Fiction In Translation - Staff Picks

By Malvern Books

By Malvern Books

Our favorite novels and short story collections in translation.

The Factory

Hiroko Oyamada

$13.95 $12.83

Celia says, "I’m not sure I’ve read anything quite like it. A lot of works that engage with the senselessness of life ask their readers to experience anguish or the shock of finding meaninglessness where you expected to find meaning. Oyamada asks you to live with the flatness of her characters, the ways in which their lives are hollowed out without their own awareness."

One Hundred Twenty-One Days

Michèle Audin

$14.95 $13.75

Schandra says, "A book for lovers of mathematics, French literature, history, genealogy, mystery, and poetry. If you found beauty in Anne Frank’s diary or in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel 'All the Lights We Cannot See,' you will most certainly find it here."

The Musical Brain: And Other Stories

César Aira

$29.95 $26.96

Claire says, "My first foray into the wild mechanics of Aira’s fiction, this collection of short stories feels like it has been spun out of the webby brainwaves of a mad scientist. Aira is known as the Latin American master of microfiction, having published ten short novels in nine years with New Directions. His genius is beyond question, though its expression is so strange, that after reading any one of these stories, your brain may be full of nothing but questions, but also delight."

Harbart

Nabarun Bhattacharya

$13.95 $12.83

Celia says, "Harbart is a phantasmagoric novel in which the messages the dead leave are lost, misinterpreted, and outright ignored. Realism, says Bhattacharya, is insufficient for a world in which the past is so evidently not finished with us."

Who Killed My Father

Edouard Louis

$15.95 $14.67

Julie says, "'Who Killed My Father' is a book that navigates what can’t be said, it addresses liminal spaces; it drifts between present and past tense; it glides between first and second person; it eulogizes a man who is still alive. At under 85 pages the book captures so completely the atrocities committed within families when poverty pits them against one another."

Monsieur de Bougrelon

Jean Lorrain

$14.00

Celia says, "Jean Lorrain’s 'Monsieur de Bougrelon' is a savage little novel about a group of friends vacationing, at the turn of the century, in Amsterdam, but it’s not really about travelers so much as it is about the experience of being taken in by the bizarre soul of a place, of allowing yourself to believe the kind of grotesque stories that shouldn’t fool anyone."

Hashish

Oscar Schmitz and Alfred Kubin

$15.95 $14.67

Rebekah says, "It has been a long time since a book has shocked and morbidly fascinated me as much as Hashish by Oscar A.H. Schmitz. Literary dandy Schmitz was held in high esteem by his contemporaries, but other decadent and fin de siècle writers like Edgar Allen Poe and Oscar Wilde have eclipsed his presence in modern mainstream consciousness. Thanks to Wakefield Press, however, this practically unknown collection of German tales has finally come out of the woodwork, available in English for the first time since its original 1902 publication. "

Toddler Hunting: And Other Stories

Taeko Kono

$16.95 $15.59

Celia says, "These are vivid, sad, violent stories about being trapped in a senseless world. Her narrators are women, mostly, unhappy in the sphere of marriage, motherhood and domesticity, fearlessly or timidly seeking out the externalization of suffering through masochism or humiliation or flirting with death. And yet these aren’t entirely nihilistic stories either."

Primeval and Other Times

Olga Tokarczuk

$15.50 $14.26

Celia says, "'Primeval and Other Times' is set in the imaginary village of Primeval. Bordered by a forest, two other villages, and a larger, bustling town that’s just near enough that the residents can travel there to buy vodka, Primeval is isolated, forgotten, it seems, by time. At the beginning of the story, the First World War has just begun. The men are gone, the women make do, easily enough, on their own. A farmer’s wife, Genowefa, is pregnant. It seems she will stay pregnant for years, until the war is over, until her husband comes home, finally, remembering the war outside of Primeval as a kind of dream, a nightmare land that may or may not have ever existed. This is Primeval: an enclosed snow globe, a world in itself, which it may or may not be possible to ever leave. Outside, wars rise and then break like waves, disgorging soldiers and refugees through the border of Primeval, whose residents are swept up in the flood without always being entirely certain whether the outside world really exists. "

Flights

Olga Tokarczuk

$17.00 $15.64

Celia says, "'Flights' is a network of neurons, a fragile map that might not be immediately recognizable as a system, but which is constantly transmitting impulses, stories, quick bursts of scenes. It claims to be about travel and the body, but a better description might be: what does a body look like in movement? What are its transitions, the way it’s constantly disintegrating and being born?"

The Governesses

Anne Serre

$12.95 $11.91

Celia says, "'The Governesses' could as easily be a Victorian experiment by the likes of Christina Rossetti, or a novel written just this year, and still on the cutting edge. It’s difficult to picture Serre writing it, in the same way that it’s difficult to picture the craftsmanship of a Fabergé egg, that perfect, jewel-encrusted world unto itself. And yet this is a novel that asks its reader to think deeply about the act of creation, and about the nature of the created world."

Our Lady of the Nile

Scholastique Mukasonga

$18.00

Recommended by F.

The Passion According to G.H.

Clarice Lispector

$15.95 $14.67

Tracey says, "Perhaps the most Kafkaesque of Lispector’s nine novels—yes, it involves a cockroach—is the mystical 'The Passion According to G.H.,' first published in 1964 as 'A Paixão Segundo G.H.,' and released in a superb translation by Idra Novey by New Directions in 2012."

Amulet

Roberto Bolaño

$16.95 $15.59

F says, "Perhaps it’s too easy to recommend a book by Bolaño, but this is the first novel by him I ever read. I bought it on a whim around 2007ish, after having witnessed his corner of the shelf at the local bookstore get a little bigger year after year. Finally I said, Who is this guy?, and picked one up. I will say now, after ten years of distance, that nothing could have prepared me at that time for 'Amulet.' This is a story about immigrants, about the government doing the unthinkable, and about resistance. At the time a novel like this was not easy to come by, especially one that was contemporary. It is narrated throughout the course of twelve days by an older Uruguayan woman as she hides in a bathroom stall while the army invades the university in Mexico City. She calls herself the mother of all poets and passionately recounts her life, passions, fantasies, and fears. Though his longer, imperfect novels are certainly works of art in their own right, I really enjoy the impact and immediacy of shorter ones like 'Amulet.'"

The Emissary

Yoko Tawada

$14.95 $13.75

Claire says, "This dystopian fable has it all: spry octogenarians, dissociative trances, and diseased young children whose odd wisdom might be the saving grace of a world so far gone, it almost resembles our own."

The Story of My Teeth

Valeria Luiselli

$16.95 $15.59

Recommended by Tracey.

Seiobo There Below

László Krasznahorkai

$17.95 $16.51

Celia says, "In the second chapter, there is an untranslated crossword in Italian, whose clue for number 54 across includes the name of the ancient queen whom the following chapter is about. When I gave the book to a friend, she got to this chapter and then texted me and said, 'Did I mistakenly tell you that I wanted to read 500 pages by a Hungarian madman?' Then she read the rest of it, found the translator, and interviewed her for the Paris Review. It’s a novel that works that kind of alchemy—disbelief, then fascination."

The Hospital

Ahmed Bouanani

$14.95 $13.75

Celia says, "There are books that you’ve never heard of before that, nevertheless, cast a spell of mystery over you once you’ve picked them up, and 'The Hospital' was one of these for me. As soon as I’d finished reading, I wanted to know who Ahmed Bouanani was and why I hadn’t heard of him before. While 'The Hospital' itself is a slim book, it feels as if it reaches out to the hidden network of a life’s work, as vivid and arresting as a long still shot at the beginning of a film."

Under the Glacier

Halldor Laxness

$15.95 $14.67

Recommended by Tracey.

Space Invaders

Nona Fernández

$14.00 $12.88

F says, "A short Chilean novel about coming of age during political turmoil and the rise of video games, that's possible to read in one sitting."

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead

Olga Tokarczuk

$27.00 $24.30

Recommended by Celia.

Territory of Light

Yuko Tsushima

$24.00 $21.60

Recommended by Celia.

War & War

George Szirtes and László Krasznahorkai

$17.95 $16.51

Recommended by Celia.

River

Esther Kinsky

$16.95 $15.59

Recommended by Celia.

Aviaries

Zuzana Brabcova

$16.00

Recommended by Celia.

Dinner

César Aira

$13.95 $12.83

Schandra says, "This book’s as much a zombie thriller for the literary fiction enthusiast as it is a piece of literary fiction for the horror enthusiast. Aira wields contemporary pop culture without cutting away the necessary characteristic of great literature: timelessness."

Vano and Niko

Erlom Akhvlediani

$15.95 $14.67

Recommended by Tracey.

The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories

Osama Alomar

$13.95

Recommended by Tracey.

The Seven Madmen

Roberto Arlt

$15.95 $14.67

F says, "Published in 1929, this book subtly and not-so-subtly foreshadows: World War II, South American coups d’état, comic book super-villains, the Cold War, the depiction of street life by Cortazar, Bolaño, Bukowski, the films of Godard, the plays of Tennessee Williams, the proliferation of drug/human trafficking, Richard Nixon, Donald Trump, etc. Back in print just in time for an election year. Enjoy, America."

The Unknown Masterpiece (Revised)

Honore De Balzac

$14.95 $13.75

Recommended by F.

Woman in Battle Dress

Antonio Benítez-Rojo

$19.95 $18.35

Kelsey says, "Benitez-Rojo weaves a dark, often hilarious, and always tender narrative that brings to life Henriette Faber, the extraordinary subject of Cuba’s most infamous court case, in an intimate portrait. During the time of Napoleon, Faber lived life in dualities—she was both a woman and a man, she loved openly, she loved in secret, and her passions held equal weight with her friends and her lovers. All fans of historical fiction should devour this novel."

Disagreeable Tales

Léon Bloy

$16.95 $15.59

F says, "This book is blurbed by Kafka and Flannery O’Connor. I don’t know what else to say."

Virtuoso

Yelena Moskovich

$16.99 $15.63

"A hint of Lynch, a touch of Ferrante, the cruel absurdity of Antonin Artaud, the fierce candour of Anaïs Nin, the stylish languor of a Lana del Rey song." —The Guardian

Everything and Nothing

Jorge Luis Borges

$11.95 $10.99

F says, "This little book is the perfect gateway to Borges. It contains a grab-bag of some of his best fiction, along with psychedelic essays, and lecture transcriptions full of wisdom given toward the end of his life. Be warned: your perception and outlook on life will change entirely after reading this."

Labyrinths

Jorge Luis Borges

$15.95 $14.67

Schandra says, "This comprehensive collection of Borges’ great body of multi-genre works deftly introduces the legendary Argentinean magical realist to a whole new generation of readers. Included in the selected stories is Borges’ most beloved & frequently anthologized work, 'The Garden of Forking Paths.' This is one labyrinth you’ll want to get lost in."

The Storyteller

Pierre Jarawan

$17.99 $16.55

Becky says, "A young man searches for his father, a master storyteller who wove wonderful adventures with incredible heroes set in a homeland he’d had to escape. His father’s disappearance sends him back to Lebanon to solve the mystery and heal his broken heart."

The Adventures of China Iron

Gabriela Cabezón Cámara

$15.95 $14.67

Recommended by F.

Die, My Love

Ariana Harwicz

$13.95 $12.83

F says "A domestic horror story that would appeal to fans of Shirley Jackson, a whirlwind thick with imagery and a mind on the verge of flipping out."

The Dreamed Part

Rodrigo Fresan

$18.95 $17.43

Recommended by Tracey.

Jerusalem

Goncalo M. Tavares

$13.95 $12.83

Recommended by Tracey.

The Poor

Raul Brandão

$15.00 $13.80

Recommended by Tracey.

The Dirty Dust: Cré Na Cille

Máirtín Ó. Cadhain

$16.00

F says, "This novel has the best insults I've ever read in a book."

Senselessness

Horacio Castellanos Moya

$15.95

"[It’s] this amazing book about this guy whose job was to edit the interviews of accounts of campesinos who watched their families be murdered during the war. He slowly goes mad. It’s in the tradition of Thomas Bernhard. The voice is so solid and strange." —local author Deb Olin Unferth in an interview

Slave Old Man

Patrick Chamoiseau

$14.99 $13.79

Celia says, "Read this haunted, fugitive novel. Wilderness, brutality, and an old man running 'not toward freedom [but] toward the immense testimony of his bones.'"

Little Reunions

Eileen Chang

$16.95 $15.59

"Before Joan Didion, there was Eileen Chang. . . . Chang combined Didion’s glamour and sensibility with the terrific wit of Evelyn Waugh. She could, with a single phrase, take you hostage." —Jamie Fisher, The Millions

The Laws of the Skies

Grégoire Courtois

$16.95 $15.59

Celia says, "I talked to my coworker after she read this and she said that she just wanted to get it away from her, like a dead rat, but in a way where she also thought everyone else should read it? I think that's as good a recommendation as any."

Astragal

Albertine Sarrazin

$15.95

F says, "A literary punk rock classic, and essential reading."

That Smell and Notes from Prison

Sonallah Ibrahim

$15.95

"'That Smell' marks a significant entry into the diminutive collection of Arabic literature translated into English, providing a dramatic new view of literature to American readers who otherwise see hardly any of it." —The New York Review of Books

Dance on the Volcano

Marie Vieux-Chauvet

$18.00

"Vieux-Chauvet’s novel is that rare gem that takes an ambitious scope and successfully captures the social and political turmoil of a country at war . . . Those interested in Haitian history, deep explorations of social injustice, and courageous, determined heroines will find much to enjoy in Vieux-Chauvet’s masterly tale." —Publishers Weekly

Temptation

Janos Szekely

$19.95 $18.35

"A truly great novel that brings everything together: narrative force, social history, wit, anger, grief, love and idealism." —Angela Wittmann

The Country Will Bring Us No Peace

Matthieu Simard

$17.95 $16.51

"Simard wrote one of those books that perfectly suits itself: all of the elements, the prose, the characters, style, the structure, and the gambits work for the feelings and experience it aims to express, right through to the beautiful and haunting ending." —Montreal Review of Books

The Book of Anna

Carmen Boullosa

$17.95 $16.51

"This superb translation from Spanish . . . is a book of nimble prose that deftly plays with the boundaries between fiction and history. Drawing together servants, diplomats, anarchists, seamstresses and aristocrats at the eve of the Russian Revolution, Boullosa brings heightened eroticism, feminism, and liberation to Tolstoy’s imagined world." —Lauren LeBlanc, Observer

Why the Child Is Cooking in the Polenta

Aglaja Veteranyi

$19.95 $18.35

"A smoldering little work of elision ... Veteranyi came from a family of Romanian circus performers that settled in Switzerland after being exiled from their home country. Much of the novel resembles her biography, though anybody after some vaudeville tell-all should search elsewhere; Veteranyi's novel skips the daily drudge of putting on a circus for the existential swirl of living in one. Veteranyi is concerned with family, its power dynamics and shifting relations; with country, as a home, a legacy, and a curse; and finally with the spunky subjectivity of its pubescent narrator, who confronts the old problems of God and puberty against the exile's always-spinning scenery." —Bookslut