New(ish) Fiction Books in Translation!

Cinnamon by Samar Yazbek
translated from Arabic by Emily Dandby, released July 2
Cinnamon book cover art
After a bitter betrayal, Aliyah is banished from her mistress' villa at dawn and sent back to the dusty alleyways of her childhood. Exhausted, both maid and mistress seek refuge in sleep and dream of their troubled childhoods, loneliness, love, and their lives together.

A darkly humorous tale, Cinnamon portrays the inner worlds of two Damascene women and their search for security and tenderness from two opposing ends of the social scale.


The Ghost Riders of Ordebec
by Fred Vargas
translated from French by Sian Reynolds, released June 25
book cover art
As the chief of police in Paris’s seventh arrondissement, Commissaire Adamsberg has no jurisdiction in Ordebec. Yet, he cannot ignore a widow’s plea.

Her daughter Lina has seen a vision of the Ghost Riders with four nefarious men. According to the 1,000-year-old legend, the vision means that the men will soon die a grisly death. When one of them disappears, Adamsberg races to Ordebec, where he becomes entranced by the gorgeous Lina — and embroiled in the small Normandy town’s ancient feud.


Tirza
by Arnon Grunberg
translated from Dutch by Sam Garrett, released Feb. 19
Tirza book cover art
Jörgen Hofmeester once had it all: a beautiful wife, a nice house with a garden in an upperclass neighborhood in Amsterdam, a respectable job as an editor, two lovely daughters named Ibi and Tirza, and a large amount of money in a Swiss bank account. But during the preparations for Tirza’s graduation party, we come to know what he has lost.

His wife has left him; Ibi is starting a bed and breakfast in France, an idea which he opposed; the director of the publishing house has fired him; and his savings have vanished in the wake of 9/11. But Hofmeester still has Tirza, until she introduces him to her new boyfriend, Choukri — who bears a disturbing resemblance to Mohammed Atta — and they announce their plan to spend several months in Africa.

A heartrending and masterful story of a man seeking redemption, Tirza marks a high point in Grunberg’s still-developing oeuvre.

Paranoia
by Victor Martinovich
translated from Russian by Diane Nemec Ignashev, released March 31
Paranoia book cover art
This book is about the occurring feeling, when the phone rings at the middle of the night, and you pick up the phone to wake up right in the resounding silence on the other end. And the thought that the next call will be at your door scares you so much... that you go and open it. And you open it, knowing that people who remain silent on the phone should never be invited.

The book is about the world, in which every breath is eavesdropped and numbered, every smile is registered and put into the list, the only walls' function is wiretapping and passers-by can never be random. And it's all about those invisible people, who remain silent on the phone and help this world to get into you
.

Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra
translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell, released Jan. 8
Book cover art
Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed 9-year-old boy. He lives in an undistinguished middle-class housing development in Maipu, a town in the suburbs of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raul.

In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the novel begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized — to what degree, the author isn’t sure — with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life, which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel’s protagonist, expose the raw suture of fiction and reality.


Book descriptions are taken from Goodreads.com and Openletterbooks.org.