In Translation: June Fiction

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Rachel Cordasco

Staff Writer

Rachel Cordasco has a Ph.D in literary studies and currently works as a developmental editor. When she's not at her day job or chasing three kids, she's writing reviews and translating Italian speculative fiction. She runs the website, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s that time again, guys- time for some fabulous fiction from around the world, courteously translated into English for our reading pleasure. This month, I’ve highlighted some rather short but fascinating books from Argentina, Iran, and Mexico. Enjoy!


AiraThe Conversations by César Aira, transl. by Katherine Silver

(New Directions, 96 pages, June 26)

So there’s this goatherd wearing a gold Rolex watch in a cafe, a guy who is super disturbed by it, some killer algae, and all kinds of other bizarre happenings (yes, you read that right). And all of this in just 96 pages! Aira, a popular writer of short fiction and essays in Latin America, asks us to wrap our brains around this unlikely scenario. And if killer algae in fiction is your thing, this book was definitely written for you.



DowlatabadiThirst: A Novel of the Iran-Iraq War by Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, transl. by Martin E. Weir (Melville House, 128 pages, June 24)

Thirst, Dowlatabadi’s third novel, is about fact vs. fiction and how we tell stories. During the Iran-Iraq War, an Iraqi journalist is asked to write a fabricated story in order to demoralize Iranian soldiers. Unwilling to write such a thing, the journalist instead tells an Iraqi major a piece of fiction that he’s writing instead, about a stalemate between two groups of soldiers over a water tank. Despite being recognized as Iran’s most important contemporary writer, Dowlatabadi is prevented from publishing in his native Iran. Thanks to Melville House and Martin Weir, though, we can read this new novel from a prize-winning writer.


NettelNatural Histories: Stories by Guadalupe Nettel, transl. by J. T. Lichtenstein (Seven Stories Press, 128 pages, June 10)

Winner of the 3rd Ribera del Duero International Award for Short Narratives, Natural Histories offers us stories of Siamese fighting fish, cats, a strange fungus, and more, all of which stand in for the dark, unacknowledged aspects of human nature. Through these animals we learn more about ourselves: how we live together and love one another. Natural Histories is Nettel’s English-language debut and already on my TBR list. Clearly.



Which newly-translated books are you excited about?