The Second Rider by Alex Beer

Translated by Tim Mohr Reviewed by Gill Davies The Second Rider is the first novel in a projected new series by the Austrian writer, Alex Beer. It is set in Vienna in winter 1919. The World War may be over but its horrors persist for the wounded, the hungry, the sick, the homeless and unemployed.…

Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini

Translated by Jamie Bulloch Reviewed by Terence Jagger We are not in Japan, but Germany; set in the snowy Black Forest, not far from the French border, this novel starts with ‘maverick chief inspector’ Louise Boni being told to investigate a strange, lonely man wandering through the snow, an unknown Japanese monk. She is resentful…

The Guesthouse at the Sign of the Teetering Globe by Franziska Zu Reventlow

Translated by  James J. Conway Reviewed by Lizzy Siddal Countess Franziska zu Reventlow was born into the German nobility, and lived in the castle at Husum in Schleswig-Holstein, where none other than Theodor Storm, writer of the beloved but ghostly Schimmelreiter (Rider of the White Horse/Dykemaster, depending on which English translation you read) , used to…

Demian by Hermann Hesse

Translated by W. J. Strachan Reviewed by Karen Langley Is it the destiny of mankind to be pulled constantly back and forth between the two poles of good and evil, and can this disjuncture ever be remedied? That’s the concept explored in this seminal novel by Nobel-prize winning author Hermann Hesse, first published in 1919…

Walking in Berlin by Franz Hessel

Reviewed by Rob Spence Berlin is one of my favourite cities, and I have spent a lot of time walking around its fascinating streets. So the republication of Franz Hessel’s guide to the city in a sprightly new translation by Amanda DeMarco is very welcome. Of course, my Berlin is that of the late twentieth-…

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions by Mario Giordano

Translated by John Brownjohn Reviewed by Annabel I’m very glad to have met the irrepressible Auntie Poldi! Our narrator, her beloved nephew, tells us what she is like: a glamorous figure, always ready to make a dramatic entrance. She had put on a bit of weight in recent years, admittedly, and booze and depression had…

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada

Translated by Susan Bernofsky Reviewed by Terence Jagger This is a rather engaging book, which on the surface is not entirely innocent of the grave crime of being cute, but the matter – and the way it is treated – not to mention the humour and the penetrating sidelights on everything from consumerism, climate change,…

The Pledge by Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Translated by  Joel Agee Reviewed by Eleanor Franzen In a mountainous Swiss canton not far from Zurich, a little girl’s body is found. She is only seven or eight, with blonde braids and wearing a distinctive red skirt. She has been murdered, brutally, with a straight razor. It’s the last day on the job for…