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FOR THE PERSON WHO APPRECIATES FOREIGN FILMS IN BOOK FORM

1. The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza, Translated by Sarah Booker

On a dark and stormy night, two mysterious women invade an unnamed narrator’s house, where they proceed to ruthlessly question their host’s identity. While the women are strangely intimate—even inventing a secret language—they harass the narrator by repeatedly claiming that they know his greatest secret: that he is, in fact, a woman. As the increasingly frantic protagonist fails to defend his supposed masculinity, he eventually finds himself in a sanatorium.

Published for the first time in English, this Gothic tale destabilizes male-female binaries and subverts literary tropes.

2. Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos, Translated by Robin Myers

With stories focused on the lives of marginalized people, Cars on Fire transmutes loss and pain into an ode about the multiplicity of love. Mónica Ramón Ríos’s electric, uncompromising English-language debut, unfolds through a series of female characters—the writer, the patient, the immigrant, the professor, the student—whose identities are messy and ever-shifting.

3.  Terminal Boredom by Izumi Suzuki, Translated by Polly Barton, Sam Bett, and David Boyd

The first English language publication of the work of Izumi Suzuki, a legend of Japanese science fiction and a countercultural icon! At turns nonchalantly hip and charmingly deranged, Suzuki’s singular slant on speculative fiction would be echoed in countless later works, from Margaret Atwood and Harumi Murakami, to Black Mirror and Ex Machina. In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always earthed by the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on.

4. This Little Art by Kate Briggs

An essay with the reach and momentum of a novel, Kate Briggs’s This Little Art is a genre-bending song for the practice of literary translation, offering fresh, fierce and timely thinking on reading, writing and living with the works of others. Taking her own experience of translating Roland Barthes’s lecture notes as a starting point, the author threads various stories together to give us this portrait of translation as a compelling, complex and intensely relational activity.

5. Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, Translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd

Challenging every preconception about storytelling and prose style, mixing wry humor and riveting emotional depth, Kawakami is today one of Japan’s most important and best-selling writers. She exploded onto the cultural scene first as a musician, then as a poet and popular blogger, and is now an award-winning novelist.

6. Eartheater by Dolores Reyes, Translated by Julia Sanches

Electrifying and provocative, visceral and profound, a powerful literary debut novel about a young woman whose compulsion to eat earth gives her visions of murdered and missing people—an imaginative synthesis of mystery and magical realism that explores the dark tragedies of ordinary lives.

7. The Adventures of China Iron by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Translated by Iona Macintyre

China Iron reimagines Argentina’s macho national origin myth from a female perspective, in a joyful, hallucinatory journey across the pampas of 19th century. This subversive retelling of Argentina’s foundational gaucho epic Martín Fierro is a celebration of the colour and movement of the living world, the open road, love and sex, and the dream of lasting freedom. With humour and sophistication, Gabriela Cabezón Cámara has created a joyful, hallucinatory novel that is also an incisive critique of national myths.

8. Variations on the Body by María Ospina, Translated by Heather Cleary

In six subtly connected stories, Variations on the Body explores the obsessions, desires, and idiosyncrasies of women and girls from different strata of Colombian society. Combining humor, heartbreak, and unexpected violence, Ospina constructs a keen reflection on the body as a simultaneous vehicle of connection and alienation in vibrant, gleaming prose.

9. The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada, Translated by David Boyd

Winner of the Akutagawa Prize, The Hole is by turns reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, David Lynch, and My Neighbor Totoro, but is singularly unsettling.

10. Where the Wild Ladies Are by Matsuda Aoko, Translated by Polly Barton

In this witty and exuberant collection of feminist retellings of traditional Japanese folktales, humans live side by side with spirits who provide a variety of useful services—from truth-telling to babysitting, from protecting castles to fighting crime.

11. When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back by Naja Marie Aidt, Translated by Denise Newman

An unflinchingly raw and lyrical exploration of a mother’s grief and how it transforms her relationship to time, reality, and language. Intensely moving, When Death Takes Something from You Give It Back explores what is it to be a family, what it is to love and lose, and what it is to treasure life in spite of death’s indomitable resolve.

HOLIDAY 2021 GIFT GUIDE: IN TRANSLATION
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