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BTBA 2015: Things That Have Caught My Eye by Scott Esposito

This post is courtesy of BTBA judge, Scott Esposito. Scott Esposito blogs at Conversational Reading and you can find his tweets here.

As we work our way through the 500-some new translations released in 2014, I’m going to repost on a few books that have stood out for me so far. This list is not exhaustive at all, and it is incredibly subjective, so, disclaimers. But for what it’s worth, here it is.

Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente (translated by Margaret Jull Costa)

It’s like Giralt had a direct line into the skull of Javier Marías—and, yes, this first novel from one of Spain’s biggest authors can stand up to that kind of comparison (plus, look who translated it). But Giralt is no Marías clone. Though his style is clearly indebted in this book, the concerns and narration are wholly Giralt’s. Very few authors could write a debut novel this good.

La Grande by Juan Jose Saer (translated by Steve Dolph)

From debut to swan song: La Grande was what one of Argentina’s greatest postwar authors was working on when he died in 2005. He got close enough to finishing it that I think we can consider it a complete work. It’s huge, ambitious, and very successful.

Ready to Burst by Frankétienne (translated by Kaiama L. Glover)

As publisher Jill Schoolman put it, Frankétienne is a force of nature. A poet and author with dozens of works to his name, he is also an artist, musician, and activist. In this slim book he (among other things) articulates his aesthetic of spirialism. It looks to be an amazing read.

Bombay Stories by Saadat Hasan Manto (translated by Matt Reeck)

Manto gets name-checked a lot as the greatest Urdu short story writer of the 20th century. After having read a few of the stories in this book, I can believe that.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein)

Just as Knausgaard’s moment seems to be fading, Elena Ferrante is heating up in the U.S. media. And with good reason.

Melancholy II by Jon Fosse (translated by Eric Dickens)

Jon Fosse’s original Melancholy was a damn good read. So, of course, I’m hoping that Dalkey manages to live up to its Nov. 11 release date so that we can consider this for the award.

Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas by Patrick Modiano (translated by Mark Polizzotti)

I have to hand it to the Nobel committee—they usually end up picking writers that I find pretty interesting. I’ve never read Modiano and am eager to give this one a look. Plus, Yale has been doing astonishing work with its Margellos series, so the fact that they were on to this before the Prize is a good indication.



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