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Our translated books in April

Posted on April 30, 2019 by Cristina Peligra | 0 comments

Inpress’ list of translated books in April is inclusive, diverse and pioneering, as are our publishers, bringing the best foreign literature and fantastic classic and emerging authors to the UK public. This month, Inpress books in translation will take you across the world – from the Adriatic Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, from France to China – and even across genres and form. Our list includes poetry and fiction, literature for young adults and for more mature audiences, where common threads and themes are sexuality, love, human relationships and the woman’s perspective. Below is our April’s list!




#1 The Governesses by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson (Les Fugitives)

Publishers Weekly Best Books in Fiction 2018 and Longlisted for the 2019 Best Translated Book Awards


The sensational English debut of a major French writer — written with the elegance of old French fables, the dark sensuality of Djuna Barnes and the subtle comedy of Robert Walser, this warped erotic fairy tale of a novella introduces UK readers to the marvellous Anne Serre.

In a large country house, shut off from the world within a gated garden, three young women responsible for the education of a group of little boys are hanging paper lanterns for a party. Their desires, however, lie elsewhere... Meet The Governesses: wild or drifting about in a sated, melancholy calm; spied upon by Monsieur Austeur, fascinated by the ever more mysterious unfolding of events, like the charms and spells of a midsummer night's dream…


'Prim and racy, seriously weird and seriously excellent...'
says The New York Times




#2 Point of Honour: Selected Poems of Maria Teresa Horta, translated by Lesley Saunders (Two Rivers Press)


This poetry collection brings together, for the first time in English, translations of the work of Maria Teresa Horta, one of the greatest Portuguese female voices of the last century. The collection spans six decades of her poetry and her 21 volumes and includes a selection from each one. The collection is introduced by an essay from leading Comparative Literature scholar Ana Raquel Fernandes and is translated by poet Lesley Saunders. The book also serves to underline the importance of sustaining cultural connections between the UK and Europe.





#3 White Horse by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman and illustrated by James Nunn (HopeRoad)


A gripping psychological tale enlivened by wickedly sharp insights into contemporary small-town life in China. Yun Yun lives in a small West China town with her widowed father, and an uncle, aunt and older cousin who lives nearby. Then, her once-secure world falls apart, as she observes her adolescent cousin clashing with her repressive parents.


Read our fascinating interview with Nicky Harman, the translator of White Horse here.




#4 Singer in the Night by Olja Savičević, translated by Celia Hawkesworth (Istros Books) – English PEN Award Winner


Clementine is a famous soap opera scriptwriter. She is slowly losing her memory, and decides to embark on a road trip down memory lane in her golden Mazda convertible trying to reach her ex-husband, the street poet Nightingale, whose uncompromising artistic integrity is opposed to Clementine’s fickle life in the world of TV drama.

The novel opens with a series of letters written by Nightingale and sent to all the inhabitants of his street. Not welcome by the neighbours, these letters playfully deal with deeper themes: life, the past, love, relations.


Singer in the Night is our selected book in translation for the month of April. We have chosen it because it explores the possibilities of what is real, what is true, of what life and love are and mean. This book is entertaining and thought-provoking at the same time, stimulating and enjoyable to read and to discuss. We recommend it especially because Olja Savičević’s style is unique, fresh and innovative, young but mature in talent, and it is rendered brilliantly into English by Celia Hawkesworth.

Read more about this fantastic book on our blog here.


Singer in the Night (Istros Books, 2019), front cover.



For sources and further information:


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Posted on April 29, 2019 by Cristina Peligra | 0 comments

A gripping psychological tale, enlivened by wickedly sharp insights into a contemporary small-town life in China: we present you White Horse by Yan Ge, translated by Nicky Harman, with illustrations by James Nunn. A tale about the excitements and the problems of adolescence.

White Horse is published by HopeRoad, who promote inclusive literature with a focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.


“[…] White Horse really is a novella for young adults, with the emphasis on adults. […] The world of Yun Yun, the young teenager, is readily understandable to teenagers anywhere, and that’s the appeal of the story.” – White Horse’s translator, Nicky Harman



White Horse (HopeRoad, 2019), front cover.


For our first blogpost focusing on translation for a younger audience, we interview White Horse’s translator from Chinese, Nicky Harman.


“[…] As soon as I read the story in Chinese, I loved Yan Ge ‘s insights into the pains and pleasures of adolescence. I was also intrigued by that ghostly horse. What does it mean? […]” – the translator Nicky Harman


Can you summarise White Horse in a few sentences? 

“It’s the story of young teenager Yun Yun (we never know exactly how old she is, perhaps twelve, perhaps thirteen), growing up in a small West China town. She’s been told that her mother died in a mental hospital soon after she was born, but her home life is secure and warm – her father loves her, her older cousin, Qing, is her best friend, and her aunt mothers her. Then, along with the excitements and discoveries of adolescence, family tensions build. Qing falls out with her mother and runs away with her boyfriend, and the girls discover terrible secrets that threaten to tear everyone’s lives apart. As things come to a head, Yun Yun herself finds herself haunted by the apparition of a white horse. As soon as I read the story in Chinese, I loved Yan Ge ‘s insights into the pains and pleasures of adolescence. I was also intrigued by that ghostly horse. What does it mean? Yan Ge explained it to me like this: ‘Well, it clearly represents the bizarre. Horses, especially white ones, are a real rarity in Sichuan but, in any case, this is clearly something that exists in her imagination. You could say it’s a kind of release for her, a seductive escape from the humdrum reality of small-town life. I actually think that the girl feels it as a protective, stabilizing influence.’”


The translator Nicky Harman. Photo credit: Julia Schoenstaedt.


What challenges does a translator face when specifically writing for a younger audience?  

“I think that all translation is a balancing act, that is, the translator has to achieve a balance between recreating faithfully what the author wrote, and making the book a good read in a new language. But when translating children’s books, maybe the balance has to be weighted in favour of giving the young reader an entertaining read, and if that requires a degree of re-writing, then so be it. That said, White Horse really is a novella for young adults, with the emphasis on adults. There was nothing I needed to change. The world of Yun Yun, the young teenager, is readily understandable to teenagers anywhere, and that’s the appeal of the story. (I should also add that I don’t have personal experience of translating for children. I have, however, read some fabulous translations for young readers.)”


An illustration from White Horse. Illustrator: James Nunn


What is in your opinion the importance of translating texts for younger readers?  

“To give them a good read! Some of the best-loved children’s books, ones which have really stood the test of time, are translations. Are the children, or even the parents, aware of that? Possibly not. Does that matter? Absolutely not. Translations are important because they add to the great wealth of stories out there for people of any age to read and enjoy. And they introduce us to new and different writing. But, of course, they also have to be an enjoyable read. No one, child or adult, should read a translation out of a sense of duty.”


Author Yan Ge. Photo credit: Lisa Whelan.


Do you have a favourite book in translation that you'd like to recommend? 

“There’s a children’s novel that I very much admire: Bronze and Sunflower, a prize-winning novel by Cao Wenxuan, in a prize-winning translation by Helen Wang. Set in the late 1960s, during the Cultural Revolution, it’s about the friendship between Sunflower, a young city girl resettled to a poor remote village in the marshlands, and Bronze, the village mute. Soon the pair are inseparable, and when Bronze’s family agree to take Sunflower in, it seems that fate has brought him the sister he has always longed for. But life in Damaidi is hard, and Bronze’s family can barely afford to feed themselves. Will the city girl be able to stay in this place where she has finally found happiness? It’s intended for slightly younger readers than White Horse (9-12 years is the publishers’ recommendation) but, like White Horse, it’s a great read for the young at heart of any age.”



We kindly thank the translator Nicky Harman and HopeRoad for their contribution to this blog.


Nicky Harman lives in the UK and translates full-time from Chinese. She focuses on fiction, literary non-fiction, and occasionally poetry, by authors such as Chen Xiwo, Han Dong, Hong Ying, Jia Pingwa, Dorothy Tse, Xinran, Xu Xiaobin, Yan Ge, Yan Geling and Zhang Ling. When not translating, she works for Paper-Republic.org, a non-profit website promoting Chinese literature in translation. She organizes translation-focused events, mentors new translators, gives regular talks and workshops on translation, and judges translation competitions. She was co-Chair of the Translators Association (Society of Authors, UK) from 2014 to 2017. She blogs on Asian Books Blog, and tweets, with Helen Wang, as China Fiction Book Club @cfbcuk.

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Posted on April 26, 2019 by Cristina Peligra | 0 comments

The book to read next month is Henrik Nor-Hansen’s Termin: An Inquiry into Violence in Norway, published by Nordisk Books, our selected Translated Book of the Month in May.


“… linguistic peculiarities play a key role in this book, because they are precisely what hints at the latent violence in the story” – the translator Matt Bagguley


While waiting for Termin to be launched on 12th May at WhitLit and come out on 23rd May, we have interviewed the book’s translator to learn more about the book and the translation process. How are important contemporary issues in Scandinavian life and the cold, neutral tone in which they are narrated and explored by Nor-Hansen mediated to English-speaking readers? Matt Bagguley tells us more about the peculiarities of the text’s style and language and the work of a literary translator, balancing the book’s intended effect and readability in English.


 The translator Matt Bagguley



From a translator’s point of view, what are the linguistic and cultural peculiarities of this novel?

“The book spans two decades of Kjetil Tuestad’s unravelling life, from the late 90s to 2015, and is set largely in and around Stavanger on Norway’s South-West coast. Readers will find most of the geographic reference points quite unfamiliar, and it snows a lot of course, but beyond that the story doesn’t rely too much on the typical Nordic cultural reference points. Having said that, it is still a fair depiction of the pretensions of Scandinavian life, with comfortable-small-town Norway as its backdrop. There is sex and violence, and moments of tenderness, but it is all viewed from the perspective of an indifferent storyteller and a protagonist quite detached from his increasingly hopeless situation. As a translator, there were plenty of issues over things like finding the correct English psychology terms, but most significantly, the book presented a challenge linguistically because it builds on some fairly common Norwegian traits – like their directness, and tendency for short, abrupt sentences – and pushes them to the limit by adopting the even colder, impartial tone of a police or psychologist’s report. This style is unrelenting throughout, and made it difficult at first to understand how much of it was intentional, although I soon found that it was. So linguistic peculiarities play a key role in this book, because they are precisely what hints at the latent violence in the story.”


Did they create translation problems? If so, what strategies/solutions did you apply? 

“One problem I had was how to approach the use of possessive pronouns… Norwegians already say “his” or “hers” less frequently than we do in English – a Norwegian would more typically say “the arm” instead of “my arm” – and in this case the intention was to avoid anything unnecessarily personal at all. So you will also find sentences like, “it is believed that the hospitalisation may have been a burden mentally” which is free of any direct reference to the protagonist or the narrator. I had to ask around to find out if the tone really sounded as brusque in Norwegian (to a Norwegian reader), as it does, in English, to an English one (which it does). But as well as capturing the original tone it also had to be readable in English, so it was still a difficult balance.

Another problem was the widespread use of “skulle ha” which, in the original book, preceded many of the narrator’s statements. In Norwegian “skulle” neatly suggests a reservation, just as “…apparently…” or “…supposedly…” does in English. But I was reluctant to exchange a typically discreet Norwegian word like “skulle” with “supposedly” when it crops up so routinely. I was conscious of the rhythm in the text, and I couldn’t replicate the same degree of repetition, in English, without it shouting – so this led to a quite meticulous process where I instead used alternating ‘reservations’ (apparently, supposedly, it is thought that…) to maintain that element, without it being a distraction.”


What can you say about the book’s title? What does it mean and how was it chosen?

“The author would have more to say about how it was chosen, but the word “Termin” comes from the Latin terminus, which in Roman times meant border. The title has been interpreted as representing the thin line separating the complacency in our lives – and the estrangement and alienation lying a hairs-breadth from us all, which I think fits nicely with the subject matter. The sub heading “An inquiry into violence in Norway” is straight away intriguing since Norway is often seen as a safe, model country, with a strong sense of togetherness, so obviously the question is where on earth this violence could be. The intention of the book is to comment on that, but not in a manner you would expect.”


“ It’s quite a unique and uncompromising novel…”– Matt Bagguley


What is your favourite passage from the book and why?

“It’s hard to say there’s one particular “favourite” passage because it is essentially quite a bleak story. There’s no lack of shocking incidents throughout, but the parts that stand out for me are the situation where Kjetil is living with his grandmother, and his total ambivalence to her dying while he is in the house:

“One would expect a natural display of grief. Instead Kjetil apparently put his shoes on. The weather was nice and there were lots of people in Stavanger city centre.”

Then there is the tragicomic depiction of the fight at the Christmas party, where Kjetil’s main concern seems to be for his shoes:

“They had supposedly pushed each other around on the gravel outside the venue. Kjetil lost some shirt buttons and his new moccasins got trodden on. He had then gone into the toilet. He needed to put toilet paper in his nostrils.” 

And the random attack on an old alcoholic, during which Kjetil pops out to buy an ice-cream, and then returns to help tuck the man into bed. There’s something unnerving about all this; how incomprehensibly the main character engages and reacts with his surroundings.”


Who would you recommend this book to?

“Somebody looking for something very different. It’s quite a unique and uncompromising novel, providing the same disquieting feeling you might get from a David Lynch film, or an episode of Black Mirror.”


How can the author/book be positioned within Scandinavian/Nordic literature?

“The book contrasts many of the anxieties and trivialities of contemporary Norwegian society, which I think fans of Knausgaard or Dag Solstad would enjoy.”


Image credit: Nordisk Books



Pre-order your copy of Termin here and meet Nordisk Books and author Henrik Nor-Hansen on Sunday 12th May in Whitstable. Details of the event are also on Facebook.


We kindly thank the translator Matt Bagguley and Nordisk Books for their contribution to this blog. 


About the translator Matt Bagguley:

Born in Coventry and now settled in Oslo since 2001, Matt has translated several books within fiction and non-fiction (from Norwegian to English) – including Katharina Vestre’s The Making Of You (Profile Books); Lars Svendson’s Understanding Animals (Reaktion Books); and Henrik Nor-Hansen’s Termin (Nordisk Books). He also does translation work for the film industry, most recently for the director Joachim Trier. Matt is currently translating the Norwegian-bestseller Keep Saying Their Names by Simon Stranger, for Knopf Doubleday Publishing in the US.


Nordisk Books is an independent publishing house in Whitstable, founded in 2016 with a focus on modern and contemporary Scandinavian literature.

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Our Translated Book of the Month: Singer in the Night by Olja Savičević (Istros Books), translated by Celia Hawkesworth

Posted on April 24, 2019 by Cristina Peligra | 0 comments

“I am addressing you with the desire, prompted by the aforementioned events, to share with you a dog’s thoughts about love. In this appeal, I ask just one thing of you: that, caught up in a vortex of passion or exasperated or astounded by feverish cries from the darkness, you do not forget that as well as feline love that screeches there is also canine love that whines.” – […] A Wistful Dog


This month, make sure you read Olja Savičević’s fantastic Singer in the Night, brilliantly translated by Celia Hawkesworth and published last week by Istros Books. It is a novel about love, about what love really means in all its forms and shades. An entertaining but very profound, and at times a rather philosophical reading, written in an innovative style mixing playful narrative with deeper reflections. We have selected Singer in the Night as our April’s Translated Book of the Month.

Singer in the Night (Istros Books, 2019), front cover.


Clementine is a famous soap opera scriptwriter. On the outside, she is “a blonde orange”, with silicon lips and a Brazilian hairstyle, driving a golden convertible, but inside she is “a black orange. Full of black juice.” She has now spent a week trying to call her ex-husband, with whom she still shares a boat, but couldn’t reach him. So, she travels from Ljubljana to Split to look for him, not finding anything more than vague traces and more mysteries. His account has been closed. He hasn’t been at the marina for a long time. He left the flat. He hasn’t been in touch with his mother for over a year.


“None of the people Gale and I had known could say exactly in which direction that sexy bird had flown off last summer. They weren’t troubled […] because that crazy Gale came and went like that, no one ever knew when.”


The more she hears about him and the town, the more she realises there is much she doesn’t know. How much have things changed, or how much have things remained unchanged?

She sets off towards Bosnia, where he said he was heading. But where has he really gone? What is he up to? And so the story begins. The story of the search for her greatest love, the mysterious – at times radical – street poet Nightingale. But, actually, this is the story of a journey into her past and herself. A journey through memory, life, history and, most importantly, human relations.


Author Olja Savičević (Istros Books)


Olja Savičević is one of Croatia’s best socially and politically engaged contemporary writers. Her work has received numerous awards and has been translated in many languages, from German to Ukrainian, from French to Zulu. She is also the author of the novel Farewell, Cowboy, also published by Istros Books, the story of Dada, who goes back to her home town on the Adriatic coast to explore the circumstances behind the death of her brother. There, she meets Angelo, a gigolo who is part of the film crew shooting a Western nearby, and discovers more.


Singer in the Night was translated into English by Celia Hawkesworth. Celia worked for many years as a Senior Lecturer in Serbian and Croatian at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College, London and has published many articles and books on Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian literature. Among her several translations are the award-winning The Museum of Unconditional Surrender (W&N, 1998) and The Culture Lies (W&N, 1998) by Dubravka Ugrešić. For Istros, she has also translated Fairground Magician by Jelena Lengold, Odhohol & Cally Rascal by Matko Sršen, Death in the Museum of Modern Art by Alma Lazarevska, and Olja Savičević’s Farewell Cowboy.


Istros Books is a London-based publisher aiming to bring the best South European literature to English-speaking readers. Named after the old Greek and Thracian term for the lower Danube, whose course and tributaries touch the countries Istros focuses on, this innovative publisher wants to go beyond the idea of national interests, fostering cultural exchange – in their words, “the free-flow of knowledge” inspired by the Danube’s borderless flow across the continent – and a focus on “the common voice of human experience”.


More titles from Istros are coming out in the next summer months. Do not miss Under Pressure by Faruk Šehić (May 2019), stories from the frontline of the Bosnian War, The Olcinium Trilogy by Andrej Nikolaidis (June 2019), bringing together three short novels which together encompass an apocalyptic vision of this ancient town, and Wild Woman by Marina Šur Puhlovski (July 2019), the story of an everywoman from a poor family in 1970s Croatian, who rushes into the romantic dream of marriage but has to go wild to free herself when idyll becomes a nightmare.

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IRON OR - The Fourth IRON Press Festival of Words and Music

Posted on April 01, 2019 by Rebecca Robinson | 0 comments

I notice the Newcastle Poetry Festival, which takes place in May, the month before our own IRON OR Festival, has 17 sponsors.

Our  festival has only three, somewhat smaller, but three is a friendly number.  I also notice Newcastle has many prestigious literary academics and award-winning authors. IRON OR,whch takes place only a few miles away, is not overburdened with  either genus. But then the Newcastle festival, which is called Transformations (no, not that sort) does have the clout and resources of Newcastle University behind it. There’s a logic to this as the financial security of universities is where an increasing number of our authors now seek sanctuary.

Probably very sensible. Though I suspect some of them might benefit from being out there in the real world, where life for the rest of we scribblers hopelessly unsuited to working within a large institution, can be pretty precarious. Not quite gnawing on the dried crust in a freezing garret as we scribble our masterpieces, but sometimes not far off.

Not that any writer who manages to earn his or her livelihood from this sullen craft should complain; we get to do for a living something that is our passion while many humans are condemned to mind-numbing jobs. And in the world overall, huge numbers go hungry on a daily basis. So let’s keep it in perspective.

For those not aware of the IRON Press festival, it always takes as its title some fiendishly clever pun on the word IRON; it occurs every two years in an assortment of venues clustered round Cullercoats Harbour on the windy North East coast of England. Cullercoats is  on the eastern extremity of  North Tyneside. The first festival was The IRON Age, followed by  Eclectic IRON, then IRON in the Soul, now IRON Or.

Like its predecessors (the first one was voted Top Event Tyneside in the Journal Culture Awards) this year’s is a mix of words, music and the unpredictable.

We have sent writers out on fishing boats, plonked them on a rock for six hours, made them play cricket and nudged them into running three miles. We launched our new book of ghost stories at midnight in St. George’s Church (complete with hot cocoa), ran haiku workshops in the local chip shop and invited aspiring crime novelists to examine a victim’s body before sending them off to find inspiration (and their own plotline ) round our small distinctive harbour village.

It is, as far as I know, the country’s only litfest run by a small press. All the 20 writers

involved this year have a link to the press or the region (or often both) as do the two dozen musicians who both support the writer events but also run their own wonderful al fresco festival fringe. For most of Saturday and Sunday (the festival is four days in all) this means sweet music is sounding out across the Cullercoats bay.

The venues often surprise people; the local working men’s club hosts two large events, the Fishermen’s Mission also. A favourite venue is the RNLI where audiences are treated to panoramic views both out to sea and up the coast as they enjoy the guest writers.

Because I personally find a whole evening of undiluted poetry hard to digest, almost every literary event also includes music.

Also because most poets read for too long, we’re strict on timings and it’s the firing squad for any who exceed their limit. Leave ’em wanting more is good advice more poets could do with heeding.  Why, I’ve known some elsewhere who’ve committed the cardinal sin of going on beyond closing time!

Many people won’t have heard of many of our authors, but over the last three festivals audiences have come to trust our judgement and IRON Press’s editorial preferences,
so we usually have little trouble attracting good turn-outs. Our events tend to be a journey of adventure rather than a visit to the familiar.

Every venue is within a shout of every other. Getting lost is impossible .If you do somehow get detached, the festival late-night club is where most people eventually fetch up.

Plus which, walk out of any venue and there  right in front of you  is the North Sea.

Cullercoats is an attractive seaside fishing village and has always been a magnet for creative artists. It has a healthy café culture but being also an active working place could never be called twee the way some obviously more touristy places could. That’s one reason the festival works.

All of which has failed to mention one single event in IRON OR. Look out for a few well-known names such as Harry Venning creator of the brilliant Radio 4 series and Guardian cartoon strip, Clare in the Community, Tyneside poetic legend Tom Pickard and the splendid Northumbrian poet Katrina Porteous reciting her amazing long dialect poem The Wund an’ The Wetter to Chris Ormston’s live accompaniment on the Northumbrian pipes (much sweeter than bagpipes).

We have the IRON Breakfast Lecture, along with a South African breakfast, a brand new play set in Cullercoats, a four hour singing workshop, free writers’surgeries, an Inpress literary quiz, four of the region’s top authors reading their own selections from our pioneering anthology of 150 persecuted 20th century poets worldwide, Voices of Conscience, a chance to pen your own immortal Cullercoats poem and bags more.

Absolutely nothing costs more than a tenner, most events are well under that and a good percentage are free, We think the programme and setting is unlike any other. Take a look yourself at our website, where you can follow the links to the full festival programme which runs from June 20-23rd. Tickets are available from April 1.

Take a trek up to the North East – see you here!




Pete Mortimer

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