3 September 08 | Chad W. Post

As an update, at this moment I have records for 314 original translations of adult fiction and poetry coming out in 2008, and 28 for 2009. (I’ve barely started entering 2009 info . . .)

As part of our goal to highlight as many of these titles as possible, below are capsules on a few more translations coming out this month.

Similar to what I wrote last week about Slavenka Drakulic, Pelevin is one of a few contemporary Russian authors whose books always make it into English translation. (He can be contrasted with Vladimir Sorokin, who has only had a couple of titles published here—both by NYRB—although he’s published a number of titles that sound pretty interesting.) And similar to a number of well-respected authors, Pelevin was first published by New Directions. Most of Pelevin’s books have fantastical set-ups, and this one is no different. Here’s how the review in The Guardian opens:

In this strange, frenetic and beguiling account of a Russia plagued by werewolves and vampires of various natures, the heroine is a fox whose name (A Hu-Li) unfortunately translates in her adopted homeland as something approximating ‘what the fuck.’ A Hu-Li has the appearance of a luscious 14-year-old girl, the mind of a particularly sly Buddhist monk and an endearing habit of name-dropping all the famous people she’s met over the past 2,000 years. Originally from China, she’s now plying her vulpine trade at Moscow’s National Hotel. But A Hu-Li’s version of turning tricks is not exactly conventional. She hypnotises her willing victim, feeding off his energies with the help of her secret weapon, ‘a fluffy, flexible, fire-red’ tail.

  • The Blue Fox by Sjon, translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb (Telegram, $12.95, 9781846590375)

Nominated for the Icelandic Literature Prize, and winner of the Nordic Prize, The Blue Fox sounds like a subtle, intriguing novel. From the review on ReadySteadyBook by Sarah Hesketh:

Two men dominate the book – local pastor Baldur Skuggason, who is tracking the eponymous fox through glacial fields, and Fridrik B. Fridjonsson, a returning prodigal who has abandoned Iceland for late seventeenth century Copenhagen and the company of a group called the lotus-eaters. Fridrik returns home to settle his deceased parents’ affairs, intending to burn the farm buildings and head back to a life of smoke and pleasure domes, but his discovery of a young girl, Abba, scrabbling for food in the outhouse of an old friend, prompts an act of kindness which forces him to stay, and sets him up in opposition to the reverend hunter.

The fact that Abba has Down’s Syndrome, a fact recognised by the medically well-read Fridrik, is an unsettlingly modern sleight of hand. In a book where everything else is perfectly pitched historically, it rings an odd but important note, forcing the reader to examine things more closely, and thereby realise that what we’re essentially reading is a good old-fashioned fairy tale.

  • Castorp by Pawel Huelle, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Serpent’s Tail, $14.95, 9781852429454)

Built around a digression from The Magic Mountain, this novel tells the story of Hans Castorp’s time in Gdansk. The book received a ton of praise when it came out in England last year, with almost all reviewers remarking on the wealth of colorful characters depicted in the novel. Beyond good reviews, it was also shortlisted for the prestigious Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (eventually won by Paul Verhaeghen for Omega Minor). Hopefully the review coverage here will be as widespread and positive, but in the meantime, here’s a short interview with Heulle, and reviews from The Guardian and ReadySteadyBook.

Comments are disabled for this article.
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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,. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

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. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >