The two-hour closure of the Paris Railway sent a Vietnamese passenger into a surprisingly long city. A Japanese soldier continues to fight World War II years after his country’s surrender. Tired of having sex at work, a woman pretended to be pregnant to get out of some unpaid job.
Lively characters and unforgettable narratives are featured in five fictional works, first published abroad and recently translated into English. Written by authors from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, they provide a window into many cultures, traditions, and national histories that may not be familiar to English-speaking readers.
Finding Family Secrets
Two separated childhood friends meet as adults in “Cocoon”, a complicated and engaging story by Zhang Yueran.
Li Jiaqi and Cheng Gong grew up together in the 1980s in Jinan, a province in eastern China. Although their backgrounds and social status are very different, the two became friends when Jiaqi transferred to Gong’s school. Over time, complex family events kept them apart. Now settled as an adult in Beijing, Jiaqi returns to Jinan to take care of her grandfather and visits Gong, whom she has not seen in 18 years. During a snowy night, the two recalled their troubled childhoods, families, and intricate mysteries, including the tragic stories that connected the two families with events that took place during the tumultuous cultural revolution. China’s movement.
Zhang is the author of three other novels and short stories. She is well known in her home country. Translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang “Cocoon” should win more readers for this exciting young writer.
Fight fictional wars
Throughout his long and distinguished career as a director of both storytelling and documentary films, Werner Herzog was drawn to the lives of extraordinary characters, the loneliness of being forced to pursue an almost unattainable goal.
Like many of his films, “The Twilight World,” Herzog’s first lean novel and poem is based on the true story of Hiroo Onoda, a lieutenant in the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II. Standing on the Philippine island of Lubang, Onoda was ordered when the Japanese army withdrew, maintaining and defending the island at his own expense, making his own decisions without orders from his superiors and making his own rules. He was told, “You will be like a ghost, hard to understand, the enemy’s continuing nightmares.” “Your war will be without glory.”
Fighting in the jungle using guerrilla tactics sever all ties, Onoda does not know that the war ended less than a year after he received his orders. He and a few men under his command continued to fight for another 29 years, raiding villages for food and surviving raids from frightened residents whose farms had been looted. Keep moving forward. Years later, Onoda made a mistake on an American plane flying to Korea and then to Vietnam as proof that the war was still going on. He was convinced that the leaflets dropped on the island that prompted him and his men to surrender were fabricated by the enemy.
Translated from German by Michael Hofmann “The Twilight World” is a sublime meditation on time, self-discipline, purpose and relentless devotion to a hopeless mission.
“Chinatown” by Thuận and translated from Vietnamese by Nguyễn An Lý opened at Paris Metro in 2004, found a suspicious bag. During the two-hour delay, when authorities investigated a possible terrorist threat, the unnamed narrator fell into a 158-page dream. She recalls important events in her life: her childhood in Vietnam in the 1980s; Her move to Soviet Russia during the Gorbachev era; Her short marriage to her high school sweetheart Thuy, who left her 12 years ago and was abandoned by her parents She hates Chinese heritage. And her current life in Paris, where she teaches English and works on novels.
First published in Vietnam in 2005, “Chinatown” unfolds as a single paragraph without breaking, except for two long excerpts from the running novelist “I’m Yellow” about men. The one who left his family. The stream of consciousness of the storyteller’s relentless confusion as she highlights her life, trying to bring her past to the modern literary movement of the early 20th century. The author’s reliance on repetitive words of thought and memory gives the novel’s narrative quality a motivating quality that pushes the unplanned storytelling forward.
While the style may not appeal to everyone, adventurous readers will find plenty to enjoy and admire in this unusual novel.
A young woman finds a bird living in her rib cage. A soldier is trapped in a minefield during the Iran-Iraq War and turns into a terrifying bird that will take the bones of his fallen comrade. Each Iraqi girl wakes up with a starfish in her hair. Butterflies emerge from Walt Whitman’s beard, which grows wildly in public parks, “spreading everywhere like white algae.”
Transformation is a popular theme in Diaa Jubaili’s collection of fascinating and highly creative stories “No Windmills in Basra”. Many characters go through a transformation, moving from one story to another, and the clouds of war hang heavily on many stories. Published in Iraq by the author in 2018 and heavily drawn from 76 Arab folk tales. Like Kafka, Chekhov, Cervantes and O’Henry.
Jubaili is well known in his country for publishing nine novels and three collections of short stories. Translated from Arabic by Chip Rossetti, “No Windmills in Basra” is Jubaili’s first book to be translated into English. Most stories are less than two pages long. Although reading “flash fiction” can sometimes feel like trying to cook a meal, this book offers an interesting overview of the importance, and for many English speakers who do not understand the section. Of the world.
There’s a touch of magical reality in “Diary of a Void,” Emi Yagi’s first novel, translated into Japanese by David Boyd and Lucy North. Shibata works for a company that makes cardboard tubes for paper products. The only woman in her section, she is expected to complete tasks such as making coffee, buying supplies and cleaning after others beyond her normal duties. Tired of this treatment, she told everyone she was pregnant. “What I did was not supposed to be a rebellion, it was an experiment,” she said. A little bit. “I am curious. I would like to see if it happens to any of my colleagues, perhaps those who actually attended the meeting. To clean.
In the first week, Shibata found that pregnancy involved some unexpected benefits. Her co-worker was late and she was allowed to leave work immediately at 5pm, which was early enough to reach the grocery store before the product section was selected. With extra time, she cooks herself, takes long showers, watches classics on TV, and attends mother-dance classes.
Shibata’s lies require effort to keep. As the weeks progressed and she worked harder to maintain arousal, her pregnancy seemed even more real to her until co-workers could feel the baby kicking and the ultrasound showed a baby showing signs of peace. Readers with irrational taste should find this short and unique novel very entertaining.