Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi (tr. Jessica Sequeira)

Our Dead World book with picture of camera on front cover, flowers and brick wall in background

a nutshell: these one hundred pages of short stories vary in setting (from South America to Paris to Mars) but share a sense of instability & dreamlike quasi-horror

a line: “I coldn’t understand how someone could laugh on the way to his own death”

an image: one powerful story, ‘The Wave’, personifies depression as a wave that finds the narrator at night, living on the limits of sleep with faces of a kaleidoscope of horror

a thought: for me, the first half of the collection was each gripping & unusual, whereas I actually found the titular story (‘Our Dead World’) a little confusing & dry; overall it’s a fantastical, unique book

a fact: in 2015 Colanzi won the Aura Estrada Prize – awarded to female, Spanish-language writers under 35 currently living in the US or Mexico

want to read Our Dead World? visit here

Crimson by Niviaq Korneliussen (tr. Anna Halager)

a nutshell: a punchy, fast-paced, almost-stream-of-consciousness novella charting the major realisations & life decisions of five queer characters in Greenland’s capital, Nuuk

a line“The island is swollen. The island is rotten. The island has taken my beloved from me.”

an image: the ongoing prison metaphor (at least, I think it’s a metaphor…) in Inuk’s chapter threw me somewhat but does vividly evoke the claustrophobia that has engulfed him so far in his life

a thought: I read this book within a few hours and found it a stressful read what with the endless binges & hangovers / childhood traumas / emotional crises – but it’s certainly a bold debut from Korneliussen

a fact: the author first wrote the book in Greenlandic (published as HOMO Sapienne) aged 24, before translating it herself into Danish and presumably then into English (?) – I liked how she gives a glossary at the back to explain various Greenlandic words left within the English translation, e.g. ‘inuugit’ meaning ‘live your life’

 

want to read Crimson? visit here

The First Wife by Paulina Chiziane (tr. David Brookshaw)

a nutshell: the first Mozambican woman to have a published novel, Chiziane weaves a captivating story of Rami’s bold struggle for dignity & solidarity among the rivals to her husband’s affection

a line“We women engender existence, but we ourselves don’t exist.”

an image: Rami recalls her grandfather’s habit of getting drunk and going off to take out his anger by playing his “drum”, that is, beating up his wife; such shocking images occur quite casually often in the novel

a thought: the narratorial voice sometimes adopts a quasi-philosophical tone and often made me pause to think about what has just been said, but Rami never pretends to have definitive answers to the complications & injustices of the overwhelmingly patriarchal society – spoiler: men don’t come off well in this novel, ever

a fact: among the wives are many distinctive personalities, but one thing that crops up repeatedly is Mozambique’s north-south cultural divide – one example (of many) is how the south keeps to a patrilineal system, while children in the north take their mother’s name

 

want to read The First Wife? visit here