Translated fiction round-up: The inescapable entanglements of recent history

Reviews of The Frightened Ones, No-Signal Area, Grove, The Death of Comrade President and Ankomst

Robert Perišic, author of No-Signal Area. Photograph: Marin Mester

Robert Perišic, author of No-Signal Area. Photograph: Marin Mester

Mention of a novel set in Syria might suggest a story mired in violence and suffering, but in The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous, translated by Elisabeth Jacquette (Harvill Secker, 242pp, £12.99) the emphasis is on the anguish of Suleima, a woman whose precarious understanding of both herself and those around her is heightened by the layers of division within her country.

Early in the novel, Suleima meets a taciturn man called Naseem who, like her, regularly visits a psychotherapist in Damascus. From hesitant beginnings, they form an indistinct relationship. Suleima learns that Naseem is a doctor, but also a novelist who writes under a pseudonym.

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