Whether you’re an avowed bibliophile or a casual reader, figuring out what to read next can be a daunting task. If you’re not much for bestsellers, classics, celebrity book clubs, or any of the tomes already in your teetering TBR pile, how do you find that new favorite? How do you discover that book you didn’t even know you needed to read? (As it turns out, the answer to this — and almost all of life’s questions — is simple: ask a bookseller!).
While it may be hard to look at our fledgling new year and see what 2021 has in store for us, we’re already confident that it will be another banner year for literature in translation. Authors, editors, and translators have been working tirelessly on your behalf, lovingly preparing that new novel or story collection bound to be the one you rave tirelessly about to friends, family, and complete strangers (c’mon, they looked bookish!). Each month, we’ll post a roundup of new and forthcoming fiction written by authors from around the globe.
Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to broaden your reading habits. Maybe you’ve committed to reading at least one book from a different country or culture each season. Perchance you want to fill your literary passport until you can resume filling your real one. It’s possible you just want to be a better global citizen. Whatever your reasons, we’re certain you’ll find enough new books each month to sate even the most voracious literary appetite.
Feel free to drop a note in the comments to let other engaged readers know which titles and authors you loved most!
A pair of “staccato” novellas from Greek literary critic and editor Michel Faïs, Mechanisms of Loss “explore[s] the ways in which we sabotage our rare chances at love, plunging into the interior of the mind and exposing the things we cannot say aloud.”
An early metafictional novel from French Nobel laureate André Gide, Marshlands is “both a poised satire of literary pretension and a superb literary invention.” This NYRB edition (oh, that cover!) includes a preface by (future Nobel laureate?!) Dubravka Ugrešic.
Released in hardcover nearly a decade ago, but finally out in paperback, Heart of the Night is late Egyptian Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz’s novella about “marriage across class lines, spirituality, and the harsh realities of a precarious life.”
A noir thriller from Italian crime writer Roberto Perrone, The Second Life of Inspector Canessa is set in bloodied Milan and features family secrets and terrorist plots.
A delectably entertaining, quasi-historical, 17th-century self-referential picaresque romp, Max Besora’s The Adventures and Misadventures of the Extraordinary and Admirable Joan Orpí, Conquistador and Founder of New Catalonia mixes tomfoolery and satire, merging language of yore with modern-day slang. Quite possibly the most fun you’ll have reading all year (who knew historical fiction could be so irreverent and bawdy?)!
The follow-up to her wonderfully macabre debut story collection, Things We Lost in the Fire, Argentine author Mariana Enriquez’s The Dangers of Smoking in Bed offers a dozen more pieces of short fiction “as terrifying as they are socially conscious.” As Lauren Groff puts it, “Enriquez's stories are smoky, carnal, and dazzling."
A “satirical, phantasmagorical” novel from an author compared to both Bulgakov and García Márquez? Yes, please. Dmitry Lipskerov’s The Tool and the Butterflies marks the Russian writer’s English debut: “a darkly comedic exploration of post-Soviet attitudes towards gender and sexuality.”
Inspired by a true story, Italian author Paolo Maurensig’s award-winning new novel, Game of the Gods, tells the tale of the life and times of a real-life Indian chess champion — and the entanglements of class and colonialism.
The new novel from the Russian-born pseudonymous Alina Bronsky (author of The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine), My Grandmother’s Braid is the portrait of a powerful grandmother matriarch and family dysfunction — told with “a droll and biting humor.” For fans of Helen DeWitt and Eve Babitz.
“A blissful and baneful litany of human stupidity, from Italian fantastical absurdist Ermanno Cavazzoni”: Has a more delectably inviting summary ever been penned? Cavazzoni’s new book, Brief Lives of Idiots, parodies the 16th-century Polish classic, The Lives of the Saints. Cinephile book lovers may know that Federico Fellini’s final film, The Voice of the Moon (La voce della luna), was adapted from an earlier Cavazzoni novel.
Collecting all three volumes of her autofiction (originally published in Danish 1969-1971), Tove Ditlevsen’s The Copenhagen Trilogy (Childhood; Youth; Dependency) has been called a “masterpiece” by many, wherein “the narrator grapples with the tension between her vocation as a writer and her competing roles as daughter, wife, mother, and drug addict.”
A debut collection of linked stories from Guatemalan author Rodrigo Fuentes, Trout, Belly Up was a finalist for the 2018 Gabriel García Márquez Short Story Prize. Fuentes relates the hardships of rural life, writing with impressive prose and beautiful imagery.