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.

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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.

Women In Translation and the BTBA

After a record-breakingly frigid Thanksgiving here in the northeast, I’m dreaming wistfully of August. BBQs, beaches, and bikinis are all good but I mostly just miss being able to go outside without wrapping multiple scarves around my face. It’s the little things in life! I also miss Women in Translation Month. This past August my social media feed was packed with great book suggestions and conversations and I loved it. But it doesn’t have to be August to read women in translation and I’ve picked out a selection of great titles by women that are eligible for this year’s award.

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, translated by Rosalind Harvey 

I took my time with this sharp and stunning novel and I absolutely loved it. In parallel and entwining narratives that move from Havana to Paris to New York City, After the Winter is a novel ultimately about the human impulse to love, and yet it’s unlike any other love story I’ve ever read. The writing, in Rosalind Harvey’s brilliant translation, is nothing short of transcendent—subtle and dark but also surprisingly funny. Going forward, I want all of my love stories to have this many cemeteries in them.

The Governesses by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson

In this U.S. debut from major French writer Anne Serre, three governesses are shut off in a remote country home. They’re supposed to be watching their pupils, but in this “intense, delicious meringue of a novel” they’re off instead having frenzied erotic adventures. It’s an absolute gem and I’m not the first judge to gush about it and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Sexy, funny, smart, and some spectacular writing. And all in like 100 pages and I just don’t know how that’s possible. Kirkus calls it “A sensualist, surrealist romp” writing that “each sentence evokes a dream logic both languid and circuitous as the governesses move through a fever of domesticity and sexual abandon.”

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, translated by Marlaine Delargy

An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good is dark, funny, and oh so satisfying. Maud is an 88-year-old Swede who has no scruples about solving life’s problems with some low-key murder. I enjoyed this story collection and am planning to pick up Helene Tursten’s mystery novels. An Elderly Lady is also just such a great package—the title is fun and clever, the needlepoint cover is hilarious, and the small trim size finishes it off perfectly.

People in the Room by Norah Lange, translated by Charlotte Whittle 

Long viewed as Borges’s muse, Norah Lange has been widely overlooked as a writer in her own right. Translated for the first time into English, People in the Room is an intense, haunting, and canon-breaking novel that completely overwhelmed me. A young woman is looking out her window in the midst of a thunderstorm when she catches sight of three women in the house across the street from her. She begins to watch, obsess over, and imagine the secrets and lies of the women in the window. “Lange’s imaginative excesses and almost hallucinatory images make this uncanny exploration of desire, domestic space, voyeurism, and female isolation a twentieth century masterpiece.”

The Taiga Syndrome by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana 

I’m a huge fan of The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza and translated by Sarah Booker and I couldn’t wait for the upcoming The Taiga Syndrome, Garza’s take on a contemporary Latin American detective novel. The narrative follows an ex-detective as she searches for a missing couple. It’s complicated and genre bending, with nods to fairy tales—Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood specifically—and written in a striking style that’s all her own. The dark, unsettling tone really hit the spot for me in the midst of my fall reading. In a starred review, Kirkus calls it “An eerie, slippery gem of a book” and I just love that description.

No list would be complete without a mention of Fox by Dubravka Ugresic and translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać and David Williams. Fox is astonishing. Complicated, intricate, funny, and wicked smart. And I’m crazy about Eventide by Therese Bohman and translated by Marlaine Delargy (if you’re keeping track, that’s two mentions of Delargy in this piece!) This insightful novel is at once cutting and beautiful. The prose, the character Karolina, the reflections on art and love—it’s masterful and devastating. I could go on but I won’t. I have to go outside and it’s going to take a while with these scarves.

Reading Pathways: Clarice Lispector Books

Clarice Lispector is an internationally-acclaimed author widely considered to be Brazil’s greatest modern writer and called the most important Jewish writer since Kafka. She was born in 1920 to a Jewish family in Ukraine and as a result of anti-Semitic violence her family fled to Brazil when she was still an infant. At the age of 23, she burst onto the literary scene with the publication of Near to the Wild Heart.

She is as much legend as she is fact—dark, dazzling, intense, glamorous, “the sphinx of Rio de Janeiro,” “a female Chekhov on the beaches of Guanabara.” She inspires cult-like fervor in her readers. In the introduction to his biography of Lispector, Why This World, Benjamin Moser quotes an anecdote I’ve heard repeated often, “‘Be careful with Clarice,’ a friend told a reader decades ago, using the single name by which she is universally known. ‘It’s not literature. It’s witchcraft.’”

Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector, translated by Alison Entrekin
Published in 1943, Near to the Wild Heart introduced Brazil to Clarice Lispector, or as one writer called her “Hurricane Clarice.” The book was a sensation, a hit, written by a previously unknown twenty-three-year-old woman who would go on to dazzle the literary world. Near to the Wild Heart—the title taken from a line from Jame Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—follows Joanna, the heroine, from her childhood through to the dissolution of her marriage, in this novel of agency. In a series of interior monologues and narrative epiphanies, readers come to understand the wild, fleeting, and strange creature that is Joanna but they also get a glimpse at the raw, unadulterated power of Lispector’s prose. It’s revelatory and a perfect starting off point to explore Lispector’s writing.

The Complete Stories by Clarice Lispector, translated by Katrina Dodson
Gathered from the nine collections published during her lifetime, The Complete Stories captures Clarice Lispector in all of her “darkness and dazzle.” The stories, written during her adolescence all the way up until her death, are inventive and haunting, often about women at various stages of their lives. Some are more traditional than the novels she’s come to be known for but as a whole the collection is a great way to “get” (or grasp at, at least) a sense of Lispector and her prose. You can dip in and out of these stories—86 in the hardcover and 89 in the paperback with three newly discovered stories—but I would recommend picking them up early in your reading of Lispector.

The Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser
Clarice Lispector’s last novel is a short, strange, tour de force—a masterpiece of a book. In The Hour of the Star, Lispector follows the narrator Rodrigo S.M., a pretentious, cosmopolitan writer describing the act of writing. He is writing about his creation, Macabéa, one of “life’s unfortunates” a woman living in the slums of Rio. She is poor, sickly, and unloved, and yet she lives simply and happily. “Lispector employs her pathetic heroine against her urbane, empty narrator—edge of despair to edge of despair—and working them like a pair of scissors, she cuts away the reader’s preconceived notions about poverty, identity, love, and the art of fiction.”

A Breath of Life by Clarice Lispector, translated by Johnny Lorenz
If you enjoyed The Hour of the Star but want even more discussion and Lispector brilliance about the theme of creation, A Breath of Life is your perfect next step. Published after her death, A Breath of Life is a dialogue between an author (thinly disguised as Lispector) and his creation, Angela. She is sparklingly alive—speaking, breathing, and dying. Their back and forth is dazzling but also desperate and difficult. Lispector is dying during the writing of this novel and her mind often turns around thoughts of death. “The work’s almost occult appeal arises from the perception that if Angela dies, Clarice will have to die as well. And she did.”

The Passion According to G.H. by Clarice Lispector, translated by Idra Novey
Published in 1964, The Passion According to G.H. is Lispector’s great mystical novel. In The Passion, Lispector follows G.H., a high class Rio sculptress, who enters her maid’s empty room, sees a cockroach and panicking, slams the door and crushes it. She watches the cockroach die over the course of the book and “at the end of the novel, at the height of a spiritual crisis, comes the most famous and most genuinely shocking scene in Brazilian literature.” It’s a brilliant and hypnotic book—there’s little in the way of plot but G.H.’s inner monologue, her stream of consciousness, is utterly amazing. And the ending, which is challenging and unsettling, left me absolutely speechless. It’s a powerful novel, one that I’d recommend as a fitting end to a reading pathway.

If You Want Even More . . . 

Água Viva by Clarice Lispector, translated by Stefan Tobler
I can almost guarantee that you’ve never read anything like Água Viva. It’s “Lispector at her most philosophically radical” and that’s really saying something when it comes to Lispector. Plotless and essentially characterless, Água Viva is a prolonged meditation on the nature of life, time, and creation. As challenging as it might sound, it’s profound and immensely rewarding. “Epiphanies are delivered one after the other in a book-length relay, a final and magnificent apotheosis of Lispectorisms. I could quote every line and still not do the book justice.”—Rachel Kushner in Bookforum

The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjmain Moser and Magdalena Edwards
The Chandelier is Clarice Lispector’s second novel—now translated many years later and published for the first time in English. It was hotly anticipated by devoted Lispector fans (myself included.) It’s an intense and interior novel following the story of one woman’s life as she seeks freedom and meaning, but it’s also so much more than that. Benjamin Moser, her biographer, writes that it “stands out in a strange and difficult body of work, as perhaps her strangest and most difficult book.” The writing is powerful and strange, fluid and crushing. I’d recommend it particularly to fans of Lispector who have read a lot of her work and who want to trace the trajectory of her early work to her later masterpieces, like The Passion According to G.H.

In the introduction to The Complete Stories, Benjamin Moser writes, “Hers is an art that makes us want to know the woman; she is a woman that makes us want to know her art.” If you find yourself (as I did) wanting to know more about Lispector herself I recommend Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector.

This post was originally published on Book Riot.