Posted by: Lisa Hill | February 27, 2020

New translated fiction on the TBR

I don’t usually do posts about what’s on the TBR because I’m more interested in reading reviews of enticing books than admiring pictures of book-covers, and I assume most other keen readers are the same.

But my latest haul from Readings is the result of a new initiative at Melbourne’s favourite bookshop…

As regular readers know, most of the translations I’ve reviewed here come about because of Stu at Winston’s Dad, the home of translated fiction and an irresistible source of new titles for the TBR. For a long time, while other bloggers reviewed niche translations, specialising in one language or another, he was just about the only reviewer of a wide range of translations, sourcing them from specialist UK & US publishers that didn’t (and with the exception of Glagoslav mostly still don’t) reach out to readers in faraway Australia. And truth be told, most of these books had to be bought from those global bookstores that have never done any favours for authors and publishers, because the translations were simply not available in bricks-and-mortars shops in Australia.

But Readings have recognised the zeitgeist and to support the rise in interest in translated fiction, have just started a new feature on their blog, Translated fiction to read this month.  You can make sure you don’t miss it if you follow @ReadingsBooks on Twitter, or their blog or subscribe to Readings Monthly and their e-news.

Keen-eyed readers will of course have noticed that

    1. Only The Doll and The Hungry and the Fat were featured on the Readings blog. I would have bought Napoleon’s Beekeeper but I already had a copy courtesy of Giramondo Books and The Unwomanly Face of War has been on my radar for a while, so this was a good time to buy it. Apple and Knife is on the reading for the Indonesian bookgroup that I belong to.
    2. These four books do not on their own qualify for free postage so, yes, I bought a couple of other titles to be eligible for that: Edna O’Brien’s The Little Red Chairs which somebody recommended after I read Girl; and also Witi Ihimaera’s The Matriarch which I needed to complete his trilogy and plan to read during Indigenous Literature Week later on July.

Readings does a great job of promoting the work of local authors, but because these books are written by people who don’t write in English, you’re less likely to see them at festivals or author events.  Which is why it’s so good to see them being promoted with this monthly roundup, because I believe that reading translated fiction is one of the best ways to learn about the world outside the Anglosphere.

Though of course a sojourn in just about anywhere in Europe is a good way to do that too!

PS I’m out of action for a little while because I’m having cataract surgery that at the same time will (hopefully) fix another eye problem that I have.  But I’ll be back to chat about this and other bookish things ASAP.


  1. I hope that you recover quickly from the surgery. The world will seem a much brighter place (at least, that was my experience).


  2. All the best with your eye surgery. I had my cataracts done in recent times and fabulous result. So very happy.


  3. I wish you a speedy recovery! Lisa.
    I am from Israel. I met Ismail Kadare in 2015 in Jerusalem when he won the Jerusalem Prize, and S. Alexievich a year later in Tel-Aviv. After giving their talks, I had them sign on their books.


  4. Agree Lisa about preferring reviews to pretty book covers, but sharing them to describe such a lovely initiative is perfectly acceptable.

    I did subscribe to Readings Newsletter – and usually visit them when I’m in Melbourne – but I’ve just realised I haven’t had an email for a while. I will check.


  5. Oh, and of course, I wish you all the best for your surgeries.


  6. Hope surgery has gone well look forward to your thoughts on the hungry and the fat


  7. Oooh, hope you recover well after surgery and are back to painless reading! I was very impressed with the Unwomanly Face of War – very powerful descriptions and yet so much joie de vivre in spite of the hardships!


  8. Hope the surgery has gone well!


  9. Hope the cataracts go well (and away!) Translated lit is marvellous – can’t get enough of it!


  10. Take care, Lisa. Hope you feel better soon.


  11. Thank you everyone! I’m reading this with the screen enlarged to the nth degree (but email is still beyond me, too small to read with just my left eye which is the worst one). Hopefully when the surgeon does his inspection this morning he will leave off the eye shield and I’ll have my better eye back again. But it’s not just cataract surgery, it’s also to repair or at least improve the problem that leads to glaucoma so I am not expecting perfect eyesight and I will still be short-sighted.
    Last night since I couldn’t read I listened to Campbell Scott’s narration of For Whom the Bell Tolls, it’s the fourth time I’ve listened to this recording and it is sooo good. I never really liked Hemingway till I heard this…
    Anyway, once the patch is off, it will be interesting to try reading with one repaired eye while still wearing my reading glasses for the other one.
    thanks again for all your good wishes, must go, the appointment is in an hour’s time!


    • Update an hour or so later: things are better. I can browse email now, but it’s tiring and my RH vision hasn’t completely cleared. It will in a day or two.
      So I’m just sifting the email and setting it aside to read later, and limiting my time here to 20 minute bursts punctuated by neglected tasks around the house.
      Thanks for your patience and good wishes!


  12. I love Readings. Have subscribed to their newsletter for years but don’t always have time to read them so obviously missed this initiative. Good luck with your eye procedures! Trust all goes well and the world will return to High Definition. (That’s how my mum explained it when she had her cataracts done a few years ago.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I hope you’ll get better soon, take care, Lisa.


    • Thanks, Emma, I’m so bored because I can’t read a book yet!


      • Well there’s always audio books!


        • Yes, and I bought some in advance plus a new player to play them on… and *sigh* it’s turned out to be faulty.
          So I’ve dug out the iPod with a bit of Hemingway on it, but it’s a lot harder to read the small script to select tracks than it is to just stick a CD in a player!


          • You can also listen to Radio France and polish your French!

            Liked by 1 person

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