Coming from a literary family, Hajra Masroor and her sister Khadija have been referred to as the Brontë sisters of Urdu fiction. While Khadija was known for her novels, Hajra was a writer of short fiction and plays. A new translation of a collection of Hajra Masroor’s work, The Monkey’s Wound and Other Stories, by translator Tahira Naqvi, now gives English readers an opportunity to read eighteen of her stories, all centered around the hardships of being a woman in pre-Partition India and the new state of Pakistan. Masroor lived from 1929 to 2012 and started writing in the early 1940s, several years before Partition.

Island of Bewilderment is a recent English translation of Jazire-ye Sargardāni, a historical novel by the late Simin Daneshvar, originally in Persian and published in 1992. Daneshvar (1921- 2012) was considered Iran’s first female novelist. Her books were about the lives of ordinary people, especially women, through the lens of political and social events in the country. She was also a renowned translator and counted Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard among her translations into Persian. She was the wife of the famous social critic and writer, Jalal Ale-Ahmad, also a writer of acclaim.

The prolific career of acclaimed mystery and detective fiction author Seicho Matsumoto spanned the latter half of the 20th century. His 1958 novel, Tokyo Express, provides a glimpse into daily life during the postwar period in Japan. Previously published in English a generation ago under the title Points and Lines, the novel has been freshly translated by Jesse Kirkwood. As Kiichi Mihara of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police connects the dots of the case, he relies on the country’s reliable and punctual train system. His investigation is supported by veteran Jutaro Torigai of the Fukuoka Police.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the courageous Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize-winning author of the Gulag Archipelago who died in 2008, considered The Red Wheel his most important work. Its ten volumes cover Russia from pre-World War I days to the fall of the Romanov dynasty and the early months of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The Red Wheel was the author’s monumental effort to identify the crucial turning point in 20th century Russian history, and Solzhenitsyn’s admirers consider it and Gulag his “two great literary cathedrals”.