The Things We Don’t Do by Andres Neuman

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What we cannot see is what gets in our way

I sat with one hand on the wheel, one on Andrés Neuman’s short story collection. My eyes were locked into a vertical loop that found them darting downwards towards the book, upwards towards the road, and then furiously back down again to devour more. Trapped between cars. Trapped between realties. In one I was lost in rapture, experiencing the excruciatingly painful joys of a fictional childbirth. In the other, I was trapped in the monotonous routine I’d repeated almost daily for weeks, waiting for the twisting herd of vehicles in the car-rider line at my actual child’s school to begin moving.

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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 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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New in Translation: April 2015

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According to the Visual Guide to Translated Fiction there are 47 works being published in April that are new in translation. If you want to check out the full list go here, and then click on April.

Today we’ll take a closer look at the 8 books that have caught our attention. Okay fine, technically 9 books, because Per Petterson has both a short story collection and a novel being published in April, both of which have been translated by Don Bartlett. We’ll lump those 2 together so some other worthy titles can also be highlighted…you know, like that OTHER Don Bartlett translation that everyone is so excited about finally reading.

You can’t start a fire without a spark, or find love sitting ’round here crying over a broken heart, or something along those general lines, so let’s get to it, shall we?

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Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven

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Ma Raboo / Ma Raboo

What is the true definition of the word normal? Merriam-Webster defines it as meaning “mentally and physically healthy” but who among us is to serve as the baseline for measuring this statistic? At some point, without fail, everyone becomes inexplicably changed, damaged, and/or has their worldview altered significantly by events that transpire in their lives. What’s acceptable to one person may be considered highly objectionable to another. What one person believes to be true may be thought of as pure fantasy by someone else. Are we all mentally ill then? Certainly we’ don’t all fall within the acceptable range of being normal. Whatever that is. Whatever that word is supposed to mean.

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