Thursday, September 21, 2023

Eight top ghostly short novels in translation

Nghiem Tran was born in Vietnam and raised in Kansas. He is a Kundiman fellow, and he has received degrees from Vassar College and Syracuse University.

We’re Safe When We’re Alone is his debut novella.

At Electric Lit he tagged eight short books in which "grief, violence, death, and loneliness transform realistic settings from all around the world into dreamlike, haunting landscapes." One title on the list:
Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, Translated by Megan Backus

After Mikage’s grandmother dies, she is taken in by her friend Yuichi and his mother Eriko. The three of them grow close and form a makeshift family. Eventually Mikage moves out and tries to create a life of her own. However, she learns about a horrific tragedy that befalls Eriko, and she returns to support Yuichi through this difficult period. Unfortunately, they are not able to connect as easily as they did in the past, and Yuichi plunges into the abyss of grief. Yuichi’s deteriorating mental state charges the atmosphere with dread, and I feared not only for his well-being but also for Mikage as she searches for him and attempts to bring him out of the darkness. The beauty of the novella lies in the compassion the characters show to each other even as the presence of death hovers directly over them.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue