Review: The Murmur of Bees – Sofia Segovia

The Murmur of Bees - Sofia Segovia

Sofia Segovia’s The Murmur of Bees (AmazonCrossing, translated from Spanish by Simon Bruni) follows the Morales family through life in early 20th Century Mexico, including a Civil War, a World War, and the outbreak of the Spanish flu. Although I was originally given this book to review as an advance copy, I somehow missed it at the time. This has turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise, with sections of the book reading particularly differently in a post-COVID world.

Review: Disquiet: A Novel – Zülfü Livaneli

As the title suggests, Disquiet (Zülfü Livaneli, Other Press, translated from Turkish by Brendan Freely) is a novel with many layers. On the surface, Turkish journalist, Ibrahim, returns from Istanbul to his hometown of Mardin near the Syrian border, following news that his childhood friend, Hussein, has been murdered by neo-Nazis in Germany. Although the two have lost contact over the years, unravelling his friend’s experiences draws Ibrahim into not just their past, but the region’s ancient history and the conflicts that continue to divide its people.

Review: In the Key of Nira Ghani – Natasha Deen

In the Key of Nira Ghani - Natasha Deen

Adolescence is a difficult time. The pressure to fit in – wear the right clothes; say the right things; be popular; be smart; be true to yourself, but don’t be weird. And don’t forget the hormones. Add to that a traditional family from another culture, and you’ve got all the makings of Natasha Deans’ modern-day coming of age story, In the Key of Nira Ghani (Running Press Teens). Although there is something routine about the coming of age story, Nira and her family are immigrants to Canada from Guyana, and the addition of both Guyanese cultural elements and life as immigrants in a new country add to the complexity of Nira’s experience.

Review: A Change of Time – Ida Jessen

A Change of Time - Ida Jessen

Set primarily in a small Danish parish called Thyregod, in the late 1920s, Ida Jessen’s A Change of Time (Archipelago Books, translated from Danish by Martin Aitken) contains the diary entries of Fru Bagge in the final days of her husband’s life, and the months that follow. Vigand Bagge was the region’s physician, and a seemingly very efficient and effective one, at that. It is also apparent, however, that there was more – or perhaps less – to the marriage than meets the eye.

Review: Good Will Come From The Sea – Christos Ikonomou

Good Will Come From The Sea - Christos Ikonomou

A collection of four loosely-connected stories, Christos Ikonomou’s Good Will Come From the Sea (Archipelago Books, translated by Karen Emmerich) explores life on an un-named Greek island, following the imposition of austerity measures associated with the eurozone bailout. In a country where poverty affects almost everyone, internal divisions are bound to appear, and these fractured relationships are prominent in the book.

Review: The Barefoot Woman – Scholastique Mukasonga

The Barefoot Woman - Scholastique Mukasonga

In the pages of history, genocide often appears to come out of nowhere. It is fixed with a date – in the case of Rwanda, April to July 1994 – as if those responsible for the atrocities awoke one morning and decided to commit mass murder instead of going to work. In Scholastique Mukasonga’s memoir, The Barefoot Woman (archipelago books, translated from French by Jordan Stump), it is evident, however, that the journey was much longer, and touched almost every aspect of daily life.

Review: The Passion According to Carmela – Marcos Aguinis

The Passion According to Carmela - Marcos Aguinis

In the growing tensions of 1950s Cuba, Carmela Vasconcelos leaves behind a comfortable middle-class existence to join her brother, Lucas, as a rebel in the relatively-unknown Fidel Castro’s forces. Marcos Aguinis’ The Passion According to Carmela (AmazonCrossing, translated from Spanish by Carolina de Robertis) tracks her path through the coming Revolution, and her romantic involvement with fellow-revolutionary, Ignacio Deheza, who has travelled from Argentina to join the cause. As these twin passions burn bright, Carmela finds herself that bears little resemblance to the one she has left behind.

Review: Fractured Destinies – Rabai al-Madhoun

Fractured Destinies - Rabai al-Madhoun

Buy now from Book Depository What does it mean to be an Israeli Arab? There is no easy answer, but Rabai al-Madhoun’s 2016 International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novel, Fractured Destinies (American University in Cairo Press, translated from Arabic by Paul Starkey), tackles the question’s complexities head on, with skill and unflinching courage. Although many Western … Read more

Review: In Your Hands – Inês Pedrosa

A story of love and loss, and the ways that we try to protect ourselves, In Your Hands (AmazonCrossing, written by Inês Pedrosa, translated from Portuguese by Andrea Rosenberg) tells the stories of three generations of Portuguese women navigating their way through life in the 20th Century. Jenny, whose society wedding in 1935 opens the book, appears to live a picture-perfect life, but the diaries she writes for her adopted daughter, Camila, and Camila’s daughter, Natália, betray a loneliness and hurt that has been suppressed for years.

Review: This Life or the Next – Demian Vitanza

This Life or the Next by Demian Vitanza

This Life or the Next (AmazonCrossing, written by Demian Vitanza, translated from Norwegian by Tanya Thresher) is the fictionalised story of “Tariq Khan”, a Norwegian Pakistani man who travelled to Syria to undertake jihad. Based on more than 100 hours of discussion with a foreign fighter who returned to Norway and was imprisoned for his involvement with terrorist organisations, both the subject of the book and the author altered details to create a fictional work that nevertheless tells something of a true story.