The rise of translated fiction is perhaps one of the most significant developments in publishing of recent years. A report, commissioned earlier this year by the Man Booker International Prize, found that translated fiction sales have risen by a whopping 96% since 2001, now accounting for 5% of all printed fiction sales in the UK and 7% of literary fiction sales.
With the phenomenal success of Elena Ferrante, Haruki Murakami and Han Kang, as well as Hiromi Kawakami and Oddný Eir it often seems to have been the work of female authors which has been the driving force behind this growing trend within literary fiction.
Set up in 2015, with the goal of bringing international fiction and non-fiction to the English-speaking market, World Editions have already made a huge impact on the global literary scene with their exciting range of authors and striking book designs.
Steinunn Sigurðardóttir is a highly regarded Icelandic author whose previous work jójó (published in Iceland in 2011; translated into English by Rory McTurk and published by World Editions 2015 as Yo-Yo) won the prestigious Icelandic Booksellers’ Award.
Her newly published novel, The Good Lover, has already garnered praise for its Dutch translation, winning a European Literature Prize last year.
This strikingly written narrative tells the story of Karl Astuson, an Icelandic businessman living the life of a hedonistic bachelor in New York. Whilst he everything money can buy his love life comprises of a string of meaningless one nights stands, and he remains entranced by the memory of his childhood sweetheart, Una. After seventeen years he suddenly decides to return to Reykjavik to try and win her back. Karl’s love life has always been connected to his relationship with his excessively indulgent and protective mother, whose ‘perfection’ remains unattainable, and whose death when he was just eighteen, took its toll on his ability to love. Having finally reunited with Una and returned with her to New York, Karl finds he has become the subject of a novel, entitled The Good Lover, written by an ex-girlfriend. As Karl’s chance at a happy-ever-after with Una is threatened, Steinunn Sigurðardóttir’s psychologically compelling prose flourishes in the intricate complexities of love. Reminiscent of The Great Gatsby, The Good Lover combines magnificent evocations of both New York and Iceland, and, like Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, it is the sheer beauty of the storytelling which proves utterly gripping.
Sigurðardóttir herself has lived throughout Europe, the US, Japan, and currently resides in Berlin. She worked as a journalist and radio reporter before quitting in order to focus on her writing career. She has contributed greatly to the international recognition of contemporary Icelandic literature, being one of the most frequently translated living Icelandic writers. She has written a great variety of works and plays and is also a translator of poetry and prose. Her novel Yo-yo was awarded the Icelandic Bookseller’s Award and her novel Hjartastaður (Place of the Heart) won the Icelandic Literary Prize 1995. Her debut novel Tímaþjófurinn (The Thief of Time) was adapted into a French movie Voleur de Vie in 1999.
The Good Lover by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir was published on 1 December by World Editions (£10.99, paperback, 224pp, 9789462380134)
- Posted by Rachel