Review no 21: Scholastique Mukasonga, Our Lady of the Nile (Rwanda)

AFRICA Translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner I serendipitously found my copy of this book in a secondhand bookshop in Herne Hill, South London, which I’ve found to be an unexpected and excitingly ripe source of obscure works of fiction in translation. The husband – amusingly but perhaps a bit meanly – suggested that …

Review no 20: Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (Iran)

Gripping and informative memoir of growing up during and after Iran’s Islamic Revolution. It’s accessible graphic novel format, and engaging and often very funny narrator make this required reading. Five star brilliance.

Review no 17: Tove Ditlevsen (1917-78), The Copenhagen Trilogy (Denmark)

EUROPE Translated from the Danish by Tiina Nunally (vols 1&2) and Michael Favala Goldman (vol 3) Penguin Books recently published Tove Divletsen’s autobiographical Copenhagen Trilogy as a beautiful three-volume set, entitled Childhood, Youth and Dependency (in Danish Barndom, Ungdom and Gift). They are gorgeous editions, and a pleasure to own, but it is a little …

Review no 16: Samanta Schweblin, Fever Dream (Argentina)

Translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell AMERICAS AND THE CARIBBEAN This is a short sharp shock of a book, a hallucinatory horror story that builds up a constant hum of excruciating tension over its 150 pages. Published in Spanish as Distancia de rescate (Rescue Distance), the modern gothic, body-swap novella is apparently inspired by …

Review no 12: Edna O’Brien, The Little Red Chairs (Ireland)

EUROPE Irish writer Edna O’Brien is probably best known for her classic prize-winning novel Country Girls, published in 1960.  It dealt with sex and social issues in post-World War 2 Ireland, and was reportedly not only banned there, but set alight and denounced in church. O’Brien’s career has spanned some 60 years, and she has …

Review no 10: Oyinkan Braithwaite – My Sister, The Serial Killer (Nigeria)

AFRICA As I’m trying to work my way through books, film and art from across the world, it makes sense to ensure that I’m not spending too much time in one region. I need an even spread of countries from all five of the regions that I’ve divided the world -roughly evenly – into. So …

Review no 8: Leila Slimani, Chanson douce (Lullaby)

MOROCCO / FRANCE : NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA My daughter told me I had to be honest about how long this book took me to read. I bought it in French in Paris a year ago, and did little more than dip into it until this summer. I studied French at university, …

Review no 1: Tove Jansson (1914-2001) , The True Deceiver (Finland)

Translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal EUROPE **** “I loved this book. It’s cool in both senses of the word, understated yet exciting …. The characters still haunt me.” – Ruth Rendell It wasn’t until I went to an amazing exhibition on the life and work of Tove Jansson at Dulwich Picture Gallery in …