The Most Beautiful Book in the World: Eight Novellas by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, translated by Alison Anderson
Published: 2009 by Europa Editions
I am by no means an expert about books, especially about books in translation; but since I do read a lot I am often asked by friends and colleagues to suggest something to read. If I am ever asked to suggest a book in translation for someone who has not read one before, I will tell them to pick up The Most Beautiful Book in the World. Immediately.
Though the title of this collection comes from one of its stories (side note: they are referred to as novellas, but their length suggests short stories to me), it is an apt description for the entire book. Each story is quite different, but all of them are engaging and - for me anyway - take you from happiness to sadness and back again all within a few pages. Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt does an amazing job of creating interesting and identifiable female characters as well. Several times I found myself in a story, because I could completely relate to the situation being faced.
I can't claim a favorite story in this book because I really and truly enjoyed them all. The good thing about a short story collection is that you can dip in and out as you have time; but I raced through all eight in an afternoon, and I know I will return to them.