Best European Fiction 2015

January 29, 2015 Fiction, Literary, Review 14 ★★★★

Best European Fiction 2015Title: Best European Fiction 2015
Author: Enrique Vila-Matas
Source: NetGalley
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?

14 Responses to “Best European Fiction 2015”

    • DoingDewey

      How exciting! I’ve been behind on replying to comments lately, but one advantage is that I can already go check out your review 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I had a bit of trouble getting through this one, which was partly because I was busy and partly because the style was challenging, but it was also hard to read because I was constantly having to get into new stories. Short story collections definitely aren’t my favorite format, but I do like to try them out occasionally.

  1. Becca Lostinbooks

    This sounds amazing! I wish I had book purchasing money so I could get it! I am wanting to read more translated works this year as I only read 2 last year. Thanks for sharing this, Katie!

    • DoingDewey

      I admire your self-restraint! I’ve been trying not to buy books either and while ARCs help, I’ve not had much time to get to the library lately, so I have been tempted by some new releases.

  2. Doro

    Thanks for sharing your impressions about the European Fiction Collection – I have the 2013 collection here, but I guess I ran into stories of the “completely did not understand” when I started to read it. I might give it another try now.

    And great that you are joining the 7 Continents challenge! Looking forward to reading about your global reads.

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks for hosting Doro! I’m excited to try to learn more about other countries this year and I think this challenge will be a great way to get myself to read more diversely 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      I don’t read enough translated fiction either, but it’s something I’d like to more of this year. I think the translated fiction I’ve read had been much more different from what I usually read than books which are by non-American authors in English, so I think they’re a particularly good way to add some diversity to my reading 🙂

  3. Kristen

    This sounds really interesting. It’s fascinating to me how different countries value different things in their literature and that is so clearly reflected in the writing that comes out of each of them.

    • DoingDewey

      It’s true! I’d really like to do enough reading of translated fiction to start to identify the commonalities between books from the same country. I feel like doing that does give you some idea of the culture of other countries.

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