New SFF works in translation introduce English-speaking readers to the anxieties authors and fans are facing across the globe. Turns out, those concerns will look pretty familiar.
Rodrigo Márquez Tizano, trans. from the Spanish by Thomas Bunstead. Coffee House, Nov.
Called “a bolt of originality from a writer to watch” by PW, Tizano’s debut draws a picture of a bleak and chaotic near-future world, in which the narrator is tasked with collecting the bodies of children killed by a recurrent plague.
Ray Loriga, trans. from the Spanish by Carolina De Robertis. HMH, Feb. 2020
A family travels to an all-glass city where privacy is nonexistent, and where authoritarianism prevails. “Loriga explores what it means to be a questioning and a non-questioning member of society,” says Pilar Garcia-Brown, associate editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, “and about what it means to live in a society controlled by so few. How do we remain alert, and how do we educate ourselves?”
They Will Drown in Their Mother’s Tears
Johannes Anyuru, trans. from the Swedish by Saskia Vogel. Two Lines, Nov.
A terrorist attacks a bookstore appearance by a comic book artist famous for mocking the prophet Mohammed. Years later, from her psychiatric cell, she tells a writer the truth: she is a visitor sent from a dystopian future. Soon to be a TV series in Sweden, the book wrestles with the human tendency to cast as “other” those who are different, and with the discomfort of acknowledging the real and sometimes familiar motivations of a violent terrorist.
Marc-Uwe Kling, trans. from the German by Jamie Searle Romanelli. Grand Central, Jan. 2020.
Kling's "spot-on satire," PW's review said, is set in "an absurd hypercapitalist dystopia" that "unfolds against the backdrop of a presidential election, where voters can choose between a maximally intelligent, socialist-minded robot programmed for objectivity, and a celebrity right-wing chef, prone to contradicting himself in the same sentence."
Hao Jingfang, trans. from the Chinese by Ken Liu. Saga, Apr. 2020
A group of teenagers born on a colonized Mars are sent to Earth as delegates. When they return home, they find that they no longer entirely belong. “It’s a philosophical novel that deals with what is happening in China—the displacement young people are feeling, dealing with capitalist and Western influences, and still feeling unfulfilled and displaced,” says Joe Monti, editorial director at Saga Press.
Chen Qiufan, trans. from the Chinese by Ken Liu. Tor, out now
In another Liu-translated novel, migrant workers, corporations, and environmentalists clash, making for an explicit critique of consumerist culture. PW’s starred review called the novel a “sweeping, complex, and deeply emotional near-future dystopian vision.”