Big ol’ congratulations, high-fives, & champagne toasts to the Best Translated Book Awards Winner & Runners-Up!
(all titles link to ordering info & summaries!)
Let’s talk about otherpress, Pushkin Press, and Stefan Zweig. Other has been all over the news lately as every reviewer and his/her mother jumps on the bandwagon of praise for George Prochnik’s biography of Stefan Zweig, The Impossible Exile (and with good reason). But don’t stop there - dig into Other’s backlist (with a little help from our staff recs) and thank them later. Meanwhile, Pushkin’s been releasing Zweig’s novellas and short stories with style and grace since way before Wes Anderson started talking them up. But why read anything by or about Stefan Zweig, you ask? Because he is your next favorite author. Because his tragedy is the tragedy of the 20th century. Because you need more Zs on your bookshelf. Ok?
Pushkin Press titles:
"I’ll Be Right There is a haunting story of adolescent entanglements that will speak to readers everywhere."
"It’s full of murder and sex and magic and spies."
"Stamm powerfully illuminates the ways in which self-preservation too often amounts to nothing more than a life of cynicism, pain and loneliness."
Summer reading could be any kind of book: romance, celebrity tell-all, World War II history, graphic novel. The offerings in international fiction in translation have been too good lately for me not to plug two titles.
Kyung Sook Shin’s I’ll Be Right There (Other Press) focuses on a young South Korean woman’s turbulent coming of age in 1980s South Korea. Loss, love, and literature all play a role. Library Journal's starred review makes clear what a special novel this is from Shin, who won the 2011 Man Asian Literary Prize for Please Look After Mom: “Shin’s searing, immediate prose will remind readers of Nadeem Aslam’s The Blind Man’s Garden, Edwidge Danticat’s The Dew Breaker, and Aminatta Forna’s The Memory of Love, and their stories of ordinary lives trapped in extraordinary sociopolitical circumstances.”
Last Words from Monmartre (NYRB Classics), by the late Taiwanese-born modernist Qui Miaojin, is an epistolary novel with a twist: you can read the letters in any order, per the author, who tells the story of a romance between two young women in Paris, Tokyo, and Taipei. Only 26 when she committed suicide, Qui Miaojin was awarded the China Times Honorary Prize for Literature in 1995. Here’s Publishers Weekly: “It would be wrong to interpret the book’s—or, for that matter, the author’s—ultimate surrender to death as a rejection of the richness of life; rather, like Goethe’s young Werther, this ‘last testament’ (an alternative translation of the title) affirms the power of literature.”
Go forth and summer-read!