New Translated Fiction: a Way with Words

This latest selection of works translated into English features French writers exploring the joys and depths of fiction, from comedic farce to the thought-provoking. Danish writer Ane Riel spins a dark, suspenseful tale of family possession and obsession centered around Liv, the young daughter of a reclusive household. Recently adapted into film by Daniel Borgman, Resin premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Another young girl is the pivot for a European boundary-straddling novel, The Soul of the Border. The Soul of the Border is the first in Matteo Righetto’s Mountain Trilogy featuring the area between Italy and the Austro-Hungarian empire in the late 19th century. Rodrigo Rey Rosa negotiates a catalogue of Guatemalan crime as his protagonist searches through the arrest records of the police archive. This work appears to flicker between the real and the embellished as details of Guatemala’s political history and current instability permeate the novel.

The girl who lived twice / Lagercrantz, David
“Lisbeth Salander has disappeared… And no one is aware that at long last she’s got her prime enemy, her twin sister, Camilla, squarely in her sights. Mikael Blomkvist is trying to reach Lisbeth. He needs her help unraveling the identity of a man who lived and died on the streets of Stockholm. He does not exist in any official records and whose garbled last words hinted at possible damaging knowledge of people in the highest echelons of government and industry.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The book of dreams : a novel / George, Nina
“When Henri ends up in a coma after rescuing a young girl from the Thames, his ex-girlfriend, Eddie, discovers that she is listed as Henri’s next-of-kin in his living will. Sam, Henri’s teenage son, has never seen his father alive, other than the video of him heroically saving a girl from drowning. Sam and Eddie, each previously unaware of the other, slowly begin to carve out an unexpected and powerful friendship. Full of rich, captivating characters, and in placing the serious questions of life and death alongside a wonderful and engrossing story, The Book of Dreams asks with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives after we are gone.” (Catalogue)

Serotonin / Houellebecq, Michel
“Dissatisfied and discontent, Florent-Claude Labrouste decides to abandon his life in Paris and return to the Normandy countryside of his youth. There he contemplates lost loves and past happiness as he struggles to embed himself in a world that no longer holds any joy for him. His only relief, Captorix, which works by altering the brain’s release of serotonin. With social unrest intensifying around him, and his own depression deepening, Florent-Claude turns to this new medication in the hope that he will find something to live for. Serotonin is at once a devastating story of solitude, longing and individual suffering, and a powerful criticism of modern life.” (Catalogue)

Human matter : a fiction / Rey Rosa, Rodrigo
“Human Matter is both a tour de force of fiction and a sobering meditation on the realities of collective memory, raising timely questions about how our history is recorded and retold. The Archive Recovery Project inspired Rey Rosa to craft a meta-novel that weaves the language of arrest records and surveillance reports with the contemporary journal entries of a novelist (named Rodrigo) who is attempting to synthesize the stories of political activists, indigenous people, and other women and men who became ensnared in a deadly web of state-sponsored terrorism.” (Catalogue)

Soul of the border : a novel / Righetto, Matteo
“In this exhilarating coming-of-age tale, a daring young woman braves the wilds of the Austrian-Italian border. Jole de Boer is just fifteen years old the first time she accompanies her father–a tobacco grower named Augusto–as he smuggles his product across the Italian border into Austria.  But when Augusto mysteriously disappears during one of his trips, Jole must retrace the route he took to both find a buyer for her family’s tobacco–and the truth behind her father’s disappearance. An epic tale of revenge, corruption, and salvation, The Soul of the Border is an unforgettable journey into the wild.” (Catalogue)

Vintage 1954 / Laurain, Antoine
“When Hubert Larnaudie invites some fellow residents of his Parisian apartment building to drink an exceptional bottle of 1954 Beaujolais, he has no idea of its special properties. The following morning, Hubert finds himself waking up in 1950s Paris, as do antique restorer Magalie, mixologist Julien, and Airbnb tenant Bob from Milwaukee, who’s on his first trip to Europe. After their initial shock, the city of Edith Piaf and An American in Paris begins to work its charm on them. The four delight in getting to know the French capital during this iconic period, whilst also playing with the possibilities that time travel allows.” (Catalogue)

Resin / Riel, Ane (print), (eBook)
“Suspenseful and heart-breaking, Resin is the story of what can happen when you love someone too much. Liv died when she was just six years old. At least, that’s what the authorities think. Her father knew he was the only one who could keep her safe in this world. So one evening he left the isolated house his little family called home, he pushed their boat out to sea and watched it ruin on the rocks. Then he walked the long way into town to report his only child missing. But behind the boxes and the baskets crowding her Dad’s workshop, Liv was hiding. This way her Dad had said, she’d never have to go to school; this way, she’d never have to leave her parents. This way, Liv would be safe.” (Catalogue)

The truth behind the lie / Lövestam, Sara
“Need help, but can’t contact the police?” That’s the ad placed by low-flying private eye Kouplan, an undocumented refugee in Stockholm forced to flee Iran owing to his work on a radical newspaper. Here he’s helping a client find her missing daughter, but something about her story is amiss. Pernilla’s daughter has vanished without a trace, and Kouplan is an expert at living and working off the grid. He’s the perfect PI to help… but something in Pernilla’s story doesn’t add up. She might need help that he can’t offer… and a little girl’s life hangs in the balance.” (Catalogue)

 

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