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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Alice Munro

With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped—the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these stories (set in the world Munro has made her own: the countryside and towns around Lake Huron) about departures and beginnings, accidents, dangers, and homecomings both virtual and real, paint a vivid and lasting portrait of how strange, dangerous, and extraordinary the ordinary life can be.

Douglas Gibson Books (CAN), hardcover, 9780771064869; Knopf (US), hardcover, 9780307596888; Chatto & Windus (UK), hardcover, 9780701187842

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France Théoret
Translated from the French by Luise Von Flotow

France Théoret's La femme du stalinien is the latest novel in a trilogy. It tells the story of Louise Aubert, her break from Mathieu Lord when he joins the Stalinist party, and her re-invention through language into a woman who is no longer governed by ordinary codes, conventions, and commonplaces.

Recognized as one of the important Quebec feminist writers, France Théoret was born in Montreal. She holds a doctorate in French from the University of Sherbrooke. After having taught for nineteen years at the Cegep level, she now concentrates fulltime on her writing. She is the author of nine books, including Guernica titles The Tangible Word and Girls Closed In.

Guernica Editions, paperback, 9781550716306 (November)

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Heather Birrell

In the stories of Mad Hope, Heather Birrell finds the heart of her characters and lets them lead us into worlds both recognizable and alarming. We think we know these people but discover that we don't—they are more alive, more real and more complex than we first imagined. A high school science teacher and former doctor is forced to re-examine the role he played in Ceausescu's Romania after a student makes a shocking request. The uncertainty, anxiety and anticipation of pregnancy are examined through an online chat group. Parenting is viewed from the perspective of a gay man caring for his friend and her adopted son. A tragic plane crash becomes the basis for a meditation on motherhood and its discontents.

In Mad Hope, Birrell uses precise, inventive language to capture the beautiful mess of being human—and more than lives up to her Journey Prize accolades. Birrell's characters come to greet us, undo us, make us yearn and make us smile.

Coach House, paperback, 9781552452585 (September)

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Madeleine Gagnon
Translated from the French by Phyllis Aronoff and Howard Scott

Is an artist born, or rather, created by experience? From the moment in childhood when he is forced to take drastic action to defend his adoptive mother from a violent assault—the only maternal figure that he has ever known—it is evident that the life of Joseph Sully-Jacques is to be no ordinary life, and one marked by sorrow and adversity.

Unable to cope with or even recognize the residual effects of his trauma in adolescence, Joseph retreats into an increasingly abstract world, one in which he must confront what he calls his "visions." And when he hears of the death of his natural mother, this brings to the surface memories he had hoped were buried deep within him, and precipitates the form of various crises to come, particularly as he discovers and makes use of the artistic abilities revealed to his family during his psychiatric evaluation.

After many more hardships, the young man does find meaning to the absurdities of life, ironically in the asylum, where he meets a virtuoso pianist whose condition prevents her from continuing to exercise her talents. They heal together through their mutual love, which will soon subsist upon nothing but memory and absence. During mournful years of raising his son alone, Joseph sets out to reconcile the contradictory themes in his life, including abandonment, madness, love and death.

In spare, lucid prose, and in a style reminiscent of Andre Gide, Madeleine Gagnon invites the reader to experience the creation and development of an artist—Joseph's gelid journal entries that are to become emphatic poetic laments in a novel that chronicles the extreme destitution of Quebec in the years before World War Two.

Talonbooks, paperback, 9780889226968

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Lise Gauvin
Translated from the French by Nigel Spencer

This is a translation by two-time Governor-General's award-recipient Nigel Spencer of Quebecois writer Lise Gauvin's 2003 short story collection. The collection features intimate spaces within public places and how these can encroach on one another in subtle yet dangerous ways.

Guernica Editions, paperback, 9781550716122

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Barbara Sapergia

The time is World War I, and Canadian soldiers are proving their worth in the trenches of Europe. But on the home front, Ukrainian Canadians are being sent to internment camps, Canada's Gulag. Blood and Salt is about this forgotten part of Canadian history. They had committed the crime of being unemployed in bad times. Or simply of having come from lands ruled by the Austrian empire. They became "enemy aliens."

Taras Kalyna, a young man who deserted the Austrian army to search for his lost love, Halya, becomes one of these men. Imprisoned with hundreds of others in Banff National Park, he helps build a highway from Banff to Lake Louise. Conditions are brutal, the food poor. His time in camp isn't completely lost. He forges strong friendships and begins to learn about the wider world. Myro, an idealistic schoolteacher, tells him stories about the life of the great Ukrainian patriot and poet, Taras Shevchenko. Yuri, a farmer, teaches him optimism. And Tymko, a fierce socialist, helps him ask questions about his new country. Taras has no way of knowing when, or even if, he'll be free again. But even imprisoned, he never stops thinking of Halya. Their stories develop in separate strands until the war ends. And then he'll be free to look for her. Blood and Salt is a work of fiction, grounded in actual details about the Banff-Castle Mountain internment camp. It explores the search for a new life and the search for love—all the while asking what it is to be Ukrainian.

Coteau Books, paperback, 9781550505139

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Annette LaPointe

Whitetail Shooting Gallery, a new novel from award-winning author and Giller Prize nominee, Annette Lapointe, is set in the outer urban, often desolate, landscape of the Saskatchewan prairie.

Cousins Jennifer and Jason live close together as small kids, exploring their rural home. They live in adjacent, sometimes overlapping, households. But one act of family violence begets another, and the cousins drift apart. By adolescence, the two are estranged. Horses, bears, kissing cousins, and other human animals conspire in a series of conflicts that result in accidental gunfire and scarring—both physical and emotional—that takes many years to heal.

Anvil Press, paperback, 9781897535981

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Annabel Soutar

Part courtroom drama and part social satire, Seeds presents an intelligent portrait of farming and scientific communities in conflict and at the same time penetrates the complex science of genetically modified crops. The play documents the 2004 Supreme Court of Canada showdown between Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech multinational Monsanto Inc., a David-and-Goliath struggle that cast Schmeiser as the small-farmer underdog fighting the unscrupulous major corporation. Monsanto accused him of growing their genetically patented Round-up Ready canola seeds on his property without paying the licensing fee they require. Through a suspenseful labyrinth of legal conflicts regarding patent rights, scientific showdowns about GM food and property clashes between farmers and the biotechnology industry, Seeds asks the essential question: "Can you patent a living thing?" Or as Schmeiser famously asked, "Who owns life?"

Named the top play of the decade by Rover Arts in its review of English theatre in Montreal between 2000 and 2010, Seeds takes us back to the seminal moment when a single farmer stood up to international agribusiness and almost won.

Talonbooks, paperback, 9780889227019

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Allison Kydd

Emily is on a bus, nauseous, and reflecting on her past life—on jobs she has worked, relationships she has had, and what has shaped her as a woman. Years of making the wrong choices, especially with men, and memories of children she couldn't keep, have left her confidence shaken. In flight, without much money and not even a suitcase, Emily becomes a tragic figure but somehow through her independence and determination rises above this stereotype. As the bus rolls west from Toronto across the prairies Emily's hard-edged impulse for survival and her instinctual savvy lead her to an unexpected self-awareness.

Thistledown Press, paperback, 9781927068090

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Susan Swan

The Western Light is Susan Swan's long-awaited return to the life of the beloved narrator Mary "Mouse" Bradford. Mouse's world is constrained by a number of factors: her mother is dead, her father—the admired country doctor—is emotionally distant, her housekeeper Sal is prejudiced and narrow, and her grandmother and aunt, Big Louie and Little Louie, the only life-affirming presences in her life, live in another city.

Enter Gentleman John Pilkie, the former NHL star who's transferred to the mental hospital in Madoc's Landing, where he is to serve out his life-sentence for the murder of his wife and daughter. John becomes a point of fascination for young Mary, who looks to him for the attention she does not receive from her father. He, in turn, is kind to her—but the kindness is misunderstood. When Mary figures out that the attention she receives from the Hockey Killer is different in kind and intent from the attention her Aunt Little Louie receives, her world collapses.

Set against the beautiful and dramatic shore of Georgian Bay, the climax will have readers turning pages with concern for characters they can't help but love.

Cormorant Books (CAN), hardcover, 9781770862227

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Jan Zwicky

What frog is saying about The Book of Frog: The Book of Frog is probably the best book ever written, right up there with The Divine Comedy and Gilgamesh. Except it's short and in English! A cinch, huh? You will like it. In addition to being action-packed and by me, it has some great pictures (also of me). And it has some excellent emails from my friend Al, who is extremely smart. You will learn stuff you never knew, maybe even be enlightened. (It's possible.) If you think that because it is a book by a frog, it has nothing for you, you are wrong. Frogs are the best. Even Al thinks so. It talks about Schubert and baseball and green onion pancakes. With ponzu sauce! And there are heaps of tips on how to manage the humans in your life. What are you waiting for? Get your copy today! Get copies for all your friends! Release your inner amphibian! It's like they say: small, gutsy and gorgeous. Also green! On real paper with real ink. Accept no substitutes. Ask for Genuine Frog.

Pedlar Press, paperback, 9781897141496

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Linda Spaulding

In 1798, Daniel Dickinson, a young Quaker father and widower, leaves his home in Pennsylvania to establish a new life. He sets out with two horses, a wagonful of belongings, his five children, a 15-year-old orphan wife, and a few land warrants for his future homestead. When Daniel suddenly trades a horse for a young slave, Onesimus, it sets in motion a struggle in his conscience that will taint his life forever, and sets in motion a chain of events that lead to two murders and the family's strange relationship with a runaway slave named Bett. Stripped down and as hard-edged as the realities of pioneer life, Spalding's writing is nothing short of stunning, as it instantly envelops the reader in the world and time of the novel, and follows the lives of unforgettable characters. Inspired by stories of the author's own ancestors, The Purchase is a resonant, powerful and timeless novel.

Born and raised in Kansas, Linda Spaulding immigrated to Canada in 1982 from Hawaii. She is the author of three much earlier novels and two acclaimed works of non-fiction, The Follow, which was shortlisted for The Trillium Book Award and the Pearson Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize; and, most recently, Who Named the Knife.

McClelland & Stewart, hardcover, 9780771079351

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Susan Glickman

The year is 1738. Jacques Lafargue, a wide-eyed young Frenchman, arrives in New France aboard the Saint Michel. But before his Canadian adventure has a chance to begin, he is detained at Quebec harbour by suspicious port officials. Their distrust proves warranted: instead of a young man named Jacques Lafargue their captive turns out to be a young woman named Esther Brandeau, and instead of answers to their questions about who she is and where she came from, they are given tales of castaways raised by apes, of blind lovelorn sailors and merciless pirates, of runaway slaves and kindly desert nomads, and of other curiosities in a limitless world.

Few suspect the truth: Esther is a Jew, which by law prohibits her from entering New France, and she is using her tale-telling to escape the restrictions placed upon her race and gender. And no one—not even Esther herself—realizes the power her stories have to open their hearts and minds to old dreams and new possibilities.

Cormorant Books (CAN), paperback, 9781770862050

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Theanna Bischoff

With an absent father and their mother constantly ill, sisters Darcy and Carly Nolan were forced to rely on each other growing up. While unpredictable Carly bounced around, her life's direction uncertain, Darcy fell in love, went to University, and moved to another province. When nineteen-year-old Carly unexpectedly kills herself, Darcy is left to carry the burden of their childhood memories forward alone. The pain of these memories overwhelms Darcy as she struggles to unravel her own feelings of guilt, and to make sense of her sister's death—as an act of destruction, of misery, but also of love.

Newest Press, paperback, 9781927063194

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Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore's stories are bright, emotionally engaging, tangible. She marks out the precious moments of her characters' lives against deceptively commonplace backdrops—a St. John's hospital cafeteria lit only by the lights in the snack machines; a half-built house "like a rib cage around a lungful of sky" —and the results linger long in the memory. The Selected Short Fiction of Lisa Moore shows us that love, alongside desire, can sometimes come as a surprise, sometimes an ambush. She splices moments and images together so adroitly, so vividly, you'll swear you've lived them yourself. This new volume, bringing together Lisa Moore's first two books of stories, Open and Degrees of Nakedness, is the very best way to encounter one of the finest short-story writers in the country. This edition features a brilliant new introduction by Jane Urquhart on the importance of Moore's work.

House of Anansi, paperback, 9781770892552

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Susan Musgrave

The characters from Susan Musgrave's Cargo of Orchids are back in this brilliantly engaging novel. Rainy, the Mexican-American woman, and Frenchy, the African-American, along with Musgrave's narrator X have returned and convincingly insist their story is not done. Once inmates on death row, now reunited and hanging out at an old house in a BC outport, they create a grand new afterlife adventure. As we are shuttled along an energetic storyline in an old hearse, through gated communities in Vancouver to British Columbia's First Nations island outposts, we witness the transformation of lives on the slopes of purgatory. The passageways are rife with wild rides, social satire and visually hilarious encounters. Musgrave's trademark undercurrents of lurking peril and unexpected havoc play out against murder, drug encounters, and sexual tension but Given is a novel with its own rules of engagement. Musgrave's comic gifts and ability to transcend this earthly plane create a ghost story that becomes a masterful allegory for personal loss and the potency of love.

Thistledown Press, paperback, 9781927068021

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Alanda Greene

In the mid-1800s, southern Alberta was dominated by the tribes of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Snake Woman, from the Blackfoot Blood tribe, was born into a life of respect and cooperation with the rhythm of the natural world, a rhythm that seems to be irreparably disrupted by the advance of European traders and settlers.

Eleanor, newly transplanted to this promised land with her homesteading parents, was raised on the stories of her uncle, who told of a sky that goes forever and a wind that can blow your memories away. Their ages, cultures, and social rules would divide Snake Woman and Eleanor, but the two share a connection to the sweeping prairie landscape, the "Best West," that they both love and want to protect. A chance encounter will unite their paths. In a time of disruption and loss, their resilience and determination offer hope that their two peoples, as well as the natural world around them, can survive great change.

Second Story Press, paperback, 9781926920870

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Martha Ostenso

Wild Geese caused a sensation when it was first published in 1925. To a generation bred on sentimental escapist literature, the idea of a heroine as wild as a bronco and as fiery as a tigress was nothing short of revolutionary. In the character of Judith Gare, Martha Ostenso had painted so naked and uncompromising a portrait of human passion and need that it crossed all bounds of propriety and convention.

Today, Wild Geese is widely recognized as a milestone in the development of modern realist fiction. Set on the windswept prairies, it is a story of love and tyranny, of destruction and survival, told with vigour and lyric beauty. It is also a poignant evocation of loneliness, which, like the call of the wild geese, is beyond human warmth, beyond tragedy, "an endless quest."

McClelland & (New Canadian Library); Stewart, paperback, 9781551992853

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Nadine McInnis

Nadine McInnis's sophomore collection is about endings and their revelations: the affair that ends a marriage, the disease that ends a life, the effect of a long-ago suicide. As her characters struggle to minister to each other in their final moments, each story becomes an autopsy, dissecting bodies for their secrets and bloodlines for the things they hide. "As a potential heir to the tradition of Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, McInnis is off to a promising start." — Publishers Weekly

Biblioasis, paperback, 9781926845937

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Anne Hébert

A classic of Canadian literature by the great Quebecoise writer, Kamouraska is based on a real nineteenth-century love-triangle in rural Quebec. It paints a poetic and terrifying tableau of the life of Elisabeth d'Aulnieres: her marriage to Antoine Tassy, squire of Kamouraska; his violent murder; and her passion for George Nelson, an American doctor.

Passionate and evocative, Kamouraska is the timeless story of one woman's destructive commitment to an ideal love. Translated into seven languages, Kamouraska won the Paris book prize and was made into a landmark feature film by Claude Jutra. This edition features a brilliant new introduction by Noah Richler.

House of Anansi, paperback, 9781770892545

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