Slim publishing pickings in December – a bit of famine after the autumn feast. Not a great month if you’re looking for anything cheerful, either, but an excellent one for fans of fiction in translation beginning with Andrea Canobbio’s Three Light-Years. Cecilia and Claudio share lunch most days in the hospital where they work. Both are embroiled in difficult domestic situations: she’s a single parent, newly separated – he lives in the same apartment building as his senile mother, ex-wife and her new family. Despite their powerful attraction both are wary of their friendship becoming something more until a chance meeting changes everything. Canobbio’s novel comes from Maclehose Press who have quite an eye for fiction in translation.
As do World Editions, a new publisher on the UK block who have published several interesting titles this year including Esther Gerritsen’s Craving. December sees the publication of You Have Me to Love the first adult title from Dutch children’s writer Jaap Robben. Mikael lives on an island between Scotland and Norway. When his father disappears into the sea one day Mikael refuses to talk about it and his mother becomes mad with grief. Not exactly cheery, I know, but given World Editions’ track record it seems worth a look.
The next title is by Japanese Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Ōe, reported to have been working on a novel featuring a character based on his father by the New York Times a little while ago, apparently. Death by Water sees an ageing Nobel Prize-winning writer – struck by writer’s block and struggling to find the words to write about his drowned father – returning to his village in search of a cache of documents which may offer the solution to his predicament.
Serpent’s Tail is reissuing another Nobel Prize-winning author’s novel, Herta Müller’s The Passport, this month. I’ve read just one novel by Müller which I enjoyed immensely but have somehow not got around to reading more. This one interweaves stories from the present and past, centring on a village in Ceaucescu’s Romania whose miller wants to migrate to West Germany. Beautiful writing, apparently, which I remember from The Land of Green Plums.
That’s it for December. I’m hoping for some cheerier novels in January. In the meantime a click on a title will take you to a more detailed synopsis should you be interested. And if you’d like to catch up with November’s embarrassment of riches they’re here, here and here.