Chase away those stormy blues with a new book for the new year. PEN Atlas asks UK publishers about the translated books they are excited about publishing in 2014 – an exciting list of books to look forward to this year, so clear your shelves! Publishers include Pushkin Press, Peirene, Istros Books and more, with a second installment from other publishers next week
Eric Lane – Dedalus
We have begun 2014 with Diego Marani’s first detective novel, God’s Dog, translated by Judith Landry, set in the near future with Italy a theocratic state ruled by the Vatican. Described as ‘energetic and trenchant’ in The Independent.February sees Before and During by Vladimir Sharov, translated by Oliver Ready. This is one of, if not the most, extraordinary novel we have ever published. My view of Stalin will never be the same again.In March there is the first English translation by Alan Yates of Raimon Casellas’ fin-de-siècle masterpiece Dark Vales. A Catalan classic full of darkness and foreboding.
Jane Lawson, Editorial Director – Doubleday
The Unbearable Dreamworld of Champa the Driver by Chan Koonchung (May 2014, translated from the Chinese by Nicky Harman). Humorous and erotic Chinese road novel about the love life of a hapless drifter whose life is upturned when he falls in love with the statue of a young girl from Beijing- the second novel from the author of The Fat Years.
Susan Curtis-Kojakovic, Director – Istros Books
Hamam Balkania by Vladislav Bajac (Serbia) translated by Randall A Major – An ambitious look into the power structures of the Ottoman Empire, juxtaposed with musings on contemporary concepts of identity and faith. (January 2014)Mission London by Alek Popov (Bulgaria) translated by Daniela and Charles Edward Gill de Mayol de Lupe – Combining the themes of corruption, confusion and outright incompetence, Popov masterly brings together multiple plot lines in a sumptuous carnival of frenzy and futile vanity, allowing the illusions and delusions of post-communist society to be reflected in their glorious absurdity! (April 2014)Death in the Museum of Modern Art by Alma Lazarevska (Bosnia) translated by Celia Hawkesworth – Avoiding the easy traps of politics and blame, Lazarevska reveals a world full of incidents and worries so similar to our own, and yet always under the shadow of the snipers and the grenades of the Bosnian war. (June 2014)False Apocalypse by Fatos Lubonja (Albania) translated by John Hodgson – 1997, a tragic year in the history of post-communist Albania. This is one man’s story of how the world’s most isolated country emerged from Stalinist dictatorship and fell victim to a plague of corruption and flawed ‘pyramid’ financial schemes which brought the people to the edge of ruin. (October 2014)The Great War by Aleksandar Gatalica (Serbia) translated by Will Firth – In the centenary year of the start of WWI, we finally have a Serbian author taking on the themes of a war that was started by a Serb assassin’s bullet. Following the destinies of over seventy characters, on all warring sides, Gatalica depicts the destinies of winners and losers, generals and opera singers, soldiers and spies, in the conflict that marked the beginning of the Twentieth Century. (October 2014)
Rowan Cope, Senior Editor – Little Brown, Abacus and Virago
Here are our four highlights for fiction in translation in 2014 from across our lists – we’ve got some fantastic titles coming up.I’m hugely excited about Patrick Deville’s novel Plague and Cholera (Little, Brown hardback, Feb 2014, translated by J.A. Underwood), which is a rich, fascinating and gripping fictional portrait both of the real historical figure of Dr Alexandre Yersin, a game-changing microbiologist and explorer, and of the turbulent early years of the twentieth century. It was a notable bestseller and shortlisted for every major literary award in France.Spanish debut novelist Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera’s The Awakening of Miss Prim (Abacus, June 2014, translated by Sonia Soto) is a charming, quirky tale of love, literature, philosophy and the pleasure to be found in the little things in life – I hope it will appeal to readers who loved novels such as The Elegance of the Hedgehog.Malice by Keigo Higashino (Little, Brown, October 2014, translated by Alexander O. Smith): Malice is the most acclaimed novel in Keigo Higashino’s bestselling series featuring police detective Kyochiro Kaga. Kaga is one of the most popular creations of Japan’s bestselling novelist and appears in a dozen novels, several TV series and a handful of major motion picture adaptations.The Stone Boy by Sophie Loubière (February 2014, translated by Nora Mahoney): The Stone Boy is an award-winning and darkly atmospheric French psychological thriller with an unforgettable elderly heroine – Madame Préau.
Juliet Mabey, Publisher – Oneworld
We have a growing list of fiction in translation, which has been actively expanded over the last year with acquisitions from Korea, China, Israel, and Russia, and have a particularly strong list of translated novels for 2014.The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is one of the highlights of this year’s list. Written by the multi-award winning author Sun-Mi Hwang and translated by Chi-Young Kim, it has been on the Korea bestseller list continuously for more than a decade, selling in excess of two million copies. A modern fable-esque classic with strong philosophical themes, it features a spirited hen’s quest for freedom and self-determination, and has been compared to E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Illustrated by London-based Japanese artist Nomoco, it will launch in April at the London Book Fair where Hwang is Author of the Day as part of this year’s Korean Focus.The Space Between Us by Iranian bestselling author Zoya Pirzad and translated from the Persian by Amy Motlagh is publishing in February, a follow up to Things We Left Unsaid, which we published in 2012. Dubbed the Anne Tyler of Iran, [Pirzad has written] a poignant, wistful story about belonging and otherness, pride and prejudice, and brilliantly paints the Iranian landscape of complex social conventions and private emotional conflict.Revolution Street by Amir Cheheltan is translated from the Persian by Paul Sprachman and publishes in March. In this critically acclaimed and searing novel – Cheheltan’s first to be translated into English – power and corruption in post-revolutionary Iran are exposed through the actions of two men who scheme to exploit the chaos and confusion for their own benefit. Both torturers in one of Tehran’s most notorious prisons and in love with the same woman, their machinations take them deep into Tehran’s underworld of criminals and provocateurs, in an unusual tragi-comic tale of rivalry and revenge.The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron and translated from the Hebrew by Steven Cohen won the prestigious Bernstein Award in Israel, where it hit the bestseller lists on publication. Publishing here in November, and described by one reviewer as “probably the best political novel to be written in Israel”, it documents a warped and psychotic society in Israel’s Wild West – the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank. A specialist at showing both sides of the equation, Gavron explores his subject with subtle complexity, humor and great insight into the human condition, portraying a multi-layered reality that encourages readers to make their own judgments.
Meike Ziervogel, Publisher – Peirene Press
In 2014 Peirene will publish its Coming-of-Age series, three stories about our individual struggles to reach maturity in an ever-changing world.The Dead Lake by Hamid Ismailov, translated from the Russian by Andrew Bromfiled: A haunting tale about the environmental legacy of the Cold War. ‘Hamid Ismailov has the capacity of Salman Rushdie at his best to show the grotesque realization of history on the ground.’ Literary Review (February 2014)The Blue Room by Hanne Ortavik, translated from the Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin: A mother-daughter relationship that will send a chill down your spine. ‘A book for all daughters… A book that will get under your skin.’ Elle (June 2014)Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda, translated from the French by Adriana Hunter. A fascinating portrait of a pre-Gaddafi Libyan society on the verge of change. ‘Neo-realistic characters that could have stepped straight out of a Vittorio de Sica film.’ Cultures Sud (September 2014)
Laura Barber, Editorial Director – Granta Books & Portobello Books
This year kicks off in sinister style with reissue of six books by the great Sicilian author, Leonardo Sciascia, whose powerful exploration of Sicily’s gritty criminal underworld shows him to be a master storyteller across a variety of literary genres, from novels and short stories to detective fiction and true crime.On a lighter note, the satirist Dimitri Verhulst imagines the consequences of the second coming in Christ’s Entry into Brussels (translated by David Colmer).In April, we have a new dispatch from the inimitable Jacek Hugo-Bader, whose Kolyma Diaries (translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones) record his vodka-fuelled experience of travelling 2000 kilometres through the former Soviet Gulag to meet the inhabitants of this grim land as they eke out an existence or transform themselves into oligarchs.And in May, we have Nightwork, a darkly comic coming-of-age story set during the Russian occupation from the celebrated Czech writer, Jáchym Topol, translated by Marek Tomin.Later in the year, we have A Short Stop on the Road From Auschwitz, a shattering literary memoir by Göran Rosenburg, the son of Holocaust survivors (translated from Swedish by Sarah Death), and Walter Kempowski’s Swansong ’45 (translated from German by Shaun Whiteside), a monumental collection of first-hand accounts that brings to life the last days of World War II.Finally, in December, Jenny Erpenbeck’s The End of Days (translated from German by Susan Bernofsky) which is a story of the 20th century traced through the various possible lives of one woman and was last year’s winner of the Hans Fallada Prize.
Adam Freudenheim, Publisher and Managing Director – Pushkin Press
As a publisher specializing in fiction from around the world it’s always difficult to choose highlights for the year, so focussing on just two writers whose work appears with us in English for the first time this spring and with apologies to other Pushkin writers I’ve not been able to include, here goes.Song for an Approaching Storm by Peter Fröberg Idling is an atmospheric thriller set in one tense month in 1950s Cambodia. The story is told in three sections, each giving the perspective of one character in a love triangle. The rub comes in that one of the three is Saloth Sar, who twenty years later would become known to the world as Pol Pot. First published in Swedish in 2012, Song for an Approaching Storm is an original and moving debut novel beautifully translated by Peter Graves. (March 2014)Bonita Avenue by Peter Buwalda was a sensation on publication in Holland in 2010. It went to number one on the bestseller list, was nominated for every Dutch literary prize going – and won five of them – and is being translated into eight languages. Buwalda’s book is a family saga in which things go rather terribly wrong for one Dutch family in the 1990s and 2000s. Set in Holland, Beligium and California, Bonita Avenue is a terrific, page-turning book that – as one critic put it – feels like a cross between the work of Jonathan Franzen and Stieg Larsson! Jonathan Reeder has translated this larger-than-life debut novel. (April 2014)