Category: Recent picks

New ‘Other Genres’ this month featuring translated novels

Some fabulous reading entertainment from around the world is provided in this month’s selection of new ‘Other Genres’ fiction. There is a wide range of translated novels, from Sweden, Germany, France, Japan, Israel, Algeria and Russia. Highly recommended is the Japanese best seller, by popular Banana Yoshimoto, titled Moshi Moshi.

Syndetics book coverAnd every morning the way home gets longer and longer : a novella / Fredrik Backman ; translated by Alice Menzies.
“An exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis house is mine / Dörte Hansen ; translated from the German by Anne Stokes.
“All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty half-timbered farmhouse she arrived at as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. Sixty years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son. Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg, Germany neighborhood she never fit into after her relationship imploded. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they find what they have never thought to search for: a family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBetween life and death / Yoram Kaniuk ; translated from the Hebrew by Barbara Harshav.
“Famed Israeli writer Yoram Kaniuk describes the four months during which he lay unconscious in a Tel Aviv hospital, hovering between the world of the living and that of the dead. Shifting between memory and illusion, imagination and testimony, this novel probes into the place of death in society, the lust for life, and the force of human relationships.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe angels die / Yasmina Khadra ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“As a child living in a ghetto, Turambo dreamt of a better future. When his family find a home in the city anything seems possible. Through a succession of menial jobs, the constants for Turambo are rage at the injustice surrounding him, and a reliable left hook. A boxing apprenticeship offers Turambo a choice.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe graveyard apartment / Mariko Koike ; translated from the Japanese by Deborah Boliver Boehm.
“A young family that believes it has found the perfect home to grow into, only to realize that the apartment’s idyllic setting harbors the specter of evil and that the longer they stay, the more trapped they become.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Mayakovsky tapes : a novel / Robert Littell ; translated from the Russian by R. Litzky.
“In March 1953, four women meet in Room 408 of Moscow’s deluxe Metropole Hotel. They have gathered, not altogether willingly, to reminisce about Vladimir Mayakovsky, the poet who in death had become a national idol of Soviet Russia. In life, however, he was a much more complicated figure. Each of these ladies loved Mayakovsky in the course of his life, and as they piece together their memories of him, a portrait of the artist emerges.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary

Syndetics book coverDon’t turn out the lights / Bernard Minier ; translated by Alison Anderson.
“Martin Servaz is on leave in a clinic for depressed cops, haunted by his childhood sweetheart Marianne’s kidnapping by his nemesis, the psychopath Julian Hirtmann. One day, he receives a key card to a hotel room in the mail, the room where an artist committed suicide a year earlier. Someone wants him to get back to work, which he’s more than ready to do, despite his mandatory sick leave. Servaz soon uncovers evidence of a truly terrifying crime. Could someone really be cruelly, consciously hounding women to death?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStory of a sociopath : a novel / Julia Navarro.
“Thomas Spencer is a man who knows how to get what he wants, though his poor health and aging looks are the price he’s had to pay. He wears these features proudly, like scars from the battles that propelled him to the top in his glamorous career as a publicist and media maven. But lately, after several cardiac episodes, he senses that his time in the sun is dwindling. In the solitude of his luxurious Brooklyn apartment, he begins to look back on the convoluted trajectory his life has taken. What follows is a spellbinding psychological narrative that takes us through the world of international media and politics from the 1990s to the present.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe slow waltz of turtles / Katherine Pancol ; translated by William Rodarmor.
“Fortysomething mother of two Josephine Cortes is at a crossroads. She has just moved to a posh new apartment in Paris after the success of the historical novel she ghostwrote for her sister, Iris. Still struggling with her divorce, the result of her husband running off to Kenya to start a crocodile farm with his mistress, she is now entangled too in a messy lie orchestrated by her sister. And just when things seem they can’t get any more complicated, people start turning up dead in her neighborhood.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoshi Moshi / Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Asa Yoneda.
“Yoshie’s much-loved musician father has died in a suicide pact with an unknown woman. It is only when Yoshie and her mother move to Shimo-kitazawa, a traditional Tokyo neighborhood of narrow streets, quirky shops, and friendly residents that they can finally start to put their painful past behind them. However, despite their attempts to move forward, Yoshie is haunted by nightmares in which her father is looking for the phone he left behind on the day he died, or on which she is trying, unsuccessfully to call him. Is her dead father trying to communicate a message to her through these dreams?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ for November, featuring translated novels

In featuring translated novels in this month’s selection of new ‘Other Genres’ we highlight the best from international writers from many countries. There are novels translated from the French, Italian, Dutch, Estonian, Chinese, Spanish and Swedish. Highly recommended is the third novel in the Neapolitan novels by the elusive writer Elena Ferrante, titled Those who leave and those who stay.

Syndetics book coverMen / Marie Darrieussecq ; translated from the French by Penny Hueston.
“It’s love at first sight for French actress Solange when she lays eyes on enigmatic Cameroonian actor Kouhouesso at a party in the Hollywood Hills. Solange takes him to bed but wants more than a tryst, much more. But Kouhouesso remains elusive, focusing his energies on his passion project: directing a new version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Solange angles for the role of the Intended, Kurtz’s fiancée, who appears in only one scene. Kouhouesso considers several better-known actresses before finally settling on Solange. And so lovesick Solange follows Kouhouesso to his native Cameroon, hoping the film shoot will allow her to peel back his protective layers and truly bring them closer.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThose who leave and those who stay / Elena Ferrante ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
“Beginning in the late 1960s and early ’70s, the fiery Lila stays in Naples, having escaped an abusive marriage, and lives platonically with a man from the neighborhood, along with her young, possibly illegitimate son. The feisty Elena leaves town, graduates from a university in Pisa, publishes a successful book, marries an upper-class professor, and moves to Florence, where she gives birth to two daughters. Against the backdrop of student revolution and right-wing reaction, the two women’s tumultuous friendship seesaws up and down as each tries to outdo the other.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenalty area / Alain Gillot ; translated from the French by Howard Curtis.
“Growing up, Vincent Barteau dreamed of being a professional soccer player. But that dream was crushed by a career-ending injury. Now Vincent keeps alive his connection to the sport by coaching a youth team in Sedan, France. One day, his circumscribed existence is shattered by the arrival of his estranged sister, Madeleine, a single mother who asks him to care for her 13-year-old son, Leonard. Vincent has had no experience caring for a teenager. But it turns out that the boy has a real talent as a soccer goalie and makes Vincent’s team suddenly viable. Thanks to the boy, Vincent begins to come out of his shell. Then, Madeleine reappears and says that she wants Leonard back.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 years old / Hendrik Groen ; translated by Hester Velmans.
“Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn’t planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he’d like. Technically speaking he is elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums? Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs, not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in, the woman Hendrik has always longed for, he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what’s left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe man who spoke Snakish / Andrus Kivirähk ; translated by Christopher Moseley.
“Unfortunately people and tribes degenerate. They lose their teeth, forget their language, until finally they are bending meekly on the fields and cutting straw with a scythe. Leemut, a young boy growing up in the forest, is content living with his hunter-gatherer family. But when incomprehensible outsiders arrive aboard ships and settle nearby, with an intriguing new religion, the forest begins to empty, people are move to the village, breaking their backs tilling fields to make bread. Leemut and the last forest-dwelling humans refuse to adapt: with bare-bottomed primates and their love of ancient traditions, they live in shacks, keep wolves, and speak to snakes.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe explosion chronicles / Yan Lianke ; translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas.
“With the Yi River on one side and the Balou Mountains on the other, the village of Explosion was founded more than a millennium ago by refugees fleeing a seismic volcanic eruption. But in the post-Mao era the name takes on a new significance as the community grows explosively from a small village to a vast metropolis. Behind this rapid expansion are members of the community’s three major families, including the four Kong brothers. Linked together by a complex web of loyalty, betrayal, desire, and ambition, these figures are the driving force behind their hometown’s transformation into an urban superpower.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover33 revolutions / Canek Sánchez Guevara ; translated from the Spanish by Howard Curtis.
“The hero of this mordant portrayal of life in contemporary Cuba is a black Cuban whose parents were enthusiastic supporters of the Castro Revolution. His father, however, having fallen foul of the regime, is accused of embezzlement and dies of a stroke. Following her husband’s death, his mother flees the country and settles in Madrid. Our hero separates from his wife and now spends much of his time in the company of his Russian neighbor, from whom he discovers the pleasures of reading. The books he reads gradually open his eyes to the incongruity between party slogans and the gray oppressive reality that surrounds him This is a candid and moving story about the disappointments of a generation that believed in the ideals of the Castro Revolution.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDivorce is in the air / Gonzalo Torné ; translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell
“There’s a lot about Joan-Marc that his estranged second wife doesn’t know, but which he now sets out to tell her. He begins with the failure of his first marriage to an American woman named Helen; describing a vacation they took in a last-ditch attempt to salvage their once-passionate romance. The recollection of this ill-fated trip triggers in him a series of flashbacks through which he narrates his life story, hopscotching between Barcelona and Madrid. Starting from pivotal moments in his childhood, his earliest sexual encounters, his father’s suicide, his mother’s emotional decline, he moves through the years to the origin of his relationship with Helen and the circumstances surrounding its deterioration.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverReputations / Juan Gabriel Vásquez ; translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean.
“Javier Mallarino, renowned political cartoonist, has reached the apex of his career. He’s feted at a ceremony with speeches and a commemorative stamp while his estranged wife (whom he loves) watches from the audience. But a film tribute shown during the program triggers something in the memory of another woman in the audience, unraveling several lives as the past is revisited. Mallarino is forced to reexamine, through the eyes of this woman, the very basis of his reputation, an accusation of sexual misconduct he implied in a caricature that destroyed the career of a politician and eventually led to his death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe brother / Joakim Zander ; translated from the Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel.
“Growing up poor, Yasmine vowed she would always protect her little brother from harm. She broke her promise on the day she left home, abandoning Fadi to his life in the Stockholm slums. Now, five years later, Yasmine still carries the guilt of leaving him behind. She hears a rumor that he is dead, killed by a US drone in Syria. What happened to turn her sweet-natured brother into one of the CIA’s most wanted men? The answer will shock her.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The best of the best: must reads from this month’s fiction selections

The following titles have been chosen from our monthly new fiction selections. They are all highly recommended for great reading.

Syndetics book coverOur lady of the ice / Cassandra Rose Clarke.
Steampunk Antarctica is the setting for this complex and brilliant science fiction mystery.

Syndetics book coverPostal. Volume 1 / created by Matt Hawkins ; Bryan Hill, Matt Hawkins, writers ; Isaac Goodhart, artist.
A very dark suspense filled graphic novel, that is reflected in the great cover.

Syndetics book coverParis nocturne / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Phoebe Weston-Evans.
A thrilling classic, that demonstrates the skill of this Nobel prize winning author.

Syndetics book coverMy name is Lucy Barton : a novel / Elizabeth Strout.
A compelling, compassionate novel, writing that is perfect.

Syndetics book coverThe treacherous net / Helene Tursten ; translation by Marlaine Delargy.
Yes, another Scandinavian crime novel, they just keep getting better and better.

New ‘Other Genres’ Fiction, this month featuring Translated novels

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.

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverSimone : 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverParis 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverMirages 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)

New ‘Other Genres’ fiction for August, this month featuring translated novels

With Wellington International Film festival having reached the end, our selection of the best translated novels, received this month may help continue the international artistic influence. There are some stunning novels by brilliant writers from around the world.

Syndetics book coverWhere pigeons don’t fly / Yousef Al-Mohaimeed ; translated by Robin Moger.
“The story of Fahd, a young boy growing up in Saudi Arabia. Fahd’s childhood is overshadowed by his father’s involvement in the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Now an artist and critic, the adult Fahd finds that, both in work and in love, he is at loggerheads with repressive cultural and religious norms. When he and his girlfriend are detained by the “virtue” police, Fahd contemplates a life of self-imposed exile in a remote corner of Britain, rather than remaining somewhere he doesn’t feel he belongs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA Perfect Crime / A Yi ; translated by Anna Holmwood.
“An exceptionally dark and beautiful novel about a motiveless murder which echoes Kafka’s absurdism, Camus’ nihilism and Dostoyevsky’s depravity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd then came Paulette / Barbara Constantine ; translated from the French by Justin Phipps.
“When his son’s family move away, widower Ferdinand is left with only a sadistic kitten for company on a farm that was built for a family. Just as loneliness starts to bite, he discovers his neighbor Marceline has long been shivering beneath a leaky roof. He welcomes her to his farm, temporarily of course, and also provides a home for her dog and her gluttonous donkey. As each begrudgingly adjusts to the other’s quirks, yet more new arrivals appear. It seems that Ferdinand isn’t the only one who was all-alone, and the dusty farm becomes a haven for lost souls of every age to share their sorrows and set about rediscovering their joie de vivre.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverConfession of the lioness / Mia Couto ; translated from the Portuguese by David Brookshaw.
“Mariamar, a young woman from the village, finds her life thrown into chaos just as the marksman hired to kill the lionesses, the outsider Archangel Bullseye, arrives in town. Mariamar’s sister was recently killed in one of the attacks, and her father has imprisoned her in his home, where she relives painful memories of past abuse and hopes to be rescued by Archangel. Meanwhile, Archangel attempts to track the lionesses out in the wilderness, but when he begins to suspect there is more to these predators than meets the eye, he slowly starts to lose control of his hands. The hunt grows more and more dangerous, until it’s no safer inside Kulumani than outside it.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe reader on the 6.27 / Jean-Paul Didierlaurent ; translated by Ros Schwartz.
“Guylain Vignolles leads a dull and solitary life. He hates his job and his only company at home is a goldfish. Every morning he takes the 6.27 to his tedious job at a book pulping factory. On the train each morning on the way to work, Guylain reads aloud to his fellow commuters the disparate pages that he rescues from the jaws of the monstrous pulping machine. One morning on the train, he finds a USB stick which contains the diary of a young woman. As Guylain reads the diary, he finds himself falling love with its author.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little Paris bookshop : a novel / Nina George ; translated by Simon Pare.
“On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust, until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Swede : a novel / Robert Karjel ; translation from the Swedish by Nancy Pick and Robert Karjel.
“Ernst Grip of the Swedish security police has no idea why he’s been dispatched to a remote American military base in the Indian Ocean. Met by FBI agent Shauna Friedman, he learns that the U.S. wants him to determine whether a prisoner they’re holding is a Swedish citizen. The detainee, known only as “N.,” is a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the U.S. heartland. Tortured by the CIA, he refuses to talk. Yet all the evidence points to a cabal of survivors from the devastating 2004 tsunami that struck Thailand: a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, a heartbreakingly naïve Pakistani, aand a Swede. But the prisoner is not the only one harboring dangerous secrets. Grip hides a double life that will lead him into terra incognita, and Friedman, too, is not who she appears to be.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe festival of insignificance : a novel / Milan Kundera ; translated from the French by Linda Asher.
“Casting light on the most serious of problems and at the same time saying not one serious sentence; being fascinated by the reality of the contemporary world and at the same time completely avoiding realism–that’s The Festival of Insignificance.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe living and the dead in Winsford / Håkan Nesser ; translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson.
“A woman arrives in the village of Winsford on Exmoor. She has travelled a long way and chosen her secluded cottage carefully. Maria’s sole intention is to outlive her beloved dog Castor. And to survive the torrent of memories that threaten to overwhelm her. Weeks before, Maria and her husband Martin fled Stockholm under a cloud. The couple were bound for Morocco, where Martin planned to write an explosive novel; one that would reveal the truth behind dark events within his commune of writers decades before. But the couple never made it to their destination. As Maria settles into her lonely new life, walking the wild, desolate moors, it becomes clear that Winsford isn’t quite the sanctuary she thought it would be. While the long, dark evenings close in and the weather worsens, strange things begin to happen around her. But what terrible secrets is Maria guarding? And who is trying to find her?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe dirty dust : crè na cille / Máirtín Ó Cadhain ; Translated from Irish by Alan Titley.
“In this novel all characters lie dead in their graves. This, however, does not impair their banter or their appetite for news of aboveground happenings from the recently arrived. Told entirely in dialogue, all the, gossip, rumors, backbiting, complaining, and obsessing of the local community, in the afterlife, it seems, the same old life goes on beneath the sod.” (Adapted from Syndetic summary)

New ‘Other Genres’ fiction for February – This month featuring translated novels

Translated novels are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genres’ fiction. The selection from all parts of the world includes two Nobel Prize Literature winners, Mo Yan in 2012 and Patrick Modiano in 2014.

Syndetics book coverWhere the day begins : 61 shortcuts from my travels in New Zealand / Martin Bettinger ; translated by Andreas Richter.
“Arriving in Golden Bay in the 1990s, Martin Bettinger expected to find a quiet place to write. Instead he found an intriguing mix of people: expatriates from many countries, mavericks, bach owners, alternative life-stylers and those down on their luck, most of whom were drawn to the bay to build a new life. Travelling and working through the South Island he found that this land of promise provided no new answers, just another opportunity to make the same mistakes anew.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe end of days / Jenny Erpenbeck ; translated by Susan Bernofsky.
“In the Hapsburg Empire, a newborn baby dies suddenly, leaving her parents to grieve into eternity. But what if fate had taken a different turn? Perhaps she survives and grows up in Vienna? Over the years, she faces death again and again, only to live on in another place and time. Her journey traces the history of war, of religious and political conflict that comes to define Eastern Europe in the 20th century.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe arc of the swallow / Sissel-Jo Gazan ; translated from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund.
“When controversial Professor Kristian Storm is found hanged in his office, his assistant Marie Skov refuses to believe that he has committed suicide. Having just returned from West Africa on a research trip, the late scientist had uncovered a shocking truth about immunology programs in the developing world. Former police detective Soren Marhauge is determined to prove what really happened to the professor. While Marie grapples with Storm’s disputed legacy, Soren leads them both beyond legal boundaries and behind the scenes of the cut-throat pharmaceutical industry.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe vegetarian : a novel / Han Kang ; translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith.
“Yeong-hye and her husband are ordinary people. He is an office worker with moderate ambitions and mild manners; she is an uninspired but dutiful wife. The acceptable flatline of their marriage is interrupted when Yeong-hye, seeking a more ‘plant-like’ existence, decides to become a vegetarian, prompted by grotesque recurring nightmares. In South Korea, where vegetarianism is almost unheard-of and societal mores are strictly obeyed, Yeong-hye’s decision is a shocking act of subversion.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe little old lady who struck lucky again! / Catharina Ingelman-Sundberg ; translated from the Swedish by Rod Bradbury.
“Can the group of elderly friends work together to outsmart the younger robbers and get away with their biggest heist yet? Or will this job be a step too far for The League of Pensioners?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrog / Mo Yan ; translated from the original Chinese edition by Howard Goldblatt.
“A respected midwife, Gugu combines modern medical knowledge with a healer’s touch to save the lives of village women and their babies. After a disastrous love affair with a defector leaves Gugu reeling, she throws herself into enforcing China’s draconian new family planning policy by any means necessary. Her blind devotion to the party line spares no one, not her own family, not even herself.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe search warrant / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Joanna Kilmartin.
Missing: a young girl, Dora Bruder, 15, height 1.55m, oval-shaped face, grey-brown eyes, grey sports jacket, maroon pullover, navy blue skirt and hat, brown gym shoes. All information to M. and Mme Bruder, 41 Boulevard Ornano, Paris. The author chanced upon this notice in a December 1941 issue of Paris Soir. The girl has vanished from the convent school which had taken her in during the Occupation. She had apparently run away on a bitterly cold night at a time of especially violent German reprisals. Moved by her fate, the author sets out to find all he can about her.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThere once lived a mother who loved her children, until they moved back in : three novellas about family / Ludmilla Petrushevskaya ; translated with an introduction by Anna Summers.
“In this latest collection of three novellas, Russian author Petrushevskaya is interested in the emotional and psychological toll living in Soviet Russia took on families, with an emphasis on how women, specifically mothers, coped.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe tower : a novel / Uwe Tellkamp ; translated by Mike Mitchell.
“In derelict Dresden a cultivated, middle-class family does all it can to cope amid the Communist downfall. This striking tapestry of the East German experience is told through the tangled lives of a soldier, surgeon, nurse and publisher. With evocative detail, Uwe Tellkamp masterfully reveals the myriad perspectives of the time as people battled for individuality, retreated to nostalgia, chose to conform, or toed the perilous line between East and West.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seventh day / Yu Hua ; translated from the Chinese by Allan H. Barr.
“Yang Fei is dead. Arriving at the funeral parlor as directed, he’s denied eternal rest because he has “neither urn nor grave”; over the next seven days, he revisits his short 41 years. Yang Fei was temporarily famous as “the boy a train gave birth to,” having accidentally slipped from his birth mother through a toilet opening on a moving train; he was rescued by a railway employee who became his devoted father. When Yang Jinbiao falls morbidly ill, Yang Fei abandons job and home to care for him. Unwilling to drain Yang Fei further, Yang Jinbiao disappears, setting in motion an afterlife journey for both father and son.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

“Other Genre” novels for July, this month featuring translated fiction

New translated fiction features this month in our “Other Genre” category. From Korea, to Syria, Latin America to Germany, Albania to France, this selection has diverse range of characters, setting and themes. Highly recommended is The People in the Photo by Helene Gestern, winner of more than fifteen awards in France.

Syndetics book coverSworn virgin / Elvira Dones ; translated by Clarissa Botsford ; foreword by Ismail Kadare.
“Aspiring writer Hana Doda, newly arrived in Washington, D.C., from her native Albania, suffers sensory overload. Before coming to America, Hana returned to her mountain home, from her university in the capital city of Tirana, to take care of her Uncle Gjergj, who was dying of cancer. Gjergj presses Hana to find a husband so that she will be provided for after he’s gone. But Hana is not inclined to be tied down. Her rejection of marriage triggers a bizarre but time-honored Albanian custom: she promises, in exchange for her independence, to live a celibate life as a man, using the name “Mark.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe people in the photo / Hélène Gestern ; translated from the French by Emily Boyce and Ros Schwartz.
” This remarkable debut novel begins with a photo of Parisian archivist Helene’s mother, Natasha, taken in 1971, a year before Natasha died. It includes two men Helene has never seen before. She advertises for anyone knowing the identity of either of the men in the photo, and she connects with Stephane, whose father is one of the men. The story develops that Helene was only four when her mother died, and her father and stepmother will tell her nothing about Natasha, not even how she died. Stephane’s father became seriously depressed, and his parents’ marriage became very bitter after 1971, so he has something at stake in this also. While the mystery surrounding Natasha unfolds, so does the deepening relationship between Helene and Stephane.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hen who dreamed she could fly : a novel / Sun-mi Hwang ; translated by Chi-Young Kim ; illustrated by Nomoco.
“This novella, translated from Korean, explores ideals of compassion, individuality, sacrifice, and motherhood all through a crew of barnyard animals. Confined to laying eggs in the chicken coop, scraggly hen Sprout has but a single dream: to hatch her own chick. When she’s culled from the coop, Sprout narrowly escapes a weasel’s clutches, thanks to Straggler, the misfit mallard duck. Soon Sprout discovers an abandoned egg in a briar patch, and contentedly settles on top of it, her dreams finally realized. Straggler brings fish to the nest and keeps the roaming weasel at bay. The fable sold more than two million copies in Korea.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn praise of hatred / Khaled Khalifa ; translated from the Arabic by Leri Price.
“Set in Syria in the late 1970s and early 1980s when a rebellion against the current leader’s father was brutally suppressed. The unnamed narrator of this novel is a young girl growing up in a house of women in Aleppo, Syria. In school she becomes involved with a prayer group of devout women who have been influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. As the novel progresses, the girl’s religious devotion turns into zealotry, and rejection of the middle ground, particularly as the secular regime in power cracks down on Islamists in a bloody fashion. Although it was banned in Syria, this novel was named a finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSummer house with swimming pool : a novel / Herman Koch ; translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett.
“Dr. Marc Schlosser, whose practice includes a new patient, veteran TV and stage actor Ralph Meier. At a party, Marc doesn’t like the way Ralph looks at his wife, Caroline. So when Marc and his family are invited to spend part of their vacation at Ralph’s summer house (with swimming pool), Marc reluctantly accepts. There, his family mingles with Ralph’s family, as well as houseguests Stanley Forbes, a film director, and his much younger girlfriend. The air is rife with sexual tension as Ralph showers too much attention on Marc’s underage daughter, Julia, and Marc toys with having an affair with Ralph’s wife, Judith. Then tragedy strikes. One year later, through a confluence of events, Ralph is dead and Marc is implicated. Over the course of the novel, the truth about what really happened that summer is revealed.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSong of the spirits / Sarah Lark ; translated by D. W. Lovett.
“Elaine O’Keefe is the radiant grand-daughter of Gwyneira McKenzie, who made her way to New Zealand to take a wealthy sheep baron’s hand in marriage. Elaine inherited not only her grandmother’s red hair but also her feisty spirit, big heart, and love of the land. When William Martyn, a handsome young Irishman of questionable integrity, walks into her life, she succumbs rapidly to his charms, only to have her heart broken when her sensual half-Maori cousin Kura Warden arrives for a visit and draws William away. Though both young women must endure hardships and disappointments as they learn to live with the choices they make, each of them also discovers an inner resilience and eventually finds love and happiness in new, unexpected places.”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDiary of the fall / Michel Laub ; translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A schoolboy prank goes horribly wrong, and a thirteen-year-old boy is left injured. Years later, one of the classmates relives the episode as he tries to come to terms with his demons. Diary of the Fall is the story of three generations: a man examining the mistakes of his past, and his struggle for forgiveness; a father with Alzheimer’s, for whom recording every memory has become an obsession; and a grandfather who survived Auschwitz, filling notebook after notebook with the false memories of someone desperate to forget.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTalking to ourselves / Andrâes Neuman ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia.
“Lito is ten years old and is almost sure he can change the weather when he concentrates very hard. His father, Mario, anxious to create a memory that will last for his son’s lifetime, takes him on a road trip in a truck called Pedro. But Lito doesn’t know that this might be their last trip: Mario is seriously ill. Together, father and son embark on travels that take them through strange geographies, ones that seem to unite the borders of Spanish-speaking world. In the meantime, Lito’s mother Elena looks for support in books, undertaking an adventure of her own that will challenge her moral limits. The narratives of father, mother, and son each embody one of the different ways that we talk to ourselves: through thought, speech, and writing. While neither of them dares to tell the complete truth to the other two, their solitary voices nonetheless form a poignant conversation. “(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe antiquarian / Gustavo Faverón Patriau ; translated from the Spanish by Joseph Mulligan.
“The debut novel from Patriau, a Peruvian journalist, critic, and Roberto Bolano scholar. Psycholinguist Gustavo is contacted by his old friend Daniel, whom he hasn’t heard from in years. Daniel asks Gustavo to visit him in a nearby mental institution, where he’s being held for murdering his fiancée. Daniel, a mild-mannered eccentric who loves antique books, promises to reveal why he did what he did, and thus draws Gustavo into a search through the underground and back alleys of his unnamed South American country. Along the way, Gustavo encounters a rare book dealer network that’s actually a front for traffickers in illegally obtained human organs.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecompression : a novel / Juli Zeh ; translated from the German by John Cullen. “Jola is a beautiful and privileged soap star who wants very much to be taken seriously; her partner Theo is a middle-aged author with writers’ block. In an attempt to further her career, Jola is determined to land the lead role in a new film about underwater photographer and model Lotte Hass.To improve her chances, the couple travel to Lanzarote and hire diving instructor Sven, paying him a large sum for exclusive tuition. Sven is meticulously planning his most ambitious expedition yet, to an untouched wreck 100 metres down on the ocean floor. Diving calls for a cool head and, as a sinister love triangle develops, events rapidly get out of hand.” (Adapted from amazon.co.uk)

New Translated Novels, November’s Other Genre selection

Writers from ten different countries are represented in this selection of new translated novels with new novels from Peter Hoeg, Henning Mankell and Orhan Pamuk. This is an opportunity to broaden your reading outlook and experience some great foreign fiction.

Syndetics book coverThe Neruda case / Roberto Ampuero ; translated from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis.
“At a party in 1970s Chile, Cayetano Brulé meets Pablo Neruda, the great poet and national hero, at the height of his fame. But the elderly poet is full of secrets, one is that he’s dying, and he recruits Cayetano to help him resolve another. So Cayetano takes on his first case as a private detective to solve Neruda’s last great mystery. Set against the fraught politics of pre-Pinochet Chile, Castro’s Cuba, and perilous behind-the-Wall East Berlin, The Neruda case spans countries, cultures, and political movements.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrom the land of the moon / Milena Agus ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
“A young, unnamed woman explores the life of her Sardinian grandmother, a romantic, bewitching, eccentric woman whose life was characterised by honour, passion and the abiding search for perfect love that spanned most of the 20th century. Ever in the background of this remarkable woman’s story is the stunning Sardinian landscape, the deep blue of the Mediterranean, the rugged mountains of the Sardinian back country, the charming villages lost in time.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverAlways Coca-Cola / by Alexandra Chreiteh ; translated from the Arabic by Michelle Hartman.
“Always Coca-Cola is the story of three very different young women attending university in Beirut: Abeer, Jana, and Yasmine. The narrator, Abeer Ward (fragrant rose, in Arabic), daughter of a conservative family, admits wryly that her name is also the name of her father’s flower shop. Abeer’s bedroom window is filled by a view of a Coca-Cola sign featuring the image of her sexually adventurous friend, Jana. First-time novelist Alexandra Chreiteh asks us to see, with wonder, humor, and dismay, how inextricably confused naming and desire, identity and branding can be.”(adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe colonel / Mahmoud Dowlatabadi ; translated from the German by Tom Patterdale. “A pitch black, rainy night in a small Iranian town. Inside his house the Colonel is immersed in thought, remembering his wife, great patriots of the past, all of them assassinated or executed and his children, who had joined the different factions of the 1979 revolution. There is a knock on the door. Two young policemen have come to summon the Colonel to collect the tortured body of his youngest daughter and bury her before sunrise. The Islamic Revolution, like every other revolution in history, is devouring its own children. And whose fault is that? This shocking diatribe against the failures of the Iranian left over the last fifty years does not leave one taboo unbroken.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe elephant keepers’ children / by Peter Hoeg ; translated from the Danish by Martin Aitken. “Peter and Tilte are trying to track down two notorious criminals: their parents. They are the pastor and the organist, respectively, of the only church on the tiny island of Finø. Known for fabricating cheap miracles to strengthen their congregation’s faith, they have been in trouble before. But this time their children suspect they are up to mischief on a far greater scale. When Peter and Tilte learn that scientific and religious leaders from around the world are assembling in Copenhagen for a conference, they know their parents are up to something. Peter and Tilte’s quest to find them exposes conspiracies, terrorist plots, an angry bishop, a deranged headmaster, two love-struck police officers, a deluded aristocrat and much more along the way.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk.)

Syndetics book coverMemoirs of a porcupine / Alain Mabanckou ; translated from the French by Helen Stevenson.
“All human beings, says an African legend, have an animal double. Some are benign, others wicked. When Kibandi, a boy living in a Congolese village, reaches the age of eleven, his father takes him out into the night, and forces him to drink a vile liquid from a jar which has been hidden for years in the earth. This is his initiation and, from this point on, he, and his double, a porcupine, become murderers, attacking neighbours, fellow villagers, and anyone unfortunate enough to cross their path. But now Kibandi is dead, and the porcupine, free of his master, is free to tell their story at last.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe shadow girls / Henning Mankell ; translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg.
Jesper Humlin is a poet of middling acclaim who is saddled by his underwhelming book sales, an exasperated girlfriend, a demanding mother, and a rapidly fading tan. His boy-wonder stockbroker has squandered Humlin’s investments, and his editor, who says he must write a crime novel to survive, begins to pitch and promote the nonexistent book despite Humlin’s emphatic refusals. Then, when he travels to Gothenburg to give a reading, he finds himself thrust into an entirely different world, where names shift, stories overlap, and histories are both deeply secret and in profound need of retelling. Leyla from Iran, Tanya from Russia, and Tea-Bag, who is from Africa but claims to be from Kurdistan (because Kurds might receive preferential treatment as refugees) these are the shadow girls who become Humlin’s unlikely pupils in impromptu writing workshops. Though he had imagined their stories as fodder for his own book, soon their intertwining lives require him to play a much different role.” (adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSilent house / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Robert Finn.
“In an old mansion in Cennethisar, a former fishing village near Istanbul, an old widow Fatma awaits the annual summer visit of her grandchildren. She has lived in the village for decades, ever since her husband, an idealistic young doctor, first arrived to serve the poor fishermen. Now mostly bedridden, she is attended by her faithful servant Recep, a dwarf and the doctor’s illegitimate son. Her visiting grandchildren are Faruk, a dissipated failed historian; his sensitive leftist sister, Nilgun; and Metin, a high school student drawn to the fast life of the nouveaux riches, who dreams of going to America. But it is Recep’s nephew Hassan, a high-school dropout, lately fallen in with right-wing nationalists, who will draw the visiting family into the growing political cataclysm issuing from Turkey’s tumultuous century-long struggle for modernity.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe misfortunates / Dimitri Verhulst ; translated from the Dutch by David Colmer. “Sobriety and moderation are alien concepts to the men in Dimmy’s family. Useless in all other respects, his three uncles have a rare talent for drinking, a flair for violence, and an unwavering commitment to the pub. And his father Pierre is no slouch either. Within hours of his son’s birth, Pierre plucks him from the maternity ward, props him on his bike, and takes him on an introductory tour of the village bars. His mother soon leaves them to it and as Dimmy grows up amid the stench of stale beer, he seems destined to follow the path of his forebears and make a low-life career in inebriation, until he begins to piece together his own plan for the future.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverGoya’s glass / Monika Zgustová ; translated from the Czech by Matthew Tree.
“The Duchess of Alba, known as Goya’s muse, recalls the passions of youth on her deathbed in the royal court of eighteenth-century Madrid. A young woman defies the protocols of her arranged marriage and pursues love and the life of a published writer until her readers condemn her as a danger to society in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Nina Berberova escapes persecution during the Russian Revolution and flees to Paris, where the intelligentsia naïvely covet the promise of a Soviet Union. These three women attempt to find passion and intimacy in worlds that rarely accommodate female desire.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Fiction found in translation

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.

Syndetics book coverMercy / 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)

Syndetics book coverMonsieur 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverLove 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)

Syndetics book coverChild 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)

Syndetics book coverTrain 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)

Syndetics book coverI 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)

Syndetics book coverThe 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)


  • Archives

  • Categories