8 April 14 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The shortlist for this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced yesterday and features six books from around the world:

  • The Iraqi Christ, by Hassan Blasim, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright (Comma Press)
  • A Man in Love, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (Harvill Secker)
  • A Meal in Winter, by Hubert Mingarelli, translated from the French by Sam Taylor (Portobello Books)
  • The Mussel Feast, by Birgit Vanderbeke, translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch (Peirene Press)
  • Revenge, by Yōko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Harvill Secker)
  • Strange Weather in Tokyo, by Hiromi Kawakami and translated from the Japanese by Allison Markin Powell (Portobello)

Only one of these—the Knausgaard—is on the BTBA longlist, which is cool, since it (probably) means that the two international literature awards will end up with two different books.

Here’s a bit from The Guardian article:

Karl Ove Knausgaard, the current toast of literary Norway, is heading a shortlist for the Independent foreign fiction prize, which ranges from Japan to Iraq. Exiled Iraqi novelist Hassan Blasim also made the list for his short story collection The Iraqi Christ.

The shortlist, announced on Tuesday, for the first time includes two Japanese female writers. Hiromi Kawakami was selected for her story of a haunting romance between two “lonely losers”, Strange Weather in Tokyo, and Yōko Ogawa, who has won each of Japan’s major literary awards and is known as the Japanese Angela Carter, god a nod for Revenge, a collection of linked short stories. Past winners of the prize include Milan Kundera and WG Sebald.

Congrats to all the authors and translators!

7 March 14 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Next Tuesday we’ll be announcing the 25-title Best Translated Book Award longlist, which makes today’s announcement of the IFFP longlist even that more intriguing . . . Although there are different eligibility rules between the two prizes—and different books published in the UK vs. the U.S.—there often is a bit of overlap between the BTBA and IFFP.

First off, here’s the list of the fifteen titles on the longlist along with some info from Boyd Tonkin’s accompanying article:

  • Sinan Antoon, The Corpse Washer (Arabic; translated by the author) Yale University Press
  • Hassan Blasim, The Iraqi Christ (Arabic; trans. Jonathan Wright) Comma Press
  • Julia Franck, Back to Back (German; trans. Anthea Bell) Harvill Secker
  • Sayed Kashua, Exposure (Hebrew; trans. Mitch Ginsberg) Chatto & Windus
  • Hiromi Kawakami, Strange Weather in Tokyo (Japanese; trans. Allison Markin Powell) Portobello Books
  • Karl Ove Knausgaard, A Man in Love (Norwegian; trans. Don Bartlett) Harvill Secker
  • Andrej Longo, Ten (Italian; trans. Howard Curtis) Harvill Secker
  • Ma Jian, The Dark Road (Chinese; trans. Flora Drew) Chatto & Windus
  • Andreï Makine, Brief Loves that Live Forever (French; trans. Geoffrey Strachan) MacLehose Press
  • Javier Marías, The Infatuations (Spanish; trans. Margaret Jull Costa) Hamish Hamilton
  • Hubert Mingarelli, A Meal in Winter (French; trans. Sam Taylor) Portobello Books
  • Yoko Ogawa, Revenge (Japanese; trans. Stephen Snyder) Harvill Secker
  • Audur Ava Ólafsdóttir, Butterflies in November (Icelandic; trans. Brian FitzGibbon) Pushkin Press
  • Jón Kalman Stefánsson, The Sorrow of Angels (Icelandic; trans. Philip Roughton) MacLehose Press
  • Birgit Vanderbeke, The Mussel Feast (German; trans. Jamie Bulloch) Peirene Press

This year, the judges for the £10,000 award – divided equally between author and translator, and supported once more by Arts Council England, Booktrust and Champagne Taittinger – had a higher-than-ever mountain to climb: 126 books, a record entry, translated from 30 different languages. Joining me on the ascent are author, broadcaster and Independent columnist Natalie Haynes, ‘Best of Young British’ novelist Nadifa Mohamed, award-winning translator Shaun Whiteside, and artist, writer and academic Alev Adil.

Our long-list of 15 reveals a fictional eco-system of staggering diversity. Three accomplished sets of linked short stories make the cut, by Hassan Blasim (Iraq), Andrej Longo (Italy) and Yoko Ogawa (Italy). Hunting for a thinking person’s murder mystery? Try Javier Marias (Spain). The latest instalment of a volcanic semi-autobiography? Go to Karl Ove Knausgaard (Norway).

A Dickensian blockbuster that follows one fugitive family? Ma Jian (China). A thriller about imposture and paranoia rooted in the unease of minority culture? Sayed Kashua (Israel). From Germany, Birgit Vanderbeke and Julia Franck explore the burden of history; from Japan, Hiromi Kawakami crafts an eerie inter-generational romance; from Iraq, Sinan Antoon looks into the abyss left by tyranny and invasion. French writers Hubert Mingarelli and Andrei Makine find new ways – oblique, lyrical, humane – to address the Nazi and Soviet past.

The shortlist of six titles will be announced on April 8th at the London Book Fair, and I’m going to make the prediction that the Knausgaard, Ma Jian, Sinan Antoon, Javier Marias, Yoko Ogawa, and Andreï Makine will make it. That prediction is sure to be wrong and is based on nothing but gut feelings. Which is pretty much how I fill out my NCAA brackets as well.

I’ll post more about the BTBA longlist this afternoon, but in the meantime, I’m going to make a second prediction: From the IFFP longlist, four titles will make the BTBA list (Antoon, Knausgaard, Ogawa, Jian).

Regardless, this is a great list highlighting what a great year it has been for international literature.

2 March 13 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist was announced this morning, and is pretty spectacular. As you’ll find out on Tuesday, four of the books on the IFFP longlist are also on the BTBA longlist. (Which may seem small, but a number of these—The Detour, The Sound of Things Falling—have yet to be published/distributed in America, and thus aren’t yet BTBA eligible.)

Anyway, here’s a chunk of Boyd Tonkin’s great write-up on this year’s list:

Every year, the balance of the books that reach this antepenultimate round shifts. This time, central and eastern Europe shines: Pawel Huelle’s wryly delightful Polish stories; Ismail Kadare’s commanding Albanian history-cum-fable; Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s black-comic dystopia from rural Hungary; Dasa Drndic’s tragic family drama in north-eastern Italy, and the camps further east, under German rule.

We also showcase two different faces of Africa: the no-man’s-land between South Africa and Mozambique depicted in Chris Barnard’s ideas-rich adventure; and the remembered Congo that haunts the jesting barflies in Alain Mabanckou’s Paris. A trio of major contenders from past years re-appear: Turkey’s Orhan Pamuk, Italy’s Diego Marani, and Colombia’s Juan Gabriel Vásquez. We visit the Assads’ tyrannous Syria, (Khaled Khalifa), investigate a Danish killing (Pia Juul), and learn dark Norwegian family secrets (Karl Ove Knausgaard).

Our long-listed authors also travel far and wide. Andrés Neuman, Argentinian-born, creates a Romantic-era town in Germany; Dutch Gerbrand Bakker despatches a heroine to rural Wales; in France, Laurent Binet re-imagines Nazi Prague; Enrique Vila-Matas sends a Barcelona publisher to literary Dublin. The Republic of Letters has no border controls. So join this mind-expanding tour – and bon voyage.

This year’s judging panel is as impressive as ever. Joining Boyd in this nearly impossible task is Frank Wynne, Elif Shafak, Gabriel Josipovici, and Jean Boase-Beier. Good luck—it’s going to be tough to pick a winner from this list.

To get on with it, here’s the complete 15-title longlist:

Gerbrand Bakker: The Detour (translated by David Colmer from the Dutch), and published by Harvill Secker

Chris Barnard: Bundu (Michiel Heyns; Afrikaans), Alma Books

Laurent Binet: HHhH (Sam Taylor; French), Harvill Secker

Dasa Drndic: Trieste (Ellen Elias-Bursac; Croatian), MacLehose Press

Pawel Huelle: Cold Sea Stories (Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Polish), Comma Press

Pia Juul: The Murder of Halland (Martin Aitken; Danish), Peirene Press

Ismail Kadare: The Fall of the Stone City (John Hodgson; Albanian), Canongate

Khaled Khalifa: In Praise of Hatred (Leri Price; Arabic), Doubleday

Karl Ove Knausgaard: A Death in the Family (Don Bartlett; Norwegian), Harvill Secker

Laszlo Krasznahorkai: Satantango (George Szirtes; Hungarian), Tuskar Rock

Alain Mabanckou: Black Bazaar (Sarah Ardizzone; French), Serpent’s Tail

Diego Marani: The Last of the Vostyachs (Judith Landry; Italian), Dedalus

Andrés Neuman: Traveller of the Century (Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garcia; Spanish), Pushkin Press

Orhan Pamuk: Silent House (Robert Finn; Turkish), Faber

Juan Gabriel Vásquez: The Sound of Things Falling (Anne McLean; Spanish), Bloomsbury

Enrique Vila-Matas: Dublinesque (Rosalind Harvey & Anne McLean; Spanish), Harvill Secker

15 April 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Boyd Tonkin’s summary of the IFFP Shortlist appeared in today’s Independent and is a great overview of these six titles:

Four works from Latin American writers appeared on the long-list; three still figure here. If the Southern Cone ever went away as a heartland and hotbed of excellence in modern fiction (which I doubt), it has returned in triumph. Yet this trio – Alberto Barrera Tyszka from Venezuela; Santiago Roncagliolo from Peru; Marcelo Figueras from Argentina – defies all generalisation. From hard-boiled political thriller to eerie family fable to child’s-eye recollection of a risky adult world, they traverse an Andean range of forms. Almost half a century after the original “boom” of the 1960s began to reverberate around the literary world, it makes no more sense to issue glib edicts about the nature of the continent’s fiction than it would for Europe or North America. Prosperity means complexity, in art as in life. [. . .]

This prize rewards the double-act of author and translator. In the other half of that equation, our shortlist is graced by some of the most talented practioners at work today. One of them, Edith Grossman, recently published her own robust, even combative, defence of her metier in a manifesto entitled Why Translation Matters (Yale, £10.99). Read it for a sinew-stiffening call to arms. Grossman will leave you in no doubt that a culture that neglects translation will starve for want of nourishment – yes, even one that speaks English. A cut-down, creolised version of our language may now help the world to do business. It does not (and no one language ever could) begin to tell us the full story behind the planet’s other lives.

That’s why translation matters. This shortlist delivers a sample of those stories, and those lives, in the most pleasurable of ways. For these books all speak fluent human.

Check out the “full article”: for more on the Prize, and for short write-ups of all six books.

13 April 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The Shortlist for the 2011 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced on Monday and is a really interesting group of six titles:

Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, translated by Susan Bernofsky from the German

Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras, translated by Frank Wynne from the Spanish

The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely from the Turkish

I Curse the River of Time by Per Petterson, translated by Charlotte Barslund with Per Petterson from the Norwegian

Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo, translated by Edith Grossman from the Spanish

The Sickness by Alberto Barrera Tyszka, translated by Margaret Jull Costa from the Spanish

For glaringly obvious reasons, the IFFP is one of my favorite annual awards, and is one of the inspirations for the Best Translated Book Award. It’s always interesting to see the convergences (and divergences) of the two awards . . .

This year there’s quite a bit of overlap: Visitation and I Cures the River of Time were on the 2011 BTBA longlist (and Visitation on the shortlist), and The Museum of Innocence was on the 2010 longlist. Kamchatka is just coming out in the States (more on Figueras later in relation to the PEN World Voices event in Rochester), and The Sickness doesn’t seem to have a U.S. publisher. (Although it must . . . Anyone have any info?)

It’s impossible guessing a winner, but I think the Erpenbeck has a great chance . . . Anyway, all six are worth checking out, and the winner will be announced on May 26th.

14 May 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments [2]

Just got word that the winner of this year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize is Evelio Rosero for The Armies, which was translated from the Spanish by Anne McLean.

It’s available in the UK from Quercus (but not in the U.S. . . . or at least not yet) (Correction: It’s coming out from New Directions in September), and here’s all the info from their site about the book, author and translator:

In the village of San José in the remote mountains of Colombia, retired teacher Ismael spends his days gathering oranges in the sunshine and spying on his neighbour as she sunbathes naked in her orchard. It is a languid existence, pierced by his wife’s scolding, which induces in him the furtive guilt of an aging voyeur. Out walking one day, Ismael and his wife lose sight of each other. The old man is fearful, for San José has random kidnappings in its past, but reassured by others who have seen her in the village. Soon, though, more people begin to go missing, and gradually bursts of gunfire can be heard in the distance. As the attacks grow steadily more brutal, Ismael finds himself caught in the crossfire; an old man battered by a reality he no longer understands. This is a novel with no easy solutions, in which no-one is spared, no-one is protected.

Evelio Rosero studied Social Communication in the Externado University of Colombia. In 2006 he was awarded the Tusquets National Prize for Literature in Colombia for his novel The Armies.

Anne McLean has translated the novels of, among others, Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Ignacio Padilla and Tomás Eloy Martínez. Her translation of Javier Cercas’ Soldiers of Salamis won the 2004 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Premio Valle Inclan.

Congrats to Evelio Rosero and Anne McLean!

2 April 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

They’ve just announced the shortlist for the Independent Foreign Ficton prize:

  • Voiceover by Céline Curiol, translated by Sam Richard from the French
  • Beijing Coma by Ma Jian, translated by Flora Drew from the Chinese
  • The Siege by Ismail Kadare, translated by David Bellos from the Albanian
  • The Armies by Evelio Rosero, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish
  • The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez, translated by Anne McLean from the Spanish
  • Friendly Fire by A B Yehoshua, translated by Stuart Schoffman from the Hebrew
25 February 09 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

The longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has (finally!) been announced. Here you go:

  • Voice Over by Céline Curiol (trans. Sam Richard)
  • A Blessed Child by Linn Ullman (trans. Sarah Death)
  • The Blue Fox by Sjon (trans. Victoria Cribb)
  • Friendly Fire by A.B. Yehoshua (trans. Stuart Schoffman)
  • My Father’s Wives by José Eduardo Agualusa (trans. Daniel Hahn)
  • The White King by Gyorgy Dragoman (trans. Paul Olchvary)
  • The Informers by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (trans. Anne McLeane)
  • Homesick by Eshkol Nevo (trans. Sondra Silverstein)
  • Beijing Coma by Ma Jian (trans. Flora Drew)
  • The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa (trans Stephen Snyder)
  • Novel 11, Book 18 by Dag Solstad (trans. Sverre Lyngstad)
  • The Director by Alexander Ahndoril (trans. Sarah Death)
  • The Armies by Euelio Rosero (trans. Anne McLean)
  • How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić‘ (trans. Anthea Bell)
  • The Siege by Ismail Kadare (trans. David Bellos, from the French of Jusuf Vrioni)
  • Night Work by Thomas Glavinic (trans. John Brownjohn)

There’s only two points of contact with the Best Translated Book Award longlist, Celine Curiol’s Voice Over (which made our shortlist) and perennial Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlister, and sometime prizewinner, José Eduardo Agualusa, whose Book of Chameleons we nominated—My Father’s Wives has yet to find an American publisher, I think.

Overall, it’s a strong list, and if you want more info we have reviews of a few of the books from the longlist:

Only two! Looks like we have some work to do.

8 May 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Just announced today that Flemish author Paul Verhaeghen has won the Independent foreign fiction prize for his novel Omega Minor.

Moving back and forth through the last century, Omega Minor, translated from the Dutch, is a story of love and death on the grandest possible scale. Its whirlwind plot takes in Berlin, Boston, Los Alamos and Auschwitz, and characters including neo-Nazis, a physics professor who returns to Potsdam to atone for his sins, a Holocaust survivor going over his trauma with a young psychologist and an Italian postgraduate who designs an experiment that will determine the fate of the universe.

Verhaeghen’s an interesting guy. Not only is he a Pynchon-esque author, but he’s also a cognitive psychologist. And translated the immense Omega Minor himself, thus taking home both halves of the £10,000 award that is supposed to be split between author and translator.

(Well, not exactly “taking home”:

“It’s always amazing when people like your work, and it’s absolutely amazing when four leading intellectuals say it’s the best book they’ve read all year,” Verhaeghen said after learning of his victory. However, while he is delighted to receive the endorsement, he has decided not to take the money. “Part of this book is about the rise and aftermath of Fascism in Nazi Germany. And it’s hard to miss the analogous things happening in the US. I refused the Flemish Culture award after I realised around $5,000 (£2,555) of the winnings would go to the US treasury. So this time, I decided to give the money to the American Civil Liberties Union, which works for civil rights. The money won’t be liable for tax.”)

Unfortunately, this book hasn’t gotten a ton of attention in the mainstream U.S. media, although Michael Orthofer wrote a very thoughtful, praising review of it some time back.

28 February 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [2]

As covered at Ready Steady Book, the shortlist of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has just been announced.

Here are your six finalists:

  • Lars Saabye Christensen, The Model (Don Barlett; Norwegian; Arcadia Books)
  • Pawel Huelle, Castorp (Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Polish; Serpent’s Tail)
  • Daniel Kehlmann, Measuring the World (Carol Brown Janeway; German; Quercus)
  • Marlene van Niekerk, The Way of the Women (Michiel Heyns; Afrikaans; Little, Brown)
  • Bengt Ohlsson, Gregorius (Silvester Mazzarella; Swedish; Portobello)
  • Paul Verhaeghen, Omega Minor (the author; Dutch; Dalkey Archive Press)

I wouldn’t be surprised if Christensen or Verhaeghen won, but I have a completely un-scientific feeling that Kehlmann is going to take it this year. (Although I also thought Vila-Matas’s Montano was a lock for the shortlist . . .)

25 January 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

In today’s Independent, Boyd Tonkin has the complete longlist for the 2007 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Before getting to the list itself, Tonkin makes a case for the publication of literature in translation:

The annual list of the bestselling paperbacks in Britain made, as ever, a more enlightening read than many of the books on it. Take away those titles sold at a large discount and number 12 in the top hundred for 2007 was Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, with sales of 320,343 copies (after its triumph in hardback, of course). [. . .] True, Suite Française is a very special novel, with an uncommonly moving story behind as well as within its pages. Yet disheartened publishers, booksellers and translators should ponder those figures the next time some corporate blockhead argues that Britain counts as a uniquely hostile landscape for fiction from beyond the English-speaking world. In any language, that is nonsense.

All the same, an absence of knowledge, of courage and of will does conspire to delay, or sometimes prevent, the arrival on these shores of countless great books from outside the Anglosphere. This long-term market failure to deliver the world’s best fiction in good time (or at all) to our shelves is what justifies the expenditure of comparatively tiny amounts of public money to speed the passage of such books. Without its help, the British literary scene might really start to look like what many overseas authors and critics that I meet already assume it is: the global village idiot, loud-mouthed and lame-brained, foisting its clod-hopping middlebrow fare (very successfully, it must be said) on the rest of the planet while remaining stone deaf to whatever other tongues might have to say to us.

Since 2000, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize has enjoyed the stalwart support of Arts Council England in order to play a part in resisting this global-village idiocy.

(He does touch on the current controversy about the ACE funding cuts for Arcadia and Co., but I won’t go into that now.)

This list of 17 titles (selected from the 100 translations submitted) will be trimmed to 6 next month, with the £10,000 prize (divided between author and translator) to be awarded in May. (BTW, last year’s winner was The Book of Chameleons by Jose Eduardo Agualusa, published in the UK by Arcadia and forthcoming from Simon & Schuster in the U.S.)

Enough of that—here’s the list:

  • Alaa Al-Aswany, The Yacoubian Building (translated by Humphrey Davies from the Arabic, and published by Fourth Estate)
  • Bi Feiyu, The Moon Opera (Howard Goldblatt; Chinese; Telegram)
  • Lars Saabye Christensen, The Model (Don Bartlett; Norwegian; Arcadia)
  • Jenny Erpenbeck, The Book of Words (Susan Bernofsky; German; Portobello)
  • Pawel Huelle, Castorp (Antonia Lloyd-Jones; Polish; Serpent’s Tail)
  • Ismail Kadare, Agamemnon’s Daughter (David Bellos; French; Canongate)
  • Sayed Kashua, Let It Be Morning (Miriam Shlesinger; Hebrew; Atlantic)
  • Daniel Kehlmann, Measuring the World (Carol Brown Janeway; German; Quercus)
  • Erwin Mortier, Shutterspeed (Ina Rilke; Dutch; Harvill Secker)
  • Marlene van Niekerk, The Way of the Women (Michiel Heyns; Afrikaans; Little, Brown)
  • Bengt Ohlsson, Gregorius (Silvester Mazzarella; Swedish; Portobello)
  • Alan Pauls, The Past (Nick Caistor; Spanish; Harvill Secker)
  • Peter Pistanek, Rivers of Babylon (Peter Petro; Slovak; Garnett Press)
  • Laura Restrepo, Delirium (Natasha Wimmer; Spanish; Harvill Secker)
  • Yasmina Traboulsi, Bahia Blues (Polly McLean; French; Arcadia)
  • Paul Verhaeghen, Omega Minor (the author; Dutch; Dalkey Archive Press)
  • Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano (Jonathan Dunne; Spanish; Harvill Secker)

Overall, a very impressive list, and it’s interesting that a number of these books—The Way of the Women and The Past to name two—have yet to find U.S. publishers . . .

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