Czech writer Heda Margolius Kovály, best known for her memoir chronicling her time in Auschwitz (Under a Cruel Star), drew from her later harrowing experiences in 1950s Soviet Prague for her only work of fiction, Innocence. This espionage thriller follows the chilling and stifling atmosphere of political oppression during the post-WWII days of Communist Czechoslovakia. Neighbor and friends are suddenly not to be trusted, as govenrment informants are hidden everywhere, and innocence begins to lose meaning to those in the government. Innocence is available in an English translation for the first time due to award-winning literary translator and co-chair of the PEN America Translation Committee, Alex Zucker. We asked Zucker a few questions about his translation process for Innnocence, the Czech language and more.
Jean Perdu is a self-described literary apothecary. From his barge-turned-bookshop on the Seine, he doesn’t just sell books; he prescribes them as a pharmacist prescribes medicines, matching books to their perfect readers to help customers overcome life’s difficulties. And he does so with near perfect success. The only exception to the rule is Perdu himself.
Three highly-acclaimed novels from 2014 are now in paperback and are sure to make for great group discussion this month.
What happens when a book meets its perfect reader at precisely the right moment? For the narrator of The Library of Unrequited Love, a librarian who has witnessed many such encounters during her lifetime, her heart flutters.
A victim of a violent post-apartheid attack narrates from beyond the grave Miranda Sherry's unnerving debut novel Black Dog Summer, named for the "black dog" as an ill omen in local folklore.
When Maija, her husband Paavo, and her daughters, Frederika and Dorotea, pack up their lives in Finland and head west to the Swedish Lapland in 1717, they were hoping for a fresh start, a clean break from the losses and the disappointments in their homeland.
A sobbing 4-year-old bride. A disinterested 12-year-old groom. Married in a rural Indian village 20 years ago at the behest of a tyrannical grandfather, this couple doesn’t seem destined for a happily ever after. That is, unless you ask Mili Rathod, the irrepressible heroine of Sonali Dev’s charming debut novel, A Bollywood Affair.
Russian-born Alina Bronsky made a splash with 2011’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine, with praise from sources as varied as The Daily Beast and the Financial Times. She’s back with a third novel, Just Call Me Superhero, serving up more biting wit and a no-frills style that readers can eat up in big, satisfying chunks.
“Vietnam Vietnam Vietnam, we’ve all been there.” So says war correspondent Michael Herr on the persistent reality of a war curiously prone to re-examination. In The Lotus and the Storm, by Vietnamese-American author Lan Cao, this revisiting takes the form of a dialogue of sorts between a daughter and a father, lotuses swept to America’s shores by the storm of the American intervention.
Much like J.K. Rowling and George R.R. Martin, best-selling author Haruki Murakami is the type of writer whose fans queue up at bookstores at midnight, clamoring to be the first to get their hands on his latest book. Unfortunately, people who do not read Japanese have had to wait quite some time to read Murakami’s latest, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, which was published to acclaim in Japan in April 2013.