10 best translated fiction

Alain Mabanckou is a Franco-Congolese author and UCLA professor whose work has earned him the title of “Africa’s Samuel Beckett”. An author whose books, like Beckett’s, often dip into the absurd, his most recent novel follows the life and times of the eponymous hero, a Congolese orphan who finds himself mired in the political violence whipped up by the recently arrived Marxist-Leninists. Following the disappearance of the much-loved Papa Moupelo, the charismatic priest of the orphanage, a reign of terror plays out in microcosm. In the style of Gunter Grass’s The Tin Drum or Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Mabanckou’s Black Moses is a tale of one child’s odyssey through his country’s many misfortunes.

Jose Eduardo Agualusa is an Angolan author who has won literary prizes like the English PEN Award and the International Dublin Literary Award. In his most recent work, A General Theory of Oblivion, Agualusa provides the reader with a portrait of one Ludovica (or Ludo, as she’s known for most of the story), a Portuguese woman living in an Angola on the cusp of its independence from Portugal. She lives in the country’s capital of Luanda with her sister and brother-in-law until the war for independence, previously a brutal provincial affair, reaches the city, whereupon her family disappears and she barricades herself in her apartment, living there for some three decades. Agualusa’s novel about Ludo in her urban hermitage is a charming Rip Van Winkle-style story of political upheaval and the passage of time.

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