Mailbox Monday

These are the books which came into my mailbox last week:

Translated from the Arabic by Leri Price

Planet of Clay by Samar Yazbek came to me from World Editions. It is longlisted for the 2022 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

An ode to fantasy and beauty in the midst of war-torn Damascus

Rima, a young girl from Damascus, longs to walk, to be free to follow the will of her feet, but instead is perpetually constrained. She finds refuge in a fantasy world full of colored crayons, secret planets, and The Little Prince, reciting passages of the Qur’an like a mantra as everything and everyone around her is blown to bits. Since Rima hardly ever speaks, people think she’s crazy, but she is no fool—the madness is in the battered city around her. One day while taking a bus through Damascus, a soldier opens fire and her mother is killed. Rima, wounded, is taken to a military hospital before her brother leads her to the besieged area of Ghouta—where, between bombings, she writes her story. In Planet of Clay, Samar Yazbek offers a surreal depiction of the horrors taking place in Syria, in vivid and poetic language and with a sharp eye for detail and beauty.

Planet of Clay will be published October 5, 2021.)

Translated from the Japanese by Sam Bett

My Annihilation is the latest thriller from Fuminori Nakamura, who is a Japanese literary sensation.

What transforms a person into a killer? Can it be something as small as a suggestion?

Turn this page, and you may forfeit your entire life.

With My Annihilation, Fuminori Nakamura, master of literary noir, has constructed a puzzle box of a narrative in the form of a confessional diary that implicates its reader in a heinous crime. 

Delving relentlessly into the darkest corners of human consciousness, My Annihilation reveals with disturbing honesty the psychological motives of a killer. While all humans have unspeakable thoughts, only monsters act on them.

(My Annihilation will be published on January 11, 2022.)

Translated from the French by Adriana Hunter

Whenever a new book is published by Peirene Press, I am quite eager to get my hands on it. Their books have often been included with the contenders for the International Booker Award, and they have never disappointed me. Winter Flowers by Angelique Villeneuve is Peirene Title No. 36, about how “one small family must learn to live together again.” ~Claire Fuller

It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.

Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.

For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.

(Winter Flowers is available for preorder, and will be published October 7, 2021.)

You can find more books which have lately entered readers’ homes at Mailbox Monday, here.

Mailbox Monday: a plethora of delectable temptations

If it looks like there are a lot books which have come my way, it is largely because I have not put up a Mailbox Monday post for far too long. But, as these books are so exciting to me I thought a few might interest you as well.

First, there is a Valentine present from my parents. The book inside the beautifully wrapped red paper, underneath a golden heart, is Perfume by Lizzie Ostrum.

The incredible stories of 100 perfumes from a whole century of scents.

Signature scents and now lost masterpieces; the visionaries who conceived them; the wild and wonderful campaigns that launched them; the women and men who wore them – every perfume has a tale to tell.

Join Lizzie Ostrom, dubbed ‘the Heston Blumenthal of perfume’ (Daily Mail), on an olfactory adventure as she explores the trends and crazes that have shaped the way we’ve spritzed.

Next, we have from SoHo Press:

Cruel is The Night by Karo Hämäläinen (Finnish):

Prizewinning Finnish author Karo Hämäläinen’s English-language debut is a literary homage to Agatha Christie and a black comedy locked-room mystery about murder, mayhem, and morality in our cynical modern world.


The Boy in The Earth by Fuminori Nakamura (Japanese):

As an unnamed Tokyo taxi driver works a night shift, picking up fares that offer him glimpses into the lives of ordinary people, he can’t escape his own nihilistic thoughts. Almost without meaning to, he puts himself in harm’s way; he can’t stop daydreaming of suicide, envisioning himself returning to the earth in obsessive fantasie…

Trysting by Emanuelle Pagano, comes from Two Lines Press (French):

A seductive blend of Maggie Nelson and Marguerite Duras, Trysting seizes romance’s slippery truths by letting us glimpse nearly 300 beguiling relationships: scenes between all genders and sexualities. Proving that the erotic knows no bounds, almost anything can be a means of attraction: from amnesia and throat-clearing to sign language, earplugs, back hair, arthritis, PVC, and showers. Combining aphorisms, anecdotes, and adventures, Trysting is a tour de force that gives a new perspective on a question as old as humanity.

Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in The World  by Jorge Zepeda Patterson came from Restless Books (Spanish):

Winner of the prestigious Premio Planeta, Milena, or The Most Beautiful Femur in the World is an enthralling international political thriller about sex, power, and information—and the extreme lengths people will go to attain them.

Savage Theories by Pola Oloixarac (Spanish):

Savage Theories wryly explores fear and violence, war and sex, eroticism and philosophy. Its complex and flawed characters grapple with a mess of impossible, visionary theories, searching for their place in our fragmented digital world.

My Husband’s Wife by Jane Corry has been hailed as this Winter’s “must-read thriller”.

My Last Lament by James William Brown is, “A poignant and evocative novel of one Greek woman’s story of her own—and her nation’s—epic struggle in the aftermath of World War II.”

The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George is historical fiction based on the life of “Emporer Nero, one of the most notorious and misunderstood figures in history.”

and finally,

Lenin’s Last Roller Coaster by David Downing is a British spy novel set in 1917 which commemorates the Bolshevik Revolution.

I hardly know where to begin, but I hope I have given you some interesting titles to put on your radar.


Mailbox Monday


Black Rabbit Hill by Eve Chase (G. P. Putnam and Sons) Published February 9, 2016

For fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Waters, here’s a magnetic debut novel of wrenching family secrets, forbidden love, and heartbreaking loss housed within the grand gothic manor of Black Rabbit Hall


The Last Days of Magic by Mark Tompkins (Viking) Published March 1, 2016


Small Mercies by Eddie Joyce (Penguin) Published in paperback February 9, 2016

“Eddie Joyce’s terrific first novel is so American that the story might as well have taken place at the base of the Statue of Liberty.”
—Richard Russo



The Kite Family by Hon Lai-Chu, translated by Andrea Lingenfelter (Muse Press) Published March, 2016

A patient escapes from an asylum, to spend his life as the perfect mannequin in a department store display; when living alone is outlawed, a woman who resides quietly with her cat is assigned by bureaucrats to a role in an artificially created “family;” a luckless man transforms himself into a chair so people can, literally, sit on him. These are just a few of the inhabitants of Hon Lai-chu’s stories, where surreal characters struggle to carve out space for freedom and individuality in an absurd world. The Chinese version of The Kite Family won the New Writer’s Novella first prize from Taiwan’s Unitas Literary Association, was one of 2008’s Books of the Year according to Taiwan’s China Times, was selected as one of the Top 10 Chinese Novels Worldwide, and was awarded a Translation Grant from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts.


Why We Came To The City by Kristopher Jansma (Viking) Published February 16, 2016

A warm, funny, and heartfelt novel about a tight-knit group of twentysomethings in New York whose lives are upended by tragedy—from the widely acclaimed author of The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards…

Thanks to the publishers for sending me exciting new books; I hope you discover a great new read from this week’s post. Find more Monday Mailbox books here.

Mailbox Monday: Two Books From Cuba and One Puppy from Illinois


“Out of the modern-day dystopia of Cuba comes an instant classic from the island’s most celebrated science fiction author.

A Planet for Rent draws parallels between ’90s Cuba and a possible Earth of the not-so-distant future. Wracked by economic and environmental problems, the desperate plant is rescued, for better or worse, by alien colonizers, who remake the planet as a tourist destination. Ruled over by a brutal interstellar bureaucracy, dispossessed humans seek better lives via the few routes available: working for the colonial police, eking out a living as black marketeers, drug dealers, or artists; prostituting themselves to exploitative extra-terrestrial visitors – or facing the cold void of space in rickety illegal ships.” (back cover)


“The first book by the father of Cuban science fiction to be translated into English, this mesmerizing novel, reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001, A Space Odyssey, is a science-fiction survival story that captures the intense pressures-economic, ideological and psychological-inside Communist Cuba.

A Legend of the Future takes place inside a spaceship on a groundbreaking mission to Titan, one of Saturn’s moons; back home, a final conflict between warring superpowers threatens the fate of the Earth. When disaster strikes the ship, the crew members are forced into a grand experiment in psychological and emotional conditioning, in which they face not just their innermost fears, but the ultimate sacrifice[their very humanity.” (back cover)


…and with a story yet to unfold came Humphrey, a nine week old Labrador puppy who called my husband’s name. We could not resist this tired boy, of whom I shall probably write more when I get to know him better. For now, let me say he is a sweet addition to this home of ours.

As for your mailbox, did you find any translated literature? Any wet noses? Any spectacular surprises you wish to share?

Mailbox Monday

Into my mailbox this month have come untold riches. And while I am consumed with reading as much of the long list for the IFFP as I can before April 9, I have these books to look forward to and share with you:

First, from SoHo Press comes Innocence by Heda Margolius Kovaly. It is translated from the Czech by Alex Zucker and will be published this June.

1950s Prague is a city of numerous small terrors, of political tyranny, corruption and surveillance. There is no way of knowing whether one’s neighbor is spying for the government or what one’s supposed friends will say under pressure to a state security agent. A loyal Party member might be imprisoned or executed as quickly as a traitor; innocence means nothing for a person caught in a trap.

But there are larger terrors, too. When a little boy is murdered at the cinema where his aunt works, the ensuing investigation sheds a little too much light on the personal lives of the cinema’s female ushers, each of whom is hiding a dark or haunting secret of her own.

Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, says of Small Merices by Eddie Joyce:

Eddie Joyce’s terrific first novel is so American that the story might as well have taken place at the base of the Statue of Liberty. His Amendola family and their beloved Staten Island may be flawed, but they represent what’s best and most necessary in the American character, what our tired and poor still year for.

Paula McLain, bestselling author of The Paris Wife, says that The Tutor is “A sumptuous, page-turning account…I was completely captivated.”

Finally, the piece de resistance, a newly released translation of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.

…Les Miserables has been a popular phenomenon since it was first published in 1862–most recently, award-winning screen and stage adaptations have held captive audiences world-wide. This year, Penguin Classics presents a deluxe edition of Christine Donougher’s compelling, contemporary new translation of the novel (the first new Penguin Classics translation in forty years), which highlights not only its emotional resonance and social observation, but also its quick wit and rich historical texture.

Have you received some books you’re anxious to read? Do any of these especially appeal to you? Looking forward to hearing about your mailboxes!