Best Translated Book Award: Eligible Books from Japan

While looking over the titles I’ve read and enjoyed in the last few months that are eligible for the Best Translated Book Award, I noticed a pattern. There are a considerable number of Japanese titles! 2018 was a strong year for Japanese literature in translation and I’ve decided to highlight a few of the standouts from a group of amazingly talented and award-winning authors and translators.

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori

This book has gotten so much buzz and I have to add myself to its list of fans. Keiko Furukura has worked at a convenience store for 18 years, comfortable in the patterns and norms of the store and its customers but aware of her family and society’s general disappointment in her. When a young man enters her life she has the chance to change everything—if she wants to. From one of Japan’s most exciting contemporary writers, Convenience Store Woman is a dark, funny, and compelling novel with a heroine that defies convention and description.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya, translated by Asa Yoneda

I loved this collection of quirky and wonderful stories. Winner of the Akutagawa Prize and the Kenzaburo Oe Prize, Motoya is a magician—she takes mundane, daily life and just twists it into these amazingly strange and fantastic tales. In these stories, a newlywed notices that her husband’s features are sneakily sliding around his face to match hers, umbrellas are more than they seem, women are challenging their boyfriends to duels, and you might want to reconsider dating the girl next door. I’d recommend this collection to fans of Hiromi Kawakami and Carmen Maria Machado.

Ms Ice Sandwich by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

I’m a big fan of the Japanese novella series from Pushkin Press and of the three released in 2018 (The End of the Moment We Had, The Bear and the Paving Stone, and Ms Ice Sandwich) this one might be my favorite, but ask me again tomorrow and I’ll likely give you another answer. Ms Ice Sandwich is a tender coming-of-age story about a young boy’s adoration of the woman who sells sandwiches at his local supermarket. Ms Ice Sandwich, as he calls her, is gruff and aloof but our young narrator is fascinated by her eyes, “Ms Ice Sandwich’s eyelids are always painted with a thick layer of a kind of electric blue, exactly the same colour as those hard ice lollies that have been sitting in our freezer since last summer.” It’s a delightfully quirky and funny novella that nonetheless deals with some serious themes. The writing is subtle and engaging, deftly translated by Louise Heal Kawai.

Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono, translated by Angus Turvill

Some books are hard to capture in a review and Lion Cross Point is one of them. This beautiful and haunting story is so much more than the sum of its parts, which include coming-of-age tale, sensitive portrayal of trauma and healing, and elements of a ghost story. The writing is poignant and unsettling but never sentimental and thoughtful ten-year-old Takeru is a child narrator who will stay with you past the reading of this book. Lion Cross Point is masterfully done by Masatsugu Ono and translator Angus Turvill and I’m shocked that this is the first time Ono has been published in English.

Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

Based on author Hideo Yokoyama’s own experiences, Seventeen is an intense and immersive newsroom drama that depicts the unfolding events at a local newspaper following the 1985 crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123—the deadliest single-aircraft accident in aviation history—right on their doorstep. It’s a fascinating and insightful account of newsroom politics and proceedings but it’s also a complex and thoughtful look at relationships, stress, grief, and the seen and unforeseen effects of a tragic event, even decades later. And I found that this post written by Louise Heal Kawai “On the Challenges of Translating Seventeen by Hideo Yokoyama” furthered my appreciation of this incredible book.

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2019 New Releases: In Translation

Last year was an astonishingly good year for literature in translation and after poring over catalogs and press releases I’m thrilled to say that it’s only going to continue in 2019! Newly released books from beloved authors like Roberto Bolaño’s The Spirit of Science Fiction and Clarice Lispector’s The Besieged City need no introduction and are sure to be highlights, but they don’t even scratch the surface. A new nordic crime series from Helene Tursten, returning favorites Samanta Schweblin and Han Kang, and exciting English-language debuts—you’ll have a hard time picking which book to start with. Check out these 2019 new releases in translation!

Mouthful of Birds: Stories by Samanta Schweblin, translated by Megan McDowell 

Samanta Schweblin, author of the literary sensation Fever Dream, returns with her first short story collection translated into English. Like Fever Dream, I was struck by the elusive, almost unsatisfactory nature of the stories. Some are strikingly short. Others are carefully crafted to confound. All leave you wanting more and thinking about them long after. Strange and fantastic, dark and disturbing, the stories in Mouthful of Birds are sure to please fans of Schweblin’s uniquely unsettling style. (January 8, Riverhead Books)

Tentacle by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas

Tentacle is the queer, punk, dystopian, climate change, science fiction novel from the Dominican Republic you didn’t know you needed in your life. An unforgettable and wild book, Tentacle follows Acilde Figueroa who finds herself “at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean—and humanity—from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was—with the help of a sacred anemone.” Rita Indiana is a music composer, producer and key figure in contemporary Caribbean literature and the experimental Dominican popular music scene. (January 15, And Other Stories)

All My Goodbyes by Mariana Dimópulos, translated by Alice Whitmore

In striking fragments that shift between time and place, All My Goodbyes follows a young Argentinian woman and her “repeated acts of departure.” She leaves places. She leaves people. Ultimately, she thinks she’s found a home in the southernmost region of Patagonia, a place to stay, but it’s not to be. In the midst of archiving all of her goodbyes, her departures, we also have violent murders that haunt her story from the first page. A propulsive, restless force kept me glued to this novel and I read it in one sitting. (February 5, Transit Books)

Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima, translated by Geraldine Harcourt

Territory of Light follows a woman starting her life over again with her young daughter after being left by her husband. Her new Tokyo apartment is awash in light but she finds herself falling further into darkness and depression. As time passes, she confronts her new reality and makes plans for the future. It is a painful and honest journey, one that will ring true to many who have had to remake their life in a new image after loss. “At once tender and lacerating, luminous and unsettling, Yuko Tsushima’s Territory of Light is a novel of abandonment, desire, and transformation.” (February 12, Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

The White Book by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith

From the Booker-Prize winning author of The Vegetarian and Human Acts, comes the much-anticipated The White Book. While on a writer’s residency, a nameless narrator reckons with the death of her older sister, who died a few hours old and left an inedible mark on the narrator and her family. She writes about this tragedy in a series of unique and profound reflections “through the prism of the color white.” The White Book is a gorgeous and startling meditation on death and grief. (February 19, Hogarth)

Hunting Game by Helene Tursten, translated by Paul Norlen

The first installment in a new series from Helene Tursten, the author of the Irene Huss series and An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good(which I loved). This new series follows Swedish Detective Inspector Embla Nyström as she’s swept into a murder investigation during her family’s annual moose hunt. Policewoman and prizewinning Nordic welterweight, Embla is a badass. Yes, she’s smart and strong—but also refreshingly complicated and flawed. The surprise in the ending comes not from the identity of the murderer but in Embla’s reaction to the events. And you couldn’t have a better setting for a chilling mystery than the nordic wilderness. (February 26, Soho Crime)

River of Fire by Qurratulain Hyder, translated by the author

Arguably the most important novel of 20th-century Urdu fiction, River of Fire follows the intertwining lives of four characters over two and a half millennia. Qurratulain Hyder weaves together “parables, legends, dreams, diaries, and letters, forming a rich tapestry of history and human emotions and redefining Indian identity.” The Times Literary Supplement describes it as “to Urdu fiction what One Hundred Years of Solitude is to Hispanic literature.” (March 26, New Directions)

Optic Nerve by María Gainza, translated by Thomas Bunstead

María Gainza’s English-language debut, translated by Thomas Bunstead, has been receiving rave reviews—its been called gorgeous, brilliant, and profound—and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. The narrator of Optic Nerve is an Argentinian woman obsessed with art and episodes in art history are woven into descriptions of her life in Buenos Aires. “The effect is of a character refracted by environment, composed by the canvases she studies…It is a book that captures, like no other, the mysterious connections between a work of art and the person who perceives it.” (April 9, Catapult)

Arid Dreams: Stories by Duanwad Pimwana, translated by Mui Poopoksakul

I’d like to dedicate the month of April to Duanwad Pimwana, an important literary figure in contemporary Thai literature, hitting the U.S. literary scene by storm with two new books in April, both translated by Mui Poopoksakul. The first is Bright, published by Two Lines Press, the first-ever novel by a Thai woman to appear in English translation. In the second, Arid Dreams, Pimwana turns her keen eye and sharp wit on modern Thailand, “exploring class, gender, and disenchantment in a changing country.” (April 16, Feminist Press)

Flowers of Mold & Other Stories by Ha Seong-Nan, translated by Janet Hong

“If you’re looking for a book that will make you gasp out loud, you’ve found it.” So says Kirkus Reviews and dozens of other publications and reviewers who can’t stop talking about Flowers of Mold. Unnerving, haunting, captivating—these 10 stories follow ordinary characters going about their lives, yet there’s something disturbing just below the surface. One small crack and everything’s unleashed. “The latest in the trend of brilliant female Korean authors to appear in English, Ha cuts like a surgeon, and even the most mundane objects become menacing and unfamiliar under her scalpel.” (April 23, Open Letter)

Looking for even more? The New York Times Globetrotting feature gathers together a sneak preview of books coming out in 2019 from around the world.

The post was originally published on Book Riot.

Netflix to Adapt Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude

Netflix has announced that it has acquired the rights to develop Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Originally published in 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude is widely regarded as the Nobel Prize winning author’s greatest work and as one of the most significant works in the modern literary canon. This is the first time the novel will be adapted for screen.

García Márquez was often approached for film rights during his lifetime but refused all offers, citing his concerns that the large, multi-generational novel would not adapt well into a single film. García Márquez was also committed to his story being told in Spanish.

Francisco Ramos, the vice president for Spanish language originals at Netflix, “noted the success of series like Narcos and movies like Roma, which recently won the Oscar for best foreign language film, that have shown ‘we can make Spanish-language content for the world.’”

No details, as of yet, about who will be writing or starring in the series.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

Unseen Stieg Larsson Investigation to Be Revealed in New Book

An unseen investigation by Stieg Larsson, the late journalist and author of the Millennium Trilogy, has come to light and will be revealed in a new true crime book. Larsson was a leading expert on antidemocratic, right-wing, extremist organizations. He died in 2004, shortly after delivering the manuscripts for The Girl with the Dragon TattooThe Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.

On February 28, 1986, Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot dead in Stockholm. The crime is still unsolved today. It’s now known that Larsson began his own investigation into the assassination—continuing the search until his own death. In 2014, journalist and documentary filmmaker, Jan Stocklassa gained access to the 20 boxes of Larsson’s research into the case.

“In The Man Who Played with Fire: Stieg Larsson and the Hunt for an Assassin, Stocklassa reveals new facts about the case and reveals the hitherto unknown research of the best-selling author in a fascinating true crime story. For the first time in many years, the police in Sweden have taken active measures to investigate a new suspect in the murder case and are pursuing leads based on the research revealed in Stocklassa’s book.”

The Man Who Played with Fire will be published by Amazon Crossing, Amazon’s literature in translation imprint. It will be translated from the original Swedish by Tara F. Chace. The book has a publication date of October 1, 2019.

In the press release announcing the acquisition, Senior Editor Elizabeth DeNoma writes, “Jan Stocklassa’s access to Stieg Larsson’s investigation and his own years-long intrepid, exciting exploration into the suspects, motives, and connections gives readers a true crime story about one of the most gripping unsolved murder mysteries of modern times, investigated by one of the most well-known authors of all time. We can’t wait to share this story with Stieg Larsson’s English-language fans who will be struck by the parallels between the famous author and his famous character, Mikael Blomkvist.”

Stocklassa is also the executive producer of a documentary of the same name that focuses on Larsson’s research into extreme right-wing groups. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2019.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.

25 Clarice Lispector Quotes About Life, Art, and More

Clarice Lispector is a legend, known the world over for her dark genius and glamour. She inspires cult-like fervor in her readers. Be inspired by these cutting and brilliant Clarice Lispector quotes on life, art, and more.

“Everything in the world began with a yes. One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born.” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“The world’s continual breathing is what we hear and call silence.” —The Passion According to G.H., translated by Idra Novey

“Who has not asked himself at some time or other: am I a monster or is this what it means to be a person?” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“You don’t understand music: you hear it. So hear me with your whole body.” —Água Viva, translated by Stefan Tobler

“Do you ever suddenly find it strange to be yourself?” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

“So long as I have questions to which there are no answers, I shall go on writing.” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“How was she to tie herself to a man without permitting him to imprison her? How could she prevent him from developing his four walls over her body and soul? And was there a way to have things without those things possessing her?” —Near to the Wild Heart, translated by Alison Entrekin

“I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“I write as if to save somebody’s life. Probably my own. Life is a kind of madness that death makes. Long live the dead because we live in them.” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

“Things were somehow so good that they were in danger of becoming very bad because what is fully mature is very close to rotting” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“And I want to be held down. I don’t know what to do with the horrifying freedom that can destroy me.” —The Passion According to G.H., translated by Idra Novey

“Do not mourn the dead. They know what they are doing.” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“No it is not easy to write. It is as hard as breaking rocks. Sparks and splinters fly like shattered steel.” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“Because I dived into the abyss I started to love the abyss of which I am made.” —The Passion According to G.H., translated by Idra Novey

“Living isn’t courage, knowing that you’re living, that’s courage” —The Passion According to G.H., translated by Idra Novey

“I hear the mad song of a little bird and crush butterflies between my fingers.” —Água Viva, translated by Stefan Tobler

“Here is a moment of extravagant beauty: I drink it liquid from the shells of my hands and almost all of it runs sparkling through my fingers: but beauty is like that, it is a fraction of a second, quickness of a flash and then immediately it escapes.” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

“Where does music go when it’s not playing?—she asked herself. And disarmed she would answer: May they make a harp out of my nerves when I die.” —Near to the Wild Heart, translated by Alison Entrekin

“I’m afraid to write. It’s so dangerous. Anyone who’s tried, knows. The danger of stirring up hidden things—and the world is not on the surface, it’s hidden in its roots submerged in the depths of the sea. In order to write I must place myself in the void. In this void is where I exist intuitively. But it’s a terribly dangerous void: it’s where I wring out blood. I’m a writer who fears the snare of words: the words I say hide others—which? maybe I’ll say them. Writing is a stone cast down a deep well.” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

“Meanwhile, the clouds are white and the sky is blue. Why is there so much God? At the expense of men.” —The Hour of the Star, translated by Benjamin Moser

“Never suffer because you don’t have an opinion on this or that topic. Never suffer because you are not something or because you are.” —Near to the Wild Heart, translated by Alison Entrekin

“At the bottom of everything there is the hallelujah.” —Água Viva, translated by Stefan Tobler

“I’m no more than a comma in life. I who am a colon. Thou, thou art my exclamation.” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

“I want the following word: splendor, splendor is fruit in all its succulence, fruit without sadness. I want vast distances. My savage intuition of myself.” —Água Viva, translated by Stefan Tobler

“Sometimes writing a single line is enough to save your own heart.” —A Breath of Life, translated by Johnny Lorenz

Do you have a favorite Clarice Lispector quote that isn’t on the list? Share it in the comments! Looking to read more Clarice Lispector but don’t know where to start? Check out this reading pathway through her books.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.