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Belletrista - A site promoting translated women authored literature from around the world
photo of Cristina Rivera-Garza; photo credit Yvonne Venegas painting by Paula Cumez Placeholder

Caitlin Fehir interviews Cristina Rivera-Garza, Winner of the 2009 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize.

16 Reviews of Classic and Contemporary Latin American & Brazilian Novels!

Ceri Evans reports from the recent International PEN "Free the Word!" event in London.

Welcome, readers, to the most dazzling issue of Belletrista thus far! In this issue, we feature more great books, and the women who write them, than in any of our previous issues.

This time we've included an exciting Latin American theme so, in addition to the 17 regular book reviews, we also present you with 16 reviews of classic and contemporary Latin American literature written by women. To tie in with this theme, we have a fabulous interview with Mexico's Cristina Rivera-Garza and a special "Trio"—a review of three works by Brazil's internationally acclaimed Clarice Lispector. And there's more: dystopian fiction, an interview with the remarkable Nawal el Saadawi, a reportback of the recent International PEN event, 62 books in the New and Notable section, and a brand new section highlighting the winners and nominees of recent global literary awards.

It's jam-packed with exciting finds on our part. Here's hoping you'll find wonderful and inspiring things within. Enjoy!

Click on 'Reviews' to see the full list of this issue's reviews...
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Radwa Ashour
Translated from the Arabic by Wiliam Granara

If there's one time and place I wish I could travel to, it's Moorish Spain; al-Andalus has long had a strange fascination for me, with its extraordinarily developed culture—architecture which continues to amaze us today, some of the greatest thinkers of the time, flourishing literature and music—set against the stunning backdrop of the Spanish landscape.

Reviewed by Rachel Hayes
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Kang Kyŏng-ae
Translated from the Korean by Samuel Perry

What a journey this book has taken! In order to fully appreciate this treasure of Korean literature, you will need some background information before you start to read. From Wŏnso Pond first appeared in serialised form in a daily newspaper in Korea. Although published as a novel in 1940, the book did not pick up a wide readership in Korea until 1953. It was another fifty-six years before it would be translated into English.

Reviewed by Amanda Meale
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Toni Jensen

I'll confess that when I read short stories, I often feel as if I'm having a snack, when what I want is a full meal. Not so with Toni Jensen's dazzling collection, From the Hilltop. In just a few pages, she manages to fill in the past, present and enough of the future to leave a reader satisfied. After I finished these stories, the only thing I was hungry for was more Toni Jensen. She's that good.

Reviewed by Kathleen Ambrogi
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Adriana Lisboa
Translated from the Portuguese by Sarah White

Symphony in White is a tale of two sisters. Clarice and Maria Inês, daughters of Afonso and Octacilia Olimpio, came of age in Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s during the period of military dictatorship. Lisboa does not directly comment upon the political situation in Brazil during that time, but the political repression is mirrored in the stifling atmosphere of the Olimpio family and the secrets they keep.

Reviewed by Jane Anderson Jones
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Yanick Lahens
Translated from the French by Betty Wilson

It's always good to be reminded of the diversity of talent from places that the rest of the world focuses on only in the most troubled times. Even before this year's terrible earthquake, Haiti was a by-word for poverty and violence. This anthology of short stories by Yanick Lahens, a first English translation for one of Haiti's foremost short story writers, is a timely reminder that the country has so much more to offer the world.

Reviewed by Andy Barnes

Closing Escape Hatches and Emerging Humor
Photo of Storm over Brisbane
Jean Hughes Raber looks at post-millennium dystopian novels by women.
Trio: Clarice Lispector
Photo of Clarice Lispector
Rachel Hayes reviews three books by the internationally acclaimed Brazilian author.
Listening to
Nawal el Saadawi

photo of Nawal el Saadawi
Coming from the International PEN "Free the Word!" festival, Charlotte Simpson introduces us to Egyptian writer, psychiatrist and political activist Nawal el Saadawi.
Awards & Nominations
graphic image of three floral squares
Looking for a great book to read? Here we present some of the recent award-winning or award-nominated books by women writers from around the world.