New in Translation: May 2015

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According to the Visual Guide to Translated Fiction there are 33 works being published in upcoming month of May that are new in translation. If you want to check out the full list go here, and then click on May. If not, stick around, because I’m about to break down the six novels and three story collections that you don’t want to miss.

I’m officially back from a vacation that found me wasting so much time standing in lines for amusement rides that I actually managed to read an entire book while doing so (I’m looking at you, The Indian). Have you ever read an entire book while standing? It was a new experience for me, but I’m thinking maybe I should lug more books around with me so that I can fill our woefully neglected Instagram account with selfie pics of me standing in DMV and post office lines reading translated literature.

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The A26 by Pascal Garnier

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Nothing But Motorway

Bleak. Honest. Raw. Powerful. I have dozens of adjectives spinning through my head as I close the cover of Pascal Garnier’s novel The A26, place it down on the table beside me, lean back, breathe for what feels like the first time in ages, and sink deep into the couch in my living room. For the past ninety minutes or so I’ve felt trapped in darkness, lost in a damaged world where insanity reigns supreme and hope is nothing more than a cruel, nonexistent joke. I’m not exactly frightened by what I’ve just read, that’s not the right word, but do feel slightly unsettled. Am I sweating a little bit? Fuck. I am. The A26 has left me feeling a bit dazed, a bit off balance, and truth by told, a touch sickened. This a good thing though for it signals that ultimately the author has accomplished his desired effect. Point to Garnier. Consider my outer defenses not just breached, but utterly destroyed.

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Sphinx by Anne Garreta

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To Appease Is Not The Same As To Fulfill

With sexes mixed and genders blurred Anne Garreta’s spectacular debut novel forces us to challenge our most deep-seated beliefs when it comes to dealing with matters of the heart. Though the people that swirl around them are clearly defined as being either male or female, Sphinx’s nameless narrator and their love interest A**** have broken free from this constraint and have elevated both themselves and their relationship to a place where gender markers no longer hold any relevance. With these arguably important identifying traits stripped away, what’s left to behold is a shockingly intimate portrait of the complexities of desire, what it’s like to truly lose yourself in another person, and the hidden costs of finally conquering the object of your ultimate affections.

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The Queen’s Caprice by Jean Echenoz

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I Am The Boss Here

French author Jean Echenoz (Lightning, 1914) isn’t exactly known for writing the longest of books, so on the face of things, releasing a story collection that clocks in at around the average size of one of his full length novels may seem like a bit of an odd choice. The Queen’s Caprice however isn’t your everyday compilation of straightforward storytelling bits and bobs. The seven pieces it contains are much more experimental in nature. In fact they can be thought of not as traditional stories, but instead, as the author himself likes to refer to them, as “little literary objects.” Toying with conventional modes of narration is interesting in concept, but real question is: does this stylistic gamble ultimately pay off for the reader?

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