"Foreign Influence" is Kirkus' preview of books first published overseas. Below are several books already making waves abroad.

The Cauliflower

Barker, Nicola

U.K.: Apr. 21, 2016 | William Heinemann

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U.S.: Aug. 9, 2016 | Henry Holt

Foreign_BakerThe 19th-century Hindu saint Sri Ramakrishna has long fascinated British novelist Barker. Prone to trances, ecstatic fits, and sudden swoons into unconsciousness, Ramakrishna was “cherished and celebrated” from childhood. In an afterword which betrays her extensive reading on her subject, Barker describes her novel as a “provocative/chaotic mosaic of many other people’s thoughts, memories and experiences.” She adds a large dose of her own irreverent humour and an extremely inventive array of narrative devices, including haiku and even a tiny camera attached to a swift to give a breathlessly comic but also informative bird’s-eye tour of a temple in 1855. This fragmented, energetic, and self-consciously detached novel has confirmed Barker as “a genius” in the eyes of the Guardian critic; the Financial Times called it “an extremely ambitious book, playful, maddening, overlong, thought-provoking and rich.”


Foreign_Sem The Chosen Ones

Sem-Sandberg, Steve

Trans. by Paterson, Anna

Sweden: 2014 | Albert Bonniers Förlag

U.K.: Apr. 21, 2016 | Faber & Faber

U.S.: Aug. 2, 2016 | FSG

The Chosen Ones takes us into the sinister corridors and horrific wards of the Viennese clinic Am Spiegelgrund during the Nazi era. It housed children from families who were too poor or too uninterested to care for them. Some were invalids, some severely disabled, some just deprived. But this ostensibly philanthropic establishment was in reality a den of torture where children were humiliated, abused, poisoned, and eventually murdered. Meticulously researched and grimly unsparing, the book examines the clinic through the eyes of one of its child inmates and a nurse working there. It demands some commitment from the reader—both because of its length (more than 500 pages) and because of the sickening subject.


Foreign_Sund The Crow Girl

Sund, Erik Axl

Trans. by Smith, Neil

Sweden: 2010, 2011, 2012 | Ordupplaget

U.K.: Apr. 14, 2016 | Harvill Secker

U.S.: June 14, 2016 | Knopf

Given the stiff competition, it is quite something to win the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award, as The Crow Girl did in 2012. Erik Axl Sund is the pen name for two authors, Jerker Erikkson and Hakan Alexander Sundquist, who are hoping to follow in the footsteps of Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell. This dark and gruesome thriller opens with the body of a boy who has been sexually tortured and murdered and follows the female police investigator and a psychotherapist. Published as three separate novels in Sweden, it is released as one 700-page novel in English. The U.K.’s Guardian said it serves as a reminder of how good the existing Swedish standards are, while Germany’s Die Welt called the book “a scandal” and accused it of “abusing abused children once again in literature.”


Foreign_Levy Hot Milk

Levy, Deborah

U.K.: Mar. 24, 2016 | Hamish Hamilton

U.S.: July 12, 2016 | Bloomsbury

Twenty-five-year-old Sofia is staying with her wheelchair-bound mother, Rose, in a beach house in a Spain ravaged by the financial crisis of 2008, hoping to find a cure for Rose’s inexplicable paralysis at a mysterious clinic run by a man called Gómez. A graduate who has been working in a cafe, Sofia is struggling to find her way in life, and in the meantime, her mother’s needs have become her main occupation. Levy’s last novel, Swimming Home, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Hot Milk has been received enthusiastically. Writing in the Financial Times, Lionel Shriver praised its “intriguing strangeness” and new approach to the mother-daughter relationship.

Catherine Hickley is a Berlin-based arts journalist. Her first book, The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler’s Dealer and His Secret Legacy, was published by Thames & Hudson (except in North America) on Sept. 21.