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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 more than 80 new or notable books we hope will bring the world to you. Remember—depending on what country you are shopping in, these books might be sold under slightly different titles or ISBNs, in different formats or with different covers; or be published in different months. However, the author's name is always likely to be the same!


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Ingrid Winterbach
Translated from the Afrikaans by Dirk and Ingrid Winterbach

A middle-aged lexicographer, Helena Verbloem, travels alone to Durban to assist in the creation of a dictionary of Afrikaans words that have fallen out of use. Shortly after her arrival, her apartment is burglarized, and her collection of precious shells, shells that she had been collecting for a lifetime, is stolen. Meeting with indifference from the local police, she decides to investigate the crime on her own, with the help of her new friend from the Museum of Natural History, Sof. While investigating the crime, Helena reflects on the life she’s lived—her ex-husband, her daughter, her lovers, her childhood—and begins to fall in love with her married boss, Theo Verway.

An alternately sublime and satirical meditation on love, loss, and obsession, Ingrid Winterbach's The Book of Happenstance is an emotionally affecting masterpiece from one of South Africa's most exciting authors.

Ingrid Winterbach is an artist and novelist whose work has won South Africa's M-Net Prize, Old Mutual Literary Prize, the University of Johannesburg Prize for Creative Writing, and the W.A. Hofmeyr Prize. To Hell with Cronjé won the 2004 Hertzog Prize, an honor she shares with the novelists Breyten Breytenbach and Etienne Leroux.

Open Letter, paperback, 9781934824337 (June)

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Susi Wyss

When Adjoa leaves Ghana to find work in the Ivory Coast, she hopes that one day she'll return home to open a beauty parlor. Her dream comes true, though not before she suffers a devastating loss—one that will haunt her for years, and one that also deeply affects Janice, an American aid worker who no longer feels she has a place to call home. But the bustling Precious Brother Salon is not just the "cleanest, friendliest, and most welcoming in the city." It's also where locals catch up on their gossip; where Comfort, an imperious busybody, can complain about her American daughter-in-law, Linda; and where Adjoa can get a fresh start on life—or so she thinks, until Janice moves to Ghana and unexpectedly stumbles upon the salon.

At once deeply moving and utterly charming, The Civilized World follows five women as they face meddling mothers-in-law, unfaithful partners, and the lingering aftereffects of racism, only to learn that their cultural differences are outweighed by their common bond as women. With vibrant prose, Susi Wyss explores what it means to need forgiveness—and what it means to forgive.

Susi Wyss's fiction is influenced by her twenty-year career managing women's health programs in Africa, where she lived for more than eight years. The Civilized World is her first book.

Henry Holt, paperback, 9780805093629

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Talia Carner

The poignant, colorful, and unforgettable story of a young woman in early 20th-century Jerusalem who must choose between her faith and her passion, Jerusalem Maiden heralds the arrival of a magnificent new literary voice, Talia Carner. Jerusalem Maiden brilliantly evokes the sights and sounds of the Middle East during the final days of the Ottoman Empire. Historical fiction and Bible lovers will be captivated by this thrilling tale of a young Jewish woman during a fascinating era, her inner struggle with breaking the Second Commandment, and her ultimate transcendence through self-discovery.

Talia Carner is a board member of HBI, a research center for Jewish women's life and culture at Brandeis University, and an honorary board member of several domestic violence and child abuse organizations. Ms. Carner is the author of two previous novels. She resides in New York with her family.

Harper Perennial, paperback, 9780062004376 (May)

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Nnedi Okorafor

In this young adult book, a young woman lives in Nigeria, but she was born American. Her features are African, but she's albino. She's a terrific athlete, but can't go out into the sun to play soccer. There seems to be no place where she fits. And then she discovers something amazing—she is a "free agent," with latent magical power. Soon she's part of a quartet of magic students, studying the visible and invisible, learning to change reality. But will it be enough to help them when they are asked to catch a career criminal who knows magic too?

Nnedi Okorafor was born in America to Nigerian parents, and visits Africa frequently. Her many awards include the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. She and her daughter live in Olympia Fields, Illinois.

Viking, hardcover, 9780670011964

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Ginny Baily

Adele is in a mess. On her own with her young son, struggling to cope with her job as a teacher, and stuck in a disastrous—and dangerous—affair, her life is unravelling. The sharp contrasts and certainties she experienced during the years she spent as a child in far-off Senegal have faded to a distant blur. Then, one night, when she looks in the bathroom mirror, she sees the face of Ellena, a girl she knew in those carefree days, staring back at her from the glass. As the daughter of a nightwatchman in exile from the brutal conflict in Liberia, Ellena's childhood was far from the idyll of Adele's memories. Her mysterious appearance sets in motion a chain of events that takes Adele back to Africa, in the hope that she can make amends for a heartless act that broke the girls' friendship and damaged Ellena's family irrevocably.

Africa Junction artfully interweaves the stories of dramatically different lives and experiences—a Senegalese boy setting sail for Europe, a Welsh teenager running from Timbuktu, a young girl escaping from a life of slave-labour in Mali—but at its heart is Adele and her quest. From the rain-drenched streets of Britain to the sun-baked reds and yellows of Senegal and the violence of Liberia's civil war, Africa Junction follows one woman's attempt to draw the threads of her life together. Out of the quagmire of violence and hardship there emerges a tentative vision of common humanity and, ultimately, the possibility both of redemption and of love.

Ginny Baily was born in Halifax in Yorkshire, grew up in Cardiff and now lives in Devon. She has taught English as a Foreign Language, Italian and French, has lived and worked in both France and Italy and has long worked on the Africa Research Bulletin—a monthly journal of African affairs. She is also the co-founder and co-editor of Riptide, a journal which has the aim of championing the short story. She has won various prizes for her poetry and short stories. Africa Junction is her first novel.

Harvill Secker, paperback, 9781846554605 (May)

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Henrietta Rose-Innes

A wife lies to her husband, seeking refuge from her dowdy life in the plush hotel that overlooks their home. A man ascends the glass-topped dome of a mall in search of a lost childhood memory. History comes to life for a young boy trapped in the city library. An elderly woman nurses a football star back to health …

In these evocative and exquisitely crafted short stories, Henrietta Rose-Innes gives us an extraordinary glimpse into a selection of ordinary lives. Diverse characters—a teenager learning to be a boyfriend, an ageing copywriter, a girl on the brink of womanhood—are animated in sparse, sparkling prose. The Cape Town they mostly inhabit is both a playground and an obstacle course, filled with menace and delight. Through this landscape, like the pigeons in the title story, they find new paths home—and are themselves transformed by the journey.

Henrietta Rose-Innes is a fiction writer based in Cape Town. She has published two novels, and her short stories have appeared locally and internationally, receiving the 2008 Caine Prize for African Writing and the 2007 Southern African PEN Literary Award.

Random House Struik (SA), paperback, 9781415201343

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Bessie Head

The Lovers collects Bessie Head's short fiction of the 1960s and 70s, written mainly in Serowe, Botswana, and depicting the lives and loves of African village people pre- and post-independence. An earlier selection called Tales of Tenderness and Power was published in the Heinemann African Writers Series in 1990, but this expanded and updated volume adds many previously unavailable stories collected here for the first time. Anthology favourites like her breakthrough 'The Woman from America' and 'The Prisoner who Wore Glasses' are included, leading up to the first complete text of her much translated title story.

Born in Pietermaritzberg, South Africa in 1937, Bessie Head first came to prominence as a columnist on Johannesburg's The Golden City Post. To escape banning under the apartheid system, she was obliged to leave her country of birth on an exit permit, living from 1964 as a refugee in British Bechuanaland, soon to achieve independence as Botswana. As the bulk of the short stories were being written there, she became noted as the pioneer voice of a uniquely African woman, dealing with hitherto undescribed private affairs in village communities. She died in 1986, aged just forty-nine.

Heinemann, paperback, 9780435045715