A selection of translated novels received this month, gives fiction a very international perspective, covering most genres from mystery to romance, psychological thrillers to historical.
Mercy / Jussi Adler-Olsen ; translated by Tina Nunnally.
”Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck has been taken off homicide to run a newly created department for unsolved crimes. His first case concerns Merete Lynggaard, who vanished five years ago. Everyone says she’s dead. Everyone says it’s a waste of time. He thinks they’re right.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
Monsieur Linh and his child / Philippe Claudel ; translated from the French by Euan Cameron.
“Traumatized by memories of his war-ravaged country, and with his son and daughter-in-law dead, Monsieur Linh travels to a foreign land to bring the child in his arms to safety. The other refugees in the detention centre are unsure how to help the old man; his case-workers are compassionate, but overworked. Struggling beneath the weight of his sorrow, Monsieur Linh becomes increasingly bewildered in this unfamiliar, fast-moving town, and then he encounters Monsieur Bark. They do not speak each other’s language, but Monsieur Bark is sympathetic to the foreigner’s need to care for the child. The two men share their solitude, and find friendship in an unlikely dialogue between two very different cultures.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The breakers / Claudie Gallay ; translated from the French by Alison Anderson.
“In the Contentin peninsula on the northern coast of Brittany, lies a village that to all intents and purposes might just be at the end of the world. Amid this desolation, a stranger appears in the cafe and begins stirring up suspicion about the village’s lighthouse keeper, now retired. Meanwhile, a woman arrives from the south. The man of her life has just died and she throws herself into her work, cataloguing her surroundings in obsessive detail. The villagers seem to be guarding old secrets about events in their past. But what actually happened? Who were the victims? Who is seeking answers and why?”(adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
Love virtually / Daniel Glattauer ; translated from the German by Katharine Bielenberg and Jamie Bulloch.
“It begins by chance: Leo receives emails in error from an unknown woman called Emmi. Being polite he replies, and Emmi writes back. A few brief exchanges are all it takes to spark a mutual interest in each other, and soon Emmi and Leo are sharing their innermost secrets and longings. The erotic tension simmers, and it seems only a matter of time before they will meet in person. But they keep putting off the moment – the prospect both excites and unsettles them. And after all, Emmi is happily married. Will their feelings for each other survive the test of a real-life encounter? And if so, what then? (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Child wonder / Roy Jacobsen ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett with Don Shaw.
“Finn lives with his mother in an apartment block in a working-class suburb of Oslo. It is 1961, a time when ‘men became boys and housewives women’, the year the Berlin Wall is erected and Yuri Gagarin becomes the first man to travel into space. Life is electrical, beautiful and stubbornly social-democratic. One day a mysterious half-sister appears ‘with an atom-charge in a light blue suitcase’, and she turns his life upside-down.”(adapted from Syndetics summary)
Train to Budapest / Dacia Maraini ; translated from the Italian by Silvester Mazzarella.
“It is 1956, Amara, a young Italian journalist, is sent to report on the growing political divide between East and West in post-war central Europe. She also has a more personal mission: to find out what happened to Emanuele, her soul mate from before the war when both were children in Florence. Her quest now takes her on long train journeys. Amara is helped by chance travel companions, notably Hans, part Austrian and half-Jewish, who works as a surrogate father at weddings for brides orphaned in the war, and Hovath, an elderly Hungarian captured by the Russians after forced service with the German army outside Stalingrad in 1942.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
I curse the river of time / Per Petterson ; translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson.
“In 1989, 37-year-old Arvid Jansen’s marriage is ending and his mother is dying of cancer. Hoping to leave his marital woes behind in Oslo, Jansen follows his Danish-born mother to her home country, to the beach house where the family spent summers. During the ferry ride and the following days in Denmark, Jansen recalls his childhood bond with his mother and his decision, after two years of college, to leave school and join his fellow Communists in the factories. He struggles with his commitment to communism and with his place in his family and in the larger world.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The calligrapher’s secret / Rafik Schami ; translated from German by Anthea Bell.
“Schami’s intricately woven tale of mid-twentieth-century Damascus is brimming with love and jealousy, prejudice, politics, and intrigue. His lively cast of characters includes Hamid Farsi, a renowned Muslim calligrapher, and his wife, Nura, a talented dressmaker and daughter of a famous scholar. Nasri Albani, widely known as a philanderer, is obsessed with Nura. And there’s Salman, a poor Christian youth who becomes Hamid’s assistant, learning the calligrapher’s art from the ground up. Hamid’s talents place his work in high demand, but when he detects weaknesses in the Arabic language, and secretly seeks to make radical reforms, he comes under the purists’ scrutiny. (adapted from Syndetics summary)
The quarry / Johan Theorin ; translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy.
“As the last snow melts on the Swedish island of Öland, Per Morner is preparing for his children’s Easter visit. But his plans are disrupted when he receives a phone call from his estranged father, Jerry, begging for help.Per finds Jerry close to death in his blazing woodland studio. He’s been stabbed, and two dead bodies are later discovered in the burnt-out building.The only suspect, Jerry’s work partner, is confirmed as one of the dead. But why does Jerry insist his colleague is still alive? And why does he think he’s still a threat to his life?When Jerry dies in hospital a few days later, Per becomes determined to find out what really happened. But the closer he gets to the truth, the more danger he finds himself in.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
The lake / by Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Michael Emmerich.
“Chihiro, an artist, and Nakajima, a graduate student in genetics, finally meet after watching and waving to each other from their respective apartment windows across a Tokyo street. They’re both unconventional and seemingly untethered souls; they’ve both lost their beloved mothers. They meander into a sweet, simple life together, although past secrets involving a mysterious brother and sister who live by an ethereal lake threaten to create an emotional divide.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)