Elif Shafak’s novel ’10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World’ (Turkey)

NORTH AFRICA, MIDDLE EAST AND CENTRAL ASIA This is a bit of a throwback post, as some of it was first posted by me in 2019, and was in fact my fifth ever review on the blog. I’m re-posting with some additional discussion of publication prospects in the West for Turkish authors, as part of …

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!”