The Impossible Fairy Tale

July 2, 2018

The Impossible Fairy Tale is the story of two unexceptional grade-school girls.

Mia is ‘lucky’—she is spoiled by her mother and her two fathers. She gloats over her exotic imported color pencils and won’t be denied a coveted sweater. Then there is the Child who, by contrast, is neither lucky nor unlucky. She makes so little impression that she seems not even to merit a name.

At school, their fellow students, whether lucky or luckless or unlucky, seem consumed by a murderous rage. Adults are nearly invisible, and the society the children create on their own is marked by cruelty and soul-crushing hierarchies. Then, one day, the Child sneaks into the classroom after hours and adds ominous sentences to her classmates’ notebooks. This sinister act unlocks a series of events that end in horrible violence.

In this dreamy, hypnotic and deeply unsettling novel, Han casts an uncanny glow over the innocence of childhood, and the ethics of art-making. Brilliantly rendered in Janet Hong’s translation, Han’s prose makes us question where life ends and the book begins.

Season of Crimson Blossoms

November 1, 2017

In the sprawling suburbs of Abuja, Binta Zubairu—a devout fifty-five-year-old widow, grandmother of five—woke up to the smell of cockroaches and knew something inauspicious was about to happen. What she didn’t expect was that twenty-five-year-old Hassan ‘Reza’, a weed dealer, thug for hire and street-gang leader, would scale her fence and land in ‘the puddle that was her heart’.

Binta yearns for intimacy after the sexual repression of her marriage, the pain of losing her first child and the privations of widowhood. Reza seeks to fill the void left by his estranged mother and increasingly distant father. Brought together in the most unusual circumstances, the two embark on a whirlwind secret relationship. But things come to a head when Binta’s wealthy son confronts Reza, with disastrous consequences.

Abubakar’s powerful debut novel—set in a conservative Muslim community in northern Nigeria, and against a backdrop of political corruption and violence—is a haunting story of love and longing that unfurls gently and memorably, revealing layers of emotion that defy age, class and religion.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

July 4, 2017

From the prize-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound and Man Tiger—another masterpiece of storytelling.

Ajo Kawir and Gecko are lower-class Javanese boys in their early adolescence. Half-hearted students at the mosque down the road and curious about girls and sex, they spend most of their time riding their bikes and spying on fellow villagers in flagrante. Sent by his mother on a mission to bring food to Scarlet Blush, an old friend who has gone mad after the murder of her husband by some vigilante soldiers, Gecko discovers that the crazy woman is actually quite beautiful. He invites Ajo Kawir to spy on her with him one evening, and the boys end up witnessing her rape by two policemen. Deeply traumatized, Ajo Kawir is rendered impotent.

Despite his handicap, Ajo Kawir becomes one of the toughest fighters in the Javanese underworld, his fearlessness matched only by his unquenchable thirst for brawling. When he finally meets his match in the shape of the fearsomely beautiful bodyguard Iteung, Ajo is left bruised, battered and overjoyed—he has fallen in love. But will he ever be able to make Iteung happy if he can’t make love like a man?

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a gloriously pulpy tale of bloody fists, broken hearts and duelling Jakarta truckers, from one of the most exciting and original voices in literary fiction today.

Vampire in Love

March 31, 2017

Enrique Vila-Matas is widely hailed by his peers and readers as one of the greatest writers of fiction in contemporary Spanish literature. Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning the author’s entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of Vila Matas’s finest short stories.

A father summons his son to his deathbed to tell him that he arranged for his wife’s death. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber—known to everyone as Nosferatu—decides to see, one last time, the choirboy he has fallen in love with. A fledgling writer on amphetamines visits the French writer Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. And a writer on vacation decides—as a way of paying tribute to the pioneering composer Erik Satie—to reply to nineteen emails without reading them.

The stories in Vampire in Love, brilliantly translated by renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative, relentless questioning of the interrelation of art and life.

Eve Out of Her Ruins

March 31, 2017

With brutal honesty and poetic urgency, Ananda Devi relates the tale of four young Mauritians trapped in their country’s endless cycle of fear and violence: Eve, whose body is her only weapon and source of power; Savita, Eve’s best friend, the only one who loves Eve without self-interest, and who has plans to leave but will not go alone; Saadiq, gifted would-be poet, inspired by Rimbaud, in love with Eve; Clélio, belligerent rebel, waiting without hope for his brother to send for him from France.

Eve Out of Her Ruins is a heartbreaking look at the dark corners of the island nation of Mauritius that tourists never see, and a poignant exploration of the construction of personhood at the margins of society. Awarded the prestigious Prix des cinq continents upon publication as the best book written in French outside of France, Eve Out of Her Ruins is a harrowing account of the violent reality of life in her native country by the figurehead of Mauritian literature.

Amba

November 2, 2016

Myth, culture and politics weave together in a beguiling tale of profound love.

Named after a tragic figure in Indonesia’s and India’s shared mythology, Amba spends her lifetime trying to invent a story she can call her own. When she meets two suitors who fit perfectly into her namesake’s myth, Amba cannot help but feel that fate is teasing her. Salwa, respectful to a fault, pledges to honour and protect her, no matter what. Bhisma, a sophisticated European-trained doctor, offers her sensual pleasures and a world of ideas.

In this devastating novel of love and redemption, empathy and forgiveness, Amba, Bhisma and Salwa attempt to undo the ancient legend of the Mahabharata—that timeless allegory of war within a family—with tragic consequences, as the story moves from rural Java to Europe and to the prison camps of Buru Island, where approximately 12,000 alleged communists were incarcerated without trial during the Suharto dictatorship. Through its memorable cast of characters—each of them a metaphor for the vast diversity that is Indonesia—the novel asks us not to see history in terms of ‘black’ and ‘white’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’, but highlights, instead, the grey zones of human existence and the human spirit. It also shows us ways in which men and women often attain their highest humanity at the point of destruction.

Istanbul Istanbul

August 1, 2016

‘Istanbul is a city of a million cells, and every cell is an Istanbul unto itself.’

Below the ancient streets of Istanbul, four prisoners—Demirtay the student, the doctor, Kamo the barber, and Uncle Küheylan—sit, awaiting their turn at the hands of their wardens. When they are not subject to unimaginable violence, the condemned tell one another stories about the city, shaded with love and humor, to pass the time. Quiet laughter is the prisoners’ balm, delivered through parables and riddles. Gradually, the underground narrative turns into a narrative of the above-ground. Initially centered around people, the book comes to focus on the city itself. And we discover there is as much suffering and hope in the Istanbul above ground as there is in the cells underground.

Despite its apparently bleak setting, this novel—translated into seventeen languages—is about creation, compassion, and the ultimate triumph of the imagination.

Man Tiger

June 1, 2016

Longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction 2016. A new bestseller from the prize-winning author of Beauty Is a Wound.
A wry, affecting tale set in a small town on the Indonesian coast, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families and of Margio, a young man ordinary in all particulars except that he conceals within himself a supernatural female white tiger. The inequities and betrayals of family life coalesce around and torment this magical being. An explosive act of violence follows, and its mysterious cause is unravelled as events progress toward a heart-breaking revelation.
Lyrical and bawdy, experimental and political, this extraordinary novel announces the arrival of a powerful new voice on the global literary stage.

One Last Drink at Guapa

June 1, 2016

A debut novel that tells the story of Rasa, a young gay man coming of age in the Middle East.

Set over the course of twenty-four hours, One Last Drink at Guapa follows Rasa, a gay man living in an unnamed Arab country, and trying to carve out a life for himself in the midst of political and religious upheaval. Rasa spends his days translating for Western journalists, and pining for the nights when he can sneak his lover, Taymour, into his room. Then one morning Rasa’s grandmother, the woman who raised him, catches them in bed together. The following day—the day leading up to Taymour’s wedding—Rasa is consumed by the search for his best friend Maj, a fiery activist and drag queen star of the underground bar, Guapa, who has been arrested by the police. Ashamed to go home and face his grandmother, and reeling from the potential loss of the three most important people in his life, he roams the city’s slums and prisons, the lavish weddings of the country’s elite, and the bars where outcasts and intellectuals drink to a long-lost revolution. Each new encounter leads him closer to confronting his own identity, as he revisits his childhood and probes the secrets that haunt his family. As Rasa confronts the simultaneous collapse of political hope and his closest personal relationships, he is forced to discover the roots of his alienation and try to re-emerge into a society that may never accept him.

Tram 83

April 1, 2016

In an unnamed African city-state riven by civil war, profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities mix. They have only one desire: to make a fortune by exploiting the mineral wealth of the land. Two friends—a budding writer home from Europe and his childhood friend who dreams of taking over the seedy underworld of their city—meet in the most notorious nightclub in town, Tram 83, and are sucked into a dizzying, lurid world of gangsters and crooks, poets and sex workers, soldiers and spies, tourists and stowaways.
Tram 83 plunges the reader into a modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic. A daring feat of narrative imagination and linguistic creativity, this stunning debut uses the rhythms of jazz to weave a darkly exuberant tale of human relationships, greed and excess in a world that has become a global village

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