Recent acquisitions: a feast of fiction

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”
Rainer Maria Rilke.

Our fiction showcase of recently acquired novels is rich and diverse full of new beginnings in so many ways. Here’s to the New Year, enjoy and Sláinte!

Syndetics book coverSlow days, fast company : the world, the flesh, and L.A. / Eve Babitz ; introduction by Matthew Specktor.
“There was a time when no one burned hotter than Eve Babitz. Possessing skin that radiated “its own kind of moral laws,” spectacular teeth, and a figure that was the stuff of legend, she seduced seemingly everyone who was anyone in  1960s and ’70s Los Angeles. But there was one man who proved elusive, and so Babitz did what she did best, she wrote him a book. In ten sun-baked, Santa Ana wind-swept sketches, Babitz re-creates a Los Angeles of movie stars; socialites on drug binges, evading their East Coast banking husbands; soap-opera actors worried that tomorrow’s script will kill them off; Italian femme fatales even more fatal than she is.  In the end it doesn’t matter if Babitz ever gets the guy, she seduces us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMilkman / Anna Burns.
“In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAn unreliable man / Jostein Gaarder ; translated from the Norwegian by Nichola Smalley.
“Jakop is a lonely man. Divorced from his wife, with no friends apart from his constant companion Pelle, he spends his life attending the funerals of people he doesn’t know, obscuring his identity in a web of improbable lies. As his addiction spirals out of control, he is forced to reconcile his love of language and stories with the ever more urgent need for human connection. An Unreliable Man is a moving and thought-provoking novel about loneliness and truth, about seeking a place in the world, and about how storytelling gives our lives meaning.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe splendor before the dark : a novel of the Emperor Nero / Margaret George.
“Ascending to the throne was only the beginning… With the beautiful and cunning Poppaea at his side, Nero Augustus commands the Roman empire. But in the tenth year of his reign, a terrifying prophecy comes to pass and a fire engulfs Rome, reducing entire swaths of the city to rubble. Rumors of Nero’s complicity in the blaze start to sow unrest among the populace–and the politicians…Nero will either survive and be the first in his family to escape the web of betrayals that is the Roman court, or be ensnared and remembered as the last radiance of the greatest dynasty the world had ever known.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe little snake / A.L. Kennedy.
“This is the story of Mary, a young girl born in a beautiful city full of rose gardens and fluttering kites. When she is still very small, Mary meets Lanmo, a shining golden snake, who becomes her very best friend. The snake visits Mary many times, he sees her city change, become sadder as bombs drop and war creeps in. He sees Mary and her family leave their home, he sees her grow up and he sees her fall in love. But Lanmo knows that the day will come when he can no longer visit Mary, when his destiny will break them apart, and he wonders whether having a friend can possibly be worth the pain of knowing you will lose them.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe moon sister : Tiggy’s story / Lucinda Riley.
“Tiggy Aplièse is offered a job on the vast and isolated Kinnaird estate as a wildlife consultant by the elusive and troubled Laird, Charlie Kinnaird. She meets Chilly, an ancient gipsy, who has lived for years on the estate, having fled from Spain seventy years before. He tells her that not only does she possess a sixth sense, passed down from her gipsy ancestors, but it was foretold long ago that he would be the one to send her back home… As Tiggy follows the trail back to her exotic but complex Spanish past, and – under the watchful eye of a gifted gypsy bruja – begins to accept and develop her own gift, she too must decide to whether to return to Kinnaird, and Charlie…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTony’s wife : a novel / Adriana Trigiani.
“Tony’s Wife is a richly layered novel that explores how a traditional Italian-American family grapples with the seismic shifts they face in a rapidly changing world. Replete with a pageant of vivid, complex characters, this deeply human saga of love and sacrifice showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a captivating storyteller and reveals her understanding that there are many different kinds of families: that over time love can evolve in ways that nobody can predict, especially when the hearts involved are open to forgiveness, the sweet reprise of redemption. Love, ambition, and the consequences of both lie at the heart of this spellbinding epic of two working-class kids who become a successful singing act during the big band era of the 1940s.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBridge of Clay / Markus Zusak.
“Let me tell you about our brother. The fourth Dunbar boy named Clay. Everything happened to him. We were all of us changed through him. The Dunbar boys bring each other up in a house run by their own rules. A family of ramshackle tragedy – their mother is dead, their father has fled – they love and fight, and learn to reckon with the adult world. It is Clay, the quiet one, who will build a bridge; for his family, for his past, for his sins. He builds a bridge to transcend humanness. To survive. A miracle and nothing less.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Fresh words from far off places

Tropic of Violence book cover

Translated books can telescope the reader through to different cultures and eras; the English language seems so prolific, but it’s only one way the creative word is crafted. Many authors’ works don’t reach the English language audience until many years after publication.

Japanese award-winning author Mariko O’Hara is one such author — her Haiburiddo Chairudo was lauded in Japan back in 1991, with the Seiun Award for the best Japanese speculative fiction of the year. Finally translated in 2018 for the English reading audience, Hybrid child (link and review below) pivots on ideas of monstrosity and innocence, and is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.

Slovenian author Jasmin Felih is another author whose book is just reaching an English language audience, albeit with a shorter publication gap — her book In/Half (below) was first published in 2013 and explores the way people connect and rely on using current communication systems, looking at three fragmented lives after ‘the Great Cut’.

Who we really bring into a relationship, and how the tensions of love and duty play out are the subject of Berta Isla, by Javier Marais, translated from Spanish (linked below).

In a totally different vein, Eva Meijer — a Dutch author, musician and philosopher — explores how, for some, human interaction is not a main driver. Her novel Bird Cottage is based on the figure of Gwendolen “Len” Howard, and is a fictional account of a turning point in her life. An accomplished musician, she pivots from life as a concert violinist to a solitary existence documenting her observations of the common birds that surround her cottage. Her musical background leads her to record their song as musical notation and she devotes herself to describing every aspect of the avian life around her. Perhaps most enigmatically, her two books on the subject — written in solitude — were bestsellers.

We’ve included these and other recently published titles in translation below. In January 2019 we will be further exploring the rich and diverse world of translated fiction in a special fiction showcase — ‘Not lost in translation’. We hope you enjoy this preview!

Hybrid child : a novel / Mariko Ōhara ; translated by Jodie Beck.
“A classic of Japanese speculative fiction that blurs the line between consumption and creation when a cyborg assumes the form and spirit of a murdered child. With the familiar strangeness of a fairy tale, Ohara’s novel traverses the mysterious distance between body and mind, between the mechanics of life and the ghost in the machine, between the infinitesimal and infinity. The child as mother, the mother as monster, the monster as hero: this shape-shifting story of nourishment, nurture, and parturition is a rare feminist work of speculative fiction. Hybrid Child is the first English translation of a major work of science fiction by a female Japanese author.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn/Half / Jasmin B. Frelih ; translated from the Slovenian by Jason Blake.
“Twenty-five years into the future, a glitch in the global communications network is ripping a previously united world apart at the seams. The millennials find themselves hardest hit, trapped in a crumbling world they did not want – among them childhood friends Evan, an addict theatre director; Kras, a family patriarch and ex-war-minister; and Zoja, an anarchist poet. As they each prepare to celebrate their fiftieth birthdays, the friends desperately try to recapture the magic of their former lives and hold on to some sort of sense of belonging. With its experimental style and sharp focus on the contradictions of modernity, In/Half is a powerful statement on the perils of the future.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe day I found you / Pedro Chagas Freitas ; Translated form the Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
“The restaurant is crowded and noisy. The man sits by the window, watching the grey sky, bored, as he is every Monday morning. Suddenly he turns and she’s there, standing in front of him. Years have passed since he last saw her, since the day he left, without an explanation, without a reason. With his intimate, almost whispered style, Pedro Chagas Freitas takes the reader on a journey to explore the deepest layers of their feelings and to discover the truth about love; the kind of love that touches, grabs and thrills you, that discovers and conceals, that wounds and heals, that seizes you and sets you free.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBerta Isla / Javier Marías ; translated by Margaret Jull Costa.
“For a while, she wasn’t sure that her husband was her husband. Sometimes she thought he was, and sometimes not. Berta and Tomas meet in Madrid and, though both young, they decide to spend their lives together. Eighteen and betrothed, Tomas leaves to study at Oxford. His talent for languages quickly catches the interest of a certain government agency. After university he returns to marry her, knowing he won’t be able to stay for long. Gripping and intricate, Berta Isla is about a relationship built on secrets and lies – and the equal forces of resentment and loyalty at its core.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTropic of Violence / Nathacha Appanah, translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan.
“Marie, a nurse on the island of Mayotte, adopts an abandoned baby and names him Moïse, raising him as a French boy. As he grows up, Moïse struggles with his status as an “outsider” and to understand why he was abandoned as a baby. Narrated by five different characters, Tropic of Violence is an exploration of lost youth on the French island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean. Shining a powerful light on problems of violence, immigration, identity, deprivation and isolation on this island that became a French département in 2011, it is a remarkable, unsettling new novel that draws on the author’s own observations from her time on Mayotte.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBird cottage / Eva Meijer ; translated by Antoinette Fawcett.
“Len Howard, the daughter of a famous poet, and a successful concert violinist was forty years old when she decided to devote the rest of her life to her true love: birds. She bought a small cottage in Sussex, where she wrote two international bestsellers, astonishing the world with her observations on the tits, robins, sparrows and other birds that lived in and around her house, and would even perch on her shoulder as she typed. This moving, finely crafted novel tells the story of a remarkable woman’s life and loves, and of how she defied society’s expectations and changed our understanding of bird behaviour. It is also a wonderful evocation of the English countryside and the joy that can come from a living, breathing relationship with the natural world around us.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFour soldiers : a novel / Hubert Mingarelli ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor.
“Hubert Mingarelli’s simple, powerful, and moving stories of men in combat have established him as one of the most exciting new voices in international fiction. In Four Soldiers he tells the story of four young soldiers in 1919, members of the Red Army during the Russian civil war. It is set in the harsh dead of winter, just as the soldiers set up camp in a forest in Galicia near the Romanian front line. Due to a lull in fighting, their days are taken up with the mundane tasks of trying to scratch together what food and comforts they can find, all the time while talking, smoking, and waiting. Waiting specifically for spring to come. Waiting for their battalion to move on. Waiting for the inevitable resumption of violence.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe second rider / Alex Beer ; translated from the German by Tim Mohr.
“Most of the remaining population of Vienna–a city scarred by World War I in which the grandeur of the Habsburg Empire is a fading memory–is surviving by its wits, living hand to mouth in a city rife with crime, prostitution, and grotesquely wounded beggars. There are shakedowns on every street corner, the black market is the only market, and shortages of vital goods create countless opportunities for unscrupulous operators. Into this cauldron of vice comes Inspector August Emmerich, a veteran himself, whose ambitions lead him to break the rules when necessary and whose abiding wish is to join the Viennese major crimes unit. When a corpse is found in the woods outside the city and immediately labeled a suicide, Emmerich, convinced it was nothing of the sort, sees a chance to prove his mettle. His investigations will reveal an insidious and homicidal urge lurking in the city.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Katharina code / Jørn Lier Horst ; translated by Anne Bruce.
“Set between the icy streets and dark forests of Norway, The Katharina Code is a heart-stopping story of one man’s obsession with his coldest case. Twenty-four years ago Katharina Haugen went missing. All she left behind was her husband Martin and a mysterious string of numbers scribbled on a piece of paper. Every year on October 9th Chief Inspector William Wisting takes out the files to the case he was never able to solve. Stares at the code he was never able to crack. And visits the husband he was never able to help. But now Martin Haugen is missing too.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverE.E.G. / Daša Drndić ; translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth.
“Andreas Ban failed in his suicide attempt. Even as his body falters and his lungs constrict, he taps on the glass of history – an impenetrable case filled with silent figures – and tries to summon those imprisoned within. Mercilessly, fearlessly, he continues to dissect society and his environment, shunning all favours as he goes after the evils and hidden secrets of others. History remembers the names of perpetrators, not of the victims.” (Syndetics summary)

Translated works of fiction new to Wellington City Libraries

Convenience Store Woman book cover

Voices from other cultures give us new windows to view the world through.  This month features a variety of contemporary fiction and a revealing translation from WWII. Anna Seghers’ The Seventh Cross written in 1942 tells the tale of concentration camp escapees and their encounters with citizens of the time.  Recently translated, this novel lends immediacy to the issues faced by those living in a totalitarian regime. Other tiles feature weird twists of imagination and how to live with, or in spite of the expectations of everyday society. Some great reads to edify and entertain through the winter evenings.

I always find you / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
“In September 1985, nineteen-year-old John Lindqvist moved into a dilapidated old building in Stockholm, planning to make his living as a magician. Something strange was going on in the locked shower room in the building’s basement–and the price of entry was just a little blood. I Always Find You is a horror story–as bizarre and macabre as any of Lindqvist’s earlier novels–but it’s also a melancholy meditation on being young and lonely, on making friends and growing up. It’s about magic, and the intensity of human connection–and the evil we carry inside.” (Catalogue)

Acts of infidelity / Andersson, Lena
“When Ester Nilsson meets the actor Olof Sten, she falls madly in love. Olof makes no secret of being married, but he and Ester nevertheless start to meet regularly and begin to conduct a strange dance of courtship. Ester, on the other hand, is convinced that things might change. To read Acts of Infidelity is to dive inside the mind of a brilliant, infuriating friend – Ester’s and Olof’s entanglements and arguments are the stuff of relationship nightmares. Cutting, often cruel, and written with razor-sharp humour, Acts of Infidelity is clever, painful, maddening, but most of all perfectly, precisely true.” (Catalogue)

Your second life begins when you realize you only have one / Giordano, Raphaëlle
“Nonfiction author Giordano makes her fiction debut with a go-find-yourself title that was a blockbuster best seller in her native France, with rights sold to 31 territories. In her late thirties and content with husband, job, and motherhood, Paris native Camille still nevertheless feels she’s missed her chance at happiness. Here’s how she finds it. A charming, feel-good, and universal story of one woman’s journey from boredom and dissatisfaction to happiness and fulfilment.” (Catalogue)

Convenience store woman / Murata, Sayaka
“Keiko isn’t normal. At school and university people find her odd, and her family worries she will never fit in. To make them happy, she takes a job at a convenience store. But in Keiko’s circle it just won’t do for an unmarried woman to spend her time stacking shelves and ordering green tea. As the pressure to find a new job – or worse, a husband – increases, Keiko is forced to take desperate action…” (Catalogue)

Woman at sea / Poulain, Catherine
“Lili is a runaway. She’s left behind a humdrum existence in France to go in search of freedom, of adventure, of life. Her search takes her to the island of Kodiak, Alaska, home to a rag-tag community of fishermen, army vets and drifters who man the island’s boats and trawlers. Despite her tiny frame, faltering English and total lack of experience, when the fishing season begins Lili lands a job on board the Rebel – one of the toughest gigs in town. Lili is tough and determined … she has nothing to lose after all, and at sea she finally finds the intensity of life she’s been looking for.” (Catalogue)

The seventh cross / Seghers, Anna
“A revelatory World War II novel about a German prisoner of war fleeing for the border and encountering a variety of Germans, good and bad and indifferent, along his way. Seven political prisoners escape from a Nazi prison camp; in response, the camp commandant has seven trees harshly pruned to resemble seven crosses: they will serve as posts to torture each recaptured prisoner, and capture, of course, is certain. Anna Seghers’s novel is not only a supremely suspenseful story of flight and pursuit but also a detailed portrait of a nation in the grip and thrall of totalitarianism. Margot Bettauer Dembo’s expert new translation makes the complete text of this great political novel available in English for the first time.” (Catalogue)

The occasional virgin / al-Shaykh, Hanan
“From a major novelist of the Arab world comes a bold, witty and highly contemporary novel about two women looking for love, set in Italy, Lebanon and London. Painting a refreshingly truthful picture of modern womanhood, The Occasional Virgin perceptively explores sexuality, Islam and cultural identity and the difficulty of finding a man who’ll call when he says he will. Frank, funny and fearless, it is the colourful, wickedly entertaining story of two unforgettable characters, and the bizarre lengths we’ll go to for love.” (Catalogue)

The last Weynfeldt / Suter, Martin
“Adrian Weynfeldt is an art expert in an international auction house, a bachelor in his mid-fifties living in a grand Zurich apartment filled with costly paintings and antiques. Always correct and well-mannered, he’s given up on love until one night — entirely out of character for him — Weynfeldt decides to take home a ravishing but unaccountable young woman. The next morning, he finds her outside on his balcony threatening to jump. Weynfeldt talks her down… As their two lives become entangled, Weynfeldt gets embroiled in an art forgery scheme that threatens to destroy everything he and his prominent family have stood for. This refined page-turner moves behind elegant bourgeois facades into darker recesses of the heart.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Read around the globe: New translated fiction

Translated novels feature in this month’s selection of ‘Other Genres’ fiction. With some wonderful novels, translated from Swedish, Mandarin, Norwegian, Japanese, Spanish, French, Turkish and Hungarian, many hours of reading pleasure are guaranteed.

Syndetics book coverNevada days / Bernardo Atxaga ; translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa.
“A fictionalised account of the author’s nine months’ stay as writer-in-residence at the Centre for Basque Studies at the University of Nevada. He is accompanied by his wife, Angela, who is also doing research there, and by their two daughters. During their first few weeks, the family encounter a strange mapache (racoon), which is always staring at them from the garden, a flight of helicopters immediately overhead, a black widow spider, a warning about bears, a party of prisoners in the desert, a lake that is somehow far too calm and too blue, and, not long into their stay, the kidnap and murder of a young girl living in the house right next door.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPenance / Kanae Minato ; translated by Philip Gabriel.
“The tense, chilling story of four women haunted by a childhood trauma. When they were children, Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko were tricked into separating from their friend Emili by a mysterious stranger. Then the unthinkable occurs: Emili is found murdered hours later. Sae, Maki, Akiko and Yuko weren’t able to accurately describe the stranger’s appearance to the police after the Emili’s body was discovered. Asako, Emili’s mother, curses the surviving girls, vowing that they will pay for her daughter’s murder.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWaiting for Monsieur Bellivier / Britta Röstlund ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies.
“Are you waiting for Monsieur Belliver, madame? Helena Folasadu should of course say no. She doesn’t know the man talking to her, she doesn’t know Monsieur Bellivier, and she certainly isn’t waiting for him. But, bored of life, and sparked by a whim, she says yes. The go-between leads her to a deserted floor in an office building and offers her a large sum of money to sit at a computer and forward emails to Monsieur Bellivier. The emails turn out to be in code, and the bouquets Helena is handed every evening entangle her in an even greater mystery.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe history of bees / Maja Lunde.
“England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant, who sets out to build a new type of beehive one that will give both him and his children honor and fame. United States, 2007, George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but hopes that his son can be their salvation. China 2098, Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him. Three very different narratives lead into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSundays in August / Patrick Modiano ; translated from the French by Damion Searls.
“Stolen jewels, black markets, hired guns, crossed lovers, unregistered addresses, people gone missing, shadowy figures disappearing in crowds, newspaper stories uncomfortably close and getting closer, this ominous novel is Set in Nice. A young couple in hiding keeps close watch over a notorious diamond necklace known as the Southern Cross, with its provenance murky, only they know it’s whereabouts, who find themselves trapped by its potential value, and its ultimate cost.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe red-haired woman / Orhan Pamuk ; translated from the Turkish by Ekin Oklap.
“On the outskirts of a town thirty miles from Istanbul a master well digger and his young apprentice are hired to find water on a barren plain. As they struggle in the summer heat, the two will develop a filial bond neither has known before. In the nearby town, the boy will find an irresistible diversion. The Red Haired woman, an irresistibly alluring member of a travelling theatre company, catches his eye and seems as fascinated by him as he is by her. The young man’s wildest dream will be realized, but, when in his distraction, a horrible accident befalls the well-digger; the boy will flee, returning to Istanbul. Only years later will he discover whether he was in fact responsible for his master’s death and who the redheaded enchantress was.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe children / Carolina Sanín ; translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor.
“One day, as she enters her local supermarket, Laura Romero has a startling encounter with a beggar, who seems to offer her a child. A short while later, in the middle of the night, she discovers a mysterious young boy on the pavement outside her apartment building: Fidel, who is six years old, a child with seemingly no origins or meaning. With few clues to guide her as she tries to attach significance to his presence, Laura find herself swept into a bureaucratic maelstrom of fantastical proportions.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverKatalin Street / Magda Szabó ; translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix.
“In prewar Budapest three families live side by side on gracious Katalin Street, their lives closely intertwined. Their lives are torn apart in 1944 by the German occupation, which only the Elekes family survives intact. The postwar regime relocates them to a cramped Soviet-style apartment and they struggle to come to terms with social and political change, personal loss, and unstated feelings of guilt over the deportation of the Held parents and the death of little Henriette, who had been left in their protection.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe postman’s fiancée / Denis Thériault ; translated by John Cullen.
“Tania moves from Bavaria to Montreal to fine-tune her French and fall in love. Finding work as a waitress at a low-key restaurant in a working-class area of the city, she meets Bilodo, a shy postman who writes haiku and who is passionate about calligraphy. The two become friends. One stormy day their lives take a dramatic turn, and as their destinies become increasingly entwined the two are led into a world where nothing is as it seems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

February’s Fiction Newsletter

Welcome to the latest Fiction newsletter. We have selected a great range of fiction across all genres from our recently received new material guaranteed to provide many hours of pleasurable reading. Translated novels are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genre’ category and these provide an interesting and at times riveting view of other cultures, traditions, and people, whether historically or in the present day.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

In this month’s selection of New Contemporary fiction, there are several historical novels, and three debut novels from promising new talented writers. Also included are the latest novels by Zadie Smith, Jay McInerney and T. Coraghessan Boyle, all promising some great reading.

Syndetics book cover The story of a brief marriage / Anuk Arudpragasam.
“This haunting debut novel takes place in a Sri Lankan civil-war-evacuee camp. The opening scene in which a young boy’s shrapnel-damaged forearm is amputated with a kitchen knife prepares readers for what is to come, as newlyweds Dinesh and Ganga, who barely know each other, try to navigate the intimacies of marriage in the midst of great brutality.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Inch levels / Neil Hegarty.
“Patrick Jackson lies on his deathbed in Derry and recalls a family history marked by secrecy and silence, and a striking absence of conventional pieties. He remembers the death of an eight-year-old girl, whose body was found on reclaimed land called Inch Levels on the shoreline of Lough Swilly. And he is visited by his beloved but troubled sister Margaret and by his despised brother-in-law Robert, and by Sarah, his hard, unchallengeable mother. Each of them could talk about events in the past that might explain the bleakness of their relationships, but leaving things unsaid has become a way of life. Guilt and memory beat against them, as shock waves from bombs in Derry travel down the river to shake the windows of those who have escaped the city.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Swing time / Zadie Smith.
“Two brown girls dream of being dancers, but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. This is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Graphic novels

Nearly all fiction genres and some biography are included in this month’s selection from the recently received additions to our Graphic Novel collection. Along with the first volumes in three new series, we promise some great reading experiences for fans of this very popular collection.

Syndetics book cover Carbon Grey / story, script & lettering, Paul Gardner ; created by Hoang Nguyen, Khari Evans, Mike Kennedy ; art, Khari Evans, Hoang Nguyen, Kinsun Loh.
“The Sisters Grey are warriors, sworn to protect their Kaiser. But as a great war rages, the Kaiser is found dead, and one sister, Giselle Grey is accused of his murder. Pursued by enemies, Giselle must unravel the prophecy of the Carbon Grey before history itself unravels.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Space-Mullet! [1] : one gamble at a time / written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson.
“Ex space marine Jonah and his co-pilot Alphius rove the galaxy, just trying to get by. Drawn into one crazy adventure after another, they forge a crew of misfits into a family that must face the darkest parts of the universe together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover An Olympic dream : the story of Samia Yusuf Omar / by Reinhard Kleist.
“The image of Samia Yusuf Omar running for last place at the 2008 Beijing Olympics will forever be imprinted in the minds of all who saw it: The lean Somalian, wearing knee-length leggings and a baggy T-shirt, came in seconds behind her competitors. What the cheering crowd couldn’t know then was what it took to get there. An Olympic Dream follows Omar’s second attempt to represent her country at the Olympics, this time in London. Reinhard Kleist pictures the athlete training in one of the most dangerous cities in the world; her passage through Sudan and into Libya; and her fateful attempt to reach Europe” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Mysteries

The second novel again set in Mumbai by Vaseem Khan, a new writer in this genre, who is becoming very popular, is included in this month’s selection of new mystery fiction. Also we have new mysteries from several popular authors, and two new Scandinavian mysteries, one Anne Holt and the other by Kjell Eriksson.

Syndetics book cover Stone coffin / Kjell Eriksson ; translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg.
“One sunny summer morning a young woman and her six-year old daughter are run over by a car. Both are killed immediately. Is it an accident, or did someone kill them on purpose? The same morning the husband of the deceased young woman disappears. During the police investigation, it turns out that the husband had recently bought a property that nobody knew anything about. A few days later a macabre discovery is made in a forest nearby” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The perplexing theft of the jewel in the crown / Vaseem Khan.
“For centuries, the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem it is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone’s principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The reckoning on Cane Hill / Steve Mosby.
“Every year, Detective David Groves receives a birthday card for his son–even though he buried him years ago. His son’s murder took everything from him, apart from his belief in the law, even though the killers were never found. This year, though, the card bears a different message: I know who did it. Uncovering the facts will lead him on a dark journey, where he must face his own wrongs as well as those done to those they love.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

There are new novels from science fiction and fantasy’s best known authors included in this month’s selection of new material. From Ben Bova, to David Webber, Marion Zimmer Bradley to Nora Roberts, and of course, Ken Lui and Lev Grossman, deciding who to start reading first, will prove to be the hardest problem

 

Syndetics book cover Warp / Lev Grossman.
“Twenty-something Hollis Kessler languishes in a hopelessly magician-less world (with the exception of a fleet-footed nymph named Xanthe) not too far from where he graduated college. His friends do, too. They sleep late, read too much, drink too much, talk too much, and work and earn and do way too little. But Hollis does have an obsession: there’s another world going on in his head, a world of excitement and danger and starships and romance, and it’s telling him that it’s time to stop dreaming and get serious.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The wall of storms / Ken Liu.
“Book 2 in the Dandelion dynasty series. Grace of Kings, Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu Empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara and chaos results. But Emperor Kuni cannot go and lead his kingdom against the threat himself with his recently healed empire fraying at the seams, so he sends the only people he trusts to be Dara’s savvy and cunning hopes against the invincible invaders: his children, now grown and ready to make their mark on history.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The dark side / Anthony O’Neill.
“In this dark and gripping sci-fi noir, an exiled police detective arrives at a lunar penal colony just as a psychotic android begins a murderous odyssey across the far side of the moon. Purgatory is the lawless moon colony of eccentric billionaire, Fletcher Brass: a mecca for war criminals, murderers, sex fiends, and adventurous tourists. You can’t find better drugs, cheaper plastic surgery, or a more ominous travel advisory anywhere in the universe. But trouble is brewing in Brass’s black-market heaven. When an exiled cop arrives in this wild new frontier, he immediately finds himself investigating a string of ruthless assassinations in which Brass himself, and his equally ambitious daughter, are the chief suspects.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

With translated novels being the feature of this month’s ‘Other Genres’ selection some really fascinating reading is here for the choosing. Opening different worlds, cultures and characters, the novels in this section include some brilliant, internationally acclaimed writers.

Syndetics book cover This 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 cover The 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 cover Moshi 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)

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

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

Syndetics book coverInch levels / Neil Hegarty.
A poetic, wonderful debut novel, about the legacy of families, and how the past can influence the future. Haunting stays in the mind long after reading has ended.

Syndetics book coverNo echo : a Hanne Wilhelmsen novel / Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen ; translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce.
Another gripping mystery from an author who always succeeds with psychological analysis of human desires and weaknesses, an author who never disappoints.

Syndetics book coverThe dark side / Anthony O’Neill.
A dark, gripping sci-fi noir, with brutal crimes to be solved and thrilling adventure. Who could resist a psychotic android?

Syndetics book coverLovf : the illustrated diary of a man literally losing his mind / Jesse Reklaw.
Jammed with cartoons, mad schemes, psychedelic portraits, and notes from the road, this is a travel journal and a mirror of the post-traumatic dream world where the author can find no escape. Illustrated using with many varied mediums, this multi-layered graphic novel is a must read for enthusiast.

Syndetics book coverMoshi Moshi / Banana Yoshimoto ; translated by Asa Yoneda.
A moving story of loss, grief and recovery, through believable characters, brilliantly portrayed.

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)

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 coverRinse, spin, repeat : a graphic memoir of loss and survival / Edith Fassnidge.
An amazing memoir, told in simple graphics about survival and loss.

Syndetics book coverThose who leave and those who stay / Elena Ferrante ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.
Another Neapolitan about a novel by this elusive author, about power, beauty and human relationships.

Syndetics book coverThe tidal zone / Sarah Moss.
A novel parental love, overwhelming fear, illness, recovery and the challenges of marriage. This novel is quite unforgettable.

Syndetics book coverSleeping giants / Sylvain Neuvel.
A wonderful debut novel, a political thriller and part apocalyptic fiction, a gripping page turner.

Syndetics book coverHolding / Graham Norton.
A brilliant debut novel from this famous comedian. A black comedy cleverly plotted that is a joy to read.

Fiction Newsletter for the holiday season

Welcome to our latest fiction newsletter where we tempt you with some highlights across all genres from our selection of recently received new fiction. This month we are featuring translated novels in our ‘Other Genres’ category. We are certain there will be many new novels for readers to enjoy, and new authors to discover. You’re sure to find something new to delve into for the holidays.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

This month’s new Contemporary fiction included many award winning writers. We hope the three chosen for this newsletter will tempt you to check the complete selection from the recently received new material.

Syndetics book cover My name is Leon / Kit De Waal
“Leon is nine, and has a perfect baby brother called Jake. Their mum isn’t feeling herself, so they’ve gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers, since Jake is white and Leon is not.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Siracusa / Delia Ephron.Siracusa
“Two couples on vacation in Siracusa, a town on the coast of Sicily, where the secrets they have hidden from each other are exposed and relationships are unravelled. New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine,-Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Do not say we have nothing : a novel / Madeleine Thien.
“In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. Her name is Ai-Ming. As her relationship with Marie deepens, Ai-Ming tells the story of her family in revolutionary China, from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989. It is a history of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians, the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Graphic novels

Once again, choosing three new Graphic novels for this month’s newsletter has been difficult, as they were all brilliant. The three chosen demonstrate the diversity of imagination and artwork always found in this collection

Syndetics book cover The infinite loop / written and lettered by Pierrick Colinet ; illustrated and colored by Elsa Charretier.
“A science-fiction series that asks the age-old question, “What would you risk for a chance at true love?” Teddy is a young woman who lives in a faraway future where time traveling is a common practice and her job is to maintain the status quo by correcting time paradoxes. But when she meets Ano, “a time paradox” and the girl of her dreams, Teddy must decide between fixing the time stream or the love of her life, both of which have unique consequences.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Pride & joy / Garth Ennis, writer ; John Higgins, artist & colorist.
“Still mourning the loss of his wife, Jimmy Kavanagh lives quietly in the backwoods of New England, raising his devoted daughter and resentful teenage son. But fate has come calling in the worst possible way, as Jimmy’s criminal past threatens to destroy his entire family, raising the spectra of his crushing guilt for an old and awful crime.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Different ugliness, different madness / Marc Malès, writer & artist ; Jonathan Tanner, translator.
“A radio star of the 1930s returns to the airwaves after a yearlong absence. A dying woman tells her life story to her daughter on a deserted railway platform. These dual stories spin together in Malés’ moody, mysterious tale, spotlighting the enigmatic nature of identity and personal reflection. In a flashback, Helen, a woman with a possibly-imaginary twin, travels Depression-era roads in search of her own identity, a journey that eventually uncovers the radio star’s secret.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Mysteries

Avid fans of mystery novels need no introduction to this section of the newsletter, as once again there are many new novels from favourite writers. Included also some new talented writers that will no doubt over time become established favourites.

Syndetics book cover The wrong side of goodbye / Michael Connelly.
“Harry Bosch is still working, both as a volunteer at a suburban cop shop and as a PI, but he’s very picky about his cases, which is why when a billionaire of dubious reputation comes calling, Harry is weary. But the mogul, nearing death, has a compelling story to tell: a dalliance with a Latina student decades ago may have produced a child, who may or not still be alive but who may have produced a grandchild. Harry’s job is to determine if there is an heir and then to report only to the mogul, not to any of his greedy underlings. The first part goes relatively easily yes, there is an heir but the mogul is murdered before Harry has a chance to talk to him. Juggling his investigation with the responsibilities of his volunteer gig, Harry finds himself caught between the sometimes contradictory demands of finding bad guys and helping victims.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Chameleon people / Hans Olav Lahlum ; translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson.
“1972. On a cold March morning the weekend peace is broken when a frantic young cyclist rings on Inspector Kolbjorn ‘K2′ Kristiansen’s doorbell, desperate to speak to the detective. Compelled to help, K2 lets the boy inside, only to discover that he is being pursued by K2′s colleagues in the Oslo police. A bloody knife is quickly found in the young man’s pocket: a knife that matches the stab wounds of a politician murdered just a few streets away. The evidence seems clear-cut, and the arrest couldn’t be easier. But with the suspect’s identity unknown, and the boy refusing to speak, K2 finds himself far from closing the case. And then there is the question that K2 can’t get out of his head: why would a guilty man travel directly to a police detective from the scene of his own brutal crime?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Goodwood / Holly Throsby.
“Goodwood is a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone. It’s a place where it’s impossible to keep a secret. In 1992, when Jean Brown is seventeen, a terrible thing happens, two terrible things. Rosie White, the coolest girl in town, vanishes overnight. One week later, Goodwood’s most popular resident, Bart McDonald, sets off on a fishing trip and never comes home. People die in Goodwood, of course, but never like this. They don’t just disappear. As the intensity of speculation about the fates of Rosie and Bart heightens, Jean, who is keeping secrets of her own, and the rest of Goodwood are left reeling.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science fiction/fantasy

This month’s new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels recently added to the collection included many well known great writers. There are also several exciting new writers making their debut in this genre.

Syndetics book cover Ninth City burning / J. Patrick Black.
“Generations after Earth has been attacked by an unknown alien force, the world is a different place. Most cities were instantly destroyed by the invaders using an element known as “thelemity,” and human survival depends on a few who can wield this power as well. In the intervening centuries, those who use thelemity are sought and put into military service. But while the surviving cities lead the ongoing war efforts, the rural settlements resent being employed as a supply source of resources and soldiers. Two young sisters from the unincorporated wild country are dragged into the conflict.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The obelisk gate / N.K. Jemisin.
“In the world called the Stillness-which the first book hints may actually be our world, thousands of years in the future-orogenes are hated and feared for their ability to control the geological forces that shape the land. Powerful orogene Essun desperately searches for her eight-year-old daughter, Nassun, who was stolen away by her father. He hopes to find someone to “fix” the girl and excise her burgeoning orogene talent. But Essun’s search is interrupted by her old mentor, Alabaster. Alabaster is dying, and he hopes to use Essun’s powers to end the current “season,” a disastrous change in global climate that could destroy all life, by recapturing the planet’s long-lost moon, whose absence is the cause of the ironically named Stillness’s geological instability.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Infomocracy / Malka Older.
“In the (slightly implausible) future, most of the world is part of a massive democracy divided into “centenals” of 100,000 people. Governments are global and overlapping, and each centenal decides which government to belong to. A worldwide organization known as Information manages elections and attempts to keep governments’ campaign promises in check; the governments themselves range from corporate ones such as PhilipMorris to more traditional ones with names like Liberty and Policy1st. Ken, a Brazilian of Japanese descent who works for the Policy1st government, is attempting to research non-Policy1st centenals that might be willing to change governments in the upcoming election. After he learns of a potential conspiracy involving the election, he ends up working with (and falling for) Information agent Mishima.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Other genres

Translated novels are featured in this month’s ‘Other Genre’ category, with fascinating examples of modern global fiction covering all genres. Our selection for this newsletter showcases this diversity.

Syndetics book cover Men / 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 cover The 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 cover The 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)

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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)