International Writing

This page features 'A View From This Bridge', our blog on international literature and the art of editing by editor Ellie Steel and various guests. We also pick a 'featured read' and have a regular Top 5 about the literature of a particular country. (To see the full blog archive click here.)

From the International Writing Blog


We are celebrating the centenary of the birth of the great Argentine novelist Julio Cortázar – one of the founders of the Latin American Boom, and a major influence on Spanish-language readers and writers ever since. Roberto Bolaño once said he was ‘permanently indebted’ to Cortázar, and Michelangelo Antonioni’s seminal film Blowup was inspired by one of his stories. Harvill Secker’s Rose McLaren writes about his masterpiece, Hopscotch. Read more.


Decompression by Juli Zeh

decompressionUnderwater, things can go wrong in an instant

Jola is a beautiful and privileged soap star who wants very much to be taken seriously; her partner Theo is a middle-aged author with writers’ block. In an attempt to further her career, Jola is determined to land the lead role in a new film about underwater photographer and model Lotte Hass.

To improve her chances, the couple travel to Lanzarote and hire diving instructor Sven, paying him a large sum for exclusive tuition. Sven is meticulously planning his most ambitious expedition yet – to an untouched wreck 100 metres down on the ocean floor. Diving calls for a cool head and, as a sinister love triangle develops, events rapidly get out of hand. But whose story do we trust - Sven's or Jola's?

Deliciously claustrophobic, smart, and unrelentingly intense, this psychological thriller with shades of Patricia Highsmith will leave readers gasping for air.


Five German authors making waves

1. Julia Franck 

Julia’s brilliant, heartbreaking The Blind Side of the Heart won her the German Book Prize, and a shortlisting for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Back to Back is her latest from Harvill Secker, and she’s the author of the story for our Young Translators’ Prize this year.

2.    Eugen Ruge

Another German Book Prize winner, In Times of Fading Light is published in the UK by Faber & Faber. It’s a novel of love, politics and friendship, following one family over four generations in East Germany. 

3.    Peter Stamm

Okay, Peter Stamm is Swiss, but he’s too good to miss off any German-language list. Alex is having an affair with a woman who is the total opposite of his beautiful, ambitious wife. Seven Years (Granta) examines desire with a clear and uncompromising eye, and Zadie Smith said of it: ‘It’s like a beautifully made Le Corbusier house inside of which are hidden some very ugly, but honest, things.

4.    Bernhard Schlink

The Reader was made into a hit film by director Stephen Daldry, and was the first German book to reach no.1 on the New York Times bestseller list. 

5.    Simon Urban

Plan D imagines a world where the Berlin Wall never fell. It’s 2011, and the GDR is facing bankruptcy in this smart thriller and alternative history from one of Germany’s up and coming crime writers.