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Exploring books that have been translated from a different language can lead to a really special reading experience. The skill of a translator is of course key, they need to be able to truly feel the book in order to successfully and seamlessly translate it. A great translator has the ability to make you feel right at home, while also letting you experience the wonders of a different culture. These books all encourage you to discover the sense of a different place, so we invite you to step forward and broaden your horizons.
A violent robbery. A hit-and-run. A brutal murder. In the stifling heat of an August morning on the beautiful Swedish island of Gotland, terror shatters the calm.
A darkly captivating, tense, and beautifully written tale, that explores fear and the innermost thoughts and feelings of hearts and minds. This is the second in the ‘China’ series, and I really do recommend starting with the wonderful ‘Whispering Shadows’. Paul Leibovitz finds himself on an emotional collision course as he battles for justice in China. His girlfriend Christine, is connected to China in a way that, even with all of his knowledge of the East, Paul can not understand, and their two stories, twist around each other, separated, yet together. The prologue surprised me, it is a tormented and heartbreaking lament, the voice reappears during the novel, absolutely haunting in it’s intensity. I found myself connecting to characters who are just a whisper on the page, feeling their pain and confusion. Jan-Philipp Sendker paints a vividly striking picture of a different world, yet he doesn't pass judgement, instead allowing you to watch, listen and learn. ‘Dragon Games’ hovers on a honed knife edge of tension, it’s a deeply moving story, and slowly seeped into my soul. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
The new novel by the enfant terrible of European writing proves as controversial as its much-debated predecessors and will have readers and critics arguing for ages yet again. The as-ever-Houellebecq-like alter ego narrator is a minor middle-aged academic whose weasely ways are familiar in his politically incorrect attitudes to women, race and a form of intellectual superiority and pretentions that are terribly French. When a pro-Muslim politician wins the elections, and the country is overtaken by a revolutionary wave of Islamic fervour and purges, he is unable to retreat from his studies of a particularly arcane figure of French literature Joris K. Huysmans and soon has to take a stand, and willingly embraces the betrayal of western ideals with abandon, insofar as it will lead to professional advancement beyond his worth and possible power over women he was previously unable to seduce and obtain. A striking portrait in cowardice and compromise that will have you squirming, stylishly rendered by Paris Review editor Lorin Stein's fluid translation that transforms the mechanics of a particularly Gallic political landscape and cultural background into something more universal and understandable, and turns the book into a worrying warning bell, behind the facade of its dislikable and treacherous hero of sorts. A book you'll love to hate. ~ Maxim Jakubowski
A Maxim Jakubowski selected title. Some books are claustrophobic as they isolate their characters in a constricted setting, but Norwegian crime author Ravatn achieves the curious exploit of making a novel mostly set in the vast open air of the fjords claustrophobic as its two sole characters (aside from just a couple of outside 'extras') stew, fight, love and so much more in a cabin by a lake under the wide open sky. Allis, a journalist in disgrace, seeks a new life as a cook, gardener and helper with Sigurd, a taciturn older man who owns a cabin in a remote region of Norway, and whose wife is mysteriously absent. The psychological cat and mouse game is gripping as they clash, repel and attract and questions soon are raised about their previous lives and how past events will affect their future together or apart. Intense, lapidary, dream-like and streaked with anxiety, this is not a comfortable book, with not always likeable obsessive characters, but it proves rewarding as an investigation into the blank darkness of lost souls. ~ Maxim Jakubowski One of our Books of the Year 2016. The Lovereading view... A subtle, quietly sinister tale, where the tension slowly creeps and coils around the edge of your understanding. Allis removes herself from her previous life to become a housekeeper for Sigurd. On the edge of a fjord in a lonely existence, can Allis make sense of her life and reveal the secrets that cloak the house? Agnes Ravatn hasn't used quotation marks, this creates an intimacy with the words, yet they somehow echo with desolate intensity. The translation by Rosie Hedger is perfectly and completely in tune with the story. Gradually, slowly and almost silently, information is revealed, which kept me on the edge of my seat. ‘The Bird Tribunal’ unsettles, agitates and unnerves before a fierce concentrated rush of drama filled pages… and yet at the end, I detected a whisper of uncertainty floating in my mind, which actually left me feeling very satisfied indeed with this enthralling read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the Publisher...I had my eye on The Bird Tribunal for quite some time before I was in a position to acquire rights to publish in English, and I watched it win countless awards in its native Norway and go on to be made into a stage play. When a reader’s report and then the fabulous translation came in, I was not disappointed. It is one of the most captivating, tense, dramatic thrillers I have read in years. With only two characters and a Rebecca-esque plotline, it is beautifully written, with the isolated Norwegian fjord and the gardens of the solitary house situated there exquisitely described, and the sense of foreboding, the slow building of tension, the trickle of insights into the characters and the secrets they are hiding, make it an exceptional read. It’s already won an English PEN Translation Award, and been chosen for WHSmith’s Fresh Talent for the Autumn, and I could not be prouder to publish a book that takes Nordic Noir to fabulous new heights and marks the arrival of a major new talent in the genre. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
Fifty-one years, nine months and four days have passed since Fermina Daza rebuffed hopeless romantic Florentino Ariza's impassioned advances and married Dr Juvenal Urbino instead. During that half-century, Flornetino has fallen into the arms of many delighted women, but has loved none but Fermina. Having sworn his eternal love to her, he lives for the day when he can court her again. When Fermina's husband is killed trying to retrieve his pet parrot from a mango tree, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives?
This truly is a crime novel to tamper with your thoughts and send them skittering off in all directions. ‘Blackout’ takes place in June 2010, following on from ‘Snowblind’, the first in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series. A fascinating murder investigation by police and a reporter takes place during the time the ash cloud from a volcanic eruption affected the country and air travel, ensuring a heightened sense of foreboding and tension. A number of main characters feature, including self reliant Ari Thor Arason, who polices the most northerly village in Iceland, and Isrun, a TV news reporter. I have to admit it did take me a little time to get to know all of the characters, however I do believe ‘Blackout’ works well as a standalone novel. Ragnar Jonasson writes with a bitingly sparse, to the point style, and Quentin Bates has translated his words skilfully, ensuring the story flows. The first part of the novel sews confusion and encourages questions, it almost feels as though two or three jigsaws of information have been thrown into the air to land in one jumbled pile. With several menacing stories, creeping and melding into one, ‘Blackout’ is a wonderfully gripping and gritty novel.
A truly tenacious and back to basics Nordic crime novel featuring private investigator Varg Veum. Staalesen has been writing about Veum since 1977, however this is my first foray into the series, and found it could easily be read as a standalone. 25 years after a three year old disappears in mysterious circumstances, the mother hires Veum to take one last look at the case. As Veum begins his painstaking detective work, he begins to dig deeper and further than the police have been before, and starts to uncover some disturbing links to another crime. Staalesen writes with a clipped, matter of fact style, the sharp delivery in the first person really sets Veum centre stage. There are an awful lot of characters to get to grips with and it’s worth getting them straight in your mind, right at the beginning of the novel. With plenty of surprises in store and an intriguing case, ‘Where Roses Never Die’ sets your mind working overtime and is a gripping read. A 'Piece of Passion from the Publisher... 'Gunnar Staalesen is one of the fathers of Nordic Noir and the creator of the unforgettable private investigator Varg Veum. Only six of the 20-odd titles in the series have been translated into English to date, and I am honoured to have the opportunity to publish the remainder, beautifully translated by Don Bartlett. Known as the ‘Norwegian Chandler’, Staalesen is a master of his craft, creating tightly plotted, page-turning and extraordinarily atmospheric thrillers that tackle social issues in the finest tradition of Nordic Noir. As Sarah Ward says in Crime Pieces, ‘Staalesen’s greatest strength is the quality of his writing. The incidental asides and observations are wonderful, and elevate the books from a straightforward murder investigation into something more substantial.’ I could not agree more. Where Roses Never Die is Staalesen’s best book to date, and I could not put it down until I had devoured every last word, and then re-read the stunning, completely unexpected denouement, just in case my eyes had deceived me. ~ Karen Sullivan, Publisher, Orenda Books
Annika Bengtzon has spent her career telling stories that need to be heard. As a journalist, she's always been at the front line of criminal reporting, alongside the investigating officers. And now a court case that she's been reporting on - the savage murder of a homeless man - has begun to attract a lot of attention.
May 2016 Book of the Month. What do you get if you add together one receptionist, one priest, one very hard to control hitman, and 19 criminals on the warpath… you get an unholy, riotous whirlwind of a read, that’s what! Jonas Jonasson has done it again, ‘Hitman Anders and the Meaning Of It All’ is a wonderfully quirky and amusing must read tale. Jonasson’s trademark gentle yet sharply observant humour, balances out the criminal element of this story beautifully. Hitman Anders is going to join my list of favourite characters of distinction, I wonder what dastardly deeds he’ll get up to when he meets the one-hundred-year-old man, who also resides on that list! From the first paragraph, right through to the last, this is a gorgeously readable walk on the darker and lighter side of life.
April 2016 Book of the Month. Totally and utterly and completely gorgeous in every way, the thought of having to put this book down for even a second is inconceivable. The first few pages make you smile, make you laugh and charm you, there is a hint though, of the difficulties that seven (nearly eight) year old Elsa is experiencing. Elsa’s shrewd, wonderful bonkers of a Granny tells her fairy tales, and like all good fairy tales there's more than a dollop of truth and reality mixed in, so ensure you're sitting comfortably and the tale can begin. There is a beautiful simplicity to the writing, yet this is not a simple book by any means, there is a complexity to the emotions it evokes and explores. Elsa and her Granny are two of the most astonishingly different characters to ever appear in print (and that’s a compliment by the way). Set aside some quality time, so you can laugh and cry undisturbed, as the author is able to enchant, to capture your imagination and hold it spellbound from the first to the last page; this is a must have, must read, must treasure book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
A startling, clever and intensely dark tale set in a small Swedish town. This is the ninth novel with Detective Patrik Hedstrom and his crime writing wife Erica at the helm. Although you could read this as a standalone, it really is best to start at the beginning of the series with The Ice Princess. In ‘The Ice Child’ a number of girls have gone missing, one suddenly reappears with horrific injuries, Patrik and his team try to piece together the scant information they have. Right from the offset Camilla Lackberg allows insidious whispers and suggestions to creep into your mind, to set you thinking and considering possibilities. The writing is matter of fact, yet feelings and thoughts sit on the surface, to be tasted and explored. This feels like a jigsaw puzzle with the last piece sitting within sight but just out of reach. With cunning writing waiting to trip you up, ‘The Ice Child’ is a dramatic, sinister and enthralling tale.
Siglufjordur: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thor Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him. The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman - shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thor to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.