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Belletrista - A site promoting translated women authored literature from around the world

New & Notable
Whether you are a seasoned reader of international literature or a reader just venturing out beyond your own literary shores, we know you will find our New and Notable section a book browser's paradise! Reading literature from around the world has a way of opening up one's perspective to create as vast a world within us as there is without. Here are more than 80 new or notable books we hope will bring the world to you. Remember—depending on what country you are shopping in, these books might be sold under slightly different titles or ISBNs, in different formats or with different covers; or be published in different months. However, the author's name is always likely to be the same!


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Jen Sookfong Lee

From a master of family dynamics comes this vivid tale of two misfits who find each other while stumbling toward their own true identities. In 1958, eight-year-old Danny Lim has been sent to buy cigarettes for his father, when he realizes that he has lost the money. Frantic, he rushes through Vancouver's Chinatown and behind a nightclub, where he sees Miss Val, a long-time burlesque dancer. Danny is enraptured with her sequined garters and silk robe, and Val, touched by his fascination, gives him a pack of cigarettes and her silk belt. Years later, Danny spends his days working as a wedding photographer and his nights cruising Stanley Park, far away from the home where his parents and sister live. He realizes that the key to understanding himself and his family lies in his connection to Miss Val, and he is determined to find her. Before she became the Siamese Kitten, a major player on the North American circuit, Miss Val was Valerie Nealy, a feisty girl growing up in a rundown house beside the Fraser River. But to find the stardom she thought she wanted, she had to make a series of seemingly irrevocable decisions.

Set mostly during an unseasonably hot summer in Vancouver in 1982 when HIV/AIDS was spreading rapidly, The Better Mother brims with undeniable tragedy, but resounds with the power of friendship, change and truth. It will cement Jen Sookfong Lee's reputation as one of this country's finest young novelists.

Knopf, hardcover, 9780307399502

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Helen Humphries

This title is based on the true story of Charles Saint-Beuve, his lover Adele and her husband, Victor Hugo. When Charles Saint-Beuve, a French literary journalist met Victor Hugo, an ambitious young writer who intended to become famous, he was swept into a world of grand emotions, a world where words can become swords. But it is not Victor he is really attracted to—it is his wife Adele. Soon the two lovers are on the edge of a great scandal and a wounded Victor must exact his price for betrayal, a price that will change the lives of many, including his own children. As Saint-Beuve—a man like no other man—struggles to hold on to what is left of his great love, he finds that only words can rekindle the flame.

Set during the tumultuous reign of Napoleon III, this mesmerising novel draws a rich portrait of old Paris, where duels were fought and cholera-ridden bodies float in the Seine. Towering over all is the genius of Victor Hugo, already the voice of France, eventually banished to the island of Guernsey for his opposition to the regime. In contrast come the quieter voices of two women destroyed by Hugo's ferocious literary ambition as well as the unique, acerbic and heart-breaking voice of the critic and essayist, Saint-Beuve, first Hugo's friend and then his unlikely competitor in love. An atmospheric story of delicacy and emotion, of the experience of professional jealousy and personal passion, The Reinvention of Love is an outstanding piece of fiction writing, in part about writing itself.

Serpent's Tail, paperback, 9781846687983 (July)

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Agnes Walsh

The Tramore Theatre was formed in 1999 by Agnes Walsh and Arlene Morrissey. It is a community-based arts organization dedicated to the promotion of the oral history and the cultural traditions of the Cape Shore of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, including the rich Irish heritage of the area.

Answer Me Home: Plays from Tramore showcases the settlement history of the area and depicts the lives of the local people over the centuries. The plays also cross into social injustice, out migration, aging, changes in the fishery and inter-generational communication. These plays aim to show audiences a unique culture through theatre, song and dance.

Breakwater Books, paperback, 978155081348X

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Nelly Arcan
Translated from the French by David Scott Hamilton

Somewhere in Montreal, in the not too distant future, an obscure company offers custom-designed suicides for its clients with one condition: their desire to die must be pure and absolute. Antoinette Beauchamp is a successful candidate but her suicide is not. Now a bedridden paraplegic, hooked up to machines that monitor all her bodily functions, she tells her story, taking the reader into the Kafkaesque world of the company and its bewildering cast of characters.

Exit is at once a profound examination of what it is that drives someone to want to end their life, as well as how that urge can be turned on its head against all odds. Written with her signature brio and acerbic wit, Nelly Arcan's last novel is a hymn to life.

Anvil Press, paperback, 9781897535660

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Roberta Lowing

A finalist for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Notorious is a literary mystery, a love story, a book of poetry and violation, faith and chaos, redemption and destruction, and a masterpiece of imagination that will take your breath away.

She came walking out of the desert, just as the famous poet Rimbaud had centuries before. Now the nameless woman lies horribly scarred and close to death in an asylum deep in the North African desert. An Australian official, a man code-named John Devlin, has come to question her. It is clear that the woman and Devlin share some kind of past, and all kinds of secrets—but the greatest secret is the one she will die to protect.

As the wind calls up a deadly sandstorm, the inhabitants of the asylum discover they are linked by a diary written by Rimbaud. Over the next 120 years, everyone who sees the diary will want it. Most will do anything to possess it. For the ruthless Polish aristocrat Aleksander Walenska, the diary holds secrets that will bring him wealth and power; for his troubled and religious son Czeslaw, it is a book of death, a penance to be fulfilled by sacrifice; for Czeslaw's sister, it is a book of the desert that will redeem her family's name; for Devlin, the diary is worthless and the desert is not a place of revelation but of modern terrorism. Only the woman, whose dark past is entwined with those who would possess Rimbaud's diary at any cost, knows the true worth of the book …

House of Anansi, paperback, 9781770890008 (August)

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Madeleine Thien

Dogs at the Perimeter begins one winter, when Janie, a researcher in Montreal, suddenly leaves her husband and young son. She retreats to the home of her friend and mentor, the neurologist Hiroji Matsui, who has mysteriously disappeared. Their friendship, and the world Janie begins to reclaim in the wake of Hiroji's disappearance, are at the heart of Madeleine Thien's eagerly anticipated second novel.

Thirty years earlier, in 1975, Janie is a child in Cambodia. When the Khmer Rouge take control of the country, the fallen city of Phnom Penh is emptied. Together with her parents and her younger brother, Sopham, she is forced into the countryside. In the terror that follows, when to remember one's own past becomes a crime against the revolution, her father, a translator, is taken away, and gradually her mother weakens. Survival depends on escape, and ultimately Janie and Sopham must undertake a treacherous journey through the flooded caves at the border, across the sea, and toward a new existence.

Now, as she moves among Hiroji's belongings, Janie salvages fragments of his past and, slowly, her own. Needing to find a truth she can be reconciled with, to make amends, she follows Hiroji's story to Southeast Asia where she believes he has gone in search of his brother James, a Red Cross doctor who went missing in Cambodia many years earlier, and whose own story comes vividly, powerfully to life.

McClelland & Stewart, hardcover, 9780771084089

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Edited by Pilar Cuder-Dominguez, Bel&eacoute;n Martin-Lucas, Sonia Villegas-López

Transnational Poetics: Contemporary Asian Canadian Women's Fiction examines the writing of a generation of Asian Canadian women authors that started publishing in the 1990s: Shauna Singh Baldwin, Rachna Mara, Anita Rau Badami, Shani Mootoo, Shree Ghatage, Yasmin Ladha, Larissa Lai, Evelyn Lau, Lydia Kwa, Tamai Kobayashi, Hiromi Goto, Sally Ito, Kerri Sakamoto. The aim of the book is to determine how they re-conceptualize racial and gender identity and how they relate to the Canadian cultural climate in the new century, while providing an analysis of the innovative approach they have brought to genre and aesthetics.

TSAR Publications, paperback, 9781894770682