Author: Enrique Vila-Matas
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
I love unique translated fiction and wanted to add more diversity to my reading in 2015, so this collection of European fiction was the perfect first read of the year. This collection includes stories by authors from many different European countries, most of it translated and most stand-alone short stories. The few excerpts from longer works were also enjoyable and easily stood on their own.
Almost every collection of short stories will be hit or miss, but I think this collection will be downright divisive. I either loved or completely did not understand almost every story. Some of my favorites were those which were written in novel, creative formats. I was particularly blown away by a story in a format based on the show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. This story was told through four different answers to each question, with each question having one answer from each perspective and all four telling a connected narrative. If you like experimental literature, I’d recommend picking up this collection for that story alone.
Other stories I loved for the feeling they gave me. For example, one rather strange little story about a woman who periodically coughed up living birds really resonated with me. The ending spoke to me of leaving your every day life and achieving an almost magical freedom. Other equally strange stories didn’t resonate with me and I ended them wondering what on earth I’d just read. I suspect all the stories in this collection will leave people feeling that they connected to the story and feeling very confused, depending on the readers own personal experiences. A final group that stood out to me in this collection were those which seemed to have slightly heavy-handed morals, such as one about plastic surgery and inner beauty. Overall, the feel of this collection is somewhat dark, but I enjoyed that, particularly with an introduction that connected the feel of the stories to the current European ethos.
This collection was over-the-top creative and nearly every story was unlike anything else I’ve ever read. I’d particularly recommend this to anyone who reads translated fiction because it breaks convention.
What is your favorite thing about translated fiction? Have you fit in any diverse reads this month?