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Belletrista - A site promoting translated women authored literature from around the world

New & Notable
Whether you are a seasoned reader of international literature or a reader just venturing out beyond your own literary shores, we know you will find our New and Notable section a book browser's paradise! Reading literature from around the world has a way of opening up one's perspective to create as vast a world within us as there is without. Here are 60+ new and notable books we hope will bring the world to you.


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Brigid Pasulka

On the eve of World War II, in a place called Half-Village, a young man nicknamed the Pigeon falls in love with a girl fabled for her angelic looks. To court Anielica Hetmanská he offers up his "golden hands" to transform her family's modest hut into a beautiful home, thereby building his way into her heart.

Then war arrives to cut short their courtship, delay their marriage, and wreak havoc in all their lives, even sending the young lovers far from home to the promise of a new life in Kraków.

Nearly fifty years later, their granddaughter, Beata, repeats their postwar journey, seeking a new life in the fairy-tale city of her grandmother's stories. But when she arrives in Kraków, instead of the whispered prosperity of the New Poland, she discovers a city caught between its future and its past, and full of frustrated youths. Taken in by her tough-talking cousin Irena and Irena's glamorous daughter Magda, Beata struggles to find her own place in 1990s Kraków and in the constellation of Irena and Magda's fierce love. But unexpected events—tragedies and miracles—can change lives and open eyes. And Beata may just find a new way of seeing her family's and her country's history—as well as a vision for her own role in the New Poland.

Whimsical, wise, beautiful, magical, and sometimes even heartbreaking, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True weaves together two remarkable stories, re-imagining half a century of Polish history through the legacy of one unforgettable love affair.

Sceptre, paperback, 9780340920152 (June)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, paperback, 9780547336282

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Linda Ferri
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

Cecilia tells the story of a young girl's search to define herself in a world rife with social upheaval, religious conflict and deep foreboding. Cecilia, born into a noble Roman family in the second century AD, is 15 years old. But in a society that leaves little room for women to discover aptitudes, her search for knowledge, with the awkwardness and urgency of her age, is fraught with challenges. Grasping for light in an age of darkness, searching for answers among conflicting ideologies, Cecilia tells the story of a soul's progress.

Europa Editions, paperback, 9781933372877

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Thaisa Frank

From award-winning short fiction author Frank comes this tale set during the end of World War II in a failing Germany coming apart at its seams. The Third Reich's strong reliance on the occult and its obsession with the astral plane has led to the formation of an underground compound of scribes—translators responsible for answering letters written to those eventually killed in the concentration camps.

Into this covert compound comes a letter written by eminent philosopher Martin Heidegger to his optometrist, a man now lost in the dying thralls of Auschwitz. How will the scribes answer this letter? The presence of Heidegger's words—one simple letter in a place filled with letters—sparks a series of events that will ultimately threaten the safety and well-being of the entire compound.

Part love story, part thriller, part meditation on how the dead are remembered and history is presented, with threads of Heidegger's philosophy woven throughout, the novel evocatively illustrates the Holocaust through an almost dreamlike state. Thaisa Frank deftly reconstructs the landscape of Nazi Germany from an entirely original vantage point.

Phoenix Books, hardcover, 9781607477266

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Maureen Myant

Czechoslovakia, 1942. Jan's father has been summarily executed by the Nazis. His mother and his older sister Maria have disappeared, and his younger sister Lena has been removed to a remote farm in the German countryside. With Europe in the throes of war, the ten-year-old boy embarks on a personal journey to reunite the family he has been violently torn from. The experiences he goes through and the horror he faces during this desperate quest will change his life forever. While examining the devastating effects of war on ordinary families, The Search provides an exploration of fear and loss, and of the bond between parents and children. Riveting, moving, and at times disturbing, Maureen Myant's debut novel will haunt its readers for a long time after they have put it down.

Alma Books, paperback, 9781846880926

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Tess Fragoulis

In the Great Fire of Smyrna (1922), Kivelli lost everything: her family, her friends, her social position, and her future. Stranded in the Greek city of Piraeus, populated by gangsters, prostitutes, fortune tellers, and other refugees, she finds herself living in the broom closet of a brothel. Luckily, the sound of her singing voice captures the attention of a local taverna owner, who suggests she come with him and perform for his customers. Kivelli's time at the bar is short-lived, but gives way to a recording career and her slow climb up the economic and social ladder of this foreign city. Although life is certainly better for her—no longer the object of an auction at a brothel, no longer a singer in a disreputable taverna—Kivelli misses the magical world of her youth in the great port city of Smyrna.

Cormorant Books, paperback, 9781897151730

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Christiane Ritter
Translated from the German by Jane Degras

Announcing a new edition of Christiane Ritter's memoir, first published in English in 1954. In 1933, Ritter, a painter from Austria, travelled to Spitsbergen, an Arctic island north of Norway, to be with her husband. He had been taking part in a scientific expedition and stayed on to hunt and fish. "Leave everything as it is and follow me to the Arctic," he wrote to his wife; but for Christiane, "as for all central Europeans, the Arctic was just another word for freezing and forsaken solitude. I did not follow at once."

The story that follows is compelling, and the writing is both matter-of-fact and magical—much like the environment in which they live. Ritter, both wise and naïve, courageous and with a touch of wry humour, reveals a depth of insight and self-knowledge that the stark setting enhances. In moving and rich detail, she describes her life in the bleak tarpaulin-covered hut, 60 miles from the nearest neighbour and more than 150 miles from the closest settlement. She writes matter-of-factly about the isolation, cold, and the overwhelming beauty, as well as day-to-day survival‒hunting, trapping, cooking, and not freezing to death. In the summer it was light for twenty-four hours a day, and for five months in the winter the sun never appeared. At times the moonlight was so intense her husband forced her to stay in the hut so she would not get moonstruck.

Finally, and believably, the story comes full circle. Ritter had been frightened and forlorn at her first sighting of their remote hut at Gray Hook, her home for the next year. And, twelve months later, on her last day in the Arctic, she feels a deep sadness as their boat pulls away.

Greystone Books (CAN), paperback, 9781553655404

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Daniëlle Hermans

In 1636 Alkmaar, Holland, Wouter Winckel's brutally slaughtered body is found in the barroom of his inn, an antireligious pamphlet stuffed in his mouth. Winckel was a respected tulip-trader and owned the most beautiful collection of tulips in the United Republic of the Low Countries, including the most coveted and expensive bulb of them all, the Semper Augustus. But why did he have to die and who wanted him dead?

In 2007 London, history seems to be repeating itself. Dutchman Frank Schoeller is found in his home by his nephew, Alec. Severely wounded, he is holding a 17th-century book about tulips, seemingly a reference to the reason for his death moments later. With the help of his friend Damien Vanlint, an antique dealer from Amsterdam, Alec tries to solve the mystery, but soon comes to realize that he and his friend's own lives are now in danger.

Allen & Unwin, 9781742371894 (May)
Minotaur, hardcover, 9780312577865

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Julie Orringer

Paris, 1937. Andras Lévi, a Hungarian-Jewish architecture student, arrives from Budapest with a scholarship, a single suitcase, and a mysterious letter he has promised to deliver to C. Morgenstern on the rue de Sévigné. As he falls into a complicated relationship with the letter's recipient, he becomes privy to a secret history that will alter the course of his own life. Meanwhile, as his elder brother takes up medical studies in Modena and their younger brother leaves school for the stage, Europe's unfolding tragedy sends each of their lives into terrifying uncertainty. At the end of Andras's second summer in Paris, all of Europe erupts in a cataclysm of war.

From the small Hungarian town of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras's room on the rue des Écoles to the deep and enduring connection he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the story of a love tested by disaster, of brothers whose bonds cannot be broken, of a family shattered and remade in history's darkest hour, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.

Expertly crafted, magnificently written, emotionally haunting, and impossible to put down, The Invisible Bridge resoundingly confirms Julie Orringer's place as one of today's most vital and commanding young literary talents.

Viking, hardcover, 9780670918683
Knopf (US), hardcover, 9781400041169

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Elif Shafak

A tantalizing novel about love and mysticism from Turkey's bestselling female author. Ella Rubenstein is forty years old and unhappily married when she takes a job as a reader for a literary agent—and suddenly her life is transformed. Her first assignment is to read a novel about the ancient Sufi mystic, Rumi, who was transformed by the whirling dervish into a passionate poet and advocate of love. Slowly she realizes that his thirteenth-century life is starting to mirror her own, and in doing so it opens up exciting opportunities for her to embrace the dervish's timeless message for herself. This is a mesmerizing novel about finding love and inspiration in the most unlikely places.

Viking (UK), paperback, 9780670918737 (June)