Like a field of spring wildflowers, the breadth and diversity of newly translated fiction this month is staggering to behold: a beautiful, unforgettable debut from a 20-something Franco-Korean novelist, a Croatian noir thriller, short stories from a nonagenarian Norwegian master, Japanese crime fiction, Spanish autofiction about art and motherhood, and more. Frolic through April’s list and pick yourself something wondrous.
Included as one of the 22 authors on Granta’s prestigious “Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists” list in 2010, Federico Falco’s English debut has been much anticipated. A Perfect Cemetery collects five interlinked short stories from the Argentine writer and was a finalist for the García Márquez Short Story Prize. The Times Literary Supplement says, "The quiet assurance with which Falco addresses rural environments represents a departure recalling the perspectives of writers from the northern hemisphere such as Denis Johnson, Knut Hamsun, or Tobias Wolff."
Luis Goytisolo’s Antagonia (Antagony #1) is considered “one of the best novels of the 20th century” (El Mundo) and The Greens of May Down to the Sea is the second book of his Antagonia tetralogy (after Recounting). Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas Llosa has compared Goytisolo’s tetralogy to the works of Marcel Proust, Hermann Broch, and James Joyce — and the Spanish Catalan author is also the younger brother of fellow writers José Agustín Goytisolo and Juan Goytisolo.
The first volume of Norwegian author Roy Jacobsen’s Barrøy Trilogy, The Unseen, was shortlisted for the International Booker and was featured as the 86th installment in our own Indiespensable subscription series. White Shadow is the trilogy’s second volume and takes place two decades later, during the Nazi occupation of Norway.
A pair of novellas from avant-garde writer Maki Kashimada, Touring the Land of the Dead (and Ninety-Nine Kisses) marks the Japanese author’s English debut. Kashimada has already won a number of literary awards — including the Mishima Yukio Prize and the Akutagawa Prize — and these two novellas have been billed for fans of Yoko Ogawa (The Memory Police), Mieko Kawakami (Breasts and Eggs), and Yuko Tsushima (Territory of Light).
Nuria Labari is a Spanish writer and journalist whose newest book (and first translated into English), World’s Best Mother, is an autofictional work about motherhood and art (and infertility and pregnancy and marriage and infidelity and so much more). Labari’s novel has been widely acclaimed in Europe and has already enjoyed stateside praise from authors like Elisa Albert, Meaghan O’Connell, and Jenny Offill, the latter of whom called World’s Best Mother, “A slyly funny and strikingly astute meditation on love in all its guises by a self-proclaimed ‘amateur mother.’”
In addition to being a writer, Dutch author Eva Meijer is also a philosopher, visual artist, and singer-songwriter. Her book about the political rights of animals, When Animals Speak: Toward an Interspecies Democracy, was published in 2019. Her newest work, Bird Cottage, is a novel based on the real-life story of British naturalist Gwendolen Howard and her work with birds and insights into avian behavior.
First Person Singular is a collection of eight new stories from the author of Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and 1Q84. Haruki Murakami’s new book has all the things you’ve come to love in his fiction and is a sure bet for anyone already enamored with the prolific Japanese author.
Ivana Bodrožic’s We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day is a literary noir thriller and fictional reckoning with the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s (the author’s father disappeared while fighting for Croatian independence). Bodrožic’s latest won the Balkan Noir Prize for Best Crime Novel and her writing has been praised by the likes of Sebastian Barry, Eoin Colfer, Sara Novic, and more.
Despite passing away in 1991, Italian author Natalia Ginzburg continues to find an ever-wider audience among English-language readers. Family and Borghesia offers two novellas, both written in the 1970s, each about family, loss, and loneliness. Ginzburg’s works have drawn the acclaim of fellow authors Zadie Smith, Lydia Davis, Maggie Nelson, Rachel Cusk, Colm Tóibín, and many others. Following the NYRB release of these two novellas, New Directions will republish Ginzburg’s 1961 novel, Voices in the Evening, next month.
Hervé Le Corre’s In the Shadow of the Fire is a literary historical thriller taking place in the spring of 1871, during the Paris Commune’s brief rule. The French author’s new novel traces a series of kidnappings and the investigation which follows, all set amidst a violent, tumultuous time in France’s past.
If you haven’t already been reading (and loving!) Clarice Lispector’s works, you’ve got some much needed catching up to do! An Apprenticeship; or, the Book of Delights is the Brazilian author’s romantical novel first published in 1969. Jeff VanderMeer has called Lispector, "A genius on the level of Nabokov."
A moving, masterful debut, Chilean author Bruno Lloret’s first novel, Nancy, was published when he was only 25 and received an honorable mention from the Roberto Bolaño Prize. A staccato reminiscence of a life spent in struggle and defeat, Nancy is the sorrowful story of Lloret’s titular character, dying of cancer and reminiscing about her life. Unlike anything else in recent memory, Lloret’s novel is one of the month’s finest works in translation.
Prolific Belgian author Amélie Nothomb has published a new book every single year for nearly 30 years. Thirst, released in its original French in 2019, was a finalist for the prestigious Prix Goncourt. Nothomb’s newest is a humorous first-person retelling of Jesus’s last days, reflecting on mortality and what it means to be human. Radio network France Inter has called Thirst “a completely unbelievable mixture between Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and Monty Python’s The Life of Brian.”
Featuring nine previously unpublished stories written when the French master was in his twenties, The Mysterious Correspondent offers a veritable portrait of the infamous author as a younger man. The new collection of Marcel Proust’s short fiction also includes explanatory footnotes and annotations.
Based on a famous Japanese extortion case, Kaoru Takamura’s English-language debut, Lady Joker, sold over one million copies in Japan (and is also taught in Japanese schools). Split into two volumes (down from its original three), Lady Joker is a major work of crime fiction. Yoko Ogawa, author of The Memory Police, calls Takamura’s epic: “A novel that portrays with devastating immensity how those on the dark fringes of society can be consumed by the darkness of their own hearts.”
Olivier Targowla’s Narcisse on a Tightrope, the French author’s first novel, is a “quirky fable” about mental health. Lead character Narcisse has been compared to Thurber’s Walter Mitty, Winston Groom’s Forrest Gump, and even John Irving’s T. S. Garp. French newspaper Le Monde says of Targowla’s slim novel, “[T]his fluid little narrative instills in the reader a sense of strangeness that gives it its value.”
Catalan author Eva Baltasar’s 10 poetry collections had long been acclaimed prior to the release of her debut novel, Permafrost — which received a 2018 Catalan Booksellers Award and also became a bestseller. For fans of Virginie Despentes, Rita Indiana, and Thomas Bernhard, Permafrost is a feverishly funny work about women, sexuality, self, and relationships. Italian newspaper la Repubblica described Baltasar as “a Catalan Dorothy Parker. Ironic, implacable.”
His first work rendered into English, Italian author Sacha Naspini’s Nives is the story of the eponymous widow and life following the loss of her farmer husband. Booklist recommends Nives for fans of Elisabeth Egan, Marian Keyes, and Isabel Allende and Critica Letteraria says Naspini’s novel “carries a powerful message of female emancipation: it’s impossible not to root for the title character as she reclaims her place in the world after a whole life spent in men’s shadow.”
An acclaimed poet, writer, translator, and art space cofounder in her native Argentina, Cecilia Pavón has had a few books appear previously in English, including Scrambler Books’ A Hotel With My Name and Licorice Candies. Pavón’s new one, Little Joy, collects short stories written over two decades, from 1999 to 2020. A Sand Book poet Ariana Reines described Pavón’s protagonists as “absolute women, guileless dreamers, saints in sneakers, on sidewalks, in jail, in Zara, on buses, in nightclubs, in bed.”
Teffi was the pseudonym of 20th-century Russian writer Nadezhda Alexandrovna Lokhvitskaya. She’s been called the “female Chekhov” and was wildly popular in her day (beloved by the likes of Nicholas II and Vladimir Lenin). Other Worlds: Peasants, Pilgrims, Spirits, Saints features stories spanning 40 years of her career and delves into themes of the occult, witchcraft, the supernatural, and more.
Nonagenarian Norwegian author Kjell Askildsen is considered a master of the short story and has been writing for nearly 70 years. His latest work to appear in English, Everything Like Before is a collection of three dozen short stories, described by Daniel Handler (Lemony Snickett) thusly: “There is something so beautifully off-kilter about these stories — a luminous peculiarity that reminds us that strange writing is the only true writing about the world.”
The first of her books to appear in English, Dominique Barbéris’s A Sunday in Ville-d'Avray is the story of two sisters and the secrets they reveal to one another, reminiscing and confessing in turn. The French novelist’s new book was inspired by the Academy Award-winning classic film, Sundays and Cybele (Les dimanches de Ville d'Avray) — and has been called “An eerie, unsettling story about the murkiness of truth and memory, and the difficulty of truly knowing another person” (Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers).
The debut novel from 20-something Franco-Korean author Elisa Shua Dusapin, Winter in Sokcho is a richly rewarding work adorned beautifully with unforgettable atmospherics. Winter in Sokcho is the story of a cartoonist on holiday in Korea and a guesthouse worker — and the transitory yet touching time they spend together. Dusapin’s debut has been acclaimed far and wide: “a masterful short novel” (New Statesman); “a punchy first novel” (The Guardian); “a masterpiece” (Huffington Post); “dazzling” (Vogue); “spellbinding” (Elle).
Russian writer and journalist Sergey Kuznetsov has been called “the most talented young Russian author” by Arturo Pérez-Reverte (The Club Dumas). His newest book, The Round Dance of Water, is an epic saga of family spanning generations.