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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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Silvina Ocampo
Translated from the Spanish by James Womack

On the arrival of a mysterious stranger laden with paintings, Leandro finds his quiet life disrupted instantly and mysteriously. He awakens locked in a windowless room in a topless tower, the subject of one of the stranger's eerie paintings. His childish voice draws the reader into a mythical world full of imaginary beings. Basking in her friendship with literary luminaries such as Italo Calvino and Borges, Argentine poet and author Silvina Ocampo is among the foremost figures in modern South American literature. Heavily influenced by nonsense literature such as Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and the surrealist movement in South America, The Topless Tower, features all the typical hallmarks of Ocampo's fantastical writing. With subtle inflections of language and tremendous displays of imagination running riot, Ocampo's writing is beautifully translated by James Womack.

Hesperus Worldwide, paperback, 9781843918554 (May)

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Deborah Clearman

Catherine Barnes—shocked to discover her marriage isn't what she thought it was—travels to Guatemala for some soul searching. She takes along her rebellious fourteen-year-old son Isaac, intending to leave him with his tough-love aunt, while she paints pictures for a children's book. In the remote mountain village of Todos Santos she falls under the spell of a rugged landscape and its welcoming, tenacious Mayan inhabitants. Just as she starts to feel at home in earthy kitchens where women pat out tortillas and tell her the stories of their lives, she discovers that Isaac is missing. Kidnappers are on their way to collect ransom from her in Todos Santos.

Mother and son confront rumors of foreign baby-snatchers and devil-worshippers, and threats of unexpected violence, as they search for each other. In finding Isaac, Catherine discovers that she must also find herself. Drawing on a deep knowledge of and empathy for Guatemala, and compellingly written, Todos Santos is ultimately a story of love, motherhood, and the hard choices we make.

Black Lawrence Press, paperback, 9780982520406 (June)

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Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa

A lyrical, powerful debut novel about a family of Afro-Puerto Rican women, spanning five generations, detailing their physical and spiritual journey from the Old World to the New.

It is the mid-1800s. Fela, taken from Africa, is working at her second sugar plantation in colonial Puerto Rico, where her mistress is only too happy to benefit from her impressive embroidery skills. But Fela has a secret. Before she and her husband were separated and sold into slavery, they performed a tribal ceremony in which they poured the essence of their unborn child into a very special stone. Fela keeps the stone with her, waiting for the chance to finish what she started. When the plantation owner approaches her, Fela sees a better opportunity for her child, and allows the man to act out his desire. Such is the beginning of a line of daughters connected by their intense love for one another, and the stories of a lost land.

Mati, a powerful healer and noted craftswoman, is grounded in a life that is disappearing in a quickly changing world. Concha, unsure of her place, doesn't realize the price she will pay for rejecting her past. Elena, modern and educated, tries to navigate between two cultures, moving to the United States, where she will struggle to keep her family together. Carisa turns to the past for wisdom and strength when her life in New York falls apart. The stone becomes meaningful to each of the women, pulling them through times of crisis and ultimately connecting them to one another. Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa shows great skill and warmth in the telling of this heartbreaking, inspirational story about mothers and daughters, and the ways in which they hurt and save one another.

Thomas Dunne Books, hardcover, 9780312539269

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Isabel Allende

Born a slave on the island of Saint-Domingue, Zarité—known as Tété—is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage. Though her childhood is one of brutality and fear, Tété finds solace in the traditional rhythms of African drums and in the voodoo loas she discovers through her fellow slaves.

When twenty-year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island in 1770, it's with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father's plantation, Saint Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. It will be eight years before he brings home a bride—but marriage, too, proves more difficult than he imagined. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave. Spanning four decades, Island Beneath the Sea is the moving story of the intertwined lives of Tété and Valmorain, and of one woman's determination to find love amid loss, to offer humanity though her own has been battered, and to forge her own identity in the cruelest of circumstances.

Harper, hardcover, 9780061988240

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Irete Lazo

"In this debut novel, a field biologist, unsatisfied in her career and unhappy in her marriage after suffering three miscarriages, discovers Santería (the Yoruba religion brought by African slaves to the Caribbean where it mixed with Catholicism). Gabrielle Segovia lets loose while attending a conference in New Orleans and has a reading at Madam Laveau's House of Voodoo, where the spirit tells her that she doesn't need a doctor, the babies will come when she finds her spiritual path. Back home, Gabrielle reluctantly agrees to see a fertility specialist, but despite learning that she does have physical problems, she refuses further medical care and turns to Santería to fulfill her wish to conceive. She travels to Miami and to her Santería-practicing Puerto Rican cousins, and soon Gabrielle is ditching work and planning her ocha, her initiation into Santería. The author, writing under a pseudonym, is knowledgeable about her subject; she's a former scientist and a practicing santera, and does an entertaining job of contrasting science with religious beliefs. All ends happily in this lighthearted first novel that puts a contemporary Latin face on a fascinating and ancient religion." (Publishers Weekly)

Thomas Dunne Books, hardcover, 9780312381882