Translated novels are the feature this month in the ‘Other Genres’ category. This selection includes some exciting, brilliant international writers, with novels translated from the French, Croatian, Spanish Turkish, Russian, Korean, and Urdu languages.
The Walnut Mansion / Miljenko Jergovic ; translated by Stephen M. Dickey, with Jana Pavetić-Dickey.
“This grand novel encompasses nearly all of Yugoslavia’s tumultuous twentieth century, from the decline of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires through two world wars, the rise and fall of communism, the breakup of the nation, and the terror of the shelling of Dubrovnik. Tackling universal themes on a human scale, master storyteller Miljenko Jergovic traces one Yugoslavian family’s tale as history irresistibly casts the fates of five generations.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The dictator’s last night / Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by Julian Evans.
“In the dying days of the Libyan civil war, Muammar Gaddafi is hiding out in his home town of Sirte along with his closest advisors. In this gripping imagining of the last hours of President Gaddafi, we are given a fascinating insight into the mind of one of the most complex and controversial figures of recent history. Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of the Algerian author Mohammed Moulessehoul.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Simone : a novel / Eduardo Lalo ; Translated by David Frye.
“This novel won the 2013 Rómulo Gallegos International Novel Prize and is set on the streets of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Simone begins with the writer’s frustrated, satiric observations on his native city and the banal life of the university where he teaches, forces utterly at odds with the sensuality of his writing. As mysterious messages and literary clues begin to appear, scrawled on sidewalks and walls, inside volumes set out in bookstores, left on his answering machine and under his windshield wiper, Simone progresses into a cat-and-mouse game between the writer and his mystery stalker. When the eponymous Simone’s identity is at last revealed, the writer finds in the life of this Chinese immigrant a plight not dissimilar to his own.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The great swindle / Pierre Lemaitre ; translated from the French by Frank Wynne.
“The year is 1918, the war on the Western Front all but over. An ambitious officer, Lieutenant Henry D’Aulnay-Pradelle, sends two soldiers over the top and then surreptitiously shoots them in the back. When another of D’Aulnay-Pradelle’s soldiers, Albert Maillard, reaches the bodies and discovers how they died, the lieutenant shoves him into a shell hole to silence him. Albert is rescued by fellow soldier, artist Edouard Péricourt, who takes a bullet in the face. In gratitude for Edouard’s rescue, Albert becomes the injured man’s companion and caregiver. The two men scramble to survive, ultimately devising a scam to take money for never-to-be-built war memorials from small towns.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The house in Smyrna / Tatiana Salem Levy ; translated by Alison Entrekin.
“In Rio de Janeiro, a woman suffering from a mysterious illness, which is eroding her body and mind, decides to accept a challenge from her grandfather to take the key to the house where he grew up, in the Turkish city of Smyrna and try to open the door. As she embarks on this pilgrimage, she begins to write of her progress. This writing soon becomes an exploration of her family’s legacy of displacement in Europe, told in several narrative strands. Sifting through family stories, she traces her family’s history in a journey to make sense of the past and to understand her place in it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Paris nocturne / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Phoebe Weston-Evans.
“This novel begins with a nighttime accident on the streets of Paris. The unnamed narrator, a teenage boy, is hit by a car whose driver he vaguely recalls having met before. The mysterious ensuing events, involving a police van, a dose of ether, awakening in a strange hospital, and the disappearance of the woman driver, culminate in a packet being pressed into the boy’s hand. It is an envelope stuffed full of bank notes. The confusion only deepens as the characters grow increasingly apprehensive.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The whispering city / Sara Moliner.
“Barcelona, 1952: General Franco’s fascist government is at the height of its oppressive powers, casting a black shadow across the city. When wealthy socialite Mariona Sobrerroca is found dead in her mansion in the exclusive Tibidabo district, the police scramble to seize control of the investigation. Ana Marti Noguer, an eager young journalist, is surprised to be assigned this important story, shadowing Inspector Isidro Castro. But Ana soon realises that a bundle of strange letters unearthed at the scene point to a sequence of events dramatically different from the official version. She enlists the help of her cousin Beatriz, a scholar, and what begins as an intriguing puzzle opens up a series of revelations that implicate the regime’s most influential figures.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The girl who wrote loneliness / Kyung-sook Shin ; translated from the Korean by Ha-yun Jung.
“Homesick and alone, a teen-aged girl has just arrived in Seoul to work in a factory. Her family, still in the countryside, is too impoverished to keep sending her to school, so she works long, sun-less days on a stereo-assembly line, struggling through night school every evening in order to achieve her dream of becoming a writer. This novel is set during Korea’s industrial sweatshops of the 1970’s and takes on the extreme exploitation, oppression, and urbanization that helped catapult Korea’s economy out of the ashes of war.” (Adapted from (Syndetics summary)
The big green tent / Ludmila Ulitskaya ; translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon.
“An orphaned poet, a gifted pianist and a budding photographer meet in a mid-20th-century Moscow school and eventually embody the heroism, folly, compromise and hope of the Soviet dissident experience.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Mirages of the mind / Mushtaq Ahmed Yousufi ; translated from the Urdu by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad.
“Basharat and his family are Indian Muslims who have relocated to Pakistan, but who remain deeply steeped in the nostalgia of pre-Partition life in India. Through his absurd anecdotes and unforgettable biographical sketches, which hide the deeper unease and sorrow of the family’s journey from Kanpur to Karachi, Basharet emerges as a wise fool, and the host of this unique sketch comedy.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)