Early in The Aosawa Murders, Riku Onda writes that “it’s impossible to ever really know the truth behind events,” setting the tone of the mystery surrounding a horrible mass murder in 1970s Japan in which seventeen people are poisoned by cyanide after drinking a toast with sake and soft drinks. What starts as a jovial birthday party for three generations of the Aosawa family ends in the family, their relatives, and friends dying in agony. The only survivor in the Aosawa family is Hisako, their blind teenage daughter.
One has to be pretty dedicated to Russian literature to run across Alexander Grin (1880-1932). Nor, if this newly translated collection of (long) short stories is any indication, once one has found him, does Grin fit any expected mold.
Karine Khodikyan is one of Armenia’s foremost writers, with a body of work encompassing plays, film and TV scripts, fiction, and journalism. Armenian literature, like others of the Caucasus, is surely under-represented in the English-speaking world, but now Khodikyan’s collection of short fiction, The Door Was Open, has—via Nazareth Seferian’s smooth translation—been made available in English with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia.
Few contemporary works of fiction from Uzbekistan are translated into English directly. Those that have found their way into the English language are usually classical texts or themselves translations of Russian translations of the Uzbek originals. Given this scarcity of accessible modern Uzbek literature, the casual English language reader could be forgiven for not knowing upon what basis to judge the relative worth of a novel like Gaia, Queen of Ants by Hamid Ismailov.
Chan Ho-kei has worked as a software engineer and video game designer, and his knowledge of the latest technology shines through in his new high-tech thriller, Second Sister, his second novel to be translated into English.
Elderly Shanghai neighbor Zhu Wen thinks she’s seeing ghosts. It’s been over fifteen years since her next door neighbors left their traditional Shanghai longtang apartment and asked Zhu Wen to watch over their unit.
In the dead of winter, a Frenchman arrives at a small guest house in Sokcho where Franco-Korean author Elisa Shua Dusapin’s narrator works in a dead-end job as receptionist and run-about. Sokcho is a nondescript seaside town not far from the North Korean border. In the summer, Sokcho is a beach resort, if not the most upmarket; in winter, there is not much going on.