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.
Yun Ko-eun’s The Disaster Tourist is a triumph of originality and slick, satirical style. It’s a richly wry, cuttingly dark comedy that shines a light on the absurdities (and ethical dubiousness) of certain tourism practices, and on modern life more generally, with its understated lyricism packing poignant punch. Through Yona, we certainly see the bizarreness of the world we live in. A world in which a thirty-three-year-old woman works for a travel company that specialises in disaster tourism package holidays. To compensate Yona for being sexually harassed by him, her boss allows her to take a break on one of the trips they’re thinking of axing. What a deal! What a way to deal with harassment! Yona goes on the trip to the remote Vietnamese island of Mui, where the major attraction is a supposedly catastrophic sinkhole. When she becomes trapped here, the island takes on the appearance of “a theme park that wasn’t yet open”. Then, after making a hideous discovery, cutting truths are revealed like exposed nerves amidst escalating absurdity - and tragedy. Quite brilliant.
On a jagged, bleak lava field just outside Reykjavik stands the Gallows Rock. Once a place of execution, it is now a tourist attraction. Until this morning, when a man was found hanging from it... The nail embedded in his chest proves it wasn't suicide. But when the police go to his flat, a further puzzle awaits: a four-year-old boy has been left there. He doesn't seem to have any link with the victim, his parents cannot be found, and his drawings show he witnessed something terrible. As detective Huldar hunts the killer, and child psychologist Freyja looks for the boy's parents, the mystery unfolds: a story of violence, entitlement, and revenge.
Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty. Norman Denny's lively English translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Hugo's political and artistic aims in writing Les Miserables. Victor Hugo (1802-85) wrote volumes of criticism, dramas, satirical verse and political journalism but is best remembered for his novels, especially Notre-Dame de Paris (also known as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) and Les Miserables, which was adapted into one of the most successful musicals of all time. 'All human life is here' Cameron Mackintosh, producer of the musical Les Miserables 'One of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world' Upton Sinclair 'A great writer - inventive, witty, sly, innovatory' A. S. Byatt, author of Possession
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.
An incredibly smart, taut, and pacy crime thriller set in Norway. An unsolved kidnapping thrusts itself back into play when police officer Alexander Blix and investigative journalist and blogger Emma Ramm are caught up in an explosion on New Years Eve in Oslo. The Blix and Ramm Series is a blast of pure reading entertainment from Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger, internationally best-selling Norwegian authors who joined forces to create this series. Death Deserved was a cracking start and Smoke Screen just cements this pair as a formidable writing duo. I also just want to do a shout out to translator Megan Turney, this is so easy to read that I didn’t stop to think that it was translated. The immediate hook at the start set my mind racing, and it didn’t let up until the end. Flashbacks are effectively used to highlight important back stories. The two main characters are independently interesting and capable of carrying the tale, and the links from each of their plot lines gradually fuse together to create an explosive end. Smoke Screen is an enthralling continuation in a series that I can highly recommend.
A pretty fabulous first book in what I truly hope is a continuing crime series. Bestselling authors Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst have teamed up to create not only some really interesting lead characters, but they also breathe fresh air into the fabulous tradition of Nordic Noir. A famous athlete fails to show at her autobiography book launch, when news blogger Emma Ramm finds signs of a struggle, police officer Alexander Blix begins a missing person enquiry that quickly turns more serious. As is usual with translated Orenda books, I just stepped straight in and read without a thought for the fabulous translation by Anne Bruce. Horst and Enger have set this novel firmly in the here and now, apart from the prologue which sets the scene for Blix. Death Deserved is a fast-moving, punchy, serial killer investigative novel with a whammy of an ending. If this is the first in the Blix and Ramm series, then here’s to many more!
When a police investigator is killed execution-style and Blix's own daughter is targeted by the killer, he makes a dangerous decision, which could cost him everything. Blix & Ramm are back in a breathless, emotive thriller by two of Norway's finest crime writers... When police investigator Sofia Kovic uncovers a startling connection between several Oslo murder cases, she attempts to contact her closest superior, Alexander Blix before involving anyone else in the department. But before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home - execution style. And in the apartment below, Blix's daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer's next victim. Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen. As Iselin's life hangs in the balance, under-fire Blix no longer knows who he can trust ... and he's not even certain that he's killed the right man... Two of Nordic Noir's most brilliant writers return with the explosive, staggeringly accomplished, emotive third instalment in the international, bestselling Blix & Ramm series ... and it will take your breath away.
This fourth fiercely gripping novel featuring crime reporter Henning Juul sees Henning’s ex-wife Nora (also a journalist) investigating the disappearance of her college friend, Hedda. Following the death of her wealthy father, Hedda announced to her husband that she was heading to an Italian retreat for three weeks. That was over a month ago, and she’s still not home. In fact, she never even went to the retreat, or boarded the plane to Italy.As Nora’s research connects Hedda to an elderly man who was shot dead in his own forest, it also reconnects Nora and Henning as their joint investigation entwines them in a web of increasingly intense discoveries: family secrets, dark days of history, and truths about the tragic death of their son. And, at the same time, someone wants Henning dead. From the gritty tension of the plot, to its underpinning emotional depths, this is a powerfully compulsive page-turner. ~ Joanne Owen A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... 'I had been a fan of Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul series for many years, and when his agent mentioned that he had parted company with his English publisher, I made a two-book offer on the spot and insisted that she ring him from the Frankfurt Book Fair to get an instant response. Within three minutes, we had a deal, and I am truly honoured to be published Cursed and (next year) Killed. It was almost painful waiting for brilliant translator Kari Dickson to deliver the manuscript, which I read in one breathless sitting. Thomas is not only one of the best crime writers in the world (his books have been published in 24 countries), but one of the best writers I have ever come across. Cursed is Nordic Noir at its very finest, with a gripping, taut storyline, some unforgettable characters, and a plot that continually throws up twists and teasing clues, before the final stunning final reviews turns everything on its head again. Perhaps more importantly, this is a moving, emotive book – a father’s quest to find out who started the fire that killed his young son – and the characterisation is simply sublime. Every book in this series stands alone, but I can guarantee that once you’ve had a taste of Henning Juul, you are unlikely to stop here.' ~ Karen Sullivan, Orenda Books Click here to read a Q&A with Thomas Enger.
A pithy, twisty, challenging tale with a cracking concept. After the murder of a teenage girl in a small Norwegian town, people start pointing the finger of blame at her former boyfriend. Back in 2015 author Thomas Enger had the idea for the book but wasn’t sure whether to head in the direction of writing it for young adults, or as adult crime fiction, his wife suggested both. The YA book came first in Norwegian, then Orenda picked up on the YA to Adult crossover and Thomas has written Inborn (in English). The prologue is two pages of chilling intrigue, allowing a glimpse of hope and possibility before it’s cut down. The chapters flick backwards and forwards in time, with ‘now’ set in court, and ‘then’ slipping inevitably forwards from the violence of the prologue through to the court date. Little spiky hooks of bait made my thoughts toss and turn. I questioned everyone, joined the towns people in their doubt, felt the pain, suspicion, uncertainty. The ending caught in my throat, piercing, then shattering my crime-sleuthing thoughts. Inborn is so very readable, it also provoked and sliced at my feelings, made me stop, made me think, it really is very clever indeed.
Ringing with bell-clear writing, remarkable atmosphere and emotional honesty, Takis Würger’s Stella is a hauntingly gripping story of naive young love and duplicity in wartime Berlin. Innocent soul Friedrich grew up in Switzerland, with an alcoholic mother and somewhat eccentric father. In 1942 he takes the inadvisable decision to travel to Berlin to study art, where’s he’s entranced by Kristin, the model in his life drawing class, and a character who’s partly based on a real person. Kristin is bold, intoxicating and brilliantly evoked as a “warm and soft” enigma. “Would you call me Tink? Like Tinkerbell?” she asks of him. Friedrich obliges, of course, for “there was nothing I could refuse this woman,” and she fast becomes a permanent presence in his suite at the Grand Hotel. Their life of drinking and dancing in banned jazz clubs feels worlds away from the war, but as the months pass and the Nazi grip tightens, so the couple’s merrily enclaved existence darkens. Friedrich is disturbed to discover their mutual friend is in the SS, and perplexed by Kristin’s high connections. Then, after vanishing and returning with a shaven head and “dark welts on her neck”, she reveals that she’s Jewish, with more revelations to come. “I don’t know if it’s wrong to betray one human being to save another. I don’t know if it’s right to betray one human being to save another” Friedrich muses, and herein lies the heart of this powerfully melancholic story - fundamental moral questions swell beneath its simply-told surface.
Deep in the forests of Moran, far from civilization, live families of woodcutters and shepherds. A remote and beautiful world, it is a place where madness still reigns, murder occurs, and bloody punishments are delivered. What has happened to the body of the sensual and beautiful Catherine Corvol, wife of a rich landowner, killed not out of hatred but an excess of love? Around this central enigma, Germain has created a gothic enchantment, a dazzling rural fantasy rich in angels, obsession, and revenge where the reader is carried forward as much by the lyricism and strangeness of the language as by the macabre and fantastic turns of the plot.
With 1500 years of poetry and prose included in this anthology, there is a hugely diverse range of thoughts and feelings on display. In the introduction, the editors Suheil Bushrui and James M. Malarkey explain the importance of and provide a really useful summary of Arab literature and history, detail the difficulty of translation and express their hope that readers from all cultures may be receptive to a wider exploration of literature that might be previously unknown to them. The work chosen, crosses the boundaries of religion, sex, history, and culture; a book to dip in and out of, to open your mind to. Some of the editors' choices may be more difficult to connect with, the common bond may feel remote or unobtainable, some encourage consideration and reflection, while others quite simply sing to the soul, it is all a matter of personal choice. Personally, ’Rejoice’ by May Ziadah struck an immediate chord, reading without thought of religion, politics or social injustice, it simply spoke to me of the joy of positivity. Desert Songs of the Night allows a step towards observation and exploration but most importantly, it highlights the wonder of the written word. ~ Liz Robinson