintsugi is a tough though ultimately optimistic read covering two years in which our unnamed protagonist undergoes

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Cover image for The Wonders by Elena Medel

The Wonders by Elena Medel (transl. Lizzie Davis and Thomas Bunstead): Precious independence

Spanish poet Elena Medel’s first novel, The Wonders, was much acclaimed in her homeland, winning the prestigious Francisco Umbral Prize. Unsurprisingly, not being a poetry reader, I’d not heard of her but I’m always keen to read novels by poets and this one’s themes of feminism and class made it very appealing so I put

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Cover image for Love, If That's What it is by Marjke Schermer

Love, If That’s What It Is by Marijke Schermer (transl. Hester Velmans): One size does not fit all

I’m a sucker for novels about long term relationships, the complicated kind rather than the reasonably straightforward happy ones although they, too, have their turbulent moments. Marijke Schermer’s Love, If That’s What It Is looked right up that particular alley with its story of the breakdown of Terri and David’s 25-year marriage, told from the

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