23 December 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Rather than devolve into posting clickbait featuring cats, penguins, hedgehogs, corgis, and books, like other BuzzHole sites, I’m going hard for the rest of the week, starting with seven books by women in translation.

The gender disparity in terms of women in translation has been fairly well documented—see the Women in Translation tumblr and all of the work Meytal Radzinski has been doing—but it’s worth reiterating some of the primary numbers.

Using our own Translation Database, I calculated that between 2008 and 2014 only 26.6% of all the works of fiction and poetry published in translation were written by women. That’s pretty damn appalling.

I still might be missing some 2015 titles, but at this moment, I have logged in 552 original works of fiction and poetry in translation, 165 written by women. I don’t think this is a reason to celebrate, but at 29.9%, that is a slight uptick over the average . . .

Leaving off all of the books by women that I included on my previous lists (post listing all lists is forthcoming), and ones that I’m planning on including in the future (this will never end!), here are seven books by women from 2015 that are worth reading.

Rock, Paper, Scissors by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from the Danish by K. E. Semmel (Open Letter)

Given that this is the first Open Letter book I’ve included on these lists, I hope everyone reading this can acknowledge that I’m doing my best to include as many different presses, writers, translators as possible, and not just promoting the mind-blowingly amazing books that we’ve been bringing out.

This is Naja’s first novel and her second book to be translated into English. (The first, Baboon, translated by Denise Newman, won the PEN Translation Prize last year.) It’s a book I considered including on the “noir” list that’s forthcoming, but with all the competition for that—do you have any idea how many crime titles are published every year?—I thought it would make more sense to include her here.

Rock, Paper, Scissors centers around Thomas, a stationery-store owner whose dad dies in prison. Going through some of his belongings, Thomas discovers a mysterious package that could radically change his family’s fortunes. But as the book develops, more and more awful things start happening to him . . .

You can find out more about Naja by reading this interview with Mieke Chew in Bomb.

_The Weight of Things _ by Marianne Fritz, translated from the Germany by Adrian Nathan West (Dorothy Project)

(What’s below appeared verbatim in an earlier post, but I have nothing new to add.)

This may well be the most intriguing jacket copy I’ve read in a while.

The Weight of Things is the first book, and the first translated book, and possibly the only translatable book by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz (1948–2007). For after winning acclaim with this novel—awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978—she embarked on a 10,000-page literary project called “The Fortress,” creating over her lifetime elaborate, colorful diagrams and typescripts so complicated that her publisher had to print them straight from her original documents. A project as brilliant as it is ambitious and as bizarre as it is brilliant, it earned her cult status, comparisons to James Joyce no less than Henry Darger, and admirers including Elfriede Jelinek and W. G. Sebald.

My knee-jerk reaction when I see something referred to as “untranslatable” is to cry Nonsense! and bust out all sort of practical versus theoretical reasons why everything’s translatable, just maybe not in the way the speaker has in mind.

But then I Googled Marianne Fritz’s later works and found this:

Yep. That. Amazing.

The Mountain and the Wall by Alisa Ganieva, translated from the Russian by Carol Apollonio (Deep Vellum)

We have a full review of this forthcoming, so I won’t say too much here. Basically this is a genre-bending novel about what happens when rumors spread that the Russian government is going to erect a wall to block off the Caucasus republics from the rest of the country. (Shades of Trump!) It’s also one of the only (the only?) book from Dagestan to be published in English translation.

Not too many months ago, I listened to the audiobook recording of Masha Gessen’s The Brothers about the Boston Bombers. It also involves a lot about Dagestan and I totally fell in love with the way the reader pronounced “Makhachkala.” Weirdly, that got me interested in this book . . . Sometimes the way we find things to read is so random.

Hot Sur by Laura Restrepo, translated from the Spanish by Ernest Mestre-Reed (AmazonCrossing)

I just got a copy of this and hope to read it over the holiday break. (Although I’ll probably spend most of my vacation reading out 2016 titles and prepping for my world lit class . . . sigh. There’s just not enough time for pleasure reading anymore.) Anyway, Restrepo is one of those “AmazonCrossing coups” that I’ve mentioned in past articles and interviews. Sure, a lot of what Amazon does are genre books, romances, thrillers, etc., but they also do a handful of big name literary authors who have been overlooked by more established publishers. Such as Restrepo.

You might remember Restrepo from last summer’s Women’s World Cup of Literature where her novel, Delirium, lost in the semifinals to Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine.

Hot Sur is a more recent novel that sounds dark and edgy:

María Paz is a young Latin American woman who, like many others, has come to America chasing a dream. When she is accused of murdering her husband and sentenced to life behind bars, she must struggle to keep hope alive as she works to prove her innocence. But the dangers of prison are not her only obstacles: gaining freedom would mean facing an even greater horror lying in wait outside the prison gates, one that will stop at nothing to get her back.

This is one of those titles that I have a feeling certain booksellers would be rallying around had it come out from someone else. Which makes me feel bad for the book.

War, So Much War by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent (Open Letter)

This book made Jeff VanderMeer’s list of his favorite books of 2015 and since I can’t resist the idea of having lists inside of lists (inside of lists inside of . . . ), I’m just going to quote from his write up:

War, So Much War, the latest translation of her work following volumes of short stories and the darkly sublime novel Death in Spring, is a phantasmagorical journey through a landscape of war. People disappear into the sea. Cat men made out of broken parts try to make their way in the world. A kind of anti-picturesque episodic adventure, the novel makes sense of war through the nonreal, makes us understand that in the worst circumstances the surreal is the every-day as well as the place people escape to because there is nowhere else to hide.

This book has been getting some great year-end play from booksellers and other critics. As one of my all-time favorite writers, I couldn’t be happier. Go Rodoreda! (Now if only I could find a way to learn more about Catalan culture . . . like by attending the Barcelona-Arsenal Champions League match in mid-March at Camp Nou . . . Maybe I should start a “gofundme” for this! “Send me to see some fútbol, I’ll bring back some Catalan lit!”)

The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya, translated from the Russian by Bela Shayevich (FSG)

I really like when Jonathan Sturgeon is given the space to write longer pieces about books for Flavorwire. He’s a very insightful, thoughtful, well-read critic, as can be evidenced in this piece about Ulitskaya’s latest:

Because the novel is flat and fast, it’s difficult to describe the next several hundred pages. I’d rather given you an example of how it reads. But first I will say that it does not just dutifully work out the fates of our three young men, their sexualities, marriages, educations, occupations, travels, interpersonal struggles, and deaths; rather, it undutifully resolves these things. The plot meanders. The narrator ice skates along the novel’s surface. And as the book expands, it does become a big (green) tent, one that deals the fates of assorted minor characters, of what the narrator bafflingly calls “C-list extras.” The problem, though, is that any extra would be thrilled to be on the C-list; accordingly, the novel’s minor characters are always clambering in the limelight. (“Vera Samuilovna was crazy about endocrinology,” for instance.) Sometimes they ruin the shot.

Still, the book is often a joy to read. It is, if you will, crack. (Reminder: crack is bad for you.) But at least it is book crack and not TV crack. By this I do not mean that books are better than TV, although this is something I do believe. (I write about books.) What I mean is that The Big Green Tent, unlike some other big works of realism published this year, does not rely too much on TV tropes. Instead, it wins the reader’s attention with narrative art and (sometimes) ingenious language.

I considered including this in my spring class, but asking students to read a 570-page book in a week is begging for a student rebellion.

The Country Road by Regina Ullmann, translated from the German by Kurt Beals (New Directions)

I don’t remember seeing a lot of coverage for this book when it first came out, which is both strange and disappointing. Her writing is weird in that way that a lot of literary readers and reviewers seem to enjoy. Robert Musil called her a “genius.” There are blurbs on the book jacket by Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Mann, and Hermann Hesse. Kurt Beals won a PEN Heim Translation Award for this. And here’s the opening of the title story:

Summer, but a younger summer than this one; the summer back then was no more than my equal in years. True, I still wasn’t happy, not happy to my core, but I had to be int he way that everyone is. The sun set me ablaze. It grazed on the green knoll where I sat, a knoll with an almost sacred form, where I had taken refuge from the dust of the country road. Because I was weary. I was weary because I was alone. This long country road before and behind me . . . The bends that it made around this knoll, the poplars—even heaven itself could not relieve it of its bleakness. I was ill at ease, because just a short way into my walk, this road had already dragged me into its misery and squalor. It was an uncanny country road. An all-knowing road. A road reserved for those who had been, in some way, left alone.

*

So go forth and read women in translation!

8 July 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood is already set to represent Canada in the WWCOL championship, so now we’re ready to find out who she’s going to face off against between Colombia’s representative (Delirium by Laura Restrepo) or Germany’s (The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky).

Laura Restrepo’s Delirium (Colombia) got to this point by by getting past England’s Life After Life and then Mexico’s Texas: The Great Theft before knocking out Costa Rica’s Assault on Paradise by the convincing score of 6-1.

Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine cruised into this semis, earning a bye after beating up on the Thailand entry, The Happiness of Kati by the score of 5-1, then taking apart Côte d’Ivoire’s Queen Pokou, 4-1.

And now . . .

Hal Hlavinka: Germany

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine wins in a cover art penalty shootout!

Germany 1 – Colombia 0


Meredith Miller: Germany

I’m picking The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, because Rosa is the type of manipulative, dirty-playing, spit-firing character you would not wish upon your worst enemy, but is so fun to explore her inner psyche as she wreaks havoc on her fictional world.

Germany 2 – Colombia 0


P.T. Smith: Colombia

With the tension and suspense spread across and between the varied narrators, Delirium continues its run to the Cup.

Germany 2 – Colombia 1


Kalah McCaffrey: Colombia

A tough call—both teams sport unhinged but powerful women and constant, unsettling action. My personal favorite is Germany, with Rosalinda carrying the team in the fashion of Lionel Messi. But as Colombia’s got more depth to the roster, they eke out the win.

Germany 2 – Colombia 2


Hilary Plum: Germany

Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine edges out Laura Restrepo’s excellent Delirium, if only because Bronsky’s cruel and indefatigable protagonist, Rosa Achmetowna, is willing to do anything to win. Both novels are very compelling, but a Women’s World Cup should maybe have a special place for a character as boldly “unlikeable” as Bronsky’s remarkable Rosa

Germany 3 – Colombia 2


Rhea Lyons: Germany

I can’t decide between Delirium and Tartar . . . Tartar is so good!! ARGH, I’ll go with that.

Germany 4 – Colombia 2


Mythili Rao: Germany

Three generations of quirky Soviet women, what’s not to love?

Germany 5 – Colombia 2


There we go! The two favorites after rounds one and two—Germany’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine and Canada’s Oryx & Crake—will face off in the first Women’s World Cup of Literature championship this Friday!

For more information on the Women’s World Cup of Literature, click here or here. Also, be sure to follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page.

2 July 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

From here on out, multiple judges will be voting on each of the matches and the “score” will be an accumulation of these votes.

Just to recap, Tatiana Lobo’s Assault on Paradise (Costa Rica) made it to this point by beating Brazil’s Crow Blue and Spain’s The Happy City.

Laura Restrepo’s Delirium (Colombia) got here by getting past England’s Life After Life and then Mexico’s Texas: The Great Theft.

The winner of this game faces off against The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine (Germany) on Tuesday, July 7th.

On to the match!

Hilary Plum: Colombia

Delirium is gripping and seamlessly made, even its seeming asides proving vital and resonant, and so it outmatches its worthy opponent, whose game is beautifully picaresque but thus less firmly organized.

Colombia 1 – Costa Rica 0


P.T. Smith: Colombia

Delirium wins, as books of madness usually do for me, and Natasha Wimmer proves her adeptness at translating unsettled reality.

Colombia 2 – Costa Rica 0


Meredith Miller: Costa Rica

Again, I’m choosing Assault on Paradise for the win. Both books involve a mystery surrounding the characters’ plights, and I am still blown away by the epic reach Lobo gives Pedro’s story. I found the revolving nature of Delirium’s narrative beautifully hypnotizing, but it failed to create the same sense of urgency that is experienced reading Assault on Paradise.

Colombia 2 – Costa Rica 1


Mythili Rao: Colombia

Delirium. Because the 80s are more fascinating to me than the 1800s, and Agustina seems to be lost in more interesting ways than Pedro is.

Colombia 3 – Costa Rica 1


Hal Hlavinka: Colombia

By turns light-footed, twisted, and toothy, Delirium out paces the great Assault on Paradise in this North v. South American quarterfinal faceoff!

Colombia 4 – Costa Rica 1


Katrine Jensen: Colombia

I vote for Delirium because it manages to combine a fast pace and punchiness with elegance and musicality on a sentence level, which is quite an accomplishment. Because of this, Delirium seems more complete than Assault on Paradise, which can be slow and confusing at times. Plus, Natasha Wimmer’s translation is simply masterful and difficult to compete with.

Colombia 5 – Costa Rica 1


Rhea Lyons: Colombia

I personally just love the perspective in Delirium, the voice, and it’s just more straight up entertaining.

Colombia 6 – Costa Rica 1

*

There you have it—the first semifinal is set, with Germany’s Alina Bronsky set to go up against Colombia’s Laura Restrepo for a spot in the first ever Women’s World Cup of Literature championship!

For more information on the Women’s World Cup of Literature, click here or here. Also, be sure to follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page.

And check back tomorrow for the second quarterfinal featuring Burial Rites (Australia) up against Dark Heart of the Night (Cameroon). Promises to be a very tight match . . .

27 June 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This match was judged by Hilary Plum—you can learn more about her writing and editing at her website or on Twitter at @ClockrootBooks.

For more information on the Women’s World Cup of Literature, click here or here. Also, be sure to follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page. And check back here daily!

The stands are packed on both sides, tension palpable. Mexico’s entry into this year’s tournament: Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, in Samantha Schnee’s endlessly sly translation. The novel kicks off in 1859, in a lightly fictionalized version of the Mexican/Texas border, along the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande (depending on where you’re sitting) and in the twin cities—or, a Mexican city and a sad Texan excuse for one—of Matasánchez and Bruneville. As the title reminds us and the novel renders in profound detail, this border was drawn in bloodshed and greed: land that is now the state of Texas had first belonged to Mexico, until the Republic of Texas was declared in 1835, for among other reasons the desire to legalize slavery, which was counter to Mexican law. In 1846, Texas joined the U.S., resulting in the war of 1848 that our textbooks know as the Mexican-American War, but which could just be called a U.S. invasion. The US declared a new, more southerly border and land north of it was redirected into American hands—i.e.: stolen. Amid all this, the conflicts with and among the American Indians who were either of or had been relocated to the region continued. If this sounds like a highly complex geopolitical moment in which to set what seems to be a comic novel, you’re right on.

On one dusty high noon in July in Bruneville, the sheriff/mediocre carpenter of Bruneville insults Don Nepomuceno, son of a prominent Mexican family. Shots are fired, conflict ensues—an intricate and bloody chain of consequences that our narrator relates with relentless Pynchonian inventiveness. The pace is fast, the tone witty, the speed may be manic but this novel won’t lose its cool. When I picture this team, its game is soccer as spectacle: moves showy as hell, hairstyles unprecedented. Each short passage in Texas zips into the next, into and out of the lives of a massive cast of characters, ever precise but never not flip. Boullasa’s form of procedural improvisation is her own, though one thinks too of Aira and Bolaño: this is art along the high-tide line, style poised, glittering, mid-crash, before exhausting itself. Through the snap and pizazz of the prose, the horrors of this conflict surface; we recall how close we are to the landscape through which Cormac McCarthy’s Judge raged, the kid with his mindless taste for violence.

Daring, even absurd, Mexico’s game starts strong: Boullosa’s nonstop stand-up routines, winking and shapeshifting, take us to halftime with a 2–1 Mexican lead.

We turn then to the Colombian side, where Laura Restrepo’s Delirium sets a quite different pace: a fluid elegance, a taut lyricism that, we’ll come to see, can both give and take real devastation. The achievements of Restrepo’s novel—in Natasha Wimmer’s translation—are curiously hard to describe. Its structure is more conventional than Texas’s, without really being conventional; setting the two novels side by side illuminates how Restrepo, too, is playing with genre, though more quietly, so that the reader may almost not notice. The novel is centered on Agustina, a young Colombian woman of upper-class background who is deep in an episode of—one could call it delirium, or madness, or mania: in any case she is far from reality. She has spent her life, as we’ll learn, in and out of such episodes, while also believing herself, perhaps being believed by others, to possess visionary powers. Agustina is a sort of absent center, then—even though she is one of the novel’s four narrators, sometimes referring to herself in the first person, sometimes in the third, she also constitutes its vital mystery. What has caused the new and terrible instance of madness in which we discover her in the novel’s opening scene? This is the question her lover, Aguilar—former professor of literature; current dog-food salesman—sets out to answer, and which seems to drive the book’s plot, against the background of 1980s Bogotá. Aguilar narrates the course of this search, while Agustina’s sections are set during her childhood, amid the layers of secrecy and oppression that make up her deeply patriarchal family. Agustina’s grandfather, a German musician obsessed with a young student, occupies the third, haunting narrative strand; the fourth belongs to the propulsive voice of Midas McAlister, Agustina’s one-time boyfriend and a money launderer who may have just run dangerously afoul of cocaine king Pablo Escobar.

The novel seems, then, to be driven by suspense, infused by noir: a madwoman, a mystery, a detective on the hunt. Yet gradually—no spoilers here—Restrepo sets aside the simplifying logic of cause and effect and refuses any expectation of easy resolution. One narrator yields to the next, ongoingly, and the instability of each character’s story reflects a greater instability, a vulnerability intimate to each voice and yet which also belongs to the societal and political moment—drug traffickers running the nation, guerrillas claiming the highways, bombs detonating downtown—in which they live. In Wimmer’s translation, Restrepo’s syntax is capable of swift architectural feats (you may think of Sebald), suddenly building a world that is half-reality, half-dream, and just as quickly replacing it with another, each creation given life by a vivid sensual glimmer or an offhand flash of her intelligence.

The match is a tense one; both teams play at the top of their games. In the stands you all should have Texas in one hand, Delirium in the other, not able even to pick up your beer till you’ve finished reading. It could go either way, but today, since I’m the judge, I see Colombia pull away in the game’s second half, a greater range of moves at its disposal. Texas is so insistently various and vaudevillian that it becomes, in its way, consistent, and loses a bit of momentum: all short fast passes, less chance of the long desperate lob toward goal, of sinking to one’s knees on the field. We end with a hard-fought 3–2, victory Delirium, in what has surely been another incarnation of the beautiful game.

*

There we go! All six countries in the quarter- and semi-finals have been decided: Germany, Canada, Cameroon, Australia, Costa Rica, and Colombia. (Very much different from the actual semifinals!)

In terms of pairings, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine gets the top bye and will play the winner of Assault on Paradise vs. Delirium. Oryx & Crake gets the other bye and will face off against the winner of Burial Rites vs. Dark Heart of the Night.

More info soon about these final match-ups. For now, enjoy today’s actual Women’s World Cup quarterfinals . . .

14 June 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This match was judged by Rhea Lyons, a scout at Franklin & Seigal.

For more information on the Women’s World Cup of Literature, click here or here. Also, be sure to follow our Twitter account and like our Facebook page. And check back here daily!

Judging this match up between Life After Life and Delirium was particularly difficult. I loved both novels for wildly different reasons, and struggled to find even loosely define parameters within which i could work to compare the two. In the end, it just came down to heart, which seems appropriate (you know, sports!).

Life After Life begins over and over again on a snowy day in February, 1910, as Ursula is born, the youngest daughter of a British family living just outside of London. Each time Ursula is reincarnated she makes it a little bit further in life, paying closer attention to the uneasy sense of deja vu that overcomes her just before she encounters the thing that lead to her demise the last time. She survives the influenza outbreak in 1918 by pushing her maid down the stairs, preventing her from returning from London and infecting the family. She survives getting raped—which leads to an unwanted pregnancy and being beaten to death by an abusive husband—by instead punching the young offender in the mouth when he tries to kiss her for the first time. The more lives she lives, the stronger her deja vu becomes, until she begins to realize that there is power in her knowledge of what’s to come. She ultimately tries to assassinate Adolf Hitler to try and prevent World War II, a scene which opens the novel and makes you wonder throughout the read which iteration of Ursula’s life will take her to this climactic moment.

Although this novel is set against two world wars, it’s not a novel that speculates how history would have been changed if Hitler might never have existed. Instead, the novel shows how important your own life is to you, and to your family (and yes, the world too, but to a much smaller degree). It gives importance to that subset of feelings that we so often try to simply brush aside—that sometimes unshakable desire to revisit the shoulda woulda couldas that can drive you nuts—and at once encourages you to daydream how your life might be different. In doing so, it reassures you that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ve already been victorious over death in countless ways you probably didn’t even realize.

This novel is also wonderfully crafted. Each time Ursula is born anew certain other key details have shifted, and although the supporting characters are all warped accordingly they are still immediately recognizable. It goes without saying that few talented writers can pull this off so flawlessly. I loved the writing, I loved the subject matter, I loved spending time with the characters. This novel left my head in the clouds, imagining how my life could be different, if I’d ever want it to be, what my true place in the cosmos is, and what really is happiness, anyway?

The competition, Delirium, takes place in Bogota in the 1980’s. It follows Aguilar, an ex-professor of literature who now sells Purina dog chow, who returns from a weekend away to find that his wife, Augustina, has suffered a mental breakdown in a hotel somewhere. The novel is told from four different perspectives—Aguilar, Augustina, her ex-lover/cartel money launderer Midas, and Augustina’s grandparents, whose POV is written in third person. Aguilar teams up with Anita, a tough, no-nonsense maid from the hotel where Augustina is found, to find out why Augustina was at the hotel and who she was with. At the same time, Augustina’s long-estranged Aunt Sofi appears and fills Aguilar in to Augustina’s tumultuous upbringing, her ability to see into the future, and how she would stop at nothing to protect her brother Bichi from being brutally beaten by her father (which happened often). Aunt Sofi also reveals the event that ultimately split their family apart and shattered Augustina’s mental health.

My experience reading Delirium was much more grounded than Life After Life. The driving force of the novel is trying to make sense of Augustina’s madness, and she can easily be interpreted as a metaphor for Colombia’s own deeply fractured self at the time, under the control of the cartel. But, it’s so much more than that— it’s about family, loyalty, love and heartbreak (I teared up when the narrator encounters his ex wife and her sons and realizes that she still has all of his clothing hanging neatly in their closet) and at the same time completely laugh-out-loud goofy (the impetus for Midas’s narrative is figuring out how to get his recently paralyzed friend to have an erection, basically). The reading experience can be slightly disorienting at times because it switches between narrators without any clear indication, and often Augustina refers to herself in the third person. Natasha Wimmer’s translation is excellent, though, and once you get a feel for each character’s voice it’s clear enough (and fun to figure out who is talking). I also personally love reading anything featuring a woman on the verge, and I think there’s something deeper to be said about our fascination with the mentally unstable female . . . but that’s an essay for another time. Maybe.

How do two wildly different yet equally supreme novels compete? By boiling them down to cheesy soccer metaphors, of course. Since there are no draws in this round, I choose Delirium as the winner, due to it’s streamlined complexity and ability to incorporate cheerful relief into an otherwise serious storyline. It made me laugh more often. Life After Life is gorgeously written, but it’s pretty bleak up until the very end.

This match ends tied 2-2 as both novels trade gracefully executed points, but Delirium pulls through with a final merciless goal in stoppage time.

Final score: Delirium – 3, Life After Life – 2.

*

Next up, Colombia’s Delirium will face off against Mexico’s Texas: The Great Theft on Saturday, June 27th.

Tomorrow’s match will be judged by Meredith Miller, and features Brazil’s Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa up against Costa Rica’s Assault on Paradise by Tatiana Lobo.

1 June 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Last summer, to coincide with the Real Life World Cup, we hosted the World Cup of Literature, an incredible competition featuring 32 books from 32 countries, and ending with Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile (Chile) triumphing over Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd (Mexico). It was glorious.

Since the Women’s World Cup is kicking off in Canada next week, it’s time to do this all over again. Except that this time, only living female authors are allowed to participate. (And, as much as possible, the books included were published within the last ten years.)

Before announcing the participating titles, I have to announce that we’re still looking for judges. And, unlike last year, we want at least two-thirds of the eighteen judges to be females. So, if you’re interested—as a judge you read two books, write up the result of that “match” complete with soccer-esque score, then chime in on the final—just email me at chad.post[at]rochester.edu. You’ll have to do this fast though. The competition launches next week . . .

Tomorrow (or later today) we’ll post the new graphics and bracket so that you can see the first round competitions and debate which book has the easiest path to the final four, but for now, here’s a listing of all the titles that we’re including. (These are alphabetical in order of the country each is representing.)

Australia: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Brazil: Crow Blue by Adriana Lisboa, translated from the Portuguese by Alison Entrekin

Cameroon: Dark Heart of the Night by Léonora Miano, translated from the French by Tamsin Black

Canada: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

China: The Last Lover by Can Xue, translated from the Chinese by Annelise Finegan Wasmoen

Colombia: Delirium by Laura Restrepo, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer

Costa Rica: Assault on Paradise by Tatiana Lobo, translated from the Spanish by Asa Zatz

Cote d’Ivoire: Queen Pokou by Veronique Tadjo, translated from the French by Amy Baram Reid

Ecuador: Beyond the Islands by Alicia Yánez Cossío, translated from the Spanish by Amalia Gladhart

England: Life after Life by Kate Atkinson

France: Apocalypse Baby by Virginie Despentes, translated from the French by Sîan Reynolds

Germany: The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky, translated from the German by Tim Mohr

Japan: Revenge by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder

Mexico: Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated from the Spanish by Samantha Schnee

Netherlands: The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugresic, translated from the Croatian by Michael Henry Heim

New Zealand: The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

Nigeria: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Norway: The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann, translated from the Norwegian by Barbara Haveland

South Korea: Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell

Spain: The Happy City by Elvira Navarro, translated from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey

Sweden: The Stranger by Camilla Läckberg, translated from the Swedish by Steven Murray

Switzerland: With the Animals by Noëlle Revas, translated from the French by W. Donald Wilson

Thailand: The Happiness of Kati by Ngarmpun (Jane) Vejjajiva, translated from the Thai by Prudence Borthwick

USA: Home by Toni Morrison

....
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
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Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

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The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

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Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

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The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

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I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

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Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

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The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

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