From the author of the award-winning My Cat Yugoslavia comes a novel about two childhood friends fleeing their fragmented homeland. Originally written in Finnish by an author of Kosovo-Albanian heritage, the tale begins as the young men leave Albania and make their way to Europe, where they hope to build a better life. They cross borders into new countries, taking on and shedding identities, and revisiting the stories of their past, as they go. Crossing is a poignant novel about love, belonging, gender, and the refugee experience.
(Translated from Finnish by David Hackston)
The White Book
Unsurprisingly, one particular color features prominently in the newest novel from Booker Prize-winning author Han Kang. It’s in the setting (a snow-covered Warsaw) and in the physical pages of the book itself (some of which are spare with poetry). White is everywhere in this novel, whose narrator imagines the life of her sister who died shortly after birth, before the narrator herself was born. With her poetic and precise approach, Kang proves once again that she’s a force to be reckoned with.
(Translated from Korean by Deborah Smith)
The Spirit of Science Fiction
Poetry and science fiction collide in this previously untranslated, posthumously published novel that Roberto Bolaño, author of The Savage Detectives, wrote around 1984. Good friends Jan and Remo are both poets in Mexico City. Jan spends much of his time writing letters to his favorite sci-fi influences, like Usual K. Le Guin, while Remo explores the city and dives into the local 1980s literary scene. Bolaño fans in particular will appreciate getting a glimpse at the author’s earlier work.
(Translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer)
Mouthful of Birds
Schweblin, the author of Fever Dream, doesn’t hold back in her haunting new collection of short stories that touch on themes of parenthood, being trapped, masculinity, and much more. Mouthful of Birds is full of imagination and each story is a snapshot of something altogether disorienting and spooky. Most of the stories are short—and there are 20 of them in the collection—so if you want to dip into horror, this is a solid place to start.
(Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell)
The End of Loneliness
Jules was a child when his parents tragically died in a car accident and he was sent, along with his two older siblings, to a boarding school. With no one to lean on, he fell into a crushing loneliness and grief. Then Alva made her way into his life and changed it forever. Fifteen years later, though, they’re no longer friends. Jules can’t help but hope he might meet her, the person he loved, again.
(Translated from German by Charlotte Collins)
Reseng is the kind of guy whose preferred pastimes include cracking open several beers and reading on his own—he also happens to be a hitman. Reseng has intimately known the assassination-for-hire business for most of his life; as a young child, he was adopted by Old Raccoon, who runs a contract killing outlet out of an old library in Seoul. When Reseng uncharacteristically deviates from his assignments, he begins to question the power structure of this dark world and wonder if he truly wants out. You’ll meet lots of bizarre, intriguing characters in this atmospheric, violent crime novel.
(Translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell)
Olga Tokarczuk won the Man Booker International Prize for Flights, a genre-defying meditation on the body and where it goes. Flights travels through space and time, weaving together stories of people living in different places and ages, characters who get on planes, go on vacation, return home, and, sometimes, simply walk out the door. It’s the perfect fit for any jet-setting reader who will relate to the compulsion to move.
(Translated from Polish by Jennifer Croft)
This poignant coming-of-age tale from hip-hop artist Gaël Faye is inspired by tragic history and centers on a boy, Gabriel, who lives a relatively carefree life in 1990s Burundi. But as threats of the Rwandan genocide loom ever closer and people begin to flee his community, Gabriel begins to recognize how close the violence has gotten and the kinds of irreparable trauma it inflicts.
(Translated by from French by Sarah Ardizzone)
Reading books in translation can feel like a completely different experience from reading in your mother tongue. So often, translations offer unexpected delights to readers: poetic language, delightful turns of phrase, and, of course, new ways of seeing the world.
Settle in with these eight recent works of fiction translated into English and you’ll find yourself transported to places you’ve, perhaps, never been.
Featured image: @cescophotography via Twenty20