Hello, readers! Welcome to another #5OnMyTBR update. The rule is relatively simple. I just have to pick five books from my to-be-read pile that fit the week’s theme.
This week’s theme: Translated Books
This week’s prompt should be a walk in the park. My literary journey, which took me and is taking me to different parts of the world, is brimming with translated works. These include works originally written in Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Korean, Portuguese, basically the entire spectrum. I have long wanted to diversify my reading and I think I have been doing a great job. Without more ado, here are five (or maybe more) translated works on my reading list. For now, happy Monday and happy reading!
5OnMyTBR is a bookish meme hosted by E. @ Local Bee Hunter’s Nook where you chose five books from your to-be-read pile that fit that week’s theme. If you’d like more info, head over to the announcement post!
Title: The Great Swindle
Author: Pierre Lemaitre
Translator (from French): Frank Wynne
Synopsis: October 1918: the war on the Western Front is all but over. Desperate for one last chance of promotion, an ambitious lieutenant, Henri d’Aulnay Pradelle, sends two scouts over the top of the trenches, and contrives to shoot them in the back to incite his men to heroic action once more.
And so is set in motion a series of shocking events that will bind together the fates and fortunes of Pradelle and the two soldiers who discover his crime: Albert Maillard and Edouard Péricourt.
Back in civilian life, Albert and Edouard find themselves in a society whose reverence for its dead cannot quite match its resentment for those who survived. Penniless, morphine-dependent, cut-off from their families, psychologically and physically destroyed by their wartime experience, the two soldiers conspire to enact an audacious form of revenge against the country that abandoned them to penury and despair, with a scheme to swindle the whole of France on an epic scale.
Meanwhile, believing her brother killed in action, Edouard’s sister, the heiress Madeleine Péricourt, has married Pradelle, who is running a certain scam of his own.
Set amid the ruins of one of the most brutal conflicts of the modern era, this is a devastating portrait of the darker side of post-war France with all her villains, cowards, and clowns, revealing the unbearable tragedy of the lost generation.
Title: Three Elegies for Kosovo
Author: Ismail Kadare
Translator (from Albanian): Peter Constantine
Synopsis: A quarrel that has simmered for six centuries, stemming from a battle that changed the course of history.
28 June 1389, the Field of the Blackbirds. The Christian army – made up of Serbs, Bosnians, Albanians and Romanians – confronts an Ottoman army led by Sultan Mourad. In ten hours the battle is over, and the Muslims possess the field; an outcome that has haunted the vanquished ever since. These legends of betrayal and the symbols of defeat have continued to define the national identities of each race.
28 June 1989, the Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic launches his campaign for a fresh massacre of the Albanians, the majority population of Kosovo.
In three short narratives, Kadare evokes that first defining moment in European history, identifying how the agony of the tiny population at the close of the twentieth century is a symptom of the sickness that European civilisation has carried in its bloodstream for six hundred years.
Author: Borislav Pekic
Translator (from Serbian): Bernard Johnson
Synopsis: Building can be seen as a master metaphor for modernity, which some great irresistible force, be it Fascism or Communism or capitalism, is always busy rebuilding, and Houses is a book about a man, Arsenie Negovan, who has devoted his life and his dreams to building.
Bon vivant, Francophile, visionary, Negovan spent the first half of his life building houses he loved and even named – Juliana, Christina, Agatha – while making his hometown of Belgrade into a modern city to be proud of. The second half of his life, after World War II and the Nazi occupation, he has spent in one of those houses, looked after by his wife and a nurse, in hiding. Houses is set on the final day of his life, when Negovan at last ventures forth to see the world as it is.
Negovan is one of the great characters in modern fiction, a man of substance and deluded fantasist, a beguiling visionary and a monster of selfishness, a charmer no matter what. And perhaps he is right to fear that home is only an illusion in our world, or that only in illusion there is home.
Title: The Invention of Morel
Author: Adolfo Bioy Casares
Translator (from Spanish): Ruth L.C. Simms
Synopsis: Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of the Screw. This fantastic exploration of virtual realities also bears comparison with the sharpest work of Philip K. Dick. It is both a story of suspense and a bizarre romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.
Inspired by Bioy Casares’s fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to find such admirers as Julio Cortazar, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Octavio Paz. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet’s Last Year in Marienbad, this classic of modern Latin American literature also changed the history of film.
Title: The Communist
Author: Guido Morselli
Translator (from Italian): Frederika Randall
Synopsis: Walter Ferranini has been born and bred a man of the left. His father was a worker and an anarchist; Walter himself is a Communist. In the 1930s, he left Mussolini’s Italy to fight Franco in Spain. After Franco’s victory, he left Spain for exile in the United States. With the end of the war, he returned to Italy to work as a labor organizer and to build a new revolutionary order. Now, in the late 1950s, Walter is a deputy in the Italian parliament.
He is not happy about it. Parliamentary proceedings are too boring for words: the Communist Party seems to be filling up with ward heelers, timeservers, and profiteers. For Walter, the political has always taken precedence over the personal, but now there seems to be no refuge for him anywhere. The puritanical party disapproves of his relationship with Nuccia, a tender, quizzical, deeply intelligent editor who is separated but not divorced, while Walter is worried about his health, haunted by his past, and increasingly troubled by knotty questions of both theory and practice. Walter is, always has been, and always will be a Communist, he has no doubt about that, and yet something has changed. Communism no longer explains the life he is living, the future he hoped for, or, perhaps most troubling of all, the life he has led.
Title: From the Fatherland, With Love
Author: Ryu Murakami
Translator (from Japanese): Ralph McCarthy, Charles De Wolf, Ginny Tapley Takemori
Synopsis: The world has turned its back on Japan: it has been economically devastated, thrown into political turmoil – and then attacked.
A small team of highly trained, ruthless North Korean special forces troops invade the city of Fukuoka, holding the residents hostage. This is the vanguard of operation ‘From the Fatherland, with Love’ – if nothing is done to stop them, 120,000 more troops will follow.
And while the government seem incapable of acting, there is one possible source of resistance, a troubled gang of psychotic misfits, masters of guns, explosives and toxins, self-taught and unhinged. But they are driven only by a desire for chaos, and death…
Thrilling, bloody and unstoppable, From the Fatherland, with Love is a vast, mad achievement: an all-too-believable, vividly realized alternate present, with the careening, incendiary power of Murakami at his terrifying best.
Title: Palace Walk
Author: Naguib Mahfouz
Translator (from Arabic): William Maynard Hutchins and Olive E. Kenny
Synopsis: “Volume I of the masterful Cairo Trilogy. A national best-seller in both hardcover and paperback, it introduces the engrossing saga of a Muslim family in Cairo during Egypt’s occupation by British forces in the early 1900s.” (Source: Goodreads)