PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
READING EUROPE FROM UK INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS
There are 24 countries in the EU in addition to the 4 countries in the British Isles and Commonwealth. Before the EU Referendum let us take the opportunity to find out something more about fellow members and neighbours. The recommended titles have been selected to let the reader know the literature, history and culture of each country better. As a contrast we include one book which shows a Bulgarian view of the UK. Some of the titles are cross-border titles with European writers writing about a country which is not their own. We have not managed to find any book from Luxembourg translated into English so we have given their near neighbour Belgium 2 further titles so both the French and Flemish literatures of the country are represented. There are forty-nine recommended titles as all three volumes of the Transylvanian Trilogy by Miklos Banffy are included and Lithuania is represented by a single anthology with fiction from nineteen authors. All the books are from independent UK publishers committed to translating European fiction into English. The titles selected are from: And Other Stories, Arcadia, Atlas, Bitter Lemon, Comma, Dedalus, Faber & Faber, Garnett Press, Istros, Jantar, Marion Boyars, Norvik Press, Parthian, Peter Owen, Portobello and Pushkin.
Beware of Pity Stefan Zweig translated by Anthea Bell(Pushkin) ISBN 978 1 908968 37 1, 464 pages, £8.99,
In 1913 a young second lieutenant discovers the terrible danger of pity. He had no idea the girl was lame when he asked her to dance - his compensatory afternoon calls relieve his guilt but give her a dangerous glimmer of hope. Stefan Zweig's only novel is a devastating depiction of the torment of the betrayal of both honour and love, realised against the background of the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Fraulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler, translated by F.H. Lyon (Pushkin) ISBN 978 1 908968 32 6, 112 pages, £10
While staying with her aunt at a fashionable spa, Else receives an unexpected telegram from her mother, begging her to save her father from debtor's jail. The only way out, it seems, is to approach an elderly acquaintance in order to borrow money from him. Through this telegram, Else is forced into the reality of a world entirely at odds with her romantic imagination – with horrific consequences.
Christ's Entry into Brussels by Dimitri Verhulst, translated by David Colmer(Portobello)
ISBN 978 1 846274 67 1, 192 pages, £12.99
It is announced that Jesus Christ is to visit Belgium in a few weeks time, on its national day, the 21st of July. Coincidentally, our narrator's mother dies and his marriage ends. Feeling very low, and fluctuating between resentment, irony and cynicism, he reports on the events and on the behaviour of his compatriots.This novel is a deeply disillusioned state-of-the-Belgian-nation rant. We may think we excel at national self-flagellation but Verhulst's sustained (and blackly funny) assault on the citizens of Brussels trumps all.
Marcel by Erwin Mortier, translated by Ina Rilke (Pushkin)
ISBN 978 1 782270 18 8, 128 pages , £8.99
Once the family favourite, Marcel died before his time and now lies far away in an unmarked grave. But his photograph still stands in pride of place on the family cabinet, lovingly guarded by an old woman. Her young grandson, who so resembles his smiling relative, is haunted by the mystery of Marcel's life and death. Family secrets, lies and half-truths fold in on one another. Marcel is a sharp, lyrical depiction of the murky attitude of the living towards the dead, and of how past betrayals will live on through the generations.
Malpertuis by Jean Ray, translated by Iain White (Atlas) ISBN 978 0 947757 98 4, pages 172, £8.99 A manuscript stolen from a monastery; the ancient stone house of a sea-trading dynasty, which may be haunted. These are familiar ingredients for a Gothic novel. But something far more strange and disconcerting is taking place within the walls of Malpertuis as the relatives gather for the impending death of Uncle Cassave. The techniques of H.P. Lovecraft, when transplanted into the suffocating Catholic context of a Belgium scarred by the inquisition, produce in Jean Ray’s masterpiece a story of monumental intensity from which events of brilliant ferocity break the surface without ever lessening the suspense as we are carried towards the tale’s apocalyptic denouement.
Bruges-la-Morte by Georges Rodenbach, translated by Mike Mitchell (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 903517 82 6,166 pages, £7.99 The widower Hugues Viane chooses Bruges, the 'dead city' as the most appropriate location to mourn his wife.The sombre labyrinth of streets and canals of Bruges go from being the backdrop for the novel to its central character. Hugues life changes when he encounters a young dancer who reminds him of his dead wife. The clash between tradition and modernity, preserving the past or embracing change is at the heart of Bruges-la-Morte and the other two novels Rodenbach wrote about Bruges.
The Black Box by Alek Popov, translated by Daniella and Charles Edward Gill de Mayol de Lupe (Peter Owen) ISBN 978 0 720618 39 6, pages 256, £10.99
A darkly humorous take on the state of post-Communist Bulgaria and its place in the new capitalist world order though the eyes of two brothers - Ned (an SBA, Successful Bulgarian Abroad) and Angel (wannabe SBA trying hard not to be an NSAB, Non-Successful Ass stuck in Bulgaria), who both emigrate to the USA (Ned as a management consultant and Angel a dogwalker to the rich in New York). This a story of greed, imprudence, recklessness in the pursuit of money and wealth and how that can corrupt both an individual and, indeed, a whole nation.
Mission London by Alex Popov, translated by Daniella and Charles Edward Gill de Mayol de Lupe (Istros). ISBN: 978 1 908236 18 0, 252 pages, £9.99
Alek Popov presents a magnificently unmasking satire of European East/West relations. A multitude of characters are gathered around ambassador Dimitrov as he takes over his new mission in London, succumbing to the absurdities of everyday life on offer in free-market Britain.
Farewell, Cowboy by Olja Savicevic, translated by Celia Hawkesworth (Istros).
ISBN: 978 1 908236 48 7, 180 pages, £9.99
Farewell, Cowboy is a tough yet poetic novel by one of Croatia's best known writers. The story is rich in local colour and sentiment, following the main character, Dada, who returns to her home town on the Adriatic coast in order to unravel the mystery of her brother Daniel's death.
Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic, translated by Will Firth (Istros)
ISBN: 978 1 908236 04 3, 280 pages, £7.99
This comic novel follows the fortunes of an unfortunate journalist as he navigates the pitfalls of life in economic and social transition. An insight into the nepotistic world of journalism in modern Croatia.
A Kingdom of Souls by Daniela Hodrova, translated by Elena Sokol and Veronique Firkusny(Jantar Publishers) ISBN 978 0 956889 05 8. 200 pages, £12.50
Prague is a monster consuming its inhabitants and its history. Ghosts become witnesses to historical and cultural motifs in a poetic and powerful piece of prose.
Three Faces of an Angel by Jiri Pehe, translated by Gerald Turner. (Jantar)
ISBN 978 0 956889 04 1, 368 pages, £15.00
A novel about three generations of a 20th Century Prague Czech Jewish German family which begins before WW1 and ends on the day of 9/11. Three Faces of an Angel guides the reader through revolution, war, the holocaust, and ultimately exile and return.
God of Chance by Kirsten Thorup, translated by Janet Garton (Norvik Press) ISBN 978 1 909408 03 6, 302 pages, £11.95
This novel reflect on rapidly-changing Danish society.The God of Chance focuses on the relationship between Ana, a high-flying Danish career woman from the international finance sector whose work is her life, and the young teenager Mariama, two women whose circumstances are completely different.
Terminal Innocence by Klaus Rifbjerg, translated by Paul Larkin(Norvik Press) ISBN 978 1 909408 13 5, 262 pages, £11.95
Klaus Rifbjerg's 1958 novel tells the story of the unequal friendship between two teenagers, Janus and Tore, told from the point of view and in the schoolboy slang of the hero-worshipping Janus. Rifbjerg has been a central figure in Danish literary life for the last sixty years.
Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St Olaf’s Church by Indrek Hargla, translated by Adam Cullen (Peter Owen) 978 0 720618 44 0, pages 288, £9.99
Set in fifteen-century Tallinn when Estonia is at the edge of Christian lands and the last foothold before the East. It is a city of foreign merchants and engineers, dominated by the mighty castle of Toompea and the construction of St Olaf's Church, soon to become the tallest building in the world. The investigations of the chemist-turned-detective Melchior and the historical detail helps bring to life medieval Estonia.
The Same River by Jaan Kaplinski translated by Susan Wilson (Peter Owen) ISBN 978 0 720613 40 7, pages 320, £9.99
The Same River is set against the background of Tartu, Soviet Estonia, in the early 1960s. Told with the deadpan humour of an older man looking back at his very serious younger self, this semi-autobiographical work describes a young student’s life, dominated by oriental studies, poetry and a desperate need to lose his virginity. However, following involvement with the mysterious Teacher, he finds himself hauled in front of the KGB for disseminating banned poetry, a situation as absurd as it is alarming. The Estonian countryside, its literary culture, national identity and the atmosphere of the country during the Soviet period are all evoked in a language of evocative lyricism.
New Finnish Grammar-Diego Marani, translated by Judith Landry (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 903517 94 9, 187 pages, £9.99
A man is found badly injured on the quayside in Trieste in 1943. He is taken on board a German hospital ship for treatment but is not expected to live. He has lost his memory and the only identification is a Finnish name tag. The doctor on the hospital ship is of Finnish origin and teaches his patient Finnish in an attempt to help him recover his memory. He then sends him to Finland in search of his past. The novel explores the nuances of Finnish language and culture and an individual's need to belong and have an identity which connects him to society.
The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna translated by Herbert Lomas (Peter Owen) ISBN 978 0 720612 77 6, 160 pages, £8.99
Vatanen is burnt out and sick of the city. One summer evening his car hits a young hare on a country road, and he goes in search of the injured creature. This small incident becomes a life-changing experience for Vatanen as he decides to break free from the world’s constraints – quitting his job, leaving his family, selling his possessions – to discover the Finnish wilds with his newfound friend. Their adventures take in forest fires, pagan sacrifices, military war games, killer bears and much more. A wry celebration of the Finnish countryside and the quiet humour of its people
The Book of Nights-Sylvie Germain, translated by Christine Donougher (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 909232 81 5, 278 pages, £9.99
One hundred years of French history and three Franco-Prussian Wars seen through the eyes of the Peniel family. Sylvie Germain creates a magically bizarre universe around the patriarch of the family. nicknamed Night-of--Gold-Wolf-Face and his fifteen children, each distinguished by a gold speck in their left eye.
Rough Trade by Dominique Manotti, translated by Margaret Crossland and Elfreda Powell (Arcadia) ISBN 978 1 900850 87 2, 266 pages, £7.99
It traces the dark, sinuous paths of sinister events that are unfolding in Le Sentier, the heart of the Parisian rag-trade. One spring morning a Thai girl is found dead in a fashion workshop, inciting a tangle of illicit events involving illegal immigration, oppressed sweatshop workers, prostitution rings, and a gay police officer and his Turkish lover. Other mysterious secrets lie hidden in the upper registers of Parisian society in this morality tale of late-20th-century Paris.
All the Lights by Clemens Meyer, translated by Katy Derbyshire (And Other Stories) ISBN 978 1 908276 01 8, 256 pages, £10. Clemens Meyer was born in Leipzig in East Germany. As a teenager he saw the Berlin Wall fall and massive unemployment hit Germany's eastern region. These stories tell of the people on the margins, particularly in Leipzig and Berlin, who try to get by, legally or illegally, in difficult times.
Simplicissimus by Johann Grimmelshausen, translated by Mike Mitchell (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 903517 42 0, 434 pages, £13.99 Described as a Catholic Pilgrim's Progress it captures the chaotic futility of war as Simplicissimus goes from a boy to a man during the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). It is a story of the most basic kind of grandeur - gaudy, wild, raw, amusing, rollicking and ragged, boiling with life, on intimate terms with death and evil - but in the end, contrite and fully tired of a world wasting itself in blood, pillage and lust, but immortal in the miserable splendour of its sins.
The History of a Vendetta by Yoryis Yatromanolakis, translated by Helen Cavanagh (Dedalus) ISBN 978 0 946626 74 8, 128 pages, £6.99
A murder in a small Greek village- its motive and the fortunes of two families reflect the history of the Greek nation in the early part of the 20th century. A magical, intricate tale, rich in peasant myth and narrated in the detached yet ultimately moving style of a modern Herodotus.
Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis , translated by Jonathan Griffin(Faber)
ISBN 978 0 571178 57 5, 480 pages, £9.99
The novel is Kazantzakis's modern Iliad. The context is Crete in the late nineteenth century, the epic struggle between Greeks and Turks, between Christianity and Islam. A new uprising takes place to rival those of 1854, 1866 and 1878, and the island is thrown into confusion yet again.
The Transylvanian Trilogy by Miklos Banffy, translated by Patrick Thursfield and Katalina Banffy-Jelen (Arcadia); They Were Counted, ISBN 978 1 905147 97 7 596 pages, £9.99, They Were Found Wanting ISBN 978 1 905147 99 1, 470 pages, £9.99,They Were Divided ISBN 978 1 906413 78 1, 326 pages, £9.99
The trilogy has a Tolstoyan grandeur as Banffy charts the decline of the the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War and the tensions in the multi-ethnic Kingdom of Hungary which lead it to fall apart.
Legacy by Ivan Sandor Legacy translated by Tim Wilkinson (Peter Owen) ISBN 978 0 720615 71 5, 288 pages, £9.99
In 2002 a Jewish man recalls the dying days of Hungary’s Nazi occupation and how, as a fourteen-year-old, he and his family were to be sent to the death camps before coming under the protection of legendary Swiss Vice-Consul, Carl Lutz, who saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from almost-certain death. Legacy investigates history, memory and how we understand the past - and how the past is shaped by whoever happens to be telling the story.
I Malavoglia(The House by the Medlar Tree) by Giovanni Verga, translated by Judith Landry (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 903517 63 5, 278 pages, £9.99
Verga's novel of 1881 is one of the great landmarks of Italian Literature, an epic struggle against poverty and the elements by the Sicilian fishermen of Aci Trezza. The religion of the family is at the heart of the novel. It is put to the test by the encroachment of the outside world brought about by the recent unification of Italy.
The Mussolini Canal by Antonio Pennacchi, translated by Judith Landry (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 909232 24 2, 536 pages, £12.99
We meet the Peruzzi family at the end of the 19th c and follow these sharecroppers from Tresigallo, near Ferrara to the Pontine Marshes, outside Rome, in the 1930s where they are sent to farm the newly-drained Pontine Marshes.They are immersed in the political turmoil of their period with involvement in the Fascist party from its earliest days and remain loyal to the Duce even when his regime falls apart.The reader feels like he is eavesdropping on a private conversation and experiencing what it is like to be an Italian.
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujins, translated by Kaija Straumanis (Arcadia) ISBN 978 1 909807 52 5, 352 pages, £11.95
A surrealist novel cum political allegory, Flesh-Coloured Dominoes transports the reader between 18th Century Baltic gentry and the narrator’s life in the modern world.The connection between the two narratives gradually becomes clear in a fantasy of love, lust and loss.
The Beauty of History by Vilvi Luik, translated by Hildi Hawkins (Norvik Press) ISBN 978 1 909408 27 2, 152 pages £11.95, The Beauty of History is a novel of poetic intensity, of fleeting moods and captured moments. It is evocative of life within the Baltic States during the Soviet occupation, and of the challenge to artists to express their individuality whilst maintaining at least an outward show of loyalty to the dominant ideology. Written on the cusp of independence, as Estonia and Latvia sought to regain their sovereignty in 1991, this is a novel that can be seen as an historic document - wistful, unsettling, and beautiful.
The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature edited by Almantas Salavicius, translated by Jura Avizienis, Ada Mykote Valaitis and Jayde Will ISBN 978 1 909232 42 6, 250 pages, £9.99
This wide-ranging anthology gives an insight into the travails of a country that has experienced serfdom, foreign colonisation, two world wars and a half century of captivity as well as many other twists of history that burden the eastern part of Europe. Different stories – colourful, gloomy, funny and occasionally bizarre cover different pages of Lithuania’s past and present and helps the reader understand why 'the power of lies' remains so important in this obscure part of Europe
Eline Vere by Louis Couperus, translated by Ina Rilke (Pushkin) 1SBN 978 1 906548 26 1, 528 pages, £12.99 Couperus has often been called the Dutch Oscar Wilde and he is certainly one of the most interesting Dutch authors of his period. Eline Vere and her sister Betsy are wealthy young socialites living in The Hague in the 19th century. Eline attempts to break free from the confines of her narrow existence through tumultuous and ultimately disastrous courtships. This classic novel minutely described the conventions, manners and hypocrisies of society with great richness of description and vivid characterisations.
The Twins by Tessa de Loo, translated by Ruth Levitt(Arcadia) ISBN 978 1 900850 56 8, 392 pages, £6.99
It tells a compelling story of Anna and Lotte twin sisters who following the death of their parents are separated at a very early age. Lotte is sent to stay with her relatives in the Netherlands to recuperate from tuberculosis and Anna stays with relatives in Germany. The story begins with a chance meeting at the health resort of Spa. Both sisters are now in their 70s and have lost contact with each other and in the intervening years the Second World War has taken place. Thus evolves a tale of human suffering, spanning many decades, from both the German and Dutch perspectives, including the hardships endured in the war.
Entanglement by Zygmunt Miloszewski, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Bitter Lemon)
ISBN 978 1 904738 44 2, 267 pages, £8.99
Contemporary Warsaw (the novel is set in 2005) is represented through vivid descriptions of the city, its suburbs, local politics and even football mania. These are underpinned by summaries of the day’s news headlines at the head of every chapter. Poland is evoked as a shadow land of open wounds and bitterness left in the wake of the collapse of the Communist regime: secret police operatives of the Communist era have quietly faded from the scene and attempts to bring them to justice have stalled.
Cold Sea Stories By Pawel Huelle, translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Comma)
ISBN 978 1 905583 39 3, 218 pages, £7.99
A student pedals an old bicycle between striking factories, delivering bulletins, in the tumultuous first days of the Solidarity movement... A shepherd watches, unseen, as a strange figure disembarks from a pirate ship anchored in the cove below, to bury a chest on the beach that later proves empty… The characters in Pawel Huelle's stories find themselves, willingly or not, at the heart of epic narratives; legends and histories that stretch far beyond the limits of their own lives. Against the backdrop of the Baltic coast, mythology and meteorology mix with the inexorable tide of political change.
The Crime of Father Amaro by Eca de Queiroz translated by Margaret Jull Costa (Dedalus) ISBN 978 1 873982 89 1, 471 pages, £11.99
The Crime of Father Amaro is a good introduction to Portuguese literature. Published in 1878 it is the first great realistic novel in the language. In it Eca sets out to expose the hypocrisy of small-town provincial Portugal, of so called freethinkers and the Church.
Now and at the hour of our Death by Susana Moreira Marques, translated by Julia Sanches (And Other Stories) ISBN 978 1 908276 62 9, 128 pages, £8.99.
Accompanying a palliative care team, Susan Moreira Marques travels to a forgotten corner of northern Portugal: Tras-os-Montes, a rural area abandoned by the young. Crossing great distances where eagles circle over the roads, she visits villages where rural ways of life are disappearing. She listens to families facing death and gives us their stories in their words as well as through her own meditations.
Life Begins on Friday by Ioana Parvulescu, translated by Alistair Ian Blyth (Istros)
ISBN: 978 1 908236 29 6, 280 pages, £9.99
An historical novel set in Bucharest in the 1890s. A glimpse into the past of this central European country, looking at Bucharest at a time of great social and political change, when the modern world began to impinge on the old order. (To be published 30 May 2016).
Diary of a Short-Sighted Adolescent by Mircea Eliade, translated by Christopher Moncrieff.
(Istros) ISBN: 978 1 908236 21 0.196 pages, £9.99.
A seminal work by the great Romanian writer and historian of religion, this book conjures the loves and frustrations of a group of teenage boys coming of age in pre-war Romania. History, mythology, anti-Semitism and the loneliness of artistic creation are all themes of this semi-autobiographical novel.(To be published 12 4pril).
House of a Deaf Man by Peter Kristufek, translated by Julia and Peter Sherwood, (Parthian) ISBN 978 1 909844 27 8, 640 pages, £11.99
Alfonz Trnovsky, a genial and respected general practitioner in Breany, a small (fictitious) town in western Slovakia, spent his whole life pretending to be radiantly happy and contented, while the reality was quite different. He turned a deaf ear to his conscience as the 20th century hurtled by: four political regimes, the Holocaust, the political trials of the 1950s, the secret police before and after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia...and the women he loved. But whose are the bones his son accidentally stumbles on buried in the garden? As he sets out to unravel this mystery, the son discovers other skeletons in his father's cupboard.
Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pisanek, translated by Peter Petro ( Garnett Press)
ISBN 978 0 953587 84 1 259 pages, £12.99
Pistanek's reputation is assured by the originality, craftsmanship and inventiveness of Rivers of Babylon and by its hero, the most mesmerizing character of Slovak literature, Racz, an idiot of genius, a psychopathic gangster. Racz appears in autumn 1989, when Socialism crumbles and robber baron capitalism is born. Better than any historian, Racz and Rivers of Babylon tell the story of a Central Europe, where criminals, intellectuals and ex-secret policemen have infiltrated a new democracy.
Yugoslavia, My Fatherland by Goran Vojnovic, translated by Noam Charney (Istros)
SBN: 9781908236 27 2, 216 pages, £9.99
The breakdown of a country seen through the microcosm of one family. Set in Slovenia and Croatia, this novel covers the social and political landscape during the war and also in present day, taking in issues of how society has accommodated victims and perpetrators of the 1990s' war in a fast-paced quest story.
My Father's Dreams: A Tale of Innocence Abused written & translated by Evald Flisar(Istros) ISBN: 978 1 908236 22 7, 196 pages, £9.99
The book tells the story of fourteen-year-old Adam, the only son of a village doctor and his rather estranged wife, living in apparent rural harmony. But this is a topsy-turvy world of illusions and hopes, in which the author plays with the function of dreaming and story-telling. The story reveals an insidious deception, in which the unsuspecting son and his mother are the apparent victims; and yet who can tell whether the gruesome ending is reality or just another dream….
The River by Rafael Ferlosio translated by Margarel Jull Costa(Dedalus ) ISBN 978 1 903517 17 6, 406 pages, £9.99
During the Spanish Civil War, the River Jarama was the scene of a bloody, month-long battle, which ended in a stalemate. The Republicans suffered about 25,000 casualties and the Nationalists 20,000. In the novel, set nearly twenty years later, the Jarama has become a favourite picnic spot. The novel describes one broiling hot day in August. Ferlosio has an eye for the dark poetry of that 'great, silent, caressing beast', the River Jarama, and it is the river which, long after the war has ended, claims yet another victim.
See How Much I Love You by Luis Leante, translated by Martin Schifino (Marion Boyars) ISBN 9780 714531 54 0, 256 pages, £9.99 The novel begins in the 1970s when two teenagers in Barcelona fall in love. Montse becomes pregnant and despite this their affair ends. Santiago her boyfriend, goes off to the Western Sahara, Spain's only African colony, to spend his military service as far away as possible. Following the death of General Franco and Spain's withdrawal, Santiago is caught up up in a war between the Saharawi and the Moroccans and is not heard of again and presumed dead.Thirty years later Montse, now a divorced doctor, learns Santiago is alive and in a refuge camp in the Sahara and she sets off to find him
Clinch by Martin Holmen, translated by Henning Koch (Pushkin Vertigo) ISBN 978 1 782271 92 5, 320 pages, £8.99
An ultra-gritty piece of contemporary Swedish noir, set in a decrepit, highly atmospheric 1930s Stockholm that is a far cry from the modern, egalitarian capital city of today.( To be published in May 2016).
The Serious Game by Hjalmar Soderberg, translated by Eva Claeson(Marion Boyars)
ISBN: 978 0 714530 61 1, 256 pages, £8.99
Set against the bustling cafes, newspaper offices, parks and hotels of Stockholm at the turn of the twentieth century The Serious Game shows two young people struggling to free themselves from the snares of a liberal society.