Ten Thousand Doors: New General Fiction

As I continue to write in French, and my books often speak about Madagascar, it has become natural for me to translate. That’s why I consider myself as a bridge between Madagascar and elsewhere — Johary Ravaloson

Madagascar has a long literary history, but until the release of Beyond the Rice Fields in 2017, not a single novel from Madagascar had been translated into English. But things are slowly starting to change, with the recent translation and publication of Johary Ravaloson’s Return to the Enchanted Island, a retelling of the myths the author heard as a child–especially the story of the first man, Ietsy. (For more on Johary Ravaloson, check out this interview.)

Also recently released: Agent Running in the Field by the masterful John Le Carré, The Boyfriend from Wellington’s very own Laura Southgate and The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow–described as “a journey through books within books, worlds within worlds, mysteries within mysteries”. Enjoy!

Inland / Obreht, Téa
“Nora is an unflinching frontierswoman awaiting the return of the men in her life – her husband who has gone in search of water and her elder sons who have vanished after an argument. Nora is biding her time with her youngest son, who is convinced that a mysterious beast is stalking the land around their home, and her husband’s seventeen-year-old cousin, who communes with spirits. Inland showcases Tea Obreht’s talents as a writer as she re-imagines the myths of the American West.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Agent running in the field / Le Carré, John
“Nat, a 47 year-old veteran of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, believes his years as an agent runner are over. He is back in London with his wife, the long-suffering Prue. But with the growing threat from Moscow Centre, the office has one more job for him. Nat is to take over The Haven, a defunct substation of London General with a rag-tag band of spies. The only bright light on the team is young Florence, who has her eye on Russia Department and a Ukrainian oligarch with a finger in the Russia pie.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The boyfriend / Southgate, Laura
“Erica is 17 and in her last year of high school. Donny is 42 and everywhere – in her yoga class, at German Club, in her parents’ spare room . . . The story of a young woman who finds herself subject to the gravitational field of a charismatic man, The Boyfriend is a cautionary tale about blindly accepting traditional ‘love’ narratives. This clear-eyed, dismaying and often hilarious examination of sexual desire, trauma and growth is a remarkable debut and a perfect novel for our time.” (Catalogue)

Return to the enchanted island / Ravaloson, Johary
“Named after the first man at the creation of the world in Malagasy mythology, Ietsy Razak was raised to perpetuate the glory of his namesake and expected to be as illuminated as his Great Ancestor. But in the chaos of modernity, his young life is marked only by restlessness. When an unexpected tragedy ships him off to a boarding school in France, his trip to the big city is no hero’s journey. Only a return to the “Enchanted Island,” as Madagascar is lovingly known, helps Ietsy stumble toward his destiny.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find me / Aciman, André
“In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever. Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Irish princess / Chadwick, Elizabeth
“Ireland, 1152. The King of Lenister, awaiting news of his newborn child, is disappointed to hear he has a daughter. Diarmait MacMurchada wanted another strapping son to shoulder a spear, wield a sword, and protect his kingdom. But the moment Diarmait holds tiny Aoife in his arms, he realised she would be his most precious treasure. Forced into exile, Aoife and her family find themselves at the mercy of Henry II. Aoife – aware of her beauty but not its power – intrigues and beguiles Henry in equal measure…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The butterfly girl / Denfeld, Rene
“Naomi Cottle is an investigator who finds missing children. But the one child she has never been able to find is her sister. Now, twenty years later, there is at long last a clue that her sister might still be alive. Celia is a street child. Her life is tough and she has seen more things that any child should. Street children have been going missing and the town has been turning a blind eye. It is only when Naomi turns up that they find someone who will listen to them. And someone who might give them hope.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A modern family / Flatland, Helga
“When Liv, Ellen, and H kon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s 70th birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce. Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Albert Einstein speaking / Gadney, Reg
“From a wrong number to a friendship that would impact both their lives, this begins with two unlikely friends – the world’s most respected scientist and a schoolgirl from New Jersey. From their first conversation Mimi Beaufort had a profound effect on Einstein and brought him, in his final years, back to life. In turn he let her into his world. This riotous, charming and moving novel spans almost a century of European history and shines a light on the real man behind the myth.” (Catalogue)

The ten thousand doors of January / Harrow, Alix E
“In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)