Speed Reading - Literary fiction in translation

Claudio Morandini’s bittersweet novella features a pair of misfits: an old man and a stray dog. Adelmo Farandola lives in the Italian Alps, far from civilisation. He likes his solitude even though he is losing his memory and talks to himself. Luckily, the dog answers back and may be his salvation. Conflict comes in the form of a mountain ranger who bothers Adelmo by asking awkward questions. Emerging from the long winter freeze, Adelmo and the dog discover a human foot in the snow. Nothing will ever be the same.  

In the rural Netherlands, middle-aged Paul lives with his aging father and collects German militaria. His friend, Hedwig, runs his family’s dilapidated grocery store. Rita is the patron saint of lost causes and the name of the prostitute Paul frequents. Tommy Wieringa paints a compelling portrait of a marginalised society, a Catholic community who have lost their faith and prefer to listen to the weekend services on the radio. A Brazilian priest serves three parishes: “Missionary work was coming back in style, but now it was the poor Europeans who needed help.”

A dark Norwegian tale featuring a dysfunctional mother-son relationship. Their story unfolds over the course of one icy night. Jon is looking forward to his ninth birthday, anticipating the cake his mother will bake for him. But Vibeke, a single mum, has other things on her mind. Desperate to escape her humdrum reality, she dreams of being swept off her feet by a dashing stranger. In simple, stark prose Hanne Ørstavik creates an eerily mesmerising narrative, switching between their inner worlds as she builds to the novella’s shattering denouement.

Originally published in The Tablet