Review no 41: José Eduardo Agualusa, A General Theory of Oblivion (Angola)

Translated by Daniel Hahn AFRICA The trouble with reading books from around the world is that there are so many war stories. Sometimes it feels as though every work of translated fiction I read is set in a war zone, past or present. Obviously I recognise the importance of hearing people’s stories and being informed […]

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 26: Tété-Michel Kpomassie, An African in Greenland (Togo)

“Unbelievable!” he exclaimed. “How can a man fall off a sled? It’s not possible, yet you, you managed to do it. I saw you rolling down like a seal’s bladder, and I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

Review no 25: Hanne Ørstavik, Love (Norway)

I loved this short, sharp shock of a novel. Think you’re a bad mother? It’s ok, you’re not as bad as Vibeke.

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.