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From the Backlist: Celebrating 5 Years of Two Lines Press

At Two Lines Press, we’re celebrating our 5 year anniversary! We’re marking the occasion with some recommended titles from our backlist.

All My Friends by Marie NDiaye, translated from French by Jordan Stump

Back in 2013, we published our first title by Marie NDiaye: a collection of five chilling, provocative, and touching short stories in Jordan Stump’s masterful translation. The book garnered a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, as well as a slew of praise from other critics, proving that NDiaye is a literary force that we will be talking about for a long time to come. In The Rumpus, Michelle Bailat-Jones wrote: “She is an example of exactly the kind of non-Anglophone writer who should have already been translated in full. Hopefully, this new translation will renew interest in her work, prompt further translations and give English readers the chance to experience her entire contribution to world letters.”

We are happy to have witnessed this renewal over the past five years. In 2014, we published Self-Portrait in Green, which went on to win the CLMP Firecracker Award for creative nonfiction and remains one of our most popular titles. And just last year we published her novel My Heart Hemmed In, which was a finalist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award. For many of us, All My Friends was the catalyst that converted us into die-hard Marie NDiaye fans. If you haven’t read it yet, you’re in for a treat. We promise you’ve never read short stories quite like these!


Running through Beijing by Xu Zechen, translated from Chinese by Eric Abrahamsen

In Running through Beijing, leading young Chinese author Xu Zechen draws on his actual experiences and real-life friends to guide us through an underworld of constant thievery, hard-core porn, cops (both real and impostors), prison, bribery, crazy landladies, rampant drinking, and the smothering, bone-dry dust storms that blanket one of the world’s largest cities in thick layers of grime. Jeffrey Yang wrote, “Eric Abrahamsen’s translation sparkles like a crystal bobblehead, masterfully conveying the unbearable lightness of being a young, broke delinquent Beijinger with spirited humor and verve.”

Since the book’s release, Xu Zechen has been recognized as one of the world’s leading literary rising stars from China. Freeman’s named him one of twenty-nine writers making up “The Future of New Writing,” alongside Valeria Luiselli, Athena Farrokhzad, Ocean Vuong, Édouard Louis, and Samanta Schweblin. And Publisher’s Weekly profiled him along with five other writers in a article on the state of contemporary Chinese literature. Running through Beijing will introduce you to a truly exemplary author and submerge you in the depths of one of the world’s largest cities.


Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from Danish by Denise Newman

The first book from the widely lauded Naja Marie Aidt to reach the English language, Baboon dazzled its readers with audacious writing that careens toward bizarre, yet utterly truthful, realizations. And Denise Newman’s translation is nothing short of perfect—in fact, she won the 2015 PEN Translation Award for it. The stories in Baboon are just as relevant and exhilarating now as they were when we published them back in 2014. In the words of Radhika Jones of Time magazine, “The emotions unleashed…are painfully universal. Yet you know exactly where in the universe you are. This is the hallmark of great short stories.”

Though these stories are built around the common questions of sex, love, desire, and gender relations, Aidt pushes them into her own desperate, frantic realm. In one, a prostitute shows up unannounced at a man’s apartment, roosts in his living room, and then violently threatens him when he tries to make her leave. In another, a wife takes her husband to a city where it is women, not men, who are the dominant sex—but was it all a hallucination when she finds herself tied to a board and dragged back to his car? And in the unforgettable “Blackcurrant,” two young women who have turned away from men and toward lesbianism abscond to a farm, where they discover that their neighbor’s son is experimenting with his own kind of sexuality. Aidt’s English-language debut is darkly intimate. You will not be disappointed.


The Boys by Toni Sala, translated from Catalan by Mara Faye Lethem

While it takes place within a very specific time and place—the small Catalonian town of Vidreres suffering from the 2008 recession—The Boys continues to feel just as relevant to us today as it did when we published the book back in 2015. Catalan author Toni Sala presents a community shaken by a recent tragedy: two young men are killed in a horrible car crash. The novel begins in the aftermath, and what unfolds is a study on identity, loneliness, tragedy, and the rapidly changing world of the twenty-first century, as we become acquainted with four vastly different characters: a banker drawn to the site of the crash, a brutish trucker, the fiancée of one of the dead boys, and an artist who makes frightening projects.

In a starred review, Kirkus called the novel, “A compelling existential mystery…with a closing as haunting as a tale by Poe. Altogether brilliant.” This profound novel will transport you to a country too-little-represented in English translation, while also speaking to universals struggles that we continue to face today.


The Sleep of the Righteous by Wolfgang Hilbig, translated from German by Isabel Fargo Cole

Doppelgängers, a murderer’s guilt, pulp noir, fanatical police, and impossible romances—these are the elements at work in Wolfgang Hilbig’s English-language debut, The Sleep of the Righteous. Remarkably translated by Isabel Fargo Cole, this short story collection builds to create a portrait of a divided nation battling its demons. In the introduction to the book, László Krasznahorkai calls Hilbig “an artist of immense stature,” and we’re pleased to see that sentiment echoed by countless readers and critics.

Hilbig’s subjects are often bleak—the apocalyptic landscapes of post-war East Germany, the paranoia of those living under state-sanctioned surveillance, the weight of a nation’s brutal and shameful collective memory—and yet in his language there is a beauty that brings light to the darkness. In this sense, we owe so much to Isabel Fargo Cole, who has painstakingly rendered Hilbig’s complex language into English. In face, Cole recently won the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for her translation of Hilbig’s Old Rendering Plant, which was also a finalist for this year’s Best Translated Book Award. Lucky for all of us, more Hilbig in Cole’s translation is on its way: The Tidings of the Trees comes out this week, followed by The Females this fall.