Introducing authors from around the world. Check out these translations of foreign language books From Across the Globe.
Books from Africa
Rain: And Other Stories
By Mia Couto, Eric M. B. Becker (translator)
Published in the aftermath of Mozambique’s bloody civil war, Mia Couto’s third collection seeks out the places violence could not reach, the places where, the author writes, “every man is the same: pretending he’s here, dreaming of going away, and plotting his return.” Shifting masterfully between forms – creation tale to meditation, playful comedy to magical twist – these stories grapple with questions of what’s been lost and what can be reclaimed, what future exists for a country that broke the yoke of colonialism only to descend into internecine war, what is Mozambican and what is Mozambique. Following fishermen and fortune-tellers, widows and drunks, and one errant hippopotamus, this new translation of stories by the Man Booker-listed author of Confession of the Lioness rediscovers possibility and what it means to be reborn.
About The Author: Mia Couto
Mia Couto was born in 1955 in Mozambique and is the most prominent writer in Portuguese-speaking Africa. He has been active as a journalist and for several years headed the AIM news agency in Maputo. He now lives in Maputo where he works as an environmental biologist.
Books from Europe
By Négar Djavadi (Author), Tina Kover (Translator)
Kimiâ Sadr fled Iran at the age of ten in the company of her mother and sisters to join her father in France.
Now twenty-five and facing the future she has built for herself as well as the prospect of a new generation, Kimiâ is inundated by her own memories and the stories of her ancestors, which come to her in unstoppable, uncontainable waves. In the waiting room of a Parisian fertility clinic, generations of flamboyant Sadrs return to her, including her formidable great-grandfather Montazemolmolk, with his harem of fifty-two wives, and her parents, Darius and Sara, stalwart opponents of each regime that befalls them.
It is Kimiâ herself––punk-rock aficionado, storyteller extraordinaire, a Scheherazade of our time, and above all a modern woman divided between family traditions and her own “disorientalization”––who forms the heart of this bestselling and beloved novel.
About the Author: Négar Djavadi
Was born in Iran in 1969 to a family of intellectuals opposed to the regimes both of the Shah, then of Khomeini. She arrived in France at the age of eleven, having crossed the mountains of Kurdistan on horseback with her mother and sister. She is a screenwriter and lives in Paris. Disoriental is her first novel.
Books from Europe
By Hanne Ørstavik, Martin Aitken (Translator)
A single mother, Vibeke, and her son Jon, have just moved to a small, remote town in the north of Norway. It is the day before Jon’s birthday, but Vibeke, preoccupied with concerns of her own, has forgotten this. With a man on her mind, she ventures to the local library and then a fairground, while Jon goes out to sell lottery tickets for his sports club. We follow the two characters on their separate journeys through a cold winter’s night. As Ørstavik weaves together their two separate worlds, a sense of uneasiness grows.
An acknowledged masterpiece of Norwegian literature, And Other Stories’ edition brings the total number of international publishers to twenty-eight, so far. Masterfully rendered into English by translator Martin Aitken, this novel was one of five shortlisted for the 2019 US National Book Award in the Translated Literature category and won the 2019 PEN
About The Author: Hanne Ørstavik
With the publication of the novel CUT in 1994, Hanne Ørstavik (b. 1969) embarked on a career that would make her one of the most remarkable and admired authors in Norwegian contemporary literature. Her literary breakthrough came three years later with the publication of LOVE (Kjærlighet), which in 2006 was voted the 6th best Norwegian book of the last 25 years in a prestigious contest in Dagbladet.
Books from North America
Made in Saturn
By Rita Indiana, Sydney Hutchinson (translator)
This is the story of the children of the revolution, of many revolutions. This is life on an island, in fact: on two Caribbean islands, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. A vivid evocation of contemporary life on these particular islands, the novel’s passion and contradictory characters will strike a chord with readers everywhere, as will the portrayal of justice abandoned in the pursuit of riches. Argenis Luna, the protagonist of this novel, is an artist who no longer paints, a recovering heroin addict, and an innocent trying to make sense of communist Cuba and the Dominican Republic where his once revolutionary father is now part of the ruling elite.
After the nightmare-ish hallucination of Tentacle, Rita Indiana’s new novel strikes a mellower note as it conjures up today’s world with all its beauty, love and corruption.
About The Author: Rita Indiana
Rita Indiana Hernández Sánchez is a Dominican writer, and singer-songwriter. In 2011, she was selected by the newspaper El País as one of the 100 most influential Latino personalities.
Books from Europe
Why, Why, Why?
By Quim Monzó, Peter Bush (translator)
A man tries to teach a stone to speak through sheer force of will. An engaged couple makes a pact to never lie, and their union dissolves immediately. Over the course of a phone call, a man learns that his girlfriend died months ago, and that he’s been unknowingly seeing her twin sister. Prince Charming marries Cinderella, but then has an affair with the evil stepsisters. A psychopath’s liver explodes after a night of heavy drinking, but instead of killing him, it allows him to be a better drinker.These, and many more, strange and twisted characters populate the pages of Why, Why, Why?, a delectable brew of dark humor and biting satire on human relationships. In these stories, the characters don’t start falling until they know they’re off the cliff. By then, rock bottom isn’t a long way off. Another stunning entry from Catalan’s greatest contemporary writer, Monzó’s stories dust themselves off and speed on to their next catastrophe.
About The Author: Quim Monzó
Quim Monzó was born in Barcelona in 1952. He has been awarded the National Award, the City of Barcelona Award, the Prudenci Bertrana Award, the El Temps Award, the Lletra d’Or Prize for the best book of the year, and the Catalan Writers’ Award, and he has been awarded Serra d’Or magazine’s prestigious Critics’ Award four times. He has also translated numerous authors into Catalan, including Truman Capote, J. D. Salinger, and Ernest Hemingway.
Books from Europe
Sonnets to Orpheus
By Rainer Maria Rilke, Christiane Marks (translator)
Rainer Maria Rilke’s fifty-five Sonnets to Orpheus were written over a few days in an astonishing burst of inspiration. Described by Rilke himself as “a spontaneous inner dictation,” the sequence is among the most famous works of modernist literature, and Christiane Marks’s fresh new translations succeed in evoking Rilke’s music—often sacrificed in translation—opening a new window on these poems, for old and new Rilke lovers alike. The result of nearly two decades of memorization, research, and fine-tuning, Marks’s translations, only the second by a woman and the first by a native German speaker, recapture Rilke’s astonishingly contemporary, often colloquial style.
About The Author: Rainer Maria Rilke
Rainer Maria Rilke was born in Prague in 1875 and traveled throughout Europe for much of his adult life, returning frequently to Paris. His last years were spent in Switzerland, where he completed his two poetic masterworks, the Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. He died of leukemia in December 1926.
Books from South America
The Dreamed Part
By Rodrigo Fresán, Will Vanderhyden (translator)
Following his failure to break into the Hadron Collider and merge with the so-called “God particle,” The Writer from The Invented Part can no longer write or sleep. Instead, he lies awake, imagining and reimagining key moments of his life, spinning out a series of insomniac visions every bit as thought-provoking as they are dreamlike. A mysterious foundation dedicated to preserving dreams, suddenly invaluable in the wake of the dream-eradicating White Plague; a psycho-lyrical-photophobic terrorist; an electric and mercurial lullaby; three lunatic sisters (and an eclipsed brother) who write from the darkest side of the most wuthering lunar heights; a hallucinating prisoner and a hallucinatory family; a genius addicted to butterflies and an FBI agent addicted to that genius; a looney and lysergic uncle and parents who model but are not model parents; a revolutionary staging of Shakespeare for the children of chic guerrillas; a city of sleepless bookshops; and a writer who might be 100 years old. Or not.
About The Author: Rodrigo Fresán
Rodrigo Fresán is the author of ten works of fiction, including Kensington Gardens, Mantra, and The Invented Part, winner of the 2018 Best Translated Book Award. A self-professed “referential maniac,” his works incorporate many elements from science fiction (Philip K. Dick in particular) alongside pop culture and literary references.
Books from The Middle East
By Jokha Alharthi, Marilyn Booth (Translator)
In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada.
These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool beautifully against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present. Through the sisters, we glimpse a society in all its degrees, from the very poorest of the local slave families to those making money through the advent of new wealth.
The first novel originally written in Arabic to ever win the Man Booker International Prize, and the first book by a female Omani author to be translated into English, Celestial Bodies marks the arrival in the United States of a major international writer.
About The Author: Jokha al-Harthi
Jokha al-Harthi is an Omani writer and academic. She was educated in Oman and in the United Kingdom. She obtained her PhD in classical Arabic literature from Edinburgh University. She is currently an associate professor in the Arabic department at Sultan Qaboos University.
Books from East Asia
The Court Dancer: A Novel
By Kyung-Sook Shin, Anton Hur (Translator)
When a novice French diplomat arrives for an audience with the Emperor, he is enraptured by the Joseon Dynasty’s magnificent culture, then at its zenith. But all fades away when he sees Yi Jin perform the delicate traditional Dance of the Spring Oriole. Though well aware that women of the court belong to the palace, the young diplomat confesses his love to the Emperor, and gains permission for Yi Jin to accompany him back to France.
A world away in Belle Epoque Paris, Yi Jin lives a free, independent life, away from the gilded cage of the court, and begins translating and publishing Joseon literature into French with another Korean student. But even in this new world, great sorrow awaits her. Yi Jin’s grieving and suffering is only amplified by homesickness and a longing for her oldest friend. But her homecoming was not a happy one. Betrayal, jealousy, and intrigue abound, culminating with the tragic assassination of the last Joseon empress-and the poisoned pages of a book.
About The Author: Kyung-Sook Shin
Kyung-Sook Shin is the author of numerous works of fiction and is one of South Korea’s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. She was the first woman to be awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize (for Please Look After Mom), and she has also been honored with the Manhae Literature Prize, the Dong-in Literature Prize, and the Yi Sang Literary Prize, as well as France’s Pirx de l’Inaperçu.
Books from Europe
Diving for Seahorses: The Science and Secrets of Memory
By Hilde Østby and Ylva Østby, Marianne Lindvall (translator)
What makes us remember? Why do we forget? And what, exactly, is a memory?
Diving for Seahorses answers these questions and more, offering an illuminating look at one of our most fascinating faculties: our memory. Sisters Hilde and Ylva Østby – one an acclaimed writer the other a neuropsychologist—skilfully interweave history, research and personal stories in this fascinating exploration of the evolving science of memory from its Renaissance beginnings to the present day. They interview top neuroscientists, famous novelists, taxi drivers and quizmasters to help explain how memory works, why it sometimes fails and what we can do to improve it.
About The Author: Hilde and Ylva Østby
Hilde Østby is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Encyclopedia of Love and Longing, which was called “one of the best books of the year” by three of Norway’s most esteemed newspapers. Ylva Østby is a clinical neuropsychologist who devotes her research to the study of memory.
Books from Europe
The Seventh Cross
By Anna Seghers, Margot Bettauer Dembo (Translator)
The Seventh Cross is one of the most powerful, popular, and influential novels of the twentieth century, a hair raising thriller that helped to alert the world to the grim realities of Nazi Germany and that is no less exciting today than when it was first published in 1942. Seven political prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Meanwhile, the escapees split up and flee across Germany, looking for such help and shelter as they can find along the way, determined to reach the border. Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism.
About The Author: Anna Seghers
Anna Seghers (née Netty Reiling; 1900–1983) was born in Mainz, Germany, into an upper-middle-class Jewish family. She was a sickly and introverted child by her own account, but became an intellectually curious student, eventually earning a doctorate in art history at the University of Heidelberg in 1924; her first story, written under the name Antje Seghers, was published in the same year.
Books from The Middle East
The Baghdad Clock
By Shahad Al Rawi, Luke Leafgren (Translator)
In the midst of the first Gulf War, a young Iraqi girl huddles with her neighbours in an air raid shelter. There, she meets Nadia. The two girls quickly become best friends and together they imagine a world not torn apart by civil war, sharing their dreams, their hopes and their desires, and their first loves. But as they grow older and the bombs continue to fall, the international sanctions bite and friends begin to flee the country, the girls must face the fact that their lives will never be the same again. This poignant debut novel will spirit readers away to a world they know only from the television, revealing just what it is like to grow up in a city that is slowly disappearing in front of your eyes, and showing how in the toughest times, children can build up the greatest resilience.
About The Author: Shahad Al Rawi
Shahad Al Rawi was born in Baghdad in 1986. She is a writer and novelist. The Baghdad Clock is her first novel, and it went through three printings in the first months of publication. She is currently completing a PhD in Anthropology in Dubai.
Books from Asia
By Jia Pingwa, Nicky Harman (Translator)
After a disastrous end to a relationship, Hawa “Happy” Liu embarks on a quest to find the recipient of his donated kidney and a life that lives up to his self-given moniker. Traveling from his rural home in Freshwind to the city of Xi’an, Happy brings only an eternally positive attitude, his devoted best friend Wufu, and a pair of high-heeled women’s shoes he hopes to fill with the love of his life.
In Xi’an, Happy and Wufu find jobs as trash pickers sorting through the city’s filth, but Happy refuses to be deterred by inauspicious beginnings. In his eyes, dusty birds become phoenixes, the streets become rivers, and life is what you make of it. When he meets the beautiful Yichun, he imagines she is the one to fill the shoes and his Cinderella-esque dream. But when the harsh city conditions and the crush of societal inequalities take the life of his friend and shake Happy to his soul, he’ll need more than just his unrelenting optimism to hold on to the belief that something better is possible.
About The Author: Jia Pingwa
Born in 1952 in Dihua Village, Danfeng County, Shaanxi Province, Jia Pingwa went on to graduate from Northwestern University’s Chinese department in 1975. He is deputy chair of the China Writers’ Association Presidium and chair of Writers’ Association Shaanxi branch. Among his best-known works are the novels Shaanxi Opera (QinQiang), Ruined City, Turbulence. He is also the author of several short story collections and novellas.
Books from Europe
The Shelf Life of Happiness
By David Machado, Hillary Locke (Translator)
Ripped apart by Portugal’s financial crisis, Daniel’s family is struggling to adjust to circumstances beyond their control. His wife and children move out to live with family hours away, but Daniel believes against all odds that he will find a job and everything will return to normal.
Even as he loses his home, suffers severe damage to his car, and finds himself living in his old, abandoned office building, Daniel fights the realization that things have changed. He’s unable to see what remains among the rubble—friendship, his family’s love, and people’s deep desire to connect. If Daniel can let go of the past and find his true self, he just might save not only himself but also everyone that really matters to him.onfession of the Lioness rediscovers possibility and what it means to be reborn.
About The Author: David Machado
David Machado hails from Lisbon, Portugal, and writes fiction for both adults and children. His books are popular in Portugal and have been awarded literary prizes, including the European Union Prize for Literature for the Portuguese version of this novel, Índice médio de felicidade (The Shelf Life of Happiness), which he adapted into a screenplay in 2016.
Books from East Asia
The Great Passage
By Shion Miura, Juliet Winters Carpenter (Translator)
Kohei Araki believes that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years of creating dictionaries, it’s time for him to retire and find his replacement.
He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime—a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics—whom he swipes from his company’s sales department.
Along with an energetic, if reluctant, new recruit and an elder linguistics scholar, Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the words that connect us all.
About The Author: Shion Miura
Shion Miura, the daughter of a well-known Japanese classics scholar, started an online book-review column before she graduated from Waseda University. In 2000, she made her fiction debut with Kakuto suru mono ni mar (A Passing Grade for Those Who Fight), a novel based in part on her own experiences during her job hunt.
Article originally Published in the October/November 2019 Issue “Read Global”