Of this year’s three highlights, one was anticipated and two were surprising. The first was the long-awaited final part in Selim Özdogan’s ‘Anatolian Blues’ trilogy, Wo noch Licht brennt. Our beloved Turkish heroine Gül returns to her husband in Germany, only to find he’s been having an affair. Steeped in affection, the book tells the story of the quiet end of a ‘guest worker’s’ life of hard work and heartbreak, but one marked by deep female friendships. Ferrante-esque! Then there was Sandra Hoffmann’s slim literary non-fiction masterpiece, Paula, about the author’s grandmother. Paula never revealed the father of her child, born in rural Germany in 1947. Hoffmann breaks the oppressive family silence through the act of writing, producing this moving, observant and questioning meditation. And the final favourite is one I’m still savouring, sipping at in small doses because it makes me so happy: This Little Art by Kate Briggs. A beautifully subjective look at the art of translation, describing familiar phenomena like the imbalanced relationship between translator and author, but raising so many questions and crushing so many clichés. I don’t want it to end.
Selim Özdogan, Wo noch Licht brennt (Haymon, 2017)
Sandra Hoffmann, Paula (Hanser Berlin, 2017)
Kate Briggs, This Little Art (Fitzcarraldo Editions, 2017)
Katy Derbyshire is a translator from German, and was a judge for the 2016 International Dublin Literature Award.