Best summer books of 2022: Fiction in translation

Even The Darkest Night
by Javier Cercas, translated by Anne McLean, Maclehose £16.99/Knopf $30

Cercas, the Spanish author of multi-layered and award-winning novels like Soldiers of Salamistackles the detective genre in the story of Melchor Marín, a big-city policeman who has relocated to the tranquil backwater of Terra Alta, only to find himself investigating a brutal crime with roots in Spain’s civil war.

Discretion
by Faïza Guène, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, Saqi Books £12.99

Approaching her 70th birthday, Yamina Taleb is content with her life as an Algerian immigrant in Paris. Her grown-up children of her, however, are less sure about whether they truly fit in. A family holiday brings to the surface questions of belonging and allegiance in a closely observed novel about motherhood and migration.

All The Lovers In The Night
by Mieko Kawakami, translated by Sam Bett and David Boyd, Chopper £14.99

Catching a glimpse of her reflection in a window, Fuyuko, a freelance proofreader in her thirties who prefers to hide away from other people, realizes how lonely and miserable her life has become. But a chance encounter with an unassuming older man reveals the importance of beauty and the possibilities of friendship.

you stopped
by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes, Fitzcarraldo £10.99

Long-listed for this year’s International Booker Prize, Melchor’s follow-up to the widely acclaimed Hurricane Season focuses on the uneasy relationship between school dropout Polo and wealthier, porn-addicted Franco, whose plans to escape their glum realities spiral into chaos and violence, shedding light on the faultlines of Mexican society.

absence
by Lucie Paye, translated by Natasha Lehrer, The Fugitives £11.99

In this remarkable debut, the story of a painter fixed with a ghostly female figure becomes entwined with the story of a woman seeking to connect with a long-lost son. A delicate tale of artistic obsession and artistic creation, and a moving meditation on longing and loss.

Summer Books 2022

All this week, FT writers and critics share their favourites. Some highlights are:

Monday: Economics by Martin Wolf
Tuesday: Environment by Pilita Clark
Wednesday: Fiction by Laura Battle
Thursday: History by Tony Barber
Friday: Politics by Gideon Rachman
Saturday: Critics’ Choice

phenotypes
b​y Paulo Scott, translated by Daniel Hahn, And Other Stories £10

The tale of two brothers, Federico and Lourenço, born to the same mixed-race couple but destined to dissimilar experiences on account of their different skin colours, is a searing indictment of racism and privilege in Brazil, and an uncompromising challenge to the country’s idealized view of itself as a racial democracy.

violets
by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated by Anton Hur, W&N £14.99

Set in 1970s South Korea, this novel by the winner of the 2012 Man Asian literary prize follows San, a young florist aching to be seen and heard in a society that does not give women a voice, who learns the hard way that beauty and violence are never too far apart.

tomb of sand
by Geetanjali Shree, translated by Daisy Rockwell, Tilted Axis Press £12

The first novel translated from an Indian language to win the International Booker Prize follows an octogenarian Indian grandmother who, after the death of her husband, embarks on a trip to Pakistan. Raising questions about borders and identities, about friendships and family, the author tackles hefty topics with playfulness and lightness of touch.

Tell us what you think

What are your favorites from this list — and what books have we missed? Tell us in the comments below

Reptile Memoirs
by Silje Ulstein, translated by Alison McCullough, Grove £19.99

A best-seller in the author’s native Norway, this psychological thriller examines family secrets and buried trauma as a police investigation into a missing child intersects with the tale of a woman obsessed by a Burmese python. A remarkable literary debut offering a twist on the Nordic police procedural.

Chilean Poet
by Alejandro Zambra, translated by Megan McDowell, Granta Books £16.99

Parenthood and poetry are prominent concerns in this tender novel by the author of Ways of Going Home. Gonzalo, a teacher, becomes a father figure to teenage Vicente, later inspiring him to pursue the life of a poet. The cliquey Chilean poetry scene is gently parodied by Zambra, who began his own career writing poems.

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