Kate Briggs$20.00 $18.40
A book about translation, which is to say that it is really a book about writing, the act of creation, a meditation on reading. Briggs digs deep into the idea of what a translation is, from her own translation of Barthes, to the contested translations of Thomas Mann and Han Kang - she helps you understand how the way you move in an aerobics class is a translation of the aerobics instructor, and the way that 'papadum peach' is a perfectly valid translation of 'papa don't preach'.
Annie Ernaux$18.95 $17.43
Such a vivid and precise book about girlhood and desire, by one of the greatest writers of her generation. Ernaux's books are always a crucible for the most intense of human emotional experiences, and this book is no different. She examines her eighteen-year-old self with microscopic precision, reminding you that one day you too may live a life you will shed like a chrysalis, pick up, and examine.
"Every time I want to write, I want to write love stories. But as soon as I pick up the pen I’m overcome by horror," the protagonist says half-way through the novel, and that really says it all. Rien ne va plus is a love story that ends badly, told twice-through. In all her work you get the sense that Karapanou is evading something - other people, the limits of the novel as a genre, womanhood itself. These translations by Karen Emmerich are not widely circulated, but they should be - you get the sense that if Karapanou had written in a language more widespread than Greek she would be as well known as Marguerite Duras or Ingeborg Bachmann, to whom she bears a similarity.
Anne Garréta$14.95 $13.75
A book about falling in and out of love (and dancing), free from the constraints of gender. Garreta is a member of the Oulipo, and has excised pronouns from this novel. The absence of gender in the text acts as a kind of mirror, reflecting your own thoughts and preconceptions and heart-throbs back at you, the reader. Expertly translated by Emma Ramadan.
Jenny Erpenbeck$15.95 $14.67
A truly perfect, intricate book about one lake in Brandenburg through history. Erpenbeck takes you through all of the histories that have happened beside it, from a Nazi-sympathising architect to an earnest communist writer to a deluded teenage girl to the gardener who is as ever-present as the lake itself. One of the best meditations on place I have ever read, and also a book that made me long to return to Berlin, to be outside, to hear the rippling of water and wind rippling a thousand leaves overhead.
Clarice Lispector$21.95 $20.19
A tome to be treasured and returned to in moods of wonder and disquiet. This is the first time all of Lispector's stories have been together in the one place, and they are beautiful, thorny, intricate things, like a box of jewels you must examine slowly and with some trepidation.
Elsa Morante$18.95 $17.43
Often overshadowed in her lifetime by her husband Alberto Moravia, Elsa Morante is a much better writer than her husband ever was, and like Lucia Berlin and Clarice Lispector her work is now being republished, and rightfully reclaimed by history. Arturo's Island is Morante's second published novel - and my most loved of her books. It is translated into English for the first time by Ferrante's translator Ann Goldstein (the very name Elena Ferrante is infamously an homage to Morante, her idol), and the connections are clear - Morante's prose has all the intensity and solemn melodrama of Ferrante, but the world of Arturo's Island is more dreamlike, savage, an absolute pleasure to live inside for as long as the pages last.
Our Lady of the Nile is a Catholic girl's boarding school drama of a higher magnitude, one that ends not only in sexual awakening and the pain of coming-of-age, but in genocide. Set in Rwanda in the lead-up to the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Mukasonga's novel-in-vignettes slowly traces the fault lines that tear apart both the school and the country. I grew up reading British, French, and American boarding school novels (it's a weird sub-genre I have a lot of affection for), but never one like Our Lady of the Nile. With this novel Mukasonga engages with the colonial implications of the boarding school genre, asking us to see the parallels, the diversions, and the dangers of demonizing the least powerful.
Olga Tokarczuk$17.00 $15.64
An incomparable novel-in-essays, Flights has the ring of Sebald and Berger about it. The central focus of the book is in the title - physical movement, the body, what it means to situate the body in something one might call 'home.' It is full of different stories, some fictional and some real, all of which to combine to make a kind of plea which feels more poignant currently than it ever has before - to meditate upon and fully consider the privilege of fluidity and mobility. "Barbarians don't travel," notes our narrator. May this be a quiet companion on your travels.
Leo Tolstoy$20.00 $18.40
There have been many translations of the Russians, but Garnett's is one of the oldest, and the first that I read. I love it above all the others. Every mid-twentieth century writer of English who cites Anna Karenina as a touchstone invariably received it in Garnett's translation, and it is in her rendering that the classic has bled into everything you loved. A friend who translates Russian into English confirmed my feelings recently: “I personally am Team Constance all the way,” he said. “It’s true that she makes mistakes, but I find this easy to relate to! And the mistakes are not usually so big. She is, to my ear, the far better writer of English, and I think this is what translators are supposed to do and what her writers deserve!”
Yuko Tsushima$17.00 $15.64
A beautiful, newly-issued masterpiece of loneliness. Twelve separate short stories about a single mother navigating Tokyo in the 1970s, what stays with you about Territory of Light is the sheer isolation of the narrator, and the quietness of her world. All the more poignant right now, when everything feels more isolated, quieter, tenuous.