Mr Adamson by Urs Widmer

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What will happen next, only the gods know

Ghost stories are a tricky beast to get right. Ghost stories in translation, told across cultural and language divides, even more so. With the exception of perhaps The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (translated by Marlaine Delargy) there are almost none that I can think of that I’d go out of my way to personally reread or to recommend to others. In fact I almost didn’t even bother to crack open Urs Widmer’s Mr Adamson for this very reason. What a huge mistake that would have been. Continue Reading

The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov

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We Are Made Of Labyrinths

We Am

So ends the series of schizophrenic introductions found in the prologue to Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow, a novel that finds a young, fictionalized version of the author jumping into the memories of his immediate family and the other people and beings around him to experience their pains, sorrows, and joys first hand. Gospodinov has discovered from an early age that he possesses an acute gift for empathy. The ability to understand and process what another person is experiencing from their point of view. To know exactly how they think and feel. To blur the line, at least in small bursts of time, between where they begin and he ends. Jumping directly inside the memories of others, he uses this gift to uncover stories that tell of a secret history buried in his family’s past, but as the book progresses, and as he steadily grows older, this talent slowly begins to disappear, leaving him alone, on his own, to search for meaning in the world around him through his now adult eyes.

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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 Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry

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Never The Silence Of The Book

Tip to the worldly traveler on a tight budget: when visiting France, don’t ever attempt to save a buck or two by sleeping in a local library overnight, because if you do, when you awaken the next morning, refreshed and ready to be on your way, you may discover that there is no quick escape to be had from the librarian whose section you slumbered in. She might be a middle-aged spinster. She might be more than a little bitter. She might have a heck of a lot to say, and you my friend, may find yourself with no recourse but to sit there and take it all in because the library isn’t officially open yet and she can’tnayshe won’t, let you leave before partaking in a friendly chinwag.  The only thing though? You’ll never get a word in edgewise.

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The Dirty Dust by Mairtin O Cadhain

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Fuck The Fucking Fruitcake

Originally published in 1949, Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s notorious novel The Dirty Dust is widely considered to be a masterpiece of Irish literature. Yet in the fifty-plus years since it arrived on the scene, shocking the sensibilities of many of the upstanding citizens of Ireland with its liberal use of crass and filthy words, no one has attempted to provide non-Irish speaking readers with an English language translation. All that finally changes today however, thanks to the arrival of Alan Titley’s energetic take on the classic text from Yale University Press.

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