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Running Out of Time? 10 Short Works to Read Before Labor Day.

By Lavinia Liang

Not ready to let go of summer yet? Neither are we! Here are ten short works of fiction (all under 150 pages) by authors from all over the world to round out your summer reading:

1. Antwerp
by Roberto Bolaño

Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
New Directions Publishing, 2012

Chilean literary titan Roberto Bolaño wrote Antwerp, called the “Big Bang” of his literary works, when he was only twenty-seven years old. The majority of the novel takes place in Barcelona and on the Costa Brava. It is composed of fifty-six vignettes that explore the hidden depths of the modern novel.


Read Roberto Bolaño in WWB >>


2. Woman at Point Zero
by Nawal El Saadawi
Translated from the Arabic by Sherif Hatata
Zed Books, 2015

Nawal El Saadawi’s classic feminist novel chronicles the life of a murderess up until her execution. It is a story of female oppression and subsequent freedom and heroism. Egyptian writer Saadawi has been called by many the “Simone de Beauvoir of the Arab world.”


Read Nawal El Saadawi in WWB >>


3. Troubling Love
by Elena Ferrante
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Europa Editions, 2006

A psychological mystery about a woman coming to terms with her mother’s puzzling death, Troubling Love takes place in the seamy, chaotic, and sometimes hostile city of Naples, Italy. By Italy’s most prominent and yet anonymous fiction author, Elena Ferrante.


Read an excerpt from Ferrante’s Troubling Love >>


4. I Have the Right to Destroy Myself
by Young-ha Kim
Translated from the Korean by Chi-Young Kim
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007

A young man helps his hurting and broken clients commit suicide. Two brothers fall in love with the same woman. These narratives intersect in Seoul in this urban, modern noir. Young-ha Kim’s first novel, it established him as a prominent contemporary writer of Korea.


Read Young-ha Kim in WWB >>


5. The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers
by Fouad Laroui
Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
Deep Vellum Publishing, 2016

Fouad Laroui has been hailed as one of Morocco’s most prominent contemporary writers. The linked stories in his English-language debut explore what it means to be foreign, and highlight the general absurdity of the human condition.


Read “The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers” >>
Read an interview with Fouad Laroui >>


6. Marrow
by Yan Lianke
Translated from the Chinese by Carlos Rojas
Penguin Specials, 2015

Man Booker International Prize-winner Yan Lianke writes the haunting story of a mother in a small village who will take extreme measures to cure her children of mental illnesses. The New York Times calls Lianke “one of China’s most successful fiction writers.”


Read Yan Lianke in WWB >>
Read an interview with Yan Lianke >>


7. The Hour of the Star
by Clarice Lispector
Translated from the Portuguese by Benjamin Moser
New Directions Publishing, 2011

This new translation of internationally acclaimed Clarice Lispector’s last book is the story of a young, poor girl in the slums of Rio, narrated by an urban man who pities her wretched conditions. The novel explores the heights and depths of poverty and despair, happiness and humanity.


Listen to a conversation with Benjamin Moser >>


8. Sidewalks
by Valeria Luiselli
Translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Coffee House Press, 2014

Critically acclaimed Mexican author Valeria Luiselli’s essays of urban exploration are tied together with a roving melancholy and nostalgia. Electric Literature calls Sidewalks “a mesmerizing dreamscape . . . a shimmering mystery just tantalizingly out of reach.”


Read Valeria Luiselli in WWB >>
Read an interview with Christina MacSweeney >>


9. Mister Blue
by Jacques Poulin
Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman
Archipelago Books, 2012

From the award-winning French-Canadian author Jacques Poulin comes a novel about a writer suffering from writer’s block until, accompanied by his cat, Mr. Blue, he discovers a life-changing copy of The Arabian Nights on the beach.



10. The Shameful State
by Sony Labou Tansi
Translated from the French by Dominic Thomas
Indiana University Press, 2016

Congolese novelist Sony Labou Tansi sets his novel in a fictional African state, where a corrupt dictator leaves his citizens with nothing but humiliation and shame. Tansi’s novel comments on the degeneration and violence that permeates the politics of his home continent.


Read Sony Labou Tansi in WWB >>


Lead image: Woman reading at the beach, 2012. Photograph. Wikimedia Commons.

Published Aug 29, 2016   Copyright 2016 Lavinia Liang

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