MixedThe Guardian (UK)Bernhard Schlink’s latest novel about an ill-fated couple is quieter, more reflective than his international bestseller The Reader ... The letters confirm Olga’s stoicism, her love of simple pleasures and contain two secrets that, frustratingly, Schlink has already given away. Olga is a poignant portrait of a woman out of step with her time, but too predictable to truly satisfy.
Samira Sedira, Tr. Lara Vergnaud
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Samira Sedira believes that a writer’s role is not to judge or take sides, but to \'attempt to get closer to the shadows\' ... her taut novel, deftly translated by Lara Vergnaud, does precisely that ... Although the Guillots swiftly befriend the Langlois family, it’s a troubled relationship from the outset. When Anna agrees to work as their cleaner, Sedira brilliantly conveys the damage inflicted by her subservient role ... Sedira lays bare the perils of a callous society dominated by money and status, and the insidious racism that drives an ordinary man to murder. There are no monsters, she claims, \'only humans.\'
Omar El Akkad
RaveThe Financial Times (UK)... a powerful indictment of the west’s treatment of vulnerable, often traumatised, refugees ... As well as exploring the migrants’ reasons for risking life and limb, El Akkad’s clear-eyed account conveys the increasing desensitisation of ordinary people on the island, from the rescue team who move among the corpses and \'carefully pocket anything that sparkles\', to the exasperated tourists whose tranquility has been disrupted and the coast guard who dismissively tosses aside a washed-up life jacket ... However, small acts of kindness restore our faith in humanity ... this compassionate novel could not be more timely.
RaveThe Observer (UK)... another profound meditation on suffering ... Sri Lanka, a divided island, is a presence throughout. In dense, hypnotic prose, Arudpragasam explores the desire for independence that enflamed the decades-long civil war, the violence that ensued and the emotional scars that refuse to heal.
Claudia Hernández, trans. by Julia Sanches
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... immersive novel, superbly translated ... Using stream of consciousness and indirect speech, she creates a vivid sense of multiple voices overlapping and interrupting each other. Slash and Burn is undoubtedly a challenging read, as we have to unpack a layered narrative, but it is a brilliant evocation of civil war and its bitter legacy—the invisible scars, distrust, exploitation and the personal and political vendettas that persist long after the peace accord is signed.
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, tr. Iona MacIntyre and Fiona Macintosh
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)The Adventures of China Iron certainly passes the Bechdel test. It focuses on two plucky women who cross the pampas in search of a new way of life ... Cámara gives the classic narrative of macho men corralling the natives and cultivating the vast grasslands a deliberately queer slant ... Brilliantly translated by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre, this is a heartfelt, dreamlike paean to Argentina’s past and what might have been had the pampas been left alone.
Jenny Erpenbeck, Trans. by Kurt Beals
RaveThe Guardian (UK)Erpenbeck’s refreshing frankness and incisive thinking permeate this collection ... The essays explore the subjects – walls and borders, truth and silence, identity and memory and the limitations of language – present in her fiction while her autobiographical accounts give valuable context ... Erpenbeck’s anger is palpable and this collection reveals both her creative process and the injustices that drive her to write.
RaveThe Observer (UK)... [a] courageous and timely novel, deftly interweaving fact and fiction, memoir and history ... It’s hard to convey the breadth and brilliance of this work. Exploiting his skills as playwright and essayist as well as novelist, Akhtar depicts an immigrant family’s experience of the American dream through a son’s relationship with his father, and dissects the erosion of truth, decency and hope in a nation shaped by debt and money.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)A prolific writer, Neuman delights in language and linguistic ambiguity. In Fracture, he explores the fragmented nature of memory, emotional scars, a city’s wounds after a disaster and the cracks in a relationship caused by cultural difference. He draws profound parallels between collective traumas ... poignant lyricism ... Perceptively translated by Nick Caistor and Lorenza Garcia, Fracture is a novel for our times and astonishingly relevant. Radiation, like coronavirus, is an invisible killer. After Fukushima, the official communications about the catastrophe prove unreliable.
PositiveThe Financial Times (UK)Adiga suggests another level of indignity endured by the undocumented migrants who, like Danny, are forced to exist on the margins ... Amnesty takes place over the course of a few hours, from 8:46 in the morning through to the evening, but Adiga’s structured timing does not always work ... However, it is a tremendously humane read. Adiga underlines that it is the legitimate fear of being detained for an extended length of time that forces migrants underground ... Adiga is unwavering in the spotlight he trains on Australia’s hypocrisy — a country that promises a \'fair go\' for all but treats its asylum seekers with hostility and contempt.
PositiveThe Independent (UK)It is the corruption, cultural and political oppression, orchestrated by the Kremlin, that increasingly occupies Pomerantsev ... Pomerantsev is particularly entertaining when observing the changing fads of the television industry, but for the most part he focuses on the sad, sometimes surreal, form corruption takes today. Most political intrigues lead back to the Kremlin and, as Pomerantsev amply demonstrates, Putin’s authoritarianism has many guises.
Fleur Jaeggy Trans. by Tim Parks
RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)... superbly translated by Tim Parks ... Jaeggy explores the thin line between order and madness and illustrates with perfect precision how swiftly loneliness can turn into despair.
Norberto Fuentes, Trans. by Anna Kushner
PositiveThe Independent...[an] impressive English translation ... Castro is renowned for having delivered some of the longest speeches in world history, so it is no mean feat that Fuentes impersonates his bombastic tone without boring us to tears. He illuminates the Cuban leader\'s pettier concerns through vivid descriptions of his political point-scoring, grandiose obsessions and macho posturing ... There are some wonderfully playful moments in The Autobiography, such as when Castro is caught, quite literally, contemplating his cojones (testicles) or when he declares: \'Sometimes it\'s hard for me to act like a professional soldier instead of the intellectual that I am\' ... Fuentes has produced a fascinating portrait of one of the most controversial figures from the past century as well as a meticulously researched account of the Cuban revolution and its legacy.
RaveThe GuardianA brilliant critique of an authoritarian regime on the verge of collapse ... multi-layered, lyrical prose ... [Altan\'s] outrageous detention makes the reading of his vibrant, engrossing novel, lucidly translated by Brendan Freely and Yelda Türedi, all the more urgent as an act of solidarity. Altan is writing the fourth volume from his prison cell.
Yuri Herrera, trans. by Lisa Dillman
RaveHuffington Post...[a] superb novella ... In extraordinary prose he creates stark landscapes and surreal scenarios which remain with you long after the final pages ... There is an epic quality to Herrera\'s tale ... In his brilliant, multi-layered narratives he captures some of the conflicting forces shaping (and distorting) Mexico today and the impact of violence and xenophobia on ordinary people\'s lives.
PositiveThe Financial TimesJones’ terse lyricism, together with his repetition of resonant images and motifs, encourage the reader to fill in the gaps ... Jones strips the story down to its elemental core and much of it reads like a prose poem. His vivid descriptions allow us to feel the man’s physical discomfort and flagging spirit ... Cove is a slighter work than Jones’ previous novel, The Dig, but explores similar themes. Just as The Dig was about the rhythms of rural life, Cove is about the dangerous, unknowable rhythms of the sea. Both are about devastation — one emotional, the other physical — and both examine love, loss, memory and the will to live. Cove is a haunting meditation on trauma and human fragility.