Tag Archives: Translation

The Accusation by Bandi

The Accusation BandiTranslated from the Korean by last year’s Man Booker International Prize winner Deborah Smith ‘The Accusation’ by Bandi is a collection of seven short stories by a pseudonymous author who reportedly still lives in North Korea and works as an official writer for the government. Written in the early 1990s at a time when the country was gripped by famine, it is said that Bandi’s stories were eventually smuggled into South Korea by a relative who hid sheets of paper in a copy of ‘The Selected Works of Kim Il-sung’. While there have been many accounts of life in North Korea published by defectors, a work of fiction by an author still living in one of the most secretive countries in the world is exceptionally rare. Continue reading

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3 French Novellas I Have Read Recently

The End of Eddy Edouard Louis‘The End of Eddy’ by Édouard Louis is a semi-autobiographical novel set in a deprived rural community in Picardy in northern France. Translated by Michael Lucey, it is a coming of age tale about Eddy Bellegueule (the author’s real name) and his life at home and at school in the late 1990s and 2000s. Eddy is gay and struggles to conform to what is widely perceived to be an acceptable type of masculinity in the small village where he is expected to go to work in the factory as soon as he leaves school. His mannerisms are routinely mocked by his peers and his family, particularly his father who even chose Eddy’s name because it sounds American and more “tough guy”. ‘The End of Eddy’ garnered lots of attention in France because Louis published his debut novel in 2014 when he was just 21 years old. However, aside from Louis’s young age and the unflinching descriptions of Eddy exploring his sexuality, ‘The End of Eddy’ also deserves acclaim more generally for articulating the reality of social exclusion in modern-day France so convincingly. Many thanks to Harvill Secker for sending me a review copy via NetGalley. Continue reading

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The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn

The Bird Tribunal Agnes RavatnTranslated from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger, ‘The Bird Tribunal’ by Agnes Ravatn tells the story of Allis Hagtorn, a former TV presenter who goes into self-imposed exile from her home, job and partner after she is involved in a scandal at work. She finds a new job as a housekeeper and gardener for a man called Sigurd Bagge in the middle of nowhere despite having no real experience in that type of role. Before arriving at his isolated house by the Norwegian fjords, she expects to be caring for an elderly man but discovers on arrival that Sigurd is in his forties and is not much older than her, simply requiring some extra help in the house and garden while his wife is away. Sigurd rarely talks to Allis and has violent mood swings but she finds herself being increasingly drawn to him. Continue reading

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The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada

The Tokyo Zodiac Murders Soji Shimada

Translated from the Japanese by Ross and Shika Mackenzie, ‘The Tokyo Zodiac Murders’ by Soji Shimada opens with the last will and testament of Heikichi Umezawa written in 1936. Heikichi is an artist obsessed with alchemy and astrology who outlines his plans to create the supreme woman Azoth by killing and dismembering his female relatives. However, the murders he had planned in his confession are carried out by someone else several weeks after Heikichi himself is murdered in a room locked from the inside. Having baffled investigators for decades, the case remains unsolved over forty years later in 1979 until Kiyoshi Mitari and his sidekick and narrator Kazumi try to crack one of the most intriguing locked room cold cases of all time. Continue reading

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The Winterlings by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade

The Winterlings Cristina Sanchez-Andrade‘The Winterlings’ by Cristina Sánchez-Andrade was one of my Women in Translation Month reads in August and my rather belated review is finally here. Translated from the Spanish by Samuel Rutter, it tells the story of two sisters, Saladina and Dolores, from the small rural village of Tierra de Chá in Galicia in north-west Spain. After living in England for several years during and after the Spanish Civil War, the Winterlings, as they are known, eventually return to their grandfather’s cottage as adults in the 1950s. However, the sisters have secrets about why they have decided to come back while the villagers are equally evasive about what happened to their grandfather during the war. Continue reading

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Life: A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

Life A User's Manual Georges PerecI first came across Georges Perec’s work at university through his first novel ‘Things: A Story of the Sixties’ which was by far the most interesting book I had to read for one of my French literature modules focusing on consumerism. I’ve had ‘Life: A User’s Manual’ on my TBR list ever since which is probably Perec’s best known novel published in 1978 and translated from the French by David Bellos in 1987. Continue reading

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The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami

The Nakano Thrift Shop Hiromi KawakamiMy next Women in Translation Month read is ‘The Nakano Thrift Shop’ by Hiromi Kawakami, translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell. I really enjoyed reading Strange Weather in Tokyo a couple of years ago (also known as ‘The Briefcase’ in the United States) and I was pleased to see another novel by Kawakami published by Portobello Books earlier this month with another excellent cover design by Natsumi Hayashi. Originally released in Japan in 2005, ‘The Nakano Thrift Shop’ tells the story of Hitomi Suganuma who starts working as a cashier selling second-hand goods in a thrift shop owned by the mysterious Haruo Nakano. He has several ex-wives and is having an affair with Sakiko while his older sister Masaya is an artist who regularly pops in and offers guidance. Meanwhile, Hitomi is largely preoccupied with another employee, the introverted Takeo, who helps Mr Nakano with house clearances.  Continue reading

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