New in Translation: September 2015


The newly updated Visual Guide to Translated Fiction says that there are 39 works being published in September that are new in translation. 39!  If you want to check out the full list go here, and then click on September. Otherwise, stick around, because we’re about to explore 8 of them in closer detail.

Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi / Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan WrightThe Bamboo Stalk
by Saud Alsanousi
Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright

Aida became an object, like anything bought or sold at a price. The price was usually a pittance, rarely prohibitive. The price depended on the kind of service she offered. She worked in silence and in sadness, and grew to hate men and their money. What hurts is not that someone comes cheap. What really hurts is that someone should have a price in the first place.

Winner of the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Alsanousi’s The Bamboo Stalk explores themes of race, culture, and identity as it follows the struggles of a young man of mixed decent who is desperate to fit in, but cannot find the acceptance he seeks in either of his homelands. Born in Kuwait as the illegitimate son of a Philippine maid, José walks a fine line between two distinctly different worlds, but to which should he ultimately belong?

Newspaper by Edouardo Leve / Translated from the French by Jan Steyn and Caitlin Dolan-LeachNewspaper
by Edouard Levé
Translated from the French by Jan Steyn and Caitlin Dolan-Leach
Dalkey Archive Press

Over the course of three months, a sixteen-year-old young man has attacked three hundred and sixty elderly and handicapped people, stealing their wallets. He currently holds the record for violent robbery.

Writer/Photographer Edouard Levé’s second “novel” (fourth to be translated) is comprised of fictional newspaper articles separated into distinct categories such as Society, International and Classifieds. Names, dates, locations? Not so much. As articles about terrorism and murder collide with birth announcements and TV listings, a snapshot of a daily reality not unlike our own is captured. Newspaper is an interesting, experimental piece about attention spans, content consumption, the information we ingest on a daily basis, and the ways in which we do so.

Same City by Luisgé Martín / Translated from the Spanish by Tomasz DukanovichThe Same City
by Luisgé Martín
Translated from the Spanish by Tomasz Dukanovich

Although, in reality, nobody would ever believe it wasn’t; who would ever think that Moy had faked his own death in order to walk away from his peaceful, comfortable life? Who would ever suspect that he would give up his son and his wealth in order to experience the ordeal of being a wayfarer?

What if you were late for work for your job in the World Trade Center on 9/11/2011? Would you quickly inform your family and friends that you were safe and unharmed or would you disappear into the shadows and start again? Brandon Moy has a decision to make. Will he return home to continue his predictable existence, or will he use this unexpected and tragic opportunity to leave his wife and child behind and forge a new and different life for himself?

So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano / Translated from the French by Euan CameronSo You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood
by Patrick Modiano
Translated from the French by Euan Cameron
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Written on the grey cover was: IF FOUND RETURN THIS NOTEBOOK TO. And one day, without thinking, Daragane had jotted down his name there, his address and his telephone number.

2014 Nobel Prize for Literature winner Patrick Modiano returns with a short, engrossing new mystery for readers to devour. Jean Daragane lives a lonely life, but all that changes one day thanks to a single, startling phone call, one that plunges him head first into the investigation of an unsolved murder from years past and makes him question the very core of his own identity.

Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli / Translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeneyThe Story of My Teeth
by Valeria Luiselli
Translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Coffee House Press

I finished primary, middle, and high school and passed unnoticed with good grades, because I’m the sort that doesn’t make waves. I never opened my mouth, not even to answer at role call. My silence wasn’t for fear of them seeing my crooked teeth, but because I’m a discreet sort. I learned many things at school. End of beginning.

Celebrated Mexican author Valeria Luiselli (Faces in the Crowd) returns with a highly inventive novel (almost an autobiography framed by a lack of dental hygiene if you will) centering squarely on the life and times of one Gustavo “Highway” Sánchez, a master auctioneer and failed dancer whose lifelong ambition is to possess a mouth full of straight, pearly white teeth. Story is an exquisite story about the age old art of telling stories: how we do it, yes, but more importantly, why.

Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante / Translated from the Italian by Ann GoldsteinThe Story of the Lost Child
by Elena Ferrante
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Europa Editions

Rarely, when we were married, had he slept with me for long. Usually he tormented me for a long time with his sex and his arduous orgasm, he fell asleep, then he got up and went to study. This time lovemaking was pleasant, a farewell embrace, we both knew it wouldn’t happen again and so we felt good.

The final novel in Elena Ferrante’s beloved Neapolitan series finds Lenù and Lila, friendship in tact, struggling through middle-aged life in poverty in 1970s Italy. By the novel’s end, a child will not be the only person to disappear from their lives. Will Ferrante once again be nominated for the Best Translated Book Award?  The magic 8-ball says: As I see it, yes.

Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila / Translated from the French by Roland GlasserTram 83
by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Translated from the French by Roland Glasser
Deep Vellum Publishing

Weird, all the same. Lucien, once so talkative, stumbled over his words. Every now and then, he pulled a notebook from his satchel. Wrote up Tram 83 and its girls with elastic breasts. Wrote up the stink of the diggers mad for rear-entry sex. Wrote up the madness of the suicidals. Wrote up the anxiety of the tourists. Wrote up the over-zealous greetings of the baby-chicks.

The party never stops at Tram 83, the hottest (and only) nightclub around! It’s here, surrounded by prostitutes of all ages, gold miners, and pleasure seeking revelers that the gangster Requiem and his writer friend Lucien live it up with great abandon. Sex, drugs, and rock & roll jazz permeate the text and as things get darker the story only gets better. Unsettling? Yes, but in the best way possible.

Underground by Hamid Ismailov / Translated from the Russian by Carol ErmakovaUnderground
by Hamid Ismailov
Translated from the Russian by Carol Ermacova
Restless Books

“And what’s an optical illusion?”
“You’ll find out when you’re older.”
“And when will I be older?”
“When you find out what an optical illusion is.”

The final days of the USSR serve as the backdrop for Ismailov’s novel which is narrated by a mixed-race young adult Olympian named Mbobo. His tales bring to life a Moscow where the people live on the surface, but their true hopes, dreams, culture, and longings come to life through the interconnectedness of the city’s underground metro stations.

Still not satisfied? Check the Visual Guide for more translation goodness.

Which translations are you looking forward to reading in September? Are there titles missing from the Visual Guide? Let us know!

About Aaron Westerman

Aaron Westerman is the Manager of Web Architecture for a national human services organization. When he's not busy tearing sites apart and rebuilding them, he spends his ever shrinking free time trying to keep up with his twins, reading works of translated literature, and watching far too many Oscar nominated movies.