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.
Deceptively clever and utterly compelling, this beautifully written little book will continue to haunt your thoughts long after you've finished it. Set in Montreal, the world of Bilodo the postman is a simple one, but he regularly sneaks a peek into other peoples worlds by reading their handwritten letters; events take a darker turn as he deviates from voyeur into an obsessive usurper. The author uses Japanese haiku and tanka poetry to allow Bilodo to converse with the woman of his dreams; exquisite clusters of words will snag your attention and demand that you re-read them. This is essentially a book of love, of what might have been and of what could still come… One of our Books of the Year 2014. Selected as a BBC Radio 2 Book Club title in September 2014.
An artful and intriguing story set in a remote Icelandic landscape. As a highly contagious fever forces his village into quarantine, Ari Thor begins to investigate an ice cold case. He enlists the help of reporter Isrun from ‘Blackout’ and a further crime begins to coil around them. This is the fourth in the ‘Dark Iceland’ series, I feel that it is best to start with ‘Snowblind’ in order to understand Ari, and as importantly, the area he works in. Iceland sits centre stage, the island is brought to sharp, vivid life. Ragnar Jonasson excels in running several investigations in one story, separate strands waiting for links and connections. Foreboding lies in wait and throws darts of disquiet, and my mind scuttled to and fro as I collected information and joined in the investigation. History and time are essential to the storyline and echo with striking vibrancy, ensuring ‘Rupture’ just throbs with dramatic intensity and is a riveting read. ~ Liz Robinson A Piece of Passion from the Publisher... In a rather strange turn of events, I met Ragnar Jonasson playing football for England, at the annual England v Scotland football match at Bloody Scotland crime festival, and he told me about his Dark Iceland series. Ragnar appeared on a panel, and I watched readers queue up for books that did not yet exist in English. I learned that Ragnar had translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and that the setting of the Dark Iceland series was Siglufjörður, a tiny town at the top of Iceland, bound on one side by the sea and on the other by mountains, only accessible by a single mountain tunnel that was often closed by snowstorms and avalanches. The perfect locked-room mystery. So, almost sight unseen, I bought the series, and Snowblind was published seven months later, beautifully translated by Quentin Bates. It went almost instantly to number one on the kindle charts, and a star was born! From there, we haven’t looked back, and every title that has followed (Nightblind and Blackout) has sold in the tens of thousands and attracted a legion of fans and fabulous reviews. Rupture is a brilliant addition to the series, dark, chilling, beautifully written, atmospheric and full of masterful plotting and unforgettable characters. We follow police officer Ari Thor, as he tries to solve a cold case, with the town in quarantine and a stalker on the lose. I can’t speak highly enough of Ragnar and this series. The books are a gorgeous combination of Golden Age crime and Nordic Noir and there is, quite simply, nothing like them. I am honoured to publish Ragnar! ~ Karen Sullivan, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with Ragnar Jonasson about this book.
Retired Chief of the National Crime Police and Swedish Security Service Lars Martin Johansson has just suffered a stroke. He is paying the price for a life of excess - stress, good food and fine wine. With his dangerously high blood pressure, his heart could fail at the slightest excitement. In the hospital, a chance encounter with a neurologist provides an important piece of information about a 25-year-old murder investigation and alerts Lars Martin Johansson's irrepressible police instincts. The period for prosecution expired just weeks earlier and that isn't the only limitation. Lars Martin Johansson is determined to solve the atrocious crime - from his deathbed.
One of our Books of the Year 2016. The publisher’s blurb for this quirky novel certainly drew me to it especially since I am an enormous fan of his first, A Man Called Ove. I’m afraid I didn’t read his second (shame on me!). Here we have a woman who is definitely on ‘the spectrum’, who has at last left a cheating, domineering husband (when he had a heart attack in the arms of another woman) and must now earn a living. She will not accept that the Job Centre has nothing for her and is eventually given a dead-end, short-term job as caretaker in a closing sports centre in a dying town. She ends up coaching the local kids’ football team in a delightful, warm-hearted tale of great charm. How she wins everyone round and makes a life for herself is poignantly realised. A lovely read.
A compelling, assured and gutsy crime thriller set in Serbia among the refugee crisis. Anna returns to the borders of Hungary and Serbia for a holiday, there she finds herself in the middle of a dangerous investigation with chilling links to her own family. Kati Hiekkapelto allows information to wait, just out of sight, and then releases it to swirl, linger and provoke. Each new surprise ensured my opinion of Anna altered as I read, my attention was ensnared further, and I became completely absorbed by this tension filled read. With red herrings slipping through the story line, and an absolutely fascinating location, ‘The Exiled’ is a gripping and stimulating read. ~ Liz Robinson
A startling, intense and clever tale of destructive, chilling corruption. 30 year old journalist Janne tells his own story after he is offered information about an environmental catastrophe, another similarly deadly tale is revealed at the same time, and the two stories unfold side by side. I read the first few pages, full of impact, setting the scene, yet spinning and tumbling my thoughts, twice. Antti Toumainen writes with a wonderful blend of beautiful descriptive detailing and chilling sparse intensity, he leaves you guessing, thinking, on high alert. As I read I felt a storm gathering, a force, a reckoning started to hurtle towards me, and in the middle of this the importance of family sits centre stage. The violence is prominent, yet there is a subtle thought provoking energy that twists through this tale, and ensures that ‘The Mine’ is an absolutely cracking read. ~ Liz Robinson Click here to read a Q&A with this author.
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.
Highly Recommended. This is a cunning and genuinely creepy horror novel. That it is a debut makes its imagination and control all the more impressive. Heuvelt is a name to watch. Fans of Stephen King, Joe Hill and Adam Nevill have a new author to look out for. Hex is set in Black Spring, a small and isolated American town. Its isolation is readily explained by the fact that it is haunted by the Black Rock Witch, the spectre of a seventeenth century woman with eyes and mouth sewn shut. What’s clever about the way Heuvelt treats this horrifying idea is that he recognises that the bizarre and the terrifying can be incorporated into our lives if it becomes familiar enough. Black Spring knows it’s ghost. Family dinners and family wrangles continue around her presence (however unsettling that might be for the reader). What is more scary is the paranoia and the control that the older townspeople exert of themselves and any bewildered visitors to ensure their secret is kept. This is a very modern horror novel in that CCTV and social media are as instrumental to the plot as ghosts. And it is social media that spins the horror out of its tight orbit in this novel when Black Spring’s teenagers ensure the secret gets out into the wider world. Early scenes in this novel sometimes leave you wondering what is happening but the plot and Heuvelt’s darkly witty writing soon sweep you up. Supernatural terror and the gulf between the young and the old make for a very entertaining read.
'It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.' Fifty-one years, nine months and four days have passed since Fermina Daza rebuffed hopeless romantic Florentino Arizo's impassioned advances and married Dr. Juvenal Urbino instead. During that half century, Florentino 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?