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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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Yoani Sánchez
Translated from the Spanish by M. J. Porter

A diary of life inside Havana by one of Cuba's few bloggers—a worldwide sensation.

Yoani Sánchez is an unusual dissident: no street protests, no attacks on big politicos, no calls for revolution. Rather, she produces a simple diary about what it means to live under the Castro regime in Cuba: the chronic hunger and the difficulty of shopping; the art of repairing ancient appliances; the struggles of living under a propaganda machine that pushes deep into public and private life. For these simple acts of truth-telling her life is one of constant threat. But she continues on, refusing to be silenced—a living response to all who have ceased to believe in a future for Cuba. Yoani received the 2011 International Women of Courage Award.

Melville House, paperback, 9781935554912

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Luisa Valenzuela
Translated from the Spanish by Susan E. Clark

"Here I am," writes Luisa Valenzuela, "submerged in a sea of notebooks …" Dark Desires is the author's autobiographical fantasia on the ten years she spent living in New York City. Valenzuela has called this book her "apocryphal autobiography," and in it she says very little about her work as a writer, about the city itself, or even about literature. Instead, Dark Desires is a dialogue between the sometimes harmonious, sometimes contradictory worlds of writing and human interaction: for Valenzuela, writing, like love, is an attempt to reach out to another person, to make some sort of connection possible. Here, Valenzuela confronts her own “dark desires”: her need for sexual fulfillment and human tenderness, her indecisiveness about who or what she truly wants, and, overall, the compulsion to keep a written record of all her triumphs and disasters, encounters and obsessions.

Luisa Valenzuela was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Her mother, Luisa Mercedes Levinson, was a well-known writer and among the close friends who visited their home were Jorge Luis Borges, Juan Goyanarte, Eduardo Mallea, and Ernesto Sabato. Valenzuela started her career as a journalist when she was very young. She also published a few short stories before 1958, when she moved to France. Her first novel was published while she was living in Paris. In 1969 she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to participate in a program for international writers in Iowa. During the 1970s, Valenzuela traveled to Spain, the United States, France, and Mexico, and her travels deeply influenced her work. During this period, the military regime completely changed Argentinian reality, a situation fully represented in her writings published during these years. In 1979, Valenzuela moved to New York to be writer-in-residence at Columbia University, where she gave workshops in English and Spanish.
Read a review of this book in this issue.

Dalkey Archive Press, paperback, 9781564786319

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Carmen Aguirre

On September 11, 1973, a violent coup removed Salvador Allende, the democratically elected socialist president of Chile, from office. Thousands were arrested, tortured and killed under General Augusto Pinochet's repressive new regime. Soon after the coup, six-year-old Carmen Aguirre and her younger sister fled the country with their parents for Canada and a life in exile.

In 1978, the Chilean resistance issued a call for exiled activists to return to Latin America. Most women sent their children to live with relatives or with supporters in Cuba, but Carmen's mother kept her precious girls with her. As their mother and stepfather set up a safe house for resistance members in La Paz, Bolivia, the girls' own double lives began. At eighteen, Carmen herself joined the resistance. With conventional day jobs as a cover, she and her new husband moved to Argentina to begin a dangerous new life of their own.

This dramatic, darkly funny narrative, which covers the eventful decade from 1979 to 1989, takes the reader inside war-ridden Peru, dictatorship-run Bolivia, post-Malvinas Argentina and Pinochet's Chile. Writing with passion and deep personal insight, Carmen captures her constant struggle to reconcile her commitment to the movement with the desires of her youth and her budding sexuality. Something Fierce is a gripping story of love, war and resistance and a rare first-hand account of revolutionary life.

Carmen Aguirre is a Vancouver-based writer and theatre artist who has worked extensively in North and South America. She has written or co-written eighteen plays, including The Refugee Hotel", which was nominated for a Dora Mavor Moore Award for best new play in 2010. Something Fierce is her first book.

Douglas & McIntyre, hardcover, 9781553654629 (May, Chile)

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Kerry Young

I was just a boy when I come to Jamaica.

Kingston, 1938. Fourteen-year-old Yang Pao steps off the ship from China with his mother and brother, after his father has died fighting for the revolution. They are to live with Zhang, the 'godfather' of Chinatown, who mesmerises Pao with stories of glorious Chinese socialism on one hand, and the reality of his protection business on the other. When Pao takes over the family's affairs he becomes a powerful man. He sets his sights on marrying well, but when Gloria Campbell, a black prostitute, comes to him for help he is drawn to her beauty and strength. They begin a relationship that continues even after Pao marries Fay Wong, the 'acceptable' but headstrong daughter of a wealthy Chinese merchant. As the political violence escalates in the 1960s the lines between Pao's socialist ideals and private ambitions become blurred. Jamaica is transforming, the tides of change are rising, and the one-time boss of Chinatown finds himself cast adrift. Richly imagined and utterly captivating, Pao is a dazzling tale of race, class and colour, love and ambition, and a country at a historical crossroads.

Kerry Young was born in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Chinese father and mother of mixed Chinese-African heritage. She came to England in 1965 at the age of ten. Kerry's early life with her father, a businessman who operated within Kingston's shadow economy, provided the inspiration for Pao. Kerry Young has written extensively on issues relating to youth work, including The Art of Youth Work. She lives in Leicestershire, UK.

Bloomsbury (UK), paperback, 9781408812075 (JUNE)

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Amanda Hale

The woman is flying in a small airplane and sees in the distance the great cumbrous mass of El Yunque, the flat-topped mesa that announces the historic town of Baracoa. She has likely heard the legend of the Honey River, where it is said that the person who bathes in its waters and gets married in Baracoa must stay there forever. She knows people in Baracoa. She is going to meet Onaldo, her Afro-Cuban lover, and she will become 'Katrina' to continue her private journals. In this series of linked fictions, unified by place and a cast of overlapping characters, Karina travels the length of El Caimán, the alligator which is Cuba.

The narratives that make up this book have their origins in Hale's travel journal, but emerge as stories, arriving at that place just beyond creative non-fiction. Vivid and sensitive portraits are balanced with the dark undercurrents of Cuban life. Katrina witnesses how politics have re-shaped the culture and lives of the people she encounters, while she falls deeply in love with the true and hidden life of El Caimán.

Amanda Hale is a novelist and poet, has written for theatre and worked as a journalist. She has an M.A. in Creative Writing Drama from Concordia University, Montreal, and has taught creative writing. She was a founding member of Toronto's feminist theatre group, Company of Sirens, and of Red Tree Visual Arts.

Thistledown Press (CAN), paperback, 9781897235874

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Monique Roffey

Monique Roffey had found her soulmate. But then the love affair she had always longed for came to a sudden and heartbreaking end. Devastated, Monique felt that she could never love again. But as time went on, she began to ask questions. Does ruling out love have to mean ruling out sex? Can you have great sex without love? And, conversely, can a great love survive without sex? This is an eye-opening, inspiring story of one woman's quest to heal a broken heart and to find her own answers to some powerful and resonant questions. It takes her from the personal ads to a libertine's resort in the south of France to tantra workshops and beyond -- until she finds that she might just be able to love again, after all…

Monique Roffey was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and educated in the UK. Her highly acclaimed debut novel, Sun Dog, was published in 2002. Since then she has worked as a Centre Director for the Arvon Foundation and has held the post of Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Sussex and Chichester universities. She currently lives in Harlesden, north London, where she spends most of the day in her pyjamas, writing.

Simon & Schuster (UK), hardcover, 9780857204295 (June)