The month of March offers an embarrassment of literary riches for fans of writing from abroad: a Lebanese epistolary novel, a German dystopian debut, “the strangest writer of Argentine literature,” a Cormac McCarthy-like work translated from Afrikaans, autobiographical fiction by a Bosnian author called “the Hemingway of our time” by Paul Auster, and so much more. Check out the whole list and find your new foreign favorite.
Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (managed in association with the Booker Prize Foundation), Lebanese author Hoda Barakat’s Voices of the Lost is an epistolary novel featuring six undelivered letters from the forlorn, forgotten, and unforgiven. In addition to her novels, Barakat has also published plays, short stories, and a memoir (all as-yet untranslated into English).
Brazilian author and screenplay writer Beatriz Bracher’s new novel (her second rendered into English, after I Didn’t Talk), Antonio offers a snapshot of an upper-class São Paulo family and the secrets they’ve kept throughout the years (as well as their conflicting versions of the truth).
Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation (a reimagining of Camus’s The Stranger from an Arab perspective) was widely praised and a finalist for the prestigious Prix Goncourt. In his new novel, Zabor, or the Psalms, the Algerian writer/journalist tells the bibliophilic tale of Zabor, who believes he must keep writing lest those close to him die should he ever stop. Costalegre author Courtney Maum says Daoud’s “shimmering novel about literature's redemptive potential has never been more timely — or more crucial — than right now.”
Written nearly a half-century ago now (and finally rendered into English), Bohumil Hrabal’s The Gentle Barbarian is the Czech writer’s literary tribute to friend and artist Vladimâir Boudnâik, who took his own life in his mid-forties. No matter what he’s writing about, the late author of Closely Watched Trains and Too Loud a Solitude is always a singular delight, offering his trademark humor and humanist perspective.
Julia von Lucadou’s dystopian debut novel, The High-Rise Diver, imagines a world where capital rules and surveillance reigns — and one woman rebels. Billed for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Brave New World, the German author’s first book has been called “a searing work of speculative fiction” by Kirkus Reviews. Read it now while it’s still fiction!
Collecting short stories and essays, Little Snow Landscape is the latest posthumous and much anticipated release from Swiss master Robert Walser. An author beloved by the likes of Susan Sontag, Franz Kafka, Kate Zambreno, Hermann Hesse, J. M. Coetzee, and Nell Zink (among so many others!), each new Walser work is a joyous occasion. Walser fans should also note the forthcoming May release of a long-awaited biography written by translator Susan Bernofsky, Clairvoyant of the Small: The Life of Robert Walser.
Originally published in Afrikaans and the winner of several literary prizes in South Africa, Willem Anker’s Red Dog was longlisted for the 2020 International Booker. Set in the 18th century and based on a real-life character, Anker’s novel confronts South Africa’s bloody past — and has garnered comparisons to Cormac McCarthy.
The great Marguerite Duras should be known (and loved!) by many readers. The Impudent Ones was the French author/playwright/screenwriter’s 1943 debut novel, now finally available in English after almost 80 years. Mixing memoir and fiction, The Impudent Ones also includes a prefatory essay about the work by Duras biographer Jean Vallier.
Bosnian writer, poet, and editor Semezdin Mehmedinovic´ had two poetry collections (Sarajevo Blues and Nine Alexandrias) published by City Lights about 20 years ago. My Heart, his first novel to appear in English, is an autobiographical work which has already garnered wide acclaim. Paul Auster says of My Heart, “Semezdin Memedinovic´ charts the collapse of a world with heartbreaking clarity and precision… conveys the same clear-eyed passion for the truth that one finds in the young Hemingway, the Hemingway of our time.”
Set in WWII-era Berlin, German journalist and author Takis Würger’s new novel, Stella, is the tale of a Swiss aspiring artist and the Jewish artists’ model he falls in love with. Inspired, in part, by a real historical figure, Würger’s Stella reckons with love and betrayal in Nazi Germany.
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize-winner Nona Fernández's potent, poignant new novel, The Twilight Zone, is a reckoning with her own childhood during Chile’s brutal military dictatorship. One of the month’s must-read translations, Fernández’s latest masterfully transmogrifies the unforgivably abhorrent into the indelibly artistic.
English readers’ first introduction to Argentine author Pola Oloixarac may well have been her inclusion in Granta’s Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists issue in 2010. Since then, two of her novels (including her exceptional debut, Savage Theories) have been translated into English. Oloixarac’s new novel, Mona, is a send-up of contemporary literary culture. Novelist Siri Hustvedt describes it as: “Sly, bitter, and smart, Mona is at once a satirical comedy, a harrowing psychological portrait of a woman’s dissociation, and a philosophical indictment of the hubris of now.”
In addition to being a writer, Catalonian author Sergi Pàmies is also a translator, journalist, and television/radio presenter. Both his novels and his story collections have won awards and his new book, The Art of Wearing a Trench Coat, contains 13 linked short stories focusing on the nature of relationships, whether romantic or familial.
The second installment (after the International Booker longlisted The Other Name) in his three-volume Septology series, I Is Another finds Norwegian playwright, poet, and author Jon Fosse continuing his epic, sweeping masterpiece about an aging painter named Asle — and his doppelgänger. Fosse has been called “The Beckett of the twenty-first century” by Le Monde and is widely considered a contender for the Swedish Academy’s highest literary honor.
Drawing praise from an impressive list of authors including Colm Tóibín, Jhumpa Lahiri, Michael Cunningham, Nick Flynn, Andrew Sean Greer, Mircea Cartarescu, Enrique Vila-Matas, Richard Ford, and more, Italian author Andrea Bajani’s If You Kept a Record of Sins is the story of an estranged son’s reckoning with his absent mother and the legacy left behind following her passing.
The first of her works to appear in English, Danielle Mémoire’s Public Reading Followed by Discussion sounds nearly Oulipian in its scope and ambition. The French writer’s novel is sure to delight and entertain fans of fun, playful literature and anyone who enjoys a hearty dose of smart and clever in their fiction.
Already the winner of several literary prizes in her native Japan, Kikuko Tsumura marks her book-length English debut with There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job. Tsumura’s sarcastically humorous novel centers on a young woman trying to find meaning in the vagaries of the capitalist marketplace as she bounces from one unfulfilling gig to another.
The late Antonio Tabucchi authored dozens of books — and was considered a contender for the Nobel Prize before he passed, having already won a number of prestigious awards around the world. Adding to his monumental legacy is another collection of short fiction, Stories With Pictures, published in the original Italian in 2011. Rich with feeling, Tabucchi’s stories each imagine the world beyond an actual work of art.