February 2016: Non-English


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February 2016: Non-English

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Jan 31, 2016, 5:23pm

Welcome to February :)

I think we can safely assume that by non-English we mean books written in another language and translated into English, although members are free to read books in their original language, or books written in English by non-English authors.

European horror is well covered in this category; popular suggestions have included Let the Right One in (Swedish), I Remember You (Icelandic), Nightwatch (Russian), and Perfume (German).

Japanese horror is also well covered, with books like Ring, Audition, Out and Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

It's very difficult to find anything outside these two areas. Latin America, other Asian countries, and Africa do not seem to be represented at all in horror fiction. I don't know how much of this is down to lack of English interest and therefore translations, or lack of horror fiction in some countries - I'm sure it differs from place to place.

Last year I read White is for Witching - not strictly a horror novel or non-English, but written by an author of Nigerian heritage and partly about a haunted house. I enjoyed it hugely and would encourage members to consider books by authors with different cultural backgrounds, books featuring non-English characters, or books set in other countries.

Jan 31, 2016, 5:23pm

This month I'm hoping to read The Black Spider, Out, and Dark Water.

Jan 31, 2016, 6:26pm

I've had Cirkeln (The Circle), a Swedish YA fantasy/horror novel, sitting on my shelves for a while. This sounds like the perfect time to read it.

Editado: Fev 2, 2016, 3:03pm

>1 Moomin_Mama: Wonderful introduction to February! :)

>2 Moomin_Mama: Two? Awesome! Best of luck with both of them.

>3 mathgirl40: Ooh, that one looks fun! I love the cover. :)

I don't have anything pinned down yet, but I'm hoping to read Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi (just the first book; maybe the others later), if/when I find it.

ETA: I wasn't able to find the novel version of Vampire Hunter D, but I found my collection of VHD mangas, so I'll go with those for now. :)

ETAA: Murphy's law: I just found the novel version of Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi today and started it as well. I'm kind of glad I started the manga first, because it's giving me an idea of what's going on. The novel translation isn't bad, but the first page or so didn't pull me right in. So looks like I'll be reading the novel, as well as the mangas. :)

Fev 1, 2016, 3:44am

As mentioned previously, I'll be reading Edogawa Rampo's stories. I was so tempted to pick it up right when I arrived, hahaha, but I held off for the appropriate time. Though if this theme had been later in the year I may not have made it. ;)

Fev 1, 2016, 4:16am

>5 .Monkey.: :D Understood. Sometimes patience is overrated. Best of luck tearing into them!

Fev 1, 2016, 7:50am

>4 saraslibrary: I don't know about wonderful, but I try!

Of course I forgot all about mangas...

Fev 1, 2016, 8:52am

I have White is for Witching slated for next month, Women Authors. This month I chose Let the Right One In. Knocking two off my shelves is a good thing.

I have a huge book I'm reading for Fantasy February and I'm in the middle of War and Peace which is truly a huge book. I don't know that I'll have room for another in this category but I hope so.

Fev 1, 2016, 9:14am

I think I'll get I Remember You from the library and will also try to fit in Let the Right One In.

I have seen White Is for Witching recommended many times. I'll definitely have to try to fit it in this year.

Fev 1, 2016, 11:06am

I also plan to read The Mystery of the Yellow Room, which isn't quite horror (locked-room mystery), but it's French, so I may count it also, depending just how the atmosphere is. ;)

Fev 1, 2016, 8:34pm

I put the audio of Let Me In (aka Let the Right One In) on hold a week or so ago. It has already come in for me; unfortunately, at the same time as another audio. I'm almost done my current and I will likely get to the other audio first, simply because it's shorter (I had to put a hold on both, so I'm not sure if either will be available for renewal later). Either way, I'll get to Let Me In as soon as I can!

Fev 2, 2016, 11:22pm

I discovered that I do have Let the Right One In on my Kindle. If I get a chance I will try that one.

Fev 4, 2016, 2:31pm

>10 .Monkey.: Good choice - I found locked-room mysteries very creepy when I was growing up. Think it was the idea that all the clues were there but no immediately obvious, like something hiding in plain site. Looking forward to your comments on that one :)

Fev 5, 2016, 9:30am

Sara added a couple of links over on the 'Reading ideas for 2016' thread, which may prove useful:


Haven't quite finished Ghost Story or started on a February book as I lost one of my cats this week. Can't quite get into a book but it's only been a few days.

Fev 5, 2016, 9:54am

I completely forgot - another way of finding books for this month is to look at LT recommendations of non-English books you are familiar with. I've just come across a Japanese book that I really like the sound of, a mixture of horror and speculative fiction inspired by reality television and turn-based games and choose-your-own-adventures, called The Crimson Labyrinth. It was one of the recommendations on the Dark Water page. Another book I like the sound of is Zoo, also Japanese.

Fev 5, 2016, 10:23am

>14 Moomin_Mama: I am sorry for your loss. I know how hard losing a pet is.

Fev 5, 2016, 3:53pm

Fev 5, 2016, 9:58pm

>14 Moomin_Mama: How devastating. I'm so sorry.

Fev 13, 2016, 12:29pm

I finished I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, translated from the Icelandic.

Mixed feelings. It had alternating storylines, which I think dissipated the suspense, and a touch too many coincidences. The writing was a bit awkward, which could have been the fault of the translation. On the plus side, the deserted island setting is deliciously creepy and there are quite a few really scary moments.

Remind me, if I ever get it into my head to go to an isolated place in the dead of winter and restore an old abandoned house as a bed and breakfast, that this is a BAD IDEA. This is the second book with this premise that I've read recently, and nothing good ever happens in these situations.

Fev 15, 2016, 1:26am

>14 Moomin_Mama: Thanks for listing that. :)

I'm sorry to hear about your cat. :*( No worries on the book. Just focus on grieving right now. *hugs*

>19 sturlington: Bummer about your mixed-feeling February read, but congrats on finishing it! :) LOL @ the B&B idea! No worries; we'll remind you. ;) I think horror always has those cliche situations.

I finished Vampire Hunter D Manga: Volume 1 awhile bck and am still working on Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi. Unfortunately, I'm a lot farther behind in the novel than I expected (around page 64), but I love how close the manga and novel are to each other. And while I don't love science fiction or westerns, the mashup of genres (sci fi, western, horror, romance) really works for this book. So far, I'm liking it, though it's not as action-packed as I'd hoped. Hopefully I'll watch the movie afterwards; or at least before the end of the month.

Fev 15, 2016, 5:32pm

>18 luvamystery65: >20 saraslibrary: Thanks for all your kind words and hugs, very much appreciated.

>19 sturlington: I had mixed feelings about Let the Right One In, which is the only Scandi horror I've read. Much preferred the film.

>20 saraslibrary: Isn't it slightly tedious that the manga and novel are so similar? It does sound an interesting mix of genres, though.

Fev 15, 2016, 5:35pm

>21 Moomin_Mama: I'm reading that now. We'll have to compare notes when I'm finished. I haven't seen the movie yet, planning to watch that after I finish the book.

Editado: Fev 15, 2016, 5:36pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Fev 15, 2016, 5:37pm

>22 sturlington: I'll look forward to that!

Fev 16, 2016, 10:53pm

>21 Moomin_Mama: Well, they're not word-for-word similar. But I've read some manga/graphic novel adaptations that are so off-base from the novel, that it makes me wonder if they even read the book or even pretended to do some homework on it. At least with the book, there's a lot more backstory, how the vampires came to power, etc etc, so I wouldn't say it's completely tedious. Yet. ;)

Fev 21, 2016, 11:48am

Ok, I finished Let the Right One In. I gave it 2 stars. This was almost a DNF for me, but I had persevered with it for so long that I made myself finish it.

What I liked: the child-vampire character is interesting, a kind of contrast to Anne Rice's child-vampire in Interview with the Vampire. Doing some new things with the whole vampire mythos.

What I didn't like: pretty much everything else. Too many characters, too many side stories that didn't add up to much. Gross-out horror as opposed to scary horror. So, so bleak. Everybody in this book is just hopeless and depressing. Pedophilia--not my thing, at all. Too many ellipses. Anticlimactic ending.

So, I have heard the movie is better. Which movie: the Swedish version or the American version, or are both ok?

Fev 21, 2016, 1:37pm

>26 sturlington: I agree with most of what you said. I just finished this book yesterday and it was very bleak and depressing. Way too many characters, I agree. The people were the monsters and there were way too many of them. Too much with the pedophilia, bullying, alcoholism, etc... The whole sideline story of Staffan, Yvonne and Tommy really didn't need to be there. Even Oskar's dad was a bit of a waste of story.

I do think that the bullying was central to the story and the rest wasn't quite necessary. I would like to know what happened to Oskar and Eli so I will pick up the short story if its available from my library.

Fev 21, 2016, 2:34pm

>26 sturlington: and >27 luvamystery65: I'm in the middle of the audio. At about 1/3 of the way through, I'd probably give it 3 stars (ok). I am really enjoying the story of Oskar and Eli, though I am tuning out much of the rest, I admit (though I did better today while I was doing some housework for not tuning out as much!).

Fev 23, 2016, 9:09pm

>26 sturlington: LOL @ What I didn't like: pretty much everything else.

That is interesting you've heard the movie is better. That is really rare. I've seen both versions of Let the Right One In and like them both. However, I have not read the book. I may try it--that's a big maybe--because I do like bleak, depressing stuff, even gross-out horror, but I could see where too many characters might make me read slower.

Editado: Fev 23, 2016, 9:19pm

>29 saraslibrary: Watched the Swedish version of the movie tonight. I figured it was better to stay close to the original, and it was subtitled--we're still in translation month, after all.

I ended up liking the movie much better. It seemed to distill the story down to its essence, and the blood imagery was haunting. Also, the final scene at the swimming pool was amazingly well done--blew away the book's climax.

It's not often that I like a movie better than the book, that's true.

Editado: Fev 27, 2016, 10:10pm

I finished The Circle by Sara Elfgren and Mats Strandberg. I found it much better than the typical YA paranormal novel, and it definitely fits the horror genre, as there was a lot of suspense and some very scary moments. I found the dialogue awkward at times but that could be a result of the translation.

Fev 27, 2016, 10:44pm

>30 sturlington: I'm glad you liked the original movie! :) Yeah, it's been years since I've seen it, but I agree: the swimming pool scene was amazing.

>31 mathgirl40: Congrats! :) I don't know if I mentioned it before, but I really like the cover for that one.

I'm thinking that's a common thing with translations: the awkward dialogue and writing. When I started Vampire Hunter D by Hideyuki Kikuchi, I was kind of turned off by the first page or so, until I grew accustomed to the writing style. From there, it's been a breeze. However, I just haven't had as much time to read it as I'd hoped, so I won't finish it by the end of this month. But at least I read the manga it was based on first, so I kind of know what it's about. And I'm really loving all the new monsters and mutants introduced. So far, I'd recommend it. It's about a 4-star book for me.

Editado: Fev 28, 2016, 12:29am

I'm about 2/3 or maybe 3/4 of the way through Let Me In. I'll still post my review here when I finish (though that will likely be in the first week of March), as I specifically chose it for this! :-)

Fev 28, 2016, 8:01am

>32 saraslibrary: About translations .... I often find translations of "literary" works quite good, in that the language flows well and doesn't sound awkward, though I'm not sure whether the translator takes liberties with the text in order to get the right tone across. Translations of genre works (mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, horror) seem more hit-or-miss to me. Maybe the focus is on doing plot, sci-fi ideas, etc., well and quality of writing is of lower priority.

Fev 29, 2016, 1:36am

>33 LibraryCin: Good luck with that one! :)

>34 mathgirl40: I'm not sure. I haven't read very many translated books; unless you count mangas, then I have read my fair share of those. So I'll take your word on literary translations. :)

Fev 29, 2016, 8:40am

>25 saraslibrary: More back-story makes sense - fleshing out what you already know and like about a book, without changing it too much.

>26 sturlington: You're opinion of Let the Right One In is very much the same as mine. I'd heard so many good things about it that I thought it was just me!

>30 sturlington: Like you, I thought the film was a lot better because it concentrated on the main story and themes and ignored the rest. Two other films that I always thought did the same thing with their source material: Ring, and The Shining (although not a lot of people agree with me on that last one).

>31 mathgirl40: The Circle is definitely one that I'll look out for. Thanks for tipping us off!

>34 mathgirl40: I find the same thing too.

Fev 29, 2016, 8:47am

Apologies for not being around more often - I came down with a dreadful cold and have been very run down, plus the upset with Sweep, it's not been my month!

I have one story to read from Dark Water, and I'm about a third of the way into The Black Spider, so I'll be done in a day or so. Dark Water is very average and not at all scary. I read Ring a few years ago and felt the same way, and can't say if it's the translation, but I think Koji Suzuki is an author I can cross off my tbr list. The Black Spider is much better, so far anyway. The story has drawn me in immediately, it's very well written. More about it once I've finished.

Never did start Out, but I'll read it for Women's month.

Fev 29, 2016, 9:26am

>36 Moomin_Mama: I hope you are feeling better!

I was actually surprised that I liked the film version of Let the Right One In so much better because I think Lindqvist wrote the screenplay. Perhaps, like so many writers, he needed to do more editing. :-)

About The Shining -- I love both the film and the book, but they are so different that I think it is difficult to even compare them. I know Stephen King did not care for Kubrick's film but he is being obstinate because it is a work of genius.

Another film that I thought far surpassed the book was Jaws. Again, the film cut out the extraneous stuff and distilled the story down to the essence.

I just bought three horror books on Kindle at bargain prices. Two are suitable for March, so I may read one of them: The Cipher by Kathe Koja or The Unseen by Alexandra Sokoloff. Depends on what I'm in the mood for but I'm going on vacation later in the month and either seems suitable as an airplane read. I also got The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle, which I'd heard good things about; I may or may not wait until diversity month.

Fev 29, 2016, 9:29am

>38 sturlington: Perhaps, like so many writers, he needed to do more editing. :-) Agree!

I also have The Ballad of Black Tom and have been itching to read it. I'll probably hold out until April and then can use the V for the AlphaKIT.

Fev 29, 2016, 9:35am

>39 luvamystery65: Ooh, maybe I will do that too. V is a tough letter.

Fev 29, 2016, 11:26am

>38 sturlington: I'm feeling much better, thanks, but what with the amount of rest it hasn't been a very productive month.

I've often wondered if the length of books these days is due to a lack of decent editors! I haven't read Jaws but I take your word for it, the film is excellent (and Kubrick's The Shining IS genius).

The Cipher looks like a good introduction to Kathe Koja, who I've not read before. How long is it? A scan of the first review here on LT and all I know is that it's about two people playing around with a 'fun-hole'. Good stuff ;)

Thanks for mentioning The Ballad of Black Tom. One for diversity month, I think.

Fev 29, 2016, 11:58am

The Cipher is on Kindle but I think it's around 300 pages, so a good length. 250-350 pp is what I prefer because I want to read a lot of different things. I went to an author panel on Saturday at our library and one of the authors said publishers really want big books now for shelf presence. He said an editor actually asked him to add 10,000 words to a manuscript! I thought that editor didn't understand his job title.

Fev 29, 2016, 12:00pm

>42 sturlington: Seriously? Put in extras but don't bloat the story.

Fev 29, 2016, 5:40pm

>42 sturlington: An even better reason to avoid long modern books! How cynical. It does explain some of the crap I've read that might have been bearable with a couple of hundreds pages lopped off.

Fev 29, 2016, 7:35pm

>42 sturlington: Hahahaha! If I was a writer, I could see someone telling me to add more words! ;-) I never had enough words for university papers. I was always scrounging to hit the minimum a professor wanted!

Mar 4, 2016, 10:07pm

Let Me In / John Ajvide Lindqvist
3 stars

Oskar is about 12 years old and is getting bullied at school. He is happy to meet and become friends with the strange girl next door, Eli. Meanwhile, people are being murdered in town. Really, Eli is very strange...

This was ok. I liked the Oskar/Eli storyline, but I lost focus for the myriad of other characters and mostly wasn't following when the focus was on others. I was listening to the audio, and it tends to be even harder to keep focus with an audio.

Mar 5, 2016, 2:36am

>46 LibraryCin: I find the same goes for me, too, if/when I try to listen to an audiobook. Congrats by doing it the "hard way." ;)

Mar 5, 2016, 5:50am

>46 LibraryCin: Sounds like we all had much the same reaction.

Mar 5, 2016, 1:11pm

>46 LibraryCin: & >48 sturlington: I still need to make time to watch the movie. If it edits out all the extra and concentrates on Oskar and Eli, then it should be better than the book.

Mar 5, 2016, 9:17pm

>48 sturlington: Yes, I think we did have the same reaction. I gave a slightly higher rating for my liking of Oskar and Eli's story, but otherwise, yes.

Yeah, I bet the movie would be better. I'm thinking the scariness might come out more...watching home alone, at night... hmmm, might have to rethink that!

Mar 5, 2016, 9:17pm

>47 saraslibrary: Yeah, sometimes I just choose the audio, because it's available and I'm just trying to fit something in for all my challenges. If something is available on audio that fits a challenge, I'll go there!

Mar 7, 2016, 12:25am

>51 LibraryCin: It's a good choice if that's all that's available. I think I did that last year for some of the older gothic reads.

Editado: Mar 19, 2016, 11:07am

Let the Right One In by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist, translated by Ebba Segerberg - Wow! Not even sure if I liked this book. Liked the writing but there was just so much that was awful! Violence. Bullying. Blood.

Anyhow, my comments are here

Mar 19, 2016, 10:30pm

By the way, I just put a reserve on a new collection of short stories by Lindqvist that includes an Oskar and Eli story - supposed to be a sequel to the book.

Mar 19, 2016, 11:09pm

>54 drneutron: Will be interesting to hear what you think of it.

Mar 20, 2016, 5:56am

Oh apparently I never updated on Mystery of the Yellow Room! I did indeed read it, and I'd say it fit the theme, darker & bloodier than Holmes, though otherwise quite Holmesian. Impossible-to-solve mystery with plenty of false leads, which only the keen eye of the detective can make out for what they are, etc, you know. :) It was good though, I preferred it to Phantom, which I didn't think was bad but didn't think was anything excellent, either.

Jul 26, 2016, 9:01am

>56 .Monkey.: I never updated either (although I've left it MUCH longer). The Mystery of the Yellow Room sounds a great place to start if you've never read anything by Gaston Leroux.

Dark Water - I didn't find any of the stories scary. Some of them had more eerie or weird elements, but they weren't very well written or atmospheric. They might be of interest to young adults wanting an eerie read, but they didn't stand up as a horror collection at all. 'Floating Water' was the best, but wasn't nearly as good as the film 'Dark Water'. The reveal had a certain 'yuk' factor, but wasn't scary. 'Watercolors' was the most interesting as an idea but unfortunately the author didn't make it work as a story. I don't honestly know if it is the fault of the translator, but this is the second Koji Suzuki work I haven't thought much of. 2 stars.

The Black Spider - I liked this. It wasn't perfect - I found the ending a bit moralistic - but it was a satisfyingly gothic tale of a cruel knight, a deal with the devil, and that spider! I liked the scene-setting of the family christening, where this tale was told, and I thought the tale had a dark, fairy-tale quality. It wasn't too long either. 4 stars.

Out: A Novel (cannot get the right touchstone) - I'll add this here (might read something later in the year for the women's category). Very, very hard to put down. I'm not spoiling anything by saying that this is about 4 women whose lives and friendships change when one of them kills her husband (it happens early on). It's more grisly than Grotesque but more fun, too, with more dark humour. The story was a bit ridiculous but I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. It was a very exaggerated look at women's lives when they are stuck in a rut, with factory work, failing marriages, money and family problems, and the lack of trust they have in each other once they involve themselves in something criminal. 4 stars.