Authors to Explore

Don’t worry, I won’t go on and on about the Salon du Livre in Geneva, but browsing the stand of one of the publishers there gave me some ideas…

Actes Sud is one of my favourite French publishers, founded in Arles in 1978 – a revolutionary step at the time, as most publishers are firmly ensconced in Paris. They not only publish more experimental and unusual French language authors, but also translate high quality literary fiction (plus they also have a crime fiction imprint, graphic novels, children’s literature and much more). Just to give you an example of some of their authors: Svetlana Alexeyevich, Matthias Enard, Kamel Daoud, Imre Kertesz, Jerome Ferrari, even a lesser-known work by one of Romania’s classical novelists of the early 20th century, Liviu Rebreanu.


So, partly inspired by authors on their list, and partly as a result of researching other sources, I’ve set up a tentative plan of writers whom I would like to explore further.

East European

Irina Teodorescu – young Romanian writer, moved to Paris at the age of 19 and started writing in French, but is still inspired by the folk tales of her childhood – also a graphic artist, as demonstrated in her debut La Malédiction du bandit moustachu (The Curse of the Bandit with a Moustache)

Dan Lungu – Romanian literary theorist and professor of literature, as well as a multi-talented writer (short stories, novels, plays, poetry).

Andrzej Stasiuk – one of the best known contemporary Polish writers

Imre Kertesz – Hungarian Nobel Prize winner, author of a celebrated Holocaust trilogy, controversial in his home country for his outspoken views and critique

Noémi Szécsi – younger Hungarian writer, whose irreverent debut novel The Finno-Ugrian Vampire sounds very funny (she has written several others since)

Georgi Gospodinov – Bulgarian writer – finding a way to live with sadness, loss of meaning

Matei Visniec – Romanian author, fled to France in 1987, when all but his poetic work was banned in Romania. Playwright (apparently one of the most performed in Romania) and journalist for Radio France Internationale.


Other European

Javier Cercas – Spanish writer, focusing particularly on recent history (Civil War and the Franco dictatorship)

Christos Chrissopoulos – contemporary Greek writer, involved in multiple multimedia and multicultural projects, as well as depicting Athenian life during the austerity years

Jerome Ferrari – French writer, who has lived in Corsica, Algiers, Abu Dhabi

Maria Ernestam – Swedish writer, dramatic psychological relationship novels

Janice Galloway – Scottish novelist, short story writers, poetry and librettos(i)

Anna Enquist – pen name of Dutch poet and novelist, music and secrets play a large part in her work

Nina Berberova – the life of Russian exiles in Paris in the 1920-30s

Isaac Babel – I’ve read a few short stories by this author, but it’s been such a long time ag;, I want to read the full Odessa Tales



Other Parts of the World

Chi Li – young Chinese novelist and TV writer, chronicles young people’s everyday lives in modern China

Nancy Huston – Canadian-born writer, writes predominantly in French and translates her own work into English

Mieko Kawakami – Japanese singer/songwriter before she turned to poetry and fiction about the confused younger generation

Yu Miri – Japanese-Korean writer of fiction, memoir and plays, as well as acting and founding a theatre troupe

Milton Hatoum – Brazilian writer and translator – Ashes of the Amazon and The Brothers – a critique of the military regime, political and family destruction

Michel Tremblay – Quebecois novelist and playwright, Plateau Mont-Royal chronicler – a working-class neighbourhood

In Koli Jean Bofane – Mathématiques congolaises – from the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives in Belgium, children’s fiction initially

Aki Shimazaki – Japanese but moved to Canada and writes in French

Yu Hua- Chinese author known for his rather detailed descriptions of the brutalities of the Chinese Revolution and often direct critical comment of a society undergoing major social upheavals


Have you read any of the above and whom would you recommend? Obviously, I won’t get to all of them immediately (especially after my recent book splurges), but are there any I should prioritise?





22 thoughts on “Authors to Explore”

  1. Do check out Janice Galloway – particularly The Trick is to Keep Breathing and Clara. i have reviews of both on my blog.

    1. Yes, it’s a shame she’s not better known. She will actually be teaching at a writing retreat of a writing friend of mine, Jason Donald, this month, but sadly I won’t be able to attend.

  2. It’s always great to visit book fairs and to get new inspirations for future reading, isn’t it? I have read some of the mentioned authors and can particularly recommend the following: Isaac Babel is one of my all-time favorites and I am sure you will like his stories very much; Imre Kertesz: I have read Dossier K – highly recommended; Andrzej Stasiuk: Fado, Dukla, Doyczland, Taksim, On the Road to Babadag – I read most of them in German, not sure if they are all translated in English, but all of Stasiuk’s books are explorations of those regions mainly in Eastern Europe that are located at the periphery, far from the tourist places and which have their very particular atmosphere; Georgi Gospodinov: I have read all his published books, mainly in Bulgarian. His The Physics of Sorrow is Magical Realism at its best and it was recently shortlisted for the Best Literary Translation Award, and I can highly recommend this excellent book, as well as his first novel Natural Novel and his story collection And Other Stories. I am hosting a Bulgarian Literature Month in June and maybe you consider to join? In that case Gospodinov would be an excellent starting point. More info on the Bulgarian Lit Month to be published soon.

    1. Thank you for your very helpful hints. I was thinking of reading most of these books in French or German, as they seem to be translated into these languages more. I do remember you being quite a Babel fan!
      And I am interested in a Bulgarian Literature Month – again, ashamed I don;t know more about the neighbouring country, Bulgaria, and its literature. Perhaps at some point, I’ll get myself organised enough to run a Romanian Literature Month!

      1. It would be great if you could join! And a Romanian Literature Month would be great too – although I am located in Bulgaria and am a big fan of Balkan literature, my knowledge of Romanian literature is very patchy; but I know there are great authors to discover!

  3. That’s a great idea, Marina. I’m thinking of doing something similar with a section for breadth (new-to-me writers to try for the first time) and depth (favourite writers to continue to read). Javier Cercas is of interest to me as well. I’ve yet to try him, but I do recall seeing some interesting reviews of Outlaws when it was released a year or so ago – pretty sure Stu and Grant have read him.

    1. I don’t read nearly enough Spanish language writers, which is absurd, really, considering how close they are culturally to Romanian writers and also so many of them have been translated very well into French and Romanian.

      1. I can’t recall if you’ve read it, but you might like Nada by Carmen Laforet, a novel set in the years following the Spanish Civil War.

  4. Oh dear – I haven’t read *any* of them and they all sound wonderful….. :s

  5. I love that idea of exploring different authors, Marina Sofia. And I’m especially impressed with your selection; it’s quite varied and covers a lot of different styles as well as regions. I’ll look forward to hearing what you learn from your journey.

  6. Aarrghhh!! What are you trying to do to me??? No more new authors!! Especially don’t prioritise Javier Cercas please – I suspect I could easily be tempted by his subject matter. I can only hope he hasn’t been translated into English yet… Oh dear! It appears he has…

  7. I’ve read Fateless by Imre Kertesz. A must read.
    I have Le sermon sur la chute de Rome by Jerome Ferrari sitting on the shelf.
    Nina Berberova I really recommend.
    I love Nancy Huston. Try La Virevolt or Dolce Agonia.
    I want to read Michel Tremblay.

  8. I love Actes Sud too! The authors I read from your list: Javier Cercas, Anna Enquist, Nina Berberova, Chi Li, Nancy Huston, Yu Hua. My favorites: Nancy Huston and Berberova. The others are worth exploring too, but are a bit “dry”.

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