Review no 39: A Girl Made of Dust, Nathalie abi-Ezzi (Lebanon)

NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA I recently joined the Shelterbox Book Club, which for a donation of £10 a month sends me a regular book for discussion as part on an online book club, and also helps to provide emergency shelter and resources for families affected by disaster worldwide. The most recent book …

Review no 36: Mariama Bâ (1929-81), Une Si Longue Lettre/So Long a Letter (Senegal)

Translated from the French by Modupé Bodé-Thomas AFRICA So Long a Letter is an epistolary novel (rare in African literature) and seminal African feminist work that laments injustices in the female experience in Senegal. The book was published in French in 1979, and first appeared in English in 1981. It has been judged to be …

Review no 31: Frankenstein in Baghdad, Ahmed Saadawi (Iraq)

Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA This is a strange book with an excellent title, winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2014 and shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker international prize. (I often wonder what prompts a particular book to be translated into English, …

Review no 27: Han Kang, Human Acts (South Korea)

FAR EAST, SOUTH ASIA AND AUSTRALASIA Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith When it came to choosing a female South Korean writer, there was really no choice to be made. Han Kang is a previous winner of the Man Booker International Prize, and two of her novels recently made it onto the top 5 …

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 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 …