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First Read

Person in front of a blue city
Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash
The March 4th Incident
By Sabda Armandio
In this excerpt of Sabda Armandio’s futuristic crime novel 24 Hours with Gaspar, a writer begins investigating a mysterious criminal named Gaspar.
Translated from Indonesian by Lara Norgaard
An incomplete drawing of an elephant. Only the head and trunk are fully filled in.
"Elephant and Rider," attributed to Hashim, circa 1640. Public domain. The Met Museum, Purchase, Friends of Islamic Art Gifts, 2010.
Naima’s Elephant
By Shalash
In this excerpt from a serialized novel by pseudonymous Iraqi author Shalash, a woman’s beloved elephant catches the attention of Iraq’s political elites for its potential applications during wartime.
Translated from Arabic by Luke Leafgren
A yak stands on a snowy hill
Alexandr Frolov, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Man Who Can Never Go Home
By Lhashamgyal
In this essay excerpted from the forthcoming The Penguin Book of Modern Tibetan Essays, Lhashamgyal grapples with questions of belonging, identity, and exile.
Translated from Tibetan by Tenzin Dickie & Pema Tsewang Shastri
A dark window at twilight
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
The Guest
By Fatma Shafii
In this story by Fatma Shafii, a woman grows increasingly anxious as she awaits her lover, who is supposed to meet her parents for the first time.
Translated from Swahili by Hassan Kassim
an image of an old TV that is turned off
Photo by PJ Gal-Szabo on Unsplash
Local News
By Karosh Taha
The German language felt like a conspiracy against my father.
Translated from German by Grashina Gabelmann
White foam swirling on a river's surface
Photo by kallern, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
I float on worry
By Rania Mamoun
I live on the lip, split / between slipping & holding
Translated from Arabic by Yasmine Seale
A 1960s black and white photograph of a street in Rostock, East Germany
FORTEPAN / Nagy Gyula, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Five O’Clock Train to Rostock
By Brigitte Reimann
I can still hear her faltering voice today. My mother must have been the only one who had known what Konrad was planning.
Translated from German by Lucy Jones
Two distant snowmobiles driving across a snowy field while the sun sets behind snowy mountains
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
The Ear
By Ann-Helén Laestadius
She had seen the man make the sign for death, so she knew this was serious.
Translated from Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Two snowy mountain peaks
Mt. Huandoy, Ancash, Peru. Inti Runa Viajero, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Another Man’s Name
By Renato Cisneros
“You don't want to appear as the father, do you?”
Translated from Spanish by Fionn Petch
A bookshelf filled with old books
Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash
My Saint’s Day
By Luis García Montero
I guess that’s one approach to pitching an encyclopedia sale.
Translated from Spanish by Katie King
A hospital waiting room with green seats next to bright windows
Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
Ito Returns to Japan and Finds Herself in a Real Pinch
By Hiromi Itō
Early the next morning, I got a call from Mom. The first words out of her mouth: Will you take me to the hospital today?
Translated from Japanese by Jeffrey Angles
Sunset over a field with melting snow
Photo by Vitali Adutskevich on Unsplash
By Julia Cimafiejeva
I thought I unburdened / myself / but even invisible / the braid grows / with memory
Translated from Belarusian by Valzhyna Mort & Hanif Abdurraqib
A dark room where only a small sliver of window lets in any light
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
A Friendly Face
By Sevgi Soysal
Just what she needed. An outing with a man just released from prison.
Translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely
Several rows of colorful patterned pagnes
Photo by Eva Blue on Unsplash
The Impatient
By Djaïli Amadou Amal
Love doesn’t exist before marriage, Ramla. It’s time you come back down to earth.
Translated from French by Emma Ramadan
Berriozabaleta Fountain, Elorrio, Spain
Joxe Aranzabal, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Household Matters
By Kirmen Uribe
Grandma Susana wore long skirts, and she even drank vinegar to make her face paler, as a mortification of her beauty.
Translated from Basque by Elizabeth Macklin
fishermen sitting on a pier with boats behind them
Dmitry Makeev, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Sky of the Lost Moon
By Ty Chi Huot
I was assigned to work in the propaganda group to recruit more people to our cause.
Translated from Khmer by Rinith Taing
two rows of people playing pachinko
Tischbeinahe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Pachinko Parlor
By Elisa Shua Dusapin
“Do you know what your grandmother’s mother did to avoid being subjected to speaking Japanese at school? She sliced off part of her own tongue.”
Translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins
Map of German East Africa
Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
German Medicine
By Abdulrazak Gurnah
Her mother was dead, she knew that, but she did not know why her aunt and her uncle were the ones who took her in.
A cobblestone street in Rwanda at sunset with a few pedestrians and motorcycle riders
Photo by Michael Muli on Unsplash
No Familiar Faces
By Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse
I had the look of a Westerner fresh off the boat, with my wrinkled trousers, tourist backpack, and it didn’t tally with my fluency in Kinyarwanda.
Translated from French by Alison Anderson
Late evening view on a bridge leading to Dutch countryside houses
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash
Welcome to the Real Holland
By Rodaan Al Galidi
When they chucked me out in the middle of the goddamn winter, you gave me your coat and seven euros.
Translated from Dutch by Jonathan Reeder
Palm trees along the shoreline in Huahine, Tahiti
Matthew Dillon from Hollywood, CA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Two Birthdays
By Titaua Peu
For weeks, Ma didn’t feel a shred of warmth for the baby.
Translated from French by Jeffrey Zuckerman
Tarot cards from the Rider Waite Tarot deck
Photo by Viva Luna Studios on Unsplash
The Presentiment
By Emiliano Monge
I like to imagine that, in this defining moment, as my grandfather struggled with the dead man’s sinews, he was able to calm his rage for a moment and laugh.
Translated from Spanish by Frank Wynne
Tropical forest in Guadeloupe
Photo by Tim Oun on Unsplash.
Where Dogs Bark with Their Tails
By Estelle-Sarah Bulle
As they drew nearer, knives in hand, Hilaire recognized the feverish eyes behind their scarves.
Translated from French by Julia Grawemeyer
A sprig of berries in shadow
Photo by Dmitry Bukhantsov
A Little Hole
By Alhierd Bacharevič
They stuffed these intoxicating little spheres into their mouths and kissed the juice off of the palms of their hands.
Translated from Belarusian by Jim Dingley & Petra Reid
A Landscape of Claws
By Mónica Ojeda
That’s how it felt to sleep handcuffed to a table.
Translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker
The Tofu-Maker
By Shen Fuyu
Around the time we were in second grade, Buckethead and I beat a snake to death.
Translated from Chinese by Jeremy Tiang
A Seriously Shitty Quirk of Fate
By Paulo Scott
I felt uncomfortable being who I was, raised on the idea of being from a Black family.
Translated from Portuguese by Daniel Hahn
By Miguelángel Meza
Miguelángel Meza's poetry chapbook, Dream Pattering Soles, was published this month by Ugly Duckling Presse in Elisa Taber's translation. A leading Guaraní poet, Meza was…
Translated by Elisa Taber
Little Check Marks on Our Names
By Saša Stanišiç
Winner of the German Book Prize, Saša Stanišić's Where You Come From will be out from Tin House next week. Translated by Damion Searls, this autofictional work explores…
Translated by Damion Searls
An Evening of Sugar-Eating
By Lee Young-ju
Next week, Black Ocean will release Lee Young-ju's poetry collection Cold Candies, translated from Korean by Jae Kim. The collection includes “Roommate, Woman,” one of the winners…
Translated by Jae Kim
Portrait of a Libyan Scream
By Najwa Bin Shatwan
Later this month, UEA Publishing Project will release Mo(a)t: Stories from Arabic, an anthology of short fiction by Arabophone writers from the African diaspora, edited by Garen Torikian and…
Translated by Sawad Hussain
The Spectator Sentenced to Death
By Matéi Visniec
Edited and translated by Jozefina Komporaly, Plays from Romania: Dramaturgies of Subversion is out today from Methuen Drama, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing. This unique transnational anthology…
Translated by Jozefina Komporaly
What Does Victory Look Like If Not This?
By Petra Hůlová
Petra Hůlová's dystopian novel The Movement, translated from Czech by Alex Zucker, is available now from World Editions. The novel follows the narrator, a prison guard at…
Translated by Alex Zucker
A Long Way from Douala
By Max Lobe
Max Lobe's novel A Long Way from Douala, translated by Ros Schwartz, is out next month from Other Press. The novel follows the narrator, Jean, and his friend Simon, as they search for…
Translated by Ros Schwartz
Two Poems
By Fiston Mwanza Mujila
The River in the Belly, the second collection by award-winning poet Fiston Mwanza Mujila to appear in English, will be published by Deep Vellum next week in J. Bret Maney's translation.…
Translated by J. Bret Maney
A Treasure Chest of Goodbyes
By Nataliya Deleva
Nataliya Deleva's debut novel, Four Minutes, translated from Bulgarian by Izidora Angel, is out tomorrow from Open Letter. The book focuses on characters whose voices are often marginalized in…
Translated by Izidora Angel
The Interrogation
By Hwang Sok-Yong
In the 1990s, writer and Korean reunification activist Hwang Sok-yong spent five years in prison for visiting North Korea in violation of South Korea’s National Security Act. In his memoir The…
Translated by Anton Hur & Sora Kim-Russell
The Book That Launched Japan’s #MeToo Movement
By Shiori Ito
Originally published in 2017, Black Box, journalist Shiori Ito's memoir about her experience of sexual assault and her struggle to bring her attacker to justice, prompted a reckoning over gender-based…
Translated by Allison Markin Powell
Where the Infinite Unfolds
By Dulce Maria Cardoso
Dulce Maria Cardoso's Violeta among the Stars, translated from Portuguese by Ángel Gurría-Quintana, is out this week from MacLehose Press. Cardoso's lyrical, stream-of-consciousness…
Translated by Ángel Gurría-Quintana
The Membranes
By Chi Ta-wei
Ari Larissa Heinrich's translation of Chi Ta-wei's The Membranes, a classic of queer speculative fiction originally published in Taiwan in 1995, is out this week from Columbia University…
Translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich
By Bhuwaneshwar
This week, Seagull Books publishes Wolves, a collection of short stories by Bhuwaneshwar (1910–57), who is often described as the father of the modern Hindi short story. Translated…
Translated by Saudamini Deo
Family Rules
By Anke Stelling
Anke Stelling's award-winning novel Higher Ground, translated from German by Lucy Jones, is out tomorrow from Scribe. An examination of class, friendship, and parenthood in contemporary…
Translated by Lucy Jones
My First and Only Love
By Sahar Khalifeh
The most recent novel by Palestinian writer Sahar Khalifeh, My First and Only Love, is out this week from Hoopoe. The book follows the protagonist, Nidal, as she returns to her family home in Nablus…
Translated by Aida Bamia
Connection Fever
By Polly Barton
Fifty Sounds, Polly Barton’s memoir of moving to Japan, immersing herself in the language, and becoming a literary translator, is out tomorrow from Fitzcarraldo Editions. In the excerpt…
Dog Rose in the Wind, the Rain, the Earth
By Farkhondeh Aghaei
Today, Two Lines Press releases Elemental: Earth Stories, the third title in its Calico series. The collection features writing by eight international authors whose work explores humanity's…
Translated by Michelle Quay
The Mercedes
By Bekim Sejranović
Bekim Sejranović's From Nowhere to Nowhere, a novel about a young man displaced by the Yugoslav Wars of the 1990s, is out tomorrow from Sandorf Passage in Will Firth's translation.…
Translated by Will Firth
The Guest
By György Dragomán
György Dragomán's The Bone Fire, a Gothic novel about an orphan who's adopted by her mysterious grandmother, is out this week with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In the excerpt…
Translated by Ottilie Mulzet
An Adventure Worthy of an Author
By Li Juan
In her travel memoir Winter Pasture, out next week with Astra House, writer Li Juan chronicles the winter she spent with a family of Kazakh herders in a remote region of northern China.…
Translated by Jack Hargreaves & Yan Yan
Slash and Burn
By Claudia Hernández
Salvadoran author Claudia Hernández's first novel, Slash and Burn, is out this week with And Other Stories. Translated by Julia Sanches, the book follows several women through…
Translated by Julia Sanches
Peach Blossom Paradise
By Ge Fei
Peach Blossom Paradise, the first book in Ge Fei's Jiangnan Trilogy, will be published next week by NYRB Classics in Canaan Morse's translation. The novel tells the story of Xiumi, a…
Translated by Canaan Morse
An Archipelago in a Landlocked Country
By Elisa Taber
Elisa Taber's An Archipelago in a Landlocked Country is out today with 11:11 Press. A lyric ethnography of two Paraguayan populations—a Mennonite colony and a Nivaklé settlement—the…
A Pre-Columbian Bestiary: Tepeyólotl
By Ilan Stavans
In A Pre-Columbian Bestiary: Fantastic Creatures of Indigenous Latin America, Ilan Stavans collaborates with illustrator Eko to tell the stories of religious and mythical creatures from…
New Ways of Saying “We”
By Jenny Hval
Girls Against God, the latest novel from Norwegian writer and musician Jenny Hval, came out earlier this month with Verso Books. Translated by Marjam Idriss, the novel blends experimental horror,…
Translated by Marjam Idriss
What Happens When We Sleep?
By Haytham El Wardany
Egyptian writer Haytham El Wardany's The Book of Sleep, translated from Arabic by Robin Moger, is out today with Seagull Books. Throughout the book, and in the four fragments below, El Wardany…
Translated by Robin Moger
By Selva Almada
After the successful English-language publication of her debut novel The Wind That Lays Waste, Argentinian author Selva Almada returns with Dead Girls, a journalistic novel centered…
Translated by Annie McDermott
Discovering Murakami
By David Karashima
In his Who We’re Reading When We’re Reading Murakami, David Karashima synthesizes research, correspondence, and interviews with dozens of individuals—including Murakami himself—to…
Birds in Formation
By Nguyen Ngoc Tu
Other Moons: Vietnamese Short Stories of the American War and Its Aftermath, translated and edited by Quan Manh Ha and Joseph Babcock, is out this week from Columbia University Press. In the story…
Translated by Quan Manh Ha & Joseph Babcock
“An Immigrant Like an Automobile”
By Malgorzata Szejnert
From preeminent Polish journalist Malgorzata Szejnert, Ellis Island: A People's History, translated by Sean Gasper Bye and out next week with Scribe Publications, pieces together a portrait of…
Translated by Sean Gasper Bye
First Read—From “No Presents Please”
By Jayant Kaikini
The first translated book to win the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, Jayant Kaikini's No Presents Please, translated from Kannada by Tejaswini Niranjana and out next week with Catapult,…
Translated by Tejaswini Niranjana
First Read: From “Breathing Through the Wound”
By Víctor del Árbol
In Víctor del Árbol's novel Breathing Through the Wound, translated by Lisa Dillman and out this week with Other Press, an artist accepts an unusual commission…
Translated by Lisa M. Dillman