May offers us a ton of intriguing works in translation from around the world. This month, I’m highlighting fiction from Israel, Belgium, and Catalonia, as well as poetry from Germany. Let us know which of these you’re putting on your TBR list!
Alexandrian Summer by Yitzhak Gormezano Goren, translated by Yardenne Greenspan (New Vessel Press, 200 pages, May 12)
In English for the first time, Gormezano Goren’s 1978 novel of upper-middle-class Alexandrian life in the early 1950s delves into the seductive whirl of cosmopolitan society. Against a backdrop of sexual hypocrisy, night-club forays, and horse-races, we learn about two Jewish families and their escape from Egypt to Israel in 1951. Sounds like a fascinating read.
Seasonal Time Change by Michael Krüger, translated by Joseph Given (Seagull Books, 128 pages, May 15)
Recently retired from his position as director of Hanser Publishing, Krüger here offers us poems about the relationship between Nature and Humanity. While we change our clocks twice per year in order to wrangle more daylight for our over-worked lives, Krüger reminds us that darkness (both literal and figurative) is always around the corner.
Marcel by Erwin Mortier, translated by Ina Rilke (Pushkin Press, 128 pages, May 5) [now in paperback]
Winner of the AKO Literature Prize in 2009, Mortier is considered one of Europe’s most preeminent contemporary writers. Marcel, told from the perspective of a ten-year-old boy, focuses on one family’s history in a Flemish village. While no one wants to talk about Marcel and his death during WWI, Marcel’s younger brother (together with his teacher), slowly uncovers the “shame” that haunts the older son’s past.
Life Embitters by Josep Pla, translated by Peter Bush (Archipelago, 600 pages, May 5)
Another first in English, Pla’s book of “narrations” shows us why this Catalan writer (1897-1981) is considered the “finest…of his generation.” Each narrative piece is like a still-life, focusing on the tangible and memorable things of this world. Pla invites us to share his perspective on the complexity and sensuality of our surroundings.
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