Sitting deep in the human heart

Dear Selma, Your short-story collection Invisible Links, tr. Pauline Bancroft Flach (1899. Original: Osynliga länkar,1894) reads like a visit to one of those Scandinavian wooden churches, decorated with dragon heads on the outside and Christian symbols inside. The book is composed of fourteen short-stories crossed by mythical elements drawn from pagan and Christian legends. Natural beings…

Selma Lagerlöf

Selma Lagerlöf (Selma Ottilia Lovisa Lagerlöf, 20 November 1858 – 16 March 1940) was a Swedish writer. She received her education at home and later, against her father’s will, completed her studies to become a teacher at the Royal Women’s Teaching Academy in Stockholm. She then worked as a schoolteacher at a high school for girls, from 1885 to…

Every traveller’s time is a lot of times in one

Dear Olga, Flights, tr. Jennifer Croft (2017. Original: Bieguni, 2007) reads very much like one of the cabinets of curiosities it alludes to: each story is like a small drawer we are eager to open; in each drawer, we find an odd, mythical-sounding anecdote, or a slightly distorted idea. The strangest thing, however, is that…

Olga Tokarczuk

Olga Tokarczuk (1962) is a Polish writer. She studied Psychology at the University of Warsaw, and later worked as therapist. She now runs the small publishing company Ruta. Awards Nike Award (2008) for Flights, tr. Jennifer Croft (2017. Original: Bieguni, 2007) Nike Award (2015) for Księgi jakubowe (The Books of Jacob) Brückepreis (2015) for the promotion of peace, democratic development and mutual understanding in Europe Man Booker International Prize…

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril XIII, Persephone Readathon, Victober & The 1944 Club

Hi, folks! It’s time for some housekeeping! As September approaches and Summer drives to an end, I will be wrapping up my 20 Books of Summer, All Virago/All August, and Women in Translation reads, as well as my posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months. At the end of September, my literary travels with the Backpack Through Europe Summer…

Because there is desire within me, everything glimmers

Hi, folks, Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have eight poems by Brazilian author Hilda Hilst, in various translations. You can find the whole series here, along with other Brazilian gems. Enjoy! Yours truly, J. This mournful moon, this unease Inner turbulence, lagoon, Inside the solitude, a dying body, All…

Hilda Hilst

Hilda Hilst (Hilda de Almeida Prado Hilst, April 21, 1930—February 4th, 2004) was a Brazilian writer. She studied Law at the University of São Paulo (USP). There, she met her lifelong friend, the Brazilian writer Lygia Fagundes Telles. In 1966, she moved into a house at the contryside, near Campinas, where she lived secluded for the…

It was a family of women buccaneers

Dear Gladys, The Matriarch (1924) is a family saga told in a fragmented way, weaving together vignettes, sketches and anecdotes that read like a series of family legends passed on from one generation to the next. The book follows the Rakonitzes, a cosmopolitan, wealthy Jewish family, from the early 19th century to the early 20th…

G. B. Stern

G. B. Stern (Gladys Bronwyn Stern, born Gladys Bertha Stern, 17 June 1890 – 20 September 1973) was an English writer. She was schooled in England until the age of 16, when she traveled with her parents to the continent and studied in Germany and Switzerland. She was a long-time friend of Rebecca West. Born in a liberal…

May it sting me until it extinguishes me

Hi, folks, Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have four poems by Brazilian author Ricardo Domeneck, in various translations. You can find the whole series here, along with other Brazilian gems. Enjoy! Yours truly, J. IN WHICH THE POET CELEBRATES HIS TWENTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD LOVER for Jannis Birsner Wars have outlasted your…

Ricardo Domeneck

Ricardo Domeneck (1977) is a Brazilian writer, performer, and visual artist. He studied Philosophy at the Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP), but later dropped out and joined a theatre group. He now lives in Berlin, and is one of the co-founders of the a collective of artists  “Kute Bash”. Domeneck is also the co-editor of the Brazilian poetry…

The first tear opened up that day

Dear Victor, ‘The Love of Singular Men‘ (2016. Original: O amor dos homens avulsos, not translated yet) reads like a delicate web, a coming-of-age tale of affection, woven in different forms of violence. Camilo, the narrator, is a disabled, middle-aged white man, living alone in a small apartment in the fictional Queím neighbourhood, in the…

Victor Heringer

Victor Heringer (Victor Doblas Heringer, 1988 – 2018) was a Brazilian writer. He studied Literature at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and earned a master’s degree from the same institution. Awards Winner of the Prêmio Jabuti (2013) for Glória Shorlisted for the Prêmio São Paulo Prize de Literatura (2016) for O amor dos homens avulsos Shortlisted…

Two half drowned things, clinging together in a shipwreck

Dear Elizabeth, Vera (1921) is the story of a toxic relationship which gradually unfolds into a full-blown tale of psychological horror, made ever more disturbing by the restrained way in which it is told. The story revolves around the main character, the naïve, twenty-two-year-old Lucy Entwhistle, whose father has just suddenly passed away, while they…

Elizabeth von Arnim

Elizabeth von Arnim (born Mary Annette Beauchamp, 31 August 1866 – 9 February 1941) was an Australian-born British writer. When she was three years old, the family went to England, where she was raised. After her first marriage, she became Countess von Arnim-Schlagenthin, and later Elizabeth Russell – Countess Russell, after her second marriage. She also…

To confront desire

Hi, folks, Next on my series of posts for Spanish and Portuguese Reading Months, hosted by Stuart and Richard, you have four poems by Brazilian author Ana Cristina César, in various translations. You can find the whole series here, along with other Brazilian gems. Enjoy! Yours truly, J. Bedside Intractable. I don’t want to put poems on paper anymore or let my…

Ana Cristina César

Ana Cristina César (1952 – 1983) was a Brazilian writer. She studied Literature at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-RJ), and earned a master’s degree in Communication from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), as well as a master’s degree in Literary Translation from the University of Essex. Ana Cristina César worked as translator,…

A strange carousel from which there was no getting off

Dear Daniela, In your novel A Kingdom of Souls translated by Véronique Firkusny and Elena Sokol (2015. Original: Podobojí, 1991), we have magical realism with an edge: the dead exist alongside the living, wandering across space and time, always in the brink of turning into an allegory, a symbol, a pervading longing. The novel centres…