Two Books – Translated Fiction

I’m trying to catch up on some book reviews so here are two Europa Editions I read at the end of summer.

A Girl Returned
By Donatella Di Pietrantonio, translated by Ann Goldstein
Source: Advance review copy

“I was thirteen, yet I didn’t know my other mother. I struggled up the stairs to her apartment with an unwieldy suitcase and a bag of jumbled shoes. On the landing I was greeted by the smell of recent frying and a wait.”

One minute the 13-year-old unnamed narrator of the story is living comfortably with her parents. She is going to school and living the life of any young girl but the next moment she is sent to her birth parents. Parents she never knew about and to a complex life of hardship. Her brothers are loud and almost hurtful, her mother is quick to assign tasks and her father is always busy. Luckily there is her sister who welcomes her and helps her navigate her new home.

As the girl learns to live her new life she can’t help but still wonder why her parents never told her anything and most importantly why she can’t go back home. I think it would be easy to find this story very bleak and it is sad but I feel like despite what the main character goes through you know she is is going to be alright. I loved this book and hope you’ll check it out.

My Grandmother’s Braid
By Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr
Source: Advance review copy

“I can remember the exact moment Grandfather fell in love. In my eyes, he was ancient – already over fifty- and his new, delicate secret hit me with a wave of admiration tempered by schadenfreude. Up to then I’d always thought that I was my grandparents’ only problem.”

Max lives with is grandparents in a refugee residential building in Germany. His grandmother doesn’t care for most of the refugees, they aren’t Russians like them, but she also doesn’t really like the Germans either. But what will really set off Max’s grandmother is anything to do with Max. In her eyes he’s one minute away from dying and can’t do anything right or eat anything. It’s no wonder she’s so tired when she has to deal with such a weakling.

Max is afraid to upset his grandmother but while he’s busy trying to placate her, his grandfather is meanwhile falling in love with their neighbor, Nina. Soon their lives will be complicated by the fact that Nina is going to have a child and yes, the grandmother becomes even more fierce but she also knows better than anyone how to care for a newborn and everyone will just have to do as she says.

This was a difficult book for me to really enjoy. At first I found this dysfunctional family quirky and could find amusement at some of the predicaments, but eventually I grew tired of the grandmother and most of all why was no one standing up for Max. I really enjoyed Broken Glass Park by this author but this book not so much.

Let me know if you’ve heard of these books or if you’ve read them and what you thought.

  1. October 13, 2021
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  3. October 14, 2021
  4. October 14, 2021
  5. October 14, 2021