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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The Black Lake by Hella S. Haasse

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Your beliefs turned me into this

Originally published in the midst of a bloody battle for independence that was occurring between the people of Indonesia and their Dutch colonizers in the late 1940s, Hella S. Haasse’s debut novel, which somehow went over sixty years without ever being translated into the English language, immediately stirred up controversy in the Netherlands with those readers who envisioned their country as being a colonial powerhouse at the time.  The story follows the unique and unexpected bond that develops between the young son of a Dutch plantation owner and the native son of a foreman who works there.

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A Short Tale of Shame by Angel Igov

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Funny in a certain light, how we all look the same

When Boril Krustev spontaneously hops into his car one day and embarks upon a journey with no clear destination in mind, his only goal is to outrun the overwhelming sense of guilt and shame that has slowly come to define his life.  A rock star in his youth, a middle-aged businessman at present, Krustev is suffering from the sting of failed marriage, the grief over a recently deceased spouse, and the pain of becoming increasingly estranged from his daughter Elena over the years.  The last thing he expects to encounter on his road trip to nowhere specific is three hitchhiking strangers that he’s loosely connected to.

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Sister by Ursula Meier

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There’s nothing without love

Up in the Swiss mountains, a bustling ski resort caters to the every need of the carefree and affluent, while far below two orphaned siblings, the beautiful, yet wholly unreliable 20-something Louise and the scrawny, no nonsense 12-year old Simon, live in an aging apartment tower and struggle to make ends meet. The virtually non-existent space in between, the supposed middle class, is represented by the ski lifts, their only purpose a mechanical one, to shuttle individuals back and forth between two disparate worlds.

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