If you read enough world literature in translation, sooner or later you stumble across some of history’s dirty little secrets, and this thought came to mind as I read SEE HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU by Spanish author, Luis Leante. The novel, which was inspired by a 2005 trip to the Western Sahara, goes back and forth in time from 2000 to the pivotal year of 1975. 1975 was the year of Franco’s death, and while the death of the fascist dictator didn’t exactly unleash worldwide mourning, it did signal tremendous changes for the Western Sahara–Spain’s only African colony.

March 3, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Africa, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author


Emperor Haile Selassie ruled Ethiopia for more than four decades. Stories about him are legendary even today. Debut author Maaza Mengiste’s book BENEATH THE LION’S GAZE is set during a period of history when the emperor is just on his way out; it takes place over a few years around 1974.

January 12, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Africa, Debut Novel, Facing History, World Lit


Thomas Bernhard is a wonderful wordsmith. He weaves his story in riffs like jazz motifs or the most beautiful of tapestries. In a tapestry, there may be repeat stitches but the colors and gauge change, the dynamic conspires to grow and become something else just as it is being created. Like a weaver or jazz musician, Bernhard repeats the essence of his message in many ways, giving the reader a marvelous opportunity to see into the protagonist’s mind. He is a natural story teller.

December 21, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Austria, Classic, Facing History, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit


“Irresponsible, spoiled and bourgeois.” One of the characters in THE MUSEUM OF INNOCENCE, Orhan Pamuk’s new novel, uses these labels to describe a segment of Istanbul’s young adults. These same descriptors could specifically apply to 30-year-old Kemal, the novel’s protagonist. Kemal, part of Istanbul’s upper class, spends his time managing a portion of the family business. He has the privilege of an education in America and as the novel opens, is about to be engaged to Sibel, the daughter of another wealthy family in the city. It’s slated to be a marriage between equals.

December 14, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,  · Posted in: 2009 Favorites, Middle East, Nobel Prize for Literature, Translated, Turkey, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

A PARTISAN’S DAUGHTER by Louis de Bernieres

One evening, Christian decides that he wants to pick up a prostitute for the first time in his life. He drives around in a certain part of London and sees a young woman dressed provocatively. He turns his car around and asks her how much she charges. She tells him that her price, when she did work, was 500 pounds, and this is a lot more than Christian could ever afford. However, she asks him for a ride home and their relationship begins then. Roza, the young woman, is the daughter of a partisan of Tito’s army and she begins to beguile Chris with Scheherazade-like stories about her life night after night.

November 28, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: United Kingdom, World Lit, y Award Winning Author, Yugoslavia

INHERENT VICE by Thomas Pynchon

Larry “Doc” Sportello, the protagonist of this latest Pynchon novel, INHERENT VICE, is the quintessential hippy wild-man. He sometimes teases his hair into an Afro. He never passes up an opportunity to get high. He listens to rock ‘n roll, preferably stoned, and practices “free love” whenever–and wherever–he can make that happen. And yet he is a respected private investigator, a man who, in spite of himself, exercising wit and humor, succeeds. But just by the skin of his nicotine-stained teeth.

November 20, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: California, Humorous, Literary, Mystery/Suspense, Noir, y Award Winning Author