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The Words Without Borders Staff Favorites of the Year

By Bud Parr

This time of the year the Words Without Borders staff sits around the Words Without Borders fireplace with our mugs of hot toddy, chatting about the books we've been reading. Into the wee hours on one such night, Joshua said, "Hey, why don't we mention some of our favorites from the year on the blog?" And so here it is, our list along with a brief comment on each. All titles are available through Better World Books:

Joshua recommends For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut by Takashi Hiraide, translated by Sawako Nakayasu, published by New Directions: "I think the title of this quirky little poetry book says it all."

Susan recommends Nazi Literature in the Americas by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris Andrews, published by New Directions: "A dazzling fake encyclopedia with a taxonomy of truth; furious and howlingly funny."

Michael recommends Love Today by Maxim Biller, translated by Anthea Bell, published by Simon & Schuster: "Putting the 'fun' back in 'dysfunctional romance.'"

Bud recommends The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret, translated by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: "Early stories by the great short-short story writer from Israel, Etgar Keret. These stories are more raw than his later work, but are full of the anxiety and anger of people living in the stifle of everyday horror."

Marc recommends Amerika: The Missing Person by Franz Kafka, translated by Mark Harman, based on the restored text, published by Schocken: "A strange fantasy of an imagined promised land."

Tom recommends Strangers in the House by George Simenon, translated by P.D. James, published by New York Review Books Classics: "One of the world's most prolific writers, Simenon sold over half a million books in fifty-five languages. The Strangers in the House is a smart, fast-paced crime novel about a drunk, recluse lawyer who comes out of retirement when there's an unexplained death in a quarter of the house he hadn't visited in two years. This just might be your prescription for how to get through the holidays"

Rohan recommends I Love Dollars: And Other Stories of China by Zhu Wen, translated by Julia Lovell, published by Penguin: "The book is ornery and rowdy with an implacably petty group of anti-heroes at its centre, and its almost accidental visions of human pathos in the midst of all its hyperoptimistic jingoism make it truly worth the read. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll learn a little."

Sal recommends The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, published by Europa Editions: "It is hypnotic and set in a warm, sunny climate, in fact, it's set at the beach, but still unnerves the beejesus out of one."

Published Dec 18, 2008   Copyright 2008 Bud Parr

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