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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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Mahasweta Devi
Translated by Sumanta Banerjee

Unlike most of Mahasweta Devi's works, which focus on Bengali tribes and the rural dispossessed, the four stories collected in Bait are located in the urban and suburban criminal underworld, and form an unusual segment of Devi's oeuvre. The first story, "Fisherman", is about a man who recovers the bodies of young boys from the village pond so that the police can pass them off as victims of drowning. "Knife", on the other hand, is a tongue-in-cheek account of the liminal cultural world of West Bengal, which borders Bangladesh. A young woman makes her own protest against an exploitative establishment as a result of abuse by a politician and his cohorts in "Body," and an unemployed middle-class youth discovers himself after his first 'test' killing in the dark story "Killer". This collection of fascinating and unsettling stories is anchored by an in-depth introductory essay by cultural historian Sumanta Banerjee, who has firsthand familiarity with the settings and situations from his crime-reporting past. Banerjee contextualizes the stories within the development of the growing criminal underworld in Bengal today.

Seagull Books, hardcover, 9781906497491

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Kamalini Sengupta

Marriages, affairs, suicides, duplicitous relations, second chances, murder, madness, and true love - Rajmahal is a beautifully crafted tale of families brought together in an unusual Bengali house over a century of turbulent changes. Within the walls of this stately home, the melting pot of tenants, alive and dead, struggle to come to grips with the social, economic, and intellectual forces working in India as it moves from the British Raj to independence. Their intertwined fortunes and personal battles become a mirror of the struggle for possession of the country's future.

Feminist Press, paperback, 9781558616080 (June)

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Rani Manicka

Parvathi leaves her native Ceylon for Malaya and an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman. But her father has cheated, supplying a different girl's photograph, and Kasu Marimuthu, furious, threatens to send her home in disgrace. Gradually husband and wife reach an accommodation, and the naïve young girl learns to assume the air of sophisticated mistress of a luxurious estate. She even adopts his love child and treats Rubini as her own daughter—a generous act which is rewarded by a long-wished-for son.

But it is a life without passion, and Parvathi dreams of loving—and being loved—with complete abandon.

When the Japanese invade Malaya, in WW2, they requisition the estate. Marimuthu dies and Parvathi is forced to accept the protection of the Japanese general who has robbed her of her home. For the first time, she experiences sexual ecstasy. And gradually, her sworn enemy becomes the lover she has always yearned for.

Hodder & Stoughton, hardcover, 9781444700305

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Fan Wu

Stretching from mid-century China to both coasts of the United States at the turn of the millennium, Beautiful as Yesterday tells the powerful and captivating story of three Chinese women from the same family. It is a penetrating exploration of what it means to belong, what it means to be a family, and the impact of history and memories on one's life.

"Speaking English is like taking a bath with my clothes on," Mary Chang admits after having lived in America for more than ten years. Under the facade of being a devoted wife, mother, churchgoer, and a hightech professional, she is tormented by adultery, her grudge toward her parents, and her despair at work. Ingrid, Mary's attractive estranged sister, prefers her bohemian friends' Latin culture to her own, though her college boyfriend's tragic death never fails to haunt her. And when their widowed mother Wang Fenglan, a state factory retiree, travels from China to America for the first time under Mary's request to explore the possibility of emigrating, she awkwardly reunites the family and unknowingly stirs up buried family tensions and secrets.

Picador (UK), paperback, 9780330447751
Washington Square Press (US), paperback, 9781416598909 (August)

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Kanoko Okamoto
Translated from the Japanese by J. Keith Vincent

The son of lower-class goldfish sellers falls in love with the beautiful daughter of his rich patron. After he is sent away to study the science of goldfish breeding, with strict orders to return and make his patron's fortune, he vows to devote his life to producing one ideal, perfect goldfish specimen to reflect his loved-one's beauty. This poignant and deft tale is published here with another novella by Okamoto, the story of a pauper from Kyoto who teaches himself to be an accomplished chef. Together, these two novellas show the great Japanese writer at her most precise, fluent and lucid.

Kanoko Okamoto (1889-1939) was a Japanese poet, novelist, and scholar of Buddhism whose prose works examine the relationships between the classes and sexes in her contemporary Japan.

Hesperus Press, paperback, 9781843918523

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Linda Lê
Translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti

The three fates—now three Vietnamese "princesses" in France—were spirited away as little children by their powerful grandmother when Saigon fell to the communists. Now the two sisters and their cousin await the arrival of their father and uncle, still marooned in his little blue house in the old country. "Leave King Lear alone, I'd told my cousins," our principal narrator (an intellectual who has lost a hand) informs us: "They had neglected him for twenty years and now they were conspiring like a pair of Cordelias to bestow one last joy on the old monarch: he hadn't asked for it." From a luxurious home in the French countryside, his two daughters (the elder, very pregnant and restlessly cooking and eating, kept company by her long-legged and icy younger sister) plot to drag their father halfway around the world—away from his poverty and from his only friend and the grilled eels they happily devour together—to flaunt their success. Scathingly unsentimental, The Three Fates transposes Shakespearean tragedy into a contemporary idiom and a decidedly different culture. A sharply vivacious book about "the bitch of fate," The Three Fates—like a witch's pot on the boil—brews up from displaced lives a darkly funny and agitated concatenation.

New Directions, paperback, 9780008629005 (June)

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Eileen Chang

Fall of the Pagoda introduces a young girl growing up in Shanghai amid many family entanglements with her divorced mother and spinster aunt during the 1930s, when the International Settlement in Shanghai was known as the "lonely isle" and was relatively safe from the invading Japanese army. "The Book of Change" narrates her experience as a student at the University of Victoria in Hong Kong, including the fall of Hong Kong after Pearl Harbor at the end of 1941. The novel contains lengthy discussions of the relationship between a fictionalized Chang and her selfishly demanding mother, as well as of intricate dynamics in the extended families who emerged from aristocratic households of the late Qing Dynasty. While the main characters belong to the new Republican period, their worldviews and everyday life are still haunted by the shadows of the past.

Eileen Chang is now recognized as one of the greatest modern Chinese writers, though she was completely erased from official histories in mainland China. These previously unpublished, semi-autobiographical novels depict in gripping detail her childhood years in Tianjin and Shanghai, as well as her student days in Hong Kong during World War II, and shed light on the construction of selfhood in her other novels.

Hong Kong Univ. Press, paperback, 9789888028368

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Qurratulain Hyder
Translated by the author

Moving between India and Pakistan, before and after Partition, the seven short stories of The Exiles chronicle a world of rapidly changing customs where families are sundered and lives irrevocably changed by political circumstances beyond their control. Qurratulain Hyder transformed Urdu prose fiction. In place of the sugary romances and over-poetic prose of her predecessors, she dissected the fading of love, chronicled the disappointments of adulterous liaisons, and laid bare the compromises forced upon women by money and class. Poignant yet unflinching, these seven stories show her at her most astute, witty and humane.

Hesperus Press, paperback, 9781416548799

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Tishani Doshi

It all started in August 1968 when Babo, with curly hair and jhill mill teeth, became the first member of the Patel family to leave Madras and fly on a plane all the way to London to further his education. His father should have known there would be trouble: on the morning of the departure he had his first and only dream, in which strange ghosts threw poison-tipped arrows and all his family was lost. But off Babo went, and now here he is, in a flat off the Finchley Road, untraditionally making love to a cream-skinned girl from Wales, Sian Jones, who he fell head over heels for as soon as he saw the twirl of red ribbon in her hair. Theirs is a mixed-up love in a topsy-turvy world, and their two families will never be the same again.

Meet the Patel-Joneses: Babo, Sian, Mayuri and Bean, in their little house with orange and black gates next-door to the Punjab Women's Association. As the twentieth century creaks and croaks its way along...these four navigate their way through the uncharted territory of a 'hybrid' family: the hustle and bustle of Babo's relatives, the faraway phone-line crackle of Sian's, the eternal wisdom and soft bosom of great-grandmother Ba, the perils of first love, lost innocence and old age, and the big question: what do you do with the space your loved ones leave behind?

In this tender, lyrical and uplifting debut, Tishani Doshi, a prizewinning poet, effortlessly captures the quirks and calamities of one unusual clan in a story of identity, family, belonging and all-transcending love.

Bloomsbury, hardcover, 9780747590927

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Jeanne M. Peterson

In 1954 Emma and Gerald Kittredge leave their secure Quaker community and travel to the small Tibetan town of Shigatse where they soon find companionship with their neighbors, Dorje and Rinchen, and their sons Dawa and Chumpa. But the arrival of Maoist soldiers into their quiet life shatters everything.

Gerald is captured by the soldiers, leaving a pregnant Emma at the mercy of her Tibetan neighbors, relying on them for survival and spiritual support. Dorje and Rinchen cope with their sons; one chooses a path of violence, despite his monastic life, and the other must grow up amid political struggle. Told in three distinct voices rich in their respective spiritual traditions, Falling to Heaven is ultimately a novel about faith: losing it and rediscovering it in places you'd never expect.

In a startlingly poignant voice, debut writer Peterson explores the duality of religion as both the Quakers and Buddhists reconcile their spiritual tenets. And through it all, the reader witnesses an overwhelming beauty in the lush Himalayas of Tibet, considered the ceiling of the world, in a place believed to be the closest to heaven.

Thomas Dunne Books, hardcover, 9780312533922

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Wendy Law-Yone

Taking the reader on a journey from the remote tribal villages of northern Burma, to ex-pat life in Rangoon under a grim military regime, and then, in shocking scenes, to the brothels of Thailand and the hedonism of Bangkok, The Road to Wanting traces the life of a young woman whose fate is always in the hands of others, be they well-meaning Americans or provincial pimps. Full of the glare and shadows of the East, this haunting journey opens up places often hidden to Western eyes, revealing ancient cruelties, as well as the redemptive power in facing—and forgiving— the truth.

Vintage Books, paperback, 9780701184087