I have a couple of reviews in the new issue of Shiny New Books, both of novels in translation which I’d heartily recommend to you.
First up is a Korean novel, The Vegetarian by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith). It’s the story of Yeong-hye, a woman who first stops eating meat, then refuses all food – seemingly with the ambition to renounce her body and become a tree. But The Vegetarian is also as much about the people around Yeong-hye and how they see her. It’s a superb piece of work (with an excellent cover by Tom Darracott – look more closely and you’ll see it’s not just an arrangement of flowers), which I expect will be a strong contender for the IFFP – but it’ll be eligible for next year’s Prize, so we’ll have to wait a while.
(Speaking of the IFFP, Tony and Stu are looking for new Shadow Panel members; I’m planning to join in again this year, and it’s a lot of fun of you fancy having a go.)
One book that might might come up in this year’s IFFP is the subject of my second review: Bilbao – New York – Bilbao by Kirmen Uribe (translated from the Basque by Elizabeth Macklin). On one level, this is a novel about the author’s father and grandfather, both fishermen. On another, it’s about the process by which Uribe (or at least a character with his name) drew on their lives to write a novel, and about the tensions between life and art.
Go and have a look, do check the books out, and be sure to spend some time exploring the Shiny New Books site – there’s a lot of great stuff on there.