Marcelo Figueras’s Kamchatka (2003; Trans. Frank Wynne, 2011)
Some of this is light: “People say Shakespeare’s soliloquies are contrived but what’s the difference between Hamlet talking to a skull and papá talking to the TV?” But it’s set during the coup in Argentina. And even though our ten-year-old narrator has no opinion about politics (like “a sport that was as loud as it was pointless, a bit like football”, so much happens.
Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building (2002; Trans. Humphrey Davies, 2004)
Constructed in 1934, it has “ten lofty stories in the high classical European style, the balconies decorated with Greek faces carved in stone, the columns, steps, and corridors all of natural marble, and the latest model of elevator by Schindler”: the Yacoubian building is a prized address. On the roof, there are small units designed for storage, which become another world.
Eshkol Nevo’s Three Floors Up (2015; Trans. Sondra Silverston 2017)
The inner flap speaks of the “grinding effects of social and political ills played out in the psyches of his flawed, compelling characters, in often unexpected and explosive ways” and the back cover has Roddy Doyle talking about beauty and wisdom and humour: that’s a lot. Then, consider that there are three interwoven narratives (one character on each floor). Neat, right?