There is something about the short but powerful novel that I love. I look forward to immersing myself in an emotional and thought-provoking world, one that hits you with a wallop of depth in just a few sittings. These books often have the ability to stay with me more than the longest of epics. The Albanian Affairs by Susana Fortes is just this sort of novel. Originally published in Spanish as El amante albanes, and now translated by Leland H. Chambers by McPherson & Company (an indie press with a fantastic catalog), The Albanian Affairs manages to offer lust, love, political history, and family intrigue all in a mere 180 pages.
The story takes place in an Albanian villa full of family secrets. Ismail, the youngest son, is growing more and more curious over the death of his Spanish mother when he was only a boy. He also finds himself tormented by the presence of his older brother’s new wife, the first woman to reside in their family in many years. He and Helena find themselves drawn to each other – too much. At the same time he struggles against his growing feelings for his brother’s wife, he begins to unravel his mother’s story.

The Albanian Affairs is a passionate work that is painted rather than written. The language is stunning leaving me to marvel at the translation, and the backdrop of an Albania under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha makes for a dark and moving novel. 

As for McPherson & Company, there are a few publishers out there that make me drool over their book list like a kid with a department store Christmas catalog. This is one of them. If you love translated works and unique literature as much as I do, you learn to follow the indie publishers as much as your favorite authors, and McPherson & Company is one I like to keep my eye on.

Read the first two chapters of The Albanian Affairs online.

Ana María Moix, one of Spain’s most well-known writers today, gives us a wonderful collection of short stories, translated by Sandra Kingery. Of My Real Life I Know Nothing is a series of shorts, each containing stories of heartfelt meaning that catches the reader by surprise at each and every ending. For me, nothing gives a short story more to remember it by than a great explanation-point finish, something substantial to catch you offguard.

Moix’s latest collection seems to start out in a more serious tone, with scenes of a tragic nature. As the book progresses, the stories take on more humor while still holding onto the introspective look at human failings. By the time the final story is reached, Mere Puppets, the reader will enjoy an outright humorous look at the varying personalities in a tour group in Italy. Mere Puppets, as funny as it is, continues to deliver the deep undercurrents of human nature one learns to expect, and looks forward to finding, in Moix’s work throughout Of My Real Life I Know Nothing.

If you’re as intrigued by the premise of this collection as I was, I have an extra copy to give away to one of you.

3 Ways to Win:

1.) Leave a comment telling me whether or not you’ve read any translated works lately. What would draw you to a translated work? (Be creative – while winners are drawn randomly, if the original winner doesn’t claim their prize, a new winner is chosen by originality of the comment.)

2.) Email subscribers are entered into this and all future giveaways, for as long as their subscription is active. Simply place your email address in the little white box at the top of my sidebar on the right. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail. Only verified subscriptions are entered for all the giveaways.)

3.) Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this post. Come back and leave me a Comment with a link to your blog post.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win! You have until midnight EST on Sunday, July 27, 2008, to enter.

Published by Latin American Literary Review/Press.