Writers in Translation festive book list 2013

Why not treat your friends and family to an English PEN award-winning book this Christmas? Here’s a list of our award-winning titles from 2013, a selection of the very best writing in translation:

The Goddess Chronicle by Natsuo Kirino, translated from the Japanese by Natasha Copeland, published by Canongate.  Buy it online here. 

An exquisitely dark tale based on the Japanese myth of Izanami and Izanagi. A fantastical, fabulous tour-de-force, it is a tale as old as the earth about ferocious love and bitter revenge. Read more…

The Silence and the Roar by Nihad Sirees, translated from the Arabic by Max Weiss, published by Pushkin Press. Buy it online here.

A personal, funny and powerful novel about an author who is no longer allowed to write, trying to survive life under a Middle Eastern dictatorship in Syria. Read more…

Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish (Chilean) by Megan McDowell, published by Granta Books. Buy it online here. 

In this book a writer who lived during the Pinochet in Chile attempts to write a novel about the experience, whilst all the while memories from the past come to haunt him in the present, including the beautiful Claudia. Read more… 

F: Hu Feng’s Prison Years by Mei Zhi,translated from the Chinese by Gregor Benton, published by Verso. Buy it online here.

An intimate portrait of the journey of Hu Feng, China’s first literary dissident, through the prisons of the Cultural Revolution, told through the eyes of his wife Mei Zhi who cared for him as life under Mao took its toll and pushed him to madness. Read more…

Horses of God by Mahi Binebine, translated from the French (Moroccan) by Lulu Norman, published by Granta Books. Buy it online here.

In Sidi Moumen, a slum on the outskirts of Casablanca, a group of young boys who survive on luck, football games, hashish and meth, are lured by the prospect of the glorious afterlife promised by Islamist martyrdom. Eventually they are asked to make the ultimate sacrifice. Read more…

Time on my Hands by Giorgio Vasta, translated from the Italian by Jonathan Hunt, published by Faber. Buy it online here.

Sicily, 1978. Following news a Christian Democrat leader has been abducted, three young Italian boys admire the fierce absolutism of those responsible. In this dark and vivid novel, shortlisted for the Italian Booker Prize in 2008, admiration eventually turns to imitation. Read more…

The Mussolini Canal by Antonio Pennacchi, translated from the Italian by Judith Landry, published by Dedalus. Buy it online here.

Spanning 100 years of Italian history as seen through the lives of a peasant family, this novel documents the lives of the Peruzzi, Northern Italians sent down to farm outside Rome in the 1930s. They struggle against hardship and as the story unravels, begin to embrace fascism. Read more…

 All is Silence by Manuel Rivas, translated from the Galician by Jonathan Dunne, published by Vintage Random House. Buy it online here. 

Three young friends spend their days exploring the dunes in Galicia, until one day they discover a hidden cache of whisky and are drawn into the illicit underworld of smuggling in Franco’s Spain. As they grow up and the country makes its transition to democracy, the silence of childhood becomes violence and terror in adulthood, in this windswept province dictated by fear. Read more… 

 Writing Revolution: The Voices from Tunis to Damascus ed. Layla Al-Zubaidi, Matthew Cassel and Nemonie Craven Roderick, translated from the Arabic by Robin Moger and the French by Georgina Collins (introduced by Samar Yazbek), published by IB Taurus. Buy it online here. 

A collection of political essays which document the Arab spring as it happened, from the countries in which it took place. Moving and personal, this anthology showcases the best new writers from across the Arab world. Read more… 

The Devil’s Workshop by Jachym Topol, translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker, published by Portobello books. Buy it online here 

A blackly comic novel which explores the relationship between past and present in two different countries, the Czech Republic and Belarus. On a bold, brilliant and unbelievable journey, the novel asks: at what point do we consign the past to history? Read more… 

The Lady from Tel Aviv by Raba’i al-Madhoun, translated from the Arabic by Elliott Colla, published by Telegram. Buy it online here

In economy class on a plane, a Palestinian writer on his way home after almost four decades in exile meets an Israeli actress. Taking the reader into the far realms of memory, history and the self, this warm and humorous novel takes a fresh look at what it means to be Palestinian. Read more…  

The Victoria System by Eric Reinhardt, translated from the French by Sam Taylor, published by Hamish Hamilton, Penguin. Buy it online here

Part erotica, part thriller, this fast-paced Paris-based novel is frantic and seductive in equal measure. What starts as an affair becomes a searing portrait of sex, capitalism and modern society. Read more…

In A Time Of Burning by Cheran, translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holstrom, published by Arc. Buy it online here 

This collection of poetry charts Sri Lanka’s long and bloody civil war and its aftermath. Cheran, one of the most important Tamil poets today, also writes of love, displacement and diaspora in this beautiful collection. Read more… 

Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall, translated from the Polish by Philip Boehm. Published by Peirene Press. Buy it online here.

An internationally acclaimed bestseller from Poland. A remarkable true story of love and survival, this refreshingly frank and startlingly original book will make you leave your assumptions on the first page. Beautifully written, this book is impossible to put down. Read more…

A Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi, translated from the French by Polly McLean, published by Vintage. Buy it online here. 

This blackly comic and poetic novel ingeniously recasts Dostoevsky’s masterpiece Crime and Punishment onto the streets of late twentieth-century Kabul where the protagonist finds himself committing a murder. Pulled into a plot thick with murder, guilt and Sharia law, the lines between fact and fiction become dangerously blurred. Read more…

Down Among the Fishes by Natalka Babina, translated from the Belarusian by James Dingley, published by Glagoslav. Buy it online here

Modern Belarus is unveiled in this fresh portrait which celebrates the country’s many different demographics. A novel which celebrates the unseen and lashes out against stereotypes, Babina portrays love, hate, injustice, humour and sadness in the Belarusian landscape. Read more…

Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villabolos, translated from the Spanish (Mexican) by Rosalind Harvey, published by And Other Stories. Buy it online here

Using a child narrator, Villabolos delivers a satirical take on corruption and politics in Mexico. A madcap tale of family, food, politics and what it means to be middle class. Read more…

The Assassin from Apricot City by Witold Szabłowski, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, published by Stork Press. Buy it online here

A polyphonic portrait of contemporary Turkey which masterfully evokes the present-day dreams and hopes of ordinary people, from young women who have run away from honour killings to Kurdish freedom fighters. Read more… 

The Sky Wept Fire by Mikail Eldin, translated from the Russian by Anna Gunin, published by Granta Books. Buy it online here

Eldin’s compelling memoir about his experience during the Chechen wars, which he began as a young arts journalist and ended a hardened freedom fighter having undergone torture and imprisonment. Read more… 

Back to Back by Julia Franck, translated from the German by Anthea Bell, published by Harvill Secker. Buy it online here 

In East Berlin during the Cold War, a cruel mother who is a fervent socialist and survivor of the Nazi era barely acknowledges her children. Ella and Thomas are forced to build an imaginary world as a shelter from the coldness that surrounds them. Heartbreaking and shocking, Back to Back is a dark fairytale about love, disillusionment and betrayal. Read more… 

The Foundling by Michel Deon, translated from the French by Julian Evans, published by Gallic Books. Buy it online here 

A modern French classic first published in 1975 which  tells of the life and adventures of protagonist Jean from his discovery one summer’s night in 1919 by a childless couple on the Normandy estate they manage, to his adventures in Rome, Paris, London, and the south of France, as another war beckons. Read more…

If you are not looking for books this Christmas, you can still support English PEN’s work by sending seasons greetings to writers at risk…

Show your support for writers at risk around the world by sending a seasonal greetings card. Many writers who have received these cards have told us of how much it meant to them to be remembered by their colleagues in this way, and those of you who have participated in previous years will know how touching it is to receive a response from a prisoner or their family.

 

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