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 130 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! (a book published in another country may not always be available to your library or local bookstore, but individuals usually can purchase them from the publishers or other online resources)

In this issue, because of our delayed publication, we have broadened our selection of books to inclue those which may have been published anywhere from this past August through February of next year. We hope this helps you plan all your winter (or summer, depending on where you live) reading! Enjoy!


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Pat Barker

With Toby's Room, a sequel to her widely praised previous novel Life Class, the incomparable Pat Barker confirms her place in the pantheon of Britain's finest novelists. This indelible portrait of a family torn apart by war focuses on Toby Brooke, a medical student, and his younger sister Elinor. Enmeshed in a web of complicated family relationships, Elinor and Toby are close: some might say too close. But when World War I begins, Toby is posted to the front as a medical officer while Elinor stays in London to continue her fine art studies at the Slade, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Tonks. There, in a startling development based in actual fact, Elinor finds that her drafting skills are deployed to aid in the literal reconstruction of those maimed in combat. One day in 1917, Elinor has a sudden premonition that Toby will not return from France. Three weeks later the family receives a telegram informing them that Toby is "Missing, Believed Killed" in Ypres. However, there is no body, and Elinor refuses to accept the official explanation. Then she finds a letter hidden in the lining of Toby's uniform; Toby knew he wasn't coming back, and he implies that fellow soldier Kit Neville will know why. Toby's Room is an eloquent literary narrative of hardship and resilience, love and betrayal, and anguish and redemption. In unflinching yet elegant prose, Pat Barker captures the enormity of the war's impact--not only on soldiers at the front but on the loved ones they leave behind.

Doubleday (US), hardcover, 9780385524360

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Martha Lea

The year is 1866. Edward Scales is a businessman, a butterfly collector, a respectable man. He is the man Gwen Carrick fell in love with seven years before. Now he is dead and Gwen is on trial for his murder. From country house drawing rooms to the rainforests of Brazil, The Specimen explores the price one independent young woman might pay for wanting an unorthodox life. Set in a Victorian world battling between the forces of spiritualism and Darwinism, polite society and the call of clandestine love, Gwen and Edward's tale is a gripping melodrama, a romance and a murder mystery that will compel readers to its final thrilling page.

Canongate (UK), hardcover, 9780857867 (February 2013)

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Emma Donoghue

Counterfeiter. Dishwasher. Prostitute. Attorney. Sculptor. Mercenary. Elephant. Corpse. The fascinating characters that roam across the pages of Emma Donoghue's latest fact-inspired fictions have all gone astray: they are emigrants, runaways, drifters. They cross other borders, too: those of race, law, sex and sanity. They travel for love or money, incognito or under duress. Donoghue describes the brutal plot hatched by a slave in conjunction with his master's wife to set them both free; she draws out the difficulties of gold mining in the Yukon, even in the supposedly plentiful early days; and she takes us to an early Puritan community in Massachusetts unsettled by an invented sex scandal. Astray also includes 'The Hunt', a shocking confession of one soldier's violent betrayal during the American Revolution, which has been shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Short Story Award. Astray is a sequence of fourteen stories by the prize-winning author of Room and The Sealed Letter. These strange, true tales light up four centuries of wanderings, offering a past made up of deviations, and a surprising and moving history for restless times.

Picador (UK), hardcover, 9781447209492; Little, Brown (US); hardcover, 9780316133272

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Kirsty Gunn

'The hills only come back the same: I don't mind ...' begins Kirsty Gunn's The Big Music, a novel that takes us to a new understanding of how fiction can affect us. Presented as a collection of found papers, appendices and notes, The Big Music tells the story of John Sutherland of 'The Grey House', who is dying and creating in the last days of his life a musical composition that will define it. Yet he has little idea of how his tune will echo or play out into the world—and as the book moves inevitably through its themes of death and birth, change and stasis, the sound of his solitary story comes to merge and connect with those around him. In this work of fiction, Kirsty Gunn has created something as real as music or as a dream. Not so much a novel as a place the reader comes to inhabit and to know, The Big Music is a literary work of undeniable originality and power.

Faber and Faber, hardcover, 9780571282333

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Jane Rogers

A young textile designer quits Britain to work for a Nigerian women's refuge, confident that this is her one chance to make a difference…
A sixteen-year-old uses his first job, as a window-cleaner, to peer into other people's lives and carefully plan his own…
A leading scientist spends an evening trying to explain his latest theory to a man who could destroy him...

The characters in Jane Rogers' first short story collection are each blessed with an unwavering conviction. Buoyed up on self-belief, they enthuse, take calculated risks, and refuse to be deterred by the odds stacked against them. But just as Rogers' compassion as a writer endears us to their cause, her keen eye shows how fine the balance can be between conviction and self-delusion. At times, her subject seems to be the fallibility of any point of view, the persistence of blind spots no matter how careful or intelligent the viewer. Hers are not unreliable narrators, merely human ones—diverse, contradictory, imperfect. Indeed it is often their flaws that beguile us.

Comma Press, paperback, 9781905583454

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Edited by Janet Thomas and Cathryn A. Charnell-White

14 women authors write about love, desire, heartbreak, sex, longing and guilt. Happy and sad, funny and fierce, they include stories of marriage, first love, affairs, what might have been, and all the messy joy and pain of human relationships. Some of these stories are new from some of Wales's best women writers; others are Welsh-language stories available in English for the first time. The writing is beautiful, modern, human and honest. Authors include Patricia Duncker, Jo Mazelis, Jo Verity, Francesca Rhydderch and Zillah Bethel.

Honno Press (UK), paperback, 9781906784669 (January 2013)

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Maggie O'Farrell

It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta's children—two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce—back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.

Headline Books (UK), hardcover, 9780755358786 (February 2013)

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Lucy Wood

In the tradition of Angela Carter, this luminous, spellbinding debut reinvents the stuff of myth. Straying husbands lured into the sea by mermaids can be fetched back, for a fee. Trees can make wishes come true. Houses creak and keep a fretful watch on their inhabitants, straightening shower curtains and worrying about frayed carpets. A mother, who seems alone and lonely, may be rubbing sore muscles or holding the hands of her invisible lover as he touches her neck. Phantom hounds roam the moors and, on a windy beach, a boy and his grandmother beat back despair with an old white door. In these stories, the line between the real and the imagined is blurred as Lucy Wood takes us to Cornwall's ancient coast, building on its rich storytelling history and recasting its myths in thoroughly contemporary ways. Calling forth the fantastic and fantastical, she mines these legends for that bit of magic remaining in all our lives—if only we can let ourselves see it.

Mariner Books, paperback, 9780547595535

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Lucy Caldwell

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." (Trad.) When Lara was twelve, and her younger brother Alfie eight, their father died in a helicopter crash. A prominent plastic surgeon, and Irishman, he had honed his skills on the bomb victims of the Troubles. But the family grew up used to him being absent: he only came to London for two weekends a month to work at the Harley Street Clinic, where he met their mother years before, and they only once went on a family holiday together, to Spain, where their mother cried and their father lost his temper and left early. Because home, for their father, wasn't Earls Court: it was Belfast, where he led his other life… Narrated by Lara, nearing forty and nursing her dying mother, All the Beggars Riding is the heartbreaking portrait of a woman confronting her past.

Faber & Faber, Paperback, 9780571270552 (February 2013)

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Pat McIntosh

The crows are gathering above Glasgow, watching the movements of the clergy and townspeople alike…. Tied to St Mungo's Cross at the cathedral to be cured of her madness overnight by the saint, the young woman is found in the morning beaten and strangled, still tied to the cross. But is she who she seems to be? And who would flout the saint's protection like this? Gil Cunningham must trace the dead woman and find her enemies, track down the thieves and murderers and identify the watchers in the shadows, particularly the elusive fourth person who holds the secret of what happened that night. Questioning cathedral staff and apprentice boys, pilgrims and tradesmen, he uncovers only more puzzles. And then there is another death. How is it connected to the first? While his wife Alys deals with the tensions within their family, Gil has to untangle the threads of the mystery to find the solution to all the crimes.

Constable, hardcover, 9781780331638; Soho Crime, hardcover, 9781616951580

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Muriel Spark

Nine short pieces by Muriel Spark: notes and reflections, dreams, diary entries, stories, a translation, and even a photograph she took in 1988. Assembled by Dan Gunn and Penelope Jardine, this cahier is not only a timely reminder of Spark's broad range of interests, but also of her wit, humour and literary sensitivity.

Sylph Editons/Univ. of Chicago Press, paperback, 9780955296321

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Sara Maitland

Fairy tales are one of our earliest cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient landscapes. Both evoke similar sensations: At times they are beautiful and magical, at others spooky and sometimes horrifying. Maitland argues that the terrain of these fairy tales is intimately connected to the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils. With each chapter focusing on a different story and a different forest visit, Maitland offers a complex history of forests and how they shape the themes of fairy tales we know best. She offers a unique analysis of famous stories including "Rapunzel", "Hansel and Gretal", "Snow White", "Little Red Riding Hood", "Rumplestiltskin," and "Sleeping Beauty." Maitland uses fairy tales to explore how nature itself informs our imagination, and she guides the reader on a series of walks through northern Europe's best forests to explore both the ecological history of forests and the roots of fairy tales. In addition to the twelve modern re-tellings of these traditional fairy tales, she includes beautiful landscape photographs taken by her son as he joined her on these long walks. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Maitland has infused new life into tales we've always thought we've known.

Counterpoint, hardcover, 9781619020146

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Ali Smith

Here, in book form, are four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University, a tidal wave of ideas in four thematically organised bursts of thought: 'On Time', 'On Form', 'On Edge' and 'On Offer and On Reflection'.

Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted—literally—by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature. Full of both the poignancy and humour of fiction and all the sideways insights and jaunty angles you would expect from Ali Smith's criticism, it explores form, style, life, love, death, mortality, immortality and what art and writing can mean.

Hamish Hamilton (UK), hardcover, 9780241145401 (November); Penguin Press (US), hardcover, 9781594204869 (January 2013)

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Posy Simmonds

In May 1977 Posy Simmonds, an unknown young illustrator, started drawing a weekly comic strip for the Guardian. It began as a silly parody of girls' adventure stories, making satirical comments about contemporary life. The strip soon focused on three 1950s school friends in their later middle-class and nearly middle-aged lives: Wendy Weber, a former nurse married to polytechnic sociology lecturer George with a large brood of children; Jo Heep, married to whisky salesman Edmund with two rebellious teenagers; and Trish Wright, married to philandering advertising executive Stanhope and with a young baby. The strip, which was latterly untitled and usually known just as 'Posy', ran until the late 1980s.

Collected here for the first time are the complete strips. Although celebrated for pinpointing the concerns of Guardian readers in the 1980s and their constant struggle to remain true to the ideals of the 1960s, they are in fact remarkably undated. They show one of Britain's favourite cartoonists, maturing into genius.

Jonathan Cape (UK), 9780224096836

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Jane Bowles

Jane Bowles wrote very little: just one perfect novel, Two Serious Ladies, a play, In the Summer House, and the dozen or so stories collected in this volume. But it was enough to establish a reputation as one of the twentieth century's most original fiction writers. From the title story in which an American woman is led to a house in a 'blue Moslem town' by a veiled woman with porcupines in her basket, to "Camp Cataract", a Colorado-based tour de force of middle-class claustrophobia and dread, Everything is Nice takes you into an edgy and exhilarating, tragicomic world. This beautifully produced volume includes all of Jane Bowles's stories, together with the fragments of two further novels, and three stories that originally formed a part of Two Serious Ladies before the book was edited by Paul Bowles. The book also includes the full text of In the Summer House, and two other short plays, A Quarreling Pair and At the Jumping Bean. Together with Two Serious Ladies, it represents Jane Bowles's complete fictional output.

Sort of Books (UK), paperback, 9781908745156 (December)

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Ursula Holden

Born into an affluent family, Bonnie, Tor and Ula have been left to the feckless embrace of the cook and their nanny. Their father is dead. Their glamorous mother is away entertaining the troops. When their infant brother falls ill and dies, the household disintegrates. In Tin Toys, Ula escapes with Cook, barely out of girlhood herself, and lands at the mansion of an enigmatic matriarch. In Unicorn Sisters, the three sisters are sent to a shabby English boarding school where the pupils are pitted against an anarchic gang of East End evacuees. A Bubble Garden finds the girls in Ireland, where they scrape a life in a crumbling, once-grand farmhouse, while their mother and her new husband are mired in their private traumas. A uniquely compelling and powerful coming-of-age classic.

Virago Modern Classics (UK), paperback, 9781844088270 (January 2013)

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Edited by Susan Gladspell

To celebrate their 100th book, Perspehone Books has gathered together a 'varied collection' of thirty stories in one volume. "The dates of the stories range from 1909 to 1986 and there are thirty in all, ten stories by existing Persephone short story writers, ten stories that have already appeared in the Biannually and therefore will be familiar to some, and ten stories that were completely new to us and are, we hope, new to our readers." For more information see the publisher's website.

Persephone Books, paperback, 9781903155905

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Sharon Blackie

Psyche is a solitary child. Isolated—both by her exceptional beauty and her lack of interest in academic pursuits—from the hothouse of Oxford intellectualism that her family inhabits, she escapes into daydreams of love. Lost in a fantasy world peopled with fairytale princes, Rochesters and Heathcliffs, she is pitifully ill-equipped for the real thing. And her stepsister Ann stole the only boy Psyche ever really loved. So, when Psyche returns to Oxford after a failed marriage and a suicide attempt, and meets Ann's charismatic American husband Sam, the scene is set for tragedy. Years later, during a long hot summer on the west coast of Scotland, the close relationship of Psyche's teenage daughter and stepdaughter is fractured by their fight over Jonnie Mackenzie. Psyche—haunted still by guilt—fears that history will repeat itself. And so she creates for her daughter Joy an imaginary movie of the story of her life. Fragmented yet atmospheric, the movie contains all the secrets that Psyche has kept over the years—including the secret of who Joy's father really is—Populated with a range of fascinating and semi-mythical characters—Diana, who dances with bees; Tom, the blind beekeeper next door; Aphra, the therapist; the mysterious Eleutherios (a nickname for Eros, the god of love) who has been sending Psyche emails for years. The Bee Dancer is a novel about one woman's quest for love and identity. It is also a novel about fictions, and especially, the fictions we tell ourselves about love.

Two Ravens Press (UK), paperback, 9781906120610 (December)

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Sue Hubbard

Girl in White is the extraordinary and moving story of Paula Modershohn Becker, who was denounced as degenerate by the Nazis after her death," told from the fictionalised perspective of her daughter Mathilde. Sue Hubbard has drawn on Becker's diaries and paintings to bring to life the artist's intense relationship with the poet Rilke and her struggle to find a balance between being a painter, wife and mother. Beautifully observed and evocative the novel is as satisfying as it is compelling.

Girl in White is a triumph of literary and artistic understanding, a tour du force: masterly, moving. "Hubbard goes where few dare go, and succeeds. You are the less for not reading it." —Fay Weldon

Cinnamon Press, paperback, 9781907090684

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Elizabeth Bowen

In his introduction to a collection of criticism on the author Elizabeth Bowen, Harold Bloom wrote, "What then has Bowen given us except nuance, bittersweet and intelligent? Much, much more." Born in 1899, Bowen became part of the famous Bloomsbury scene, and her novels have a much-deserved place in the modernist canon. In recent years, however, her work has not been as widely read or written about, and as Bloom points out, her evocative and sometimes enigmatic prose requires careful parsing. Yet in addition to providing a fertile ground for criticism, Bowen's novels are wonderfully entertaining, with rich humor, deep insight, and a tragic sense of human relationships.

Bowen's first novel, The Hotel, is a wonderful introduction to her disarming, perceptive style. Following a group of British tourists vacationing on the Italian Riviera during the 1920s, The Hotel explores the social and emotional relationships that develop among the well-heeled residents of the eponymous establishment. When the young Miss Sydney falls under the sway of an older woman, Mrs. Kerr, a sapphic affair simmers right below the surface of Bowen's writing, creating a rich story that often relies as much on what is left unsaid as what is written on the page. Bowen depicts an intense interpersonal drama with wit and suspense, while playing with and pushing the English language to its boundaries.

Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973), an Anglo-Irish novelist, essayist, and short story writer, was born in Dublin.

Univ. of Chicago Press, paperback, 9780226925240

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Robin Morgan

When the Catholic Church brings the Inquisition—also known as The Burning Time—to Ireland, Lady Alyce refuses to grant the Church power over her, her lands, or her people, and refuses to stop the practice of The Old Religion. She is declared a dangerous heretic by an ambitious emissary of the pope—who stakes his future on bringing her to heel. To lose the battle with Lady Alyce, he tells his superiors, is to lose all of Ireland.

But Lady Alyce is just as determined to fight back against the invaders' injustice, its forced imposition of a new religion, and its blatant land grab. After she outmaneuvers her rival in a court trial, there is no return: Against the penalty of being burned at the stake, she risks all to protect her people, her faith, and her beloved Ireland. Battle plans are laid, and what ensues is a vivid account of an astonishing but little-known historic figure and a gripping tale of bravery, treachery, guile, and redemption.

Melville House (US), paperback, 9781933633008

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