At Comma, we are continually inspired by the brilliance of our multicultural and globalised world. And, for 41.8% of you, a Leave vote may well be viewed as a step backwards in this respect: a resurrection of a national border that has no place in a diverse society. Whilst many of you may have lost faith in our little isle: and cringe at the sight of a British flag; we are determined to maintain our national pride, which is faithfully embedded in our project to connect translators, authors, and thinkers from all around the globe. With a concentration on Europe – now more than ever – we have looked through our back catalogue at the profound talent of our European neighbours, as well as celebrating our own British authors, who continue to give us something to be proud of. It is, and will remain, our endeavour to bring books to our readers that celebrate, revel, and reveal cultural differences that overcome borders (symbolic and otherwise).
Edited by Maria Crossan
On a broad European canvas, the rich traditions of short story writing challenge preconceptions of ‘small towns’ and all the negative assumptions they conjure up.In Germany, a house-husband is slowly sent over the edge by his over-achieving neighbours. In Norway, a middle-aged Morrissey fan has a matter of hours to find a girlfriend so his ailing mother can die in peace. It’s the small gestures – a white lie, the turning of a blind eye, a small kindness or a secret kept – that allow the characters of these communities to survive, to breathe easily within the seemingly tight strictures life there can impose.
Featuring Gyrðir Elíasson, Frode Grytten, Michael O’Conghaile, Danielle Picard, Mehmet Zaman Saçlioglu, Ingo Schulze, Roman Simic, Jean Sprackland, Olga Tokarczuk & Mirja Unge
By Gdansk novelist, Pawel Huelle // Translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
The characters in Pawel Huelle’s mesmerising stories find themselves, willingly or not, at the heart of epic narratives; legends and histories that stretch far beyond the limits of their own lives. Against the backdrop of the Baltic coast, mythology and meteorology mix with the inexorable tide of political change: Kashubian folklore, Chinese mysticism and mediaeval scholarship butt up against the war in Chechnya, 9-11, and the struggle for Polish independence.
Edited by Ra Page & Magda Raczynska
We ‘know’ Stanislaw Lem, whether or not we consciously know that we do. He may only be recognised in the West as the author of the twice-filmed novel, Solaris, but the influence of his other work is legion. To celebrate his name, as well as his vision, this anthology brings together writers, critics and scientists who continue to grapple with his concerns. British and Polish novelists join screenwriters, poets, computer engineers, and artists, to celebrate and explore Lem’s legacy through short stories and essays – two literary forms that, as Lem knew well, can blend together to create something altogether new. As one of the barriers to Lem’s fame was language, this book also features specially commissioned translations: three stories never to have appeared in English before.
Featuring Brian Aldiss, Annie Clarkson, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Jacek Dukaj, Trevor Hoyle, Stanislaw Lem, Toby Litt, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, Adam Marek, Mike Nelson, Sean O’Brien, Wojciech Orlinski, Adam Roberts, Andy Sawyer, Sarah Schofield, Danusia Stok, Piotr Szulkin & Ian Watson
By Amsterdam-based author, Arnon Grunberg // Translated from Dutch by Ron de Klerk and Lisa Friedman
From the rich widow blowing her husband’s fortune on slot machines because she ‘doesn’t believe in an afterlife’, to the language student telling of her arrival in America under the hood of a truck, Grunberg moves effortlessly between worlds. Be it cynical high society New York, claustrophobic family arguments back in Amsterdam, or simply small-talking with waiters in the people-watching capital of the world, Grunberg steals glimpses deep into the most guarded of lives, sharing moments of joy and absurdity at every turn.
By Catalonian author, Empar Moliner // Translated from Catalan by Peter Bush
Fast, precise, hilariously timed and mercilessly honest, the stories of Empar Moliner lay bare every pretension ever to have offered comfort to the middle class psyche. From the zeal of a mothers’ group staging a world record breastfeeding attempt to couples role-playing their way into parenthood at a third world ‘adoption workshop’, every well-meaning fad and right-on gesture is brilliantly observed and astutely exposed.
By Munich-born author, Maike Wetzel // Translated from German by Lyn Marven
Maike Wetzel begins exploring that moment in life when the breakneck experience of growing up suddenly changes gear and slows down. A young woman sees a dead body for the first time; a sister watches her anorexic sibling transform into different person; a girl pieces together the facts of a custody battle she’s not been let in on. Wetzel’s stories catch people when some part of their lives has been put on pause, leaving them so adrift only acts of obsession or self-destruction provide direction. With pared down but insistent language, Wetzel achieves a poise and clarity and presents lives that are as arresting as they are arrested.
(UPCOMING) Swallow Summer
By Berlin-based author, Larissa Boehning // Translated from German by Lyn Marven
The settings in Larissa Boehning’s acclaimed debut collection range from the German coast to Berlin, from Tel Aviv to Tucson, Arizona, but their protagonists are often the same kind of characters with the same kinds of concerns: young, unsatisfied, and drifting through life. And while the stories ostensibly revolve around minor events, the real focus is on relationships – burgeoning, failing, unreciprocated or ended. Loss and lack of direction; transitoriness; fatalism – these are universal themes. This book’s achievement is to have brought them sparklingly up-to-date.
DUE FOR PUBLICATION ON 31ST JULY
By Prague-based author, Emil Hakl // Translated from Czech by Petr Kopet and Karen Reppin
The men in Emil Hakl’s fiction are, like the title of one story, oddballs. Whether evading the expectations of adult life, or finding themselves drawn to characters they’re simultaneously repulsed by, each one holds a mirror up to the peculiar failings of masculinity. But as they carouse, argue, philosophise and binge their way through the streets of Prague, they also offer the reader stark moments of insight and pathos. Given Hakl’s flair for the surreal, his laconic sense of humour, and unflinching scrutiny of those closest to him, it’s easy to see how these stories have elevated him to the status of cult hero in his native Czech Republic.
By British-Canadian author, Michelle Green
Michelle Green – a former aid worker in Darfur – re-tells the story of the Darfur civil war from 15 different perspectives, capturing by turns the brutal indifference of the government war machine, the terrible scars inflicted on individuals caught in its path, and the complex melting pot of experiences that constitutes any relief effort. Though fictional, these stories reach beyond the myths so often used to simplify this crisis and offer moving, first-hand insights into a tragedy that – like so many others – disappeared from our headlines all too quickly.
The stories of David Constantine are unlike any others. His characters possess you instantly, making you see the world as they do – sometimes as exiles, driven into isolation by convictions that even they don’t fully understand; sometimes as carriers of an unspoken but unbearable weight. The things they pursue, or evade, are often unseen and at a distance. These tokens of the past, or future, haunt Constantine’s characters, but the landscapes that produce them also offer salvation, places of refuge or small treasures to take solace in – like the piece of driftwood a beachcomber chooses to carve into his idea of perfection.