Reading list

Women in Translation: A Celebratory Reading List!

Verso celebrates Women in Translation with a reading list full of experimental fiction and incisive political thought.

Verso Books 1 August 2017

Women in Translation: A Celebratory Reading List!

Verso's Women in Translation reading list celebrates our publications by women who are leading thinkers and writers in fiction and non-fiction fields, ranging from experimental fiction to journalism in Turkey and Mexico, to psychoanalysis, feminism and political theory.

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Nonchalantly hip and full of deranged prescience, Suzuki’s singular slant on speculative fiction would be echoed in countless later works, from Neuromancer to The Handmaid’s Tale. In these darkly playful and punky stories, the fantastical elements are always grounded in the universal pettiness of strife between the sexes, and the gritty reality of life on the lower rungs, whatever planet that ladder might be on. 

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In this brilliant and kaleidoscopic look at the emerging feminist international, Verónica Gago uses the women’s strike as both a concept and a collective experience. At once a gripping political analysis and a theoretically charged manifesto, Feminist International draws on the author’s rich experience with radical movements to enter into ongoing debates in feminist and Marxist theory: from social reproduction and domestic work to the intertwining of financial and gender violence, as well as controversies surrounding the neo-extractivist model of development, the possibilities and limits of left populism, and the ever-vexed nexus of gender-race-class.
 

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Welcome to 1990s Norway. White picket fences run in neat rows and Christian conservatism runs deep. But as the Artist considers her past, her practice and her hatred, things start stirring themselves up around her. In a corner of Oslo, a coven of witches begins cooking up some curses. A time-travelling Edvard Munch arrives in town to join a black metal band, closely pursued by the teenaged subject of his painting Puberty, who has murder on her mind. Meanwhile, out deep in the forest, a group of school girls get very lost and things get very strange. Awful things happen in aspic. Jenny Hval’s latest novel is a radical fusion of feminist theory and experimental horror, and a unique treatise on magic, gender and art.

 

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Jo is in a strange new country for university and having a more peculiar time than most. In a house with no walls, shared with a woman who has no boundaries, she finds her strange home coming to life in unimaginable ways. Jo’s sensitivity and all her senses become increasingly heightened and fraught, as the lines between bodies and plants, dreaming and wakefulness, blur and mesh. This debut novel from critically acclaimed artist and musician Jenny Hval presents a heady and hyper-sensual portrayal of sexual awakening and queer desire.

 

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Four siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a dispute over her parents’ will grows bitter, Bergljot is drawn back into the orbit of the family she fled twenty years before. Her mother and father have decided to leave two island summer houses to her sisters, disinheriting the two eldest siblings from the most meaningful part of the estate. To outsiders, it is a quarrel about property and favouritism. But Bergljot, who has borne a horrible secret since childhood, understands the gesture as something very different—a final attempt to suppress the truth and a cruel insult to the grievously injured. Will and Testament is a lyrical meditation on trauma and memory, as well as a furious account of a woman’s struggle to survive and be believed. Vigdis Hjorth’s novel became a controversial literary sensation in Norway and has been translated into twenty languages. 

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This is an existential scream of a novel about loneliness (and the postal service!), written in Hjorth’s trademark spare, rhythmic and cutting style. Narrated by Ellinor, a thirty-five-year-old media consultant who has become unfeeling and unrecognizable to herself as of late now tasked with a strange mission to untangle a disappearance of a co-worker while taking over his task of aiding the Norwiegan Postal Workers' Union, this novel is about the ordinary and its vibrancy. 

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In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska proposes a specifically feminist politics of antifascism. Mixing theoretical discussion with engaging reflections on personal experiences, Majewska proposes what she calls “counterpublics of the common” and “weak resistance,” offering an alternative to heroic forms of subjectivity produced by neoliberal capitalism and contemporary fascism. 

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After a decade away from her ancestral family village, during which she became a writer and literary scholar in Beijing, Liang Hong started visiting her rural hometown in landlocked Henan Province. What she found was an extended family riven by the seismic changes in Chinese society and a village turned inside out by emigration, neglect, and environmental despoliation. Combining family memoir, literary observation, and social commentary, Liang’s by turns lyrically poetic and movingly raw investigation into the fate of her village became a bestselling book in China and brought her fame. 

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In recent years, opponents of “political correctness” have surged to prominence from both left and right, shaping a discourse in which perpetrators are “defiantly” imagined as Muslim refugees, i.e. outsiders/others, while victims are identified as “our women.” This poisonous and regressive situation grounds Hark and Villa’s theorisation of contemporary regimes of power as engaged primarily in the violent production of difference. In this moment, they argue, the logic of “differentiate and rule” thoroughly permeates the social. Our entire “way of life” is premised on endless subtle hierarchical distinctions, which determine whole populations” attitudes, feelings and actions. How can we learn to value difference when it is too often enlisted in the service of domination? Hark and Villa make a compelling case for the urgent necessity for a detoxification of feminism as a matter of urgency, and for an ethical mode of living-with the world, that is, living with alterity. 

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Dominique Eddé, close friend of Said, writes an intimiate account of the iconic critical thinker. Tracing the development of his intellectual development, Eddé offers a fascinating and fresh presentation of his oeuvre from his earliest writings on Joseph Conrad to his most famous texts, Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism. A book that newcomers and specialists of Said's thought will find captivating in its rich portraiture of one of the twentieth century's most important intellectuals. 

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Mithu Sanyal offers a bold, honest and unflinching look at how we think and talk about rape. Tracing discources on sexual violence from the downfall of the last Roman king to Roman Polanski and ongoing reckonings in the age of #MeToo, Sanyal shows the unnerving truth that the way we have understood rape across the ages is frighteningly consistent. Asking constantly ommitted yet crucial questions, Mithu Sanyal shows that our comprehension of rape is closely connected to our understanding of sex, sexuality, and gender. Why is it that we expect victims to be irreparably damaged? When we think of rapists, why do we think of strangers rather than uncles, husbands, priests, or boyfriends? And in the era of #MeToo, what should “justice” look like? 

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Eileen Traux has written an immersive, incendiary takedown of US asylum procedure and despotism in the Mexican government. Rooted in narratives of individuals who have had to flee their homes due to various mainfestations of ongoing crises, Traux spotlights the human cost, and the struggle against, of an immigration system that is failing.

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Through this thoroughly researched book, Andrea Komlosy traces the complex and often contradictory meaning of a defining aspect of our lives. Work. Taking on a distinctly feminist and global lens, Komlosy contribution is an intervention into common narrative about what labor is. Looking at labor history from the thirteenth to the twenty-first century, she demystifies the multiple forms of labor and ideology that have shaped our present existence of paid and unpaid, free and unfree work.

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Today, the world from which twentieth-century Jewish revolutionaries of Eastern and Central Europe - Socialists, Communists, Bundists, Trotskyists and more - first emerged, an expanse from the Baltic Sea to the western edge of Russia, has disappeared, dismantled and destroyed by the Nazi genocide. After this irremediable break, there remain only survivors, and the work of memory for red Yiddishland. This book traces the struggles of these militants, their singular trajectories, their oscillation between great hope and doubt, their lost illusions—a red and Jewish gaze on the history of the twentieth century. 

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Why Tibetan monks are setting themselves on fire Since the 2008 uprising, nearly 150 Tibetan monks have set fire to themselves in protest at the Chinese occupation of their country. Most have died from their injuries. Author Tsering Woeser is a prominent voice of the Tibetan movement, and one of the few Tibetan authors to write in Chinese. Her stirring acts of resistance have led to her house arrest, where she remains under close surveillance to this day. Tibet On Fire is her account of the oppression Tibetans face and the ideals driving those who resist, both the self-immolators and other Tibetans like herself.  

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A personal and political journey to the heart of the Turkey-Armenia conflict. From the Armenian communities of Venice Beach and Paris, to Turkey and Armenia, Deep Mountain is a nuanced and moving exploration of the living history and continuing denial of the Armenian genocide. Encountering writers, thinkers and activists from across the Turkish-Armenian divide, Ece Temelkuran weaves together an absorbing account of the role of national myths and memories, and how they are sustained and distorted over time, both within Turkey and Armenia, as well as among the vast Armenian diasporas of France and America. Deep Mountain is both a brilliant, personal exploration of one of the most enduring and intractable issues of our time, and an illuminating look at the part nationalism plays in the way we see ourselves and others. 

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Widely recognized as the leading authority on Lacan, Élisabeth Roudinesco revisits his life and work, which continues to be subject to the most extravagant interpretations. Angelic to some, he is demonic to others. To recall Lacan's career, now that the heroic age of psychoanalysis is over, is to remember an intellectual and literary adventure that occupies a founding place in our modernity. Lacan went against the current of many of the hopes aroused by 1968, but embraced their paradoxes, and his language games and wordplay resonate today as so many injunctions to replace rampant individualism with a heightened social consciousness.  

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In this much-lauded memoir, acclaimed for its blend of literary elegance and political passion, Rossana Rossanda, a legendary figure on the Italian left, reflects on a life of radical commitment. 

Active as a communist militant in the Italian Resistance against fascism during World War Two, Rossanda rose rapidly in its aftermath, becoming editor of the Communist Party weekly paper and a member of parliament. Initially a party loyalist, she was critical of the party’s conservatism in the face of new radical movements and moved into opposition during the late 1960s. The breach widened after she and others publicly opposed the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and were expelled in 1969. She went on to help found the influential paper il manifesto, which remains the most critical daily in Berlusconi’s Italy. 

Her unique experience enables her to reconstruct that period with flair and authority. She paints a revealing picture of fascism, communism, post-war reconstruction and the revolts that shook Europe in the 1960s. In The Comrade from Milan, one of the most influential intellectuals of the European Left relives the storms of the twentieth century. Both cool-headed and precise, Rossanda provides a rare insight into what it once meant to be politically engaged.  

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On January 3, 1914 Pancho Villa became Hollywood’s first Mexican superstar. In signing an exclusive movie contract, Villa agreed to keep other film companies from his battlefield, to fight in daylight wherever possible, and to reconstruct battles if the footage needed reshooting.

Through memoir and newspaper reports, Margarita De Orellana looks at the documentary film-makers who went down to cover events in Mexico. Feature film-makers in Hollywood portrayed the border as the dividing line between order and chaos, in the process developing a series of lasting Mexican stereotypes—the greaser, the bandit, the beautiful señorita, the exotic Aztec. Filming Panchoreveals how Mexico was constructed in the American imagination and how movies reinforced and justified both American expansionism and racial and social prejudice. 

 

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Sandra Rodríguez Nieto was an investigative reporter for the daily newspaper El Diario de Juárez for nearly a decade. Despite tremendous danger and the assassination of one of her closest colleagues, she persisted in telling the story of Ciudad Juárez, where sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. Through a Truman Capote–like reconstruction of this seemingly incomprehensible triple murder, Sandra Rodríguez Nieto paints a haunting and unforgettable portrait of one of the most violent cities on Earth. This in-depth and harrowing investigation into the thought processes of three boys leads the reader on an exploration of the city of Juárez, as well as the drug cartels that have waged war on its streets, in a bold attempt to explain the inexplicable.

 

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Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross injustice and hardship in her early life: her brother, father and mother were murdered by the Guatemalan military. She learned Spanish and turned to catechistic work as an expression of political revolt as well as religious commitment. Menchú vividly conveys the traditional beliefs of her community and her personal response to feminist and socialist ideas. Above all, these pages are illuminated by the enduring courage and passionate sense of justice of an extraordinary woman.  

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Rosa Luxemburg (1871–1919) is widely regarded as one of the most creative writers of modern socialism and the foremost female theoretician of European radicalism. Her wide-ranging and incisive works, which include studies on capitalism’s inherent drive for global expansion, the relation between spontaneity and organization, and the inseparability of democracy and socialism, have made her a pole of attraction for theorists and activists around the world. Her fiercely independent intellect and uncompromising defense of human liberty speaks more powerfully to our era than to any other. 

 

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The most comprehensive collection of letters by Rosa Luxemburg ever published in English, this book includes 190 letters written to leading figures in the European and international labor and socialist movements—Leo Jogiches, Karl Kautsky, Clara Zetkin and Karl Liebknecht—who were among her closest friends, lovers and colleagues. Much of this correspondence appears for the first time in English translation; all of it helps to illuminate the inner life of this iconic revolutionary, who was at once an economic and social theorist, a political activist and a lyrical stylist. Her political concerns are revealed alongside her personal struggles within a socialist movement that was often hostile to independently minded women. This collection will provide readers with a newer and deeper appreciation of Luxemburg as a writer and historical figure.  

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The product of five years’ investigative reporting, the subject of intense national controversy, and the source of death threats that forced the National Human Rights Commission to assign two full-time bodyguards to its author, Anabel Hernández, Narcoland is the definitive history of the drug cartels. Narcoland takes readers to the front lines of the “war on drugs,” which has so far cost more than 60,000 lives in just six years. Hernández explains in riveting detail how Mexico became a base for the mega-cartels of Latin America and one of the most violent places on the planet. At every turn, Hernández names names – not just the narcos, but also the politicians, functionaries, judges and entrepreneurs who have collaborated with them. In doing so, she reveals the mind-boggling depth of corruption in Mexico’s government and business elite. 

Hernández became a journalist after her father was kidnapped and killed and the police refused to investigate without a bribe. She gained national prominence in 2001 with her exposure of excess and misconduct at the presidential palace, and previous books have focused on criminality at the summit of power, under presidents Vicente Fox and Felipe Calderón. 

In awarding Hernández the 2012 Golden Pen of Freedom, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers noted, “Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with violence and impunity remaining major challenges in terms of press freedom. In making this award, we recognize the strong stance Ms. Hernández has taken, at great personal risk, against drug cartels.” 

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An examination of how mainstream feminism has been mobilized in support of racist measures by Christine Delphy, a rare public voice denouncing the racist motivations of the government’s 2011 ban of the Muslim veil. Castigating humanitarian liberals for demanding the cultural assimilation of the women they are purporting to “save,” Delphy shows how criminalizing Islam in the name of feminism is fundamentally paradoxical.

Separate and Dominate is Delphy’s manifesto, lambasting liberal hypocrisy and calling for a fluid understanding of political identity that does not place different political struggles in a false opposition. She dismantles the absurd claim that Afghanistan was invaded to save women, and that homosexuals and immigrants alike should reserve their self-expression for private settings. She calls for a true universalism that sacrifices no one at the expense of others. 

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A Communist, feminist, and analysand asks what the social function of psychoanalysis should be and condemns what it has become. The Weary Sons of Freud lambasts mainstream psychoanalysis for its failure to grapple with pressing political and social matters pertinent to its patients’ condition. Gifted with insight and compelled by fury, Catherine Clément contrasts the original, inspirational psychoanalytical work of Freud and Lacan to the obsessive imitations of their uninspired followers—the weary sons of Freud. The analyst’s once attentive ear has become deaf to the broader questions of therapeutic practice. Clement asks whether the perspective of socialism, brought to this study by a woman who is herself an analysand, can fill the gap. She reflects on her own history, as well as on that of psychoanalysis and the French left, to show what an activist and feminist restoration of the talking cure might look like. 

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A passionate memoir of the author’s discovery of her grandmother’s true identity. Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher. Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmother’s name was not Seher but Heranus. She was born a Christian Armenian. Most of the men in her village had been slaughtered in 1915. A Turkish gendarme had stolen her from her mother and adopted her. Çetin’s family history tied her directly to the terrible origins of modern Turkey and the organized denial of its Ottoman past as the shared home of many faiths and ways of life. A deeply affecting memoir, My Grandmother is also a step towards another kind of Turkey, one that is finally at peace with its past. 

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Luciana Castellina is one of Italy's most prominent left intellectuals and a cofounder of the newspaper il manifesto. In this coming-of-age memoir, based on her diaries, she recounts her political awakening as a teenage girl in Fascist Italy—where she used to play tennis with Mussolini's daughter—and the subsequent downfall of the regime. Discovery of the World is about war, anti-Semitism, anti-fascism, resistance, the belief in social justice, the craving for experience, travel, political rallies, cinema, French intellectuals and FIAT workers, international diplomacy and friendship. All this is built on an intricate web made of reason and affection, of rational questioning and ironic self-narration as well as of profound nostalgia, disappointment and discovery. 

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In a radical new reading of Samuel Beckett, Pascale Casanova argues that Beckett's reputation rests on a pervasive misreading of his oeuvre, which neglects entirely the literary revolution he instigated. Reintroducing the historical into the heart of this body of work, Casanova provides an arresting portrait of Beckett as radically subversive—doing for writing what Kandinsky did for art—and in the process presents the key to some of the most profound enigmas of Beckett's writing.  

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NOT AVAILABLE IN NORTH AMERICA

The Weight of Things is the first book by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz (1948–2007), and the first to be translated into English. After winning acclaim with this novel—awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978—she embarked on a brilliant and ambitious literary project called “The Fortress,” which earned her cult status, comparisons to James Joyce, and admirers including Elfriede Jelinek and W. G. Sebald.

Her translator Adrian Nathan West wrote in the Paris Review about why her work has remained untranslated until now: “My question is not so much why Fritz hasn’t been read, but why she has been deprived of the regard showered on other writers people don’t read. And the only answer I have arrived at is that, despite the successes of feminist criticism in inspiring a measure of guilty conscience on the part of readers, there is something fundamentally gendered in the concept of “genius” and that the idiosyncrasies taken at face value in the case of male writers appear dubious in the case of their female counterparts, signaling a lack of restraint, a touch of hysteria, or mental instability.”

>>> Read more: Five Book Plan: Literature in Translation by Deborah Smith

>>> Read 'Factory Girl', an extract from Human Acts by Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith  

Terminal Boredom

Terminal Boredom

On a planet where men are contained in ghettoised isolation, women enjoy the fruits of a queer matriarchal utopia -- until a boy escapes and a young woman's perception of the world is violently int...
Feminist International

Feminist International

Recent years have seen massive feminist mobilizations in virtually every continent, overturning social mores and repressive legislation. In this brilliant and original look at the emerging feminist...
Girls Against God

Girls Against God

Welcome to 1990s Norway. White picket fences run in neat rows and Christian conservatism runs deep. But as the Artist considers her past, her practice and her hatred, things start stirring themselv...
Paradise Rot

Paradise Rot

"As intriguing and impressive a novelist as she is a musician, Hval is a master of quiet horror and wonder."Chris Kraus, author of I Love DickJo is in a strange new country for university and havi...
Paperback (2018)
Will and Testament
Longlisted for The Millions Best Translated Book Awards for FictionLonglisted for the National Book Award for Translated LiteratureFour siblings. Two summer houses. One terrible secret. When a disp...
Long Live the Post Horn!

Long Live the Post Horn!

Ellinor, a 35-year-old media consultant, has not been feeling herself; she’s not been feeling much at all lately. Far beyond jaded, she picks through an old diary and fails to recognise the woman i...
Feminist Antifascism
In this exciting, innovative work, Polish feminist philosopher Ewa Majewska maps the creation of feminist counterpublics around the world—spaces of protest and ideas, community and common struggle,...
China in One Village
After a decade away from her ancestral family village, during which she became a writer and literary scholar in Beijing, Liang Hong started visiting her rural hometown in landlocked Hebei province....
The Future of Difference
The Future of Difference theorises contemporary regimes of power as engaged primarily in the violent production of difference. In this moment, the logic of ‘other and rule’ thoroughly permeates the...
Edward Said

Edward Said

In this personal portrait of Edward Said written by a close friend, Dominique Eddé offers a fascinating and fresh presentation of his oeuvre from his earliest writings on Joseph Conrad to his most ...
Rape
From Title IX cases on campus, to #metoo and #timesup, rape is a definitive issue at the heart of feminism, and lately, it’s barely out of the news. Cultural critic Mithu Sanyal is picking up where...
We Built the Wall

We Built the Wall

For decades, the American political asylum process has been used to punish enemies and reward friends of the US government. Refugees from Cuba can walk through an open door. People fleeing Eastern ...
Work

Work

Andrea Komlosy argues in this important intervention that, when we examine it closely, work changes its meanings according to different historical and regional contexts. Globalizing labour history ...
Revolutionary Yiddishland
Jewish radicals manned the barricades on the avenues of Petrograd and the alleys of the Warsaw ghetto; they were in the vanguard of those resisting Franco and the Nazis. They originated in Yiddishl...
Tibet on Fire

Tibet on Fire

Since the 2008 uprising, nearly one-hundred and fifty Tibetan monks have self-immolated in protest of the Chinese occupation of their lands. Most have died from their wounds. “If Tibetans saw eve...
Deep Mountain
From the Armenian communities of Venice Beach and Paris, to Turkey and Armenia, Deep Mountain is a nuanced and moving exploration of the living history and continuing denial of the Armenian genocid...
Hardback
Lacan
Jacques Lacan continues to be subject to the most extravagant interpretations. Angelic to some, he is demonic to others. To recall Lacan's career, now that the heroic age of psychoanalysis is ove...
The Comrade from Milan

The Comrade from Milan

In this much-lauded memoir, acclaimed for its blend of literary elegance and political passion, Rossana Rossanda, a legendary figure on the Italian left, reflects on a life of radical commitment.Ac...
Filming Pancho

Filming Pancho

On January 3, 1914 Pancho Villa became Hollywood’s first Mexican superstar. In signing an exclusive movie contract, Villa agreed to keep other film companies from his battlefield, to fight in dayli...
The Story of Vicente, Who Murdered His Mother, His Father, and His Sister
In Ciudad Juárez, just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, sixteen-year-old Vicente and two of his high school friends murdered his mother, his father, and his little sister in cold blood. T...
I, Rigoberta Menchú

I, Rigoberta Menchú

Now a global bestseller, the remarkable life of Rigoberta Menchú, a Guatemalan peasant woman, reflects on the experiences common to many Indian communities in Latin America. Menchú suffered gross i...
The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, Volume I

The Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, Volume I

This first volume in Rosa Luxemburg’s Complete Works, entitled Economic Writings 1, contains some of Luxemburg’s most important statements on the globalization of capital, wage labor, imperialism, ...
The Letters of Rosa Luxemburg
The most comprehensive collection of letters by Rosa Luxemburg ever published in English, this book includes 190 letters written to leading figures in the European and international labor and socia...
Narcoland

Narcoland

The product of five years of investigative reporting, the subject of intense national controversy, and the source of death threats that forced the National Human Rights Commission to assign two ful...
Separate and Dominate
Feminist Christine Delphy co-founded the journal Nouvelles questions féministes with Simone de Beauvoir in the 1970s and became one of the most influential figures in French feminism. Today, Delp...
The Weary Sons of Freud

The Weary Sons of Freud

The Weary Sons of Freud lambasts mainstream psychoanalysis for its failure to grapple with pressing political and social matters pertinent to its patients’ condition. Gifted with insight and comp...
My Grandmother

My Grandmother

Growing up in the small town of Maden in Turkey, Fethiye Çetin knew her grandmother as a happy and respected Muslim housewife called Seher.Only decades later did she discover the truth. Her grandmo...
Discovery of the World
Luciana Castellina is one of Italy's most prominent left intellectuals and a cofounder of the newspaper Il Manifesto. In this coming-of-age memoir, based on her diaries, she recounts her political ...
Samuel Beckett
In this fascinating new exploration of Samuel Beckett’s work, Pascale Casanova argues that Beckett’s reputation rests on a pervasive misreading of his oeuvre, which neglects entirely the literary r...
The Weight of Things

The Weight of Things

The first of the late Marianne Fritz’s works to be translated into English. This dark gem of a novel swerves from uneasy pantomime comedy to sheer domestic horror. Fritz has a clammy handle on all ...
Paperback

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