‘If you water dashed hopes’ [book review]

A review of Forty Lost Years by Rosa Maria Arquimbau, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush Read just a few pages of Forty Lost Years and you’ll find it hard not to fall in love with Laura Vidal. Fourteen years old and an apprentice dressmaker, the narrator of Rosa Maria Arquimbau’s overlooked masterpiece hasContinue reading ‘If you water dashed hopes’ [book review]

‘This cremation ground at the end of the world’ [book review]

A review of A Passage North by Anuk Arudpragasam It comes as no surprise to learn that Anuk Arudpragasam is a philosopher. The Sri Lankan-born author holds a doctorate in the subject from Columbia University, which is reflected in the marked philosophical bent to his writing. The opening pages of A Passage North, his secondContinue reading ‘This cremation ground at the end of the world’ [book review]

‘Two women doing their best in their world’ [book review]

A review of The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia It may be titled The Son of the House, but the debut novel by Nigerian author Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia is a work of literature all about women. Women and, more broadly, Nigeria – a country that undergoes great social and political changes over the courseContinue reading ‘Two women doing their best in their world’ [book review]

‘Zero transport. Zero meat. Zero hope.’ [book review]

A review of Havana Year Zero by Karla Suárez, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney Only once in Havana Year Zero is the city ever explicitly given human characteristics. On a balcony in the rain, towards the end of the novel, as her life seems to be falling apart around her, our narrator, Julia,Continue reading ‘Zero transport. Zero meat. Zero hope.’ [book review]

‘Each thing carries its opposite within’ [book review]

A review of At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis It is unfair to write this without having read the entire shortlist, but At Night All Blood is Black has serious International Booker Prize-winning potential. David Diop’s novel, in translation by Anna Moschovakis, is a short,Continue reading ‘Each thing carries its opposite within’ [book review]

‘A Pepsi and a bag of animal crackers’ [book review]

A review of Wars of the Interior by Joseph Zárate, translated from the Spanish by Annie McDermott ‘A map is not an innocent drawing: it contains a political message,’ writes Joseph Zárate in Wars of the Interior, a highly charged and brave investigation of the under-reported conflicts playing out in the heartlands of Peru. TheContinue reading ‘A Pepsi and a bag of animal crackers’ [book review]

Independent Press Profile: Istros Books

A series in which I profile my favourite independent publishers: some of the most exciting addresses when it comes to finding original ideas, literature in translation and voices that are underrepresented in the mainstream. Each one has so much to offer and is more than deserving of support – buy directly where you can, orContinue reading Independent Press Profile: Istros Books

The Monthly Booking: February 2021

An accidental Russian theme has crept into my reading for this month, which I’ve put together from titles waiting patiently on my shelves and a couple of new review copies. Perhaps my leaning towards northern climes reflects the bitterly cold weather we’ve been experiencing here recently; perhaps it’s just my ongoing yearning for travel. EitherContinue reading The Monthly Booking: February 2021

‘The impenetrable nature of sleep’ [book review]

A review of Sleepless by Anders Bortne, translated from the Norwegian by Lucy Moffatt ‘Insomnia is a public health problem suffered by every tenth adult in the Western world.’ A striking statement, but one that is entirely characteristic of Norwegian author Anders Bortne’s recent memoir Sleepless, a record of his own struggle with chronic insomniaContinue reading ‘The impenetrable nature of sleep’ [book review]

The Best Books of 2020

It isn’t easy to write a ‘best books of the year’ post. First of all, I hate being asked to choose anything. Secondly, posts of this format mushroom at this time of year – and how many, I wonder, do we really need? All the same, I decided it would be a useful exercise (andContinue reading The Best Books of 2020

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