Skip to content

Through Costa, whose translations have been praised by various critics as 'smart,' 'resourceful,' and 'impeccable,' English-speakers have come to know some of the greatest living writers (such as Marías and Nobel Laureate José Saramago) as well as overlooked old masters (notably Portuguese realist Eça de Queiroz).

Bookslut

Margaret Jull Costa

Margaret Jull Costa, the three-time winner of the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, has also won the IMPAC Dublin prize and the PEN Translation Prize. She has been translating Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin American fiction for over twenty years. She has translated the works of Eca de Queiros and Jose Saramago. "Some translators are able to bring a new light to improve on the original (*The Tribune*).


The Book of Disquiet (The Complete Edition)

Fiction by Fernando Pessoa

translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Edited by Jerónimo Pizarro

The Book of Disquiet is the Portuguese modernist master Fernando Pessoa’s greatest literary achievement. An “autobiography” or “diary” containing exquisite melancholy observations, aphorisms, and ruminations, this classic work grapples with all the eternal questions. Now, for the first time the texts are presented chronologically, in a complete English edition by master translator Margaret Jull Costa. Most of the texts in The Book of Disquiet are written under the semi-heteronym Bernardo Soares, an assistant bookkeeper. This existential masterpiece was first published in Portuguese in 1982, forty-seven years after Pessoa’s death. A monumental literary event, this exciting, new, complete edition spans Fernando Pessoa’s entire writing life.


I don’t get indignant, because indignation is for the strong; I don’t resign myself, because resignation is for the noble; I don’t keep silent, because silence is for the great. And I am neither strong nor noble nor great. I suffer and I dream. I complain because I am weak and, because I am an artist, I amuse myself by weaving music about my complaints and arranging my dreams as best befits my idea of beautiful dreams.

My only regret is that I am not a child, for that would allow me to believe in my dreams and believe that I am not mad, which would allow me to distance my soul from all those who surround me.

(1913)


Everything interests me and nothing holds my attention. I listen to everthing while constantly dreaming; I notice the tiniest facial tics of the person I’m talking to, pick up minimal changes in the intonation of what they say; but when I hear, I do not listen, for I’m thinking about something else.

(1930)


Available: August 29 2017


The Illustrious House of Ramires (New)

Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

The Illustrious House of Ramires, presented here in a sparkling new translation by Margaret Jull Costa, is the favorite novel of many Eça de Queirós aficionados. This late masterpiece, wickedly funny and yet tender, centers on Gonçalo Ramires, heir to a family so aristocratic that it predates the kings of Portugal. Ramires—charming but disastrously effete, idealistic but hopelessly weak—muddles through his pampered life, burdened by a grand ambition. In part to further his political aspirations, he is determined to write a great historical novel based on the heroic deeds of his fierce medieval ancestors. But “the record of their valor,” as the London Spectator remarked, “is ironically counterpointed by his own chicanery. A combination of Don Quixote and Walter Mitty, Ramires is continually humiliated but at the same time kindhearted. Ironic comedy is the keynote of the novel. Eça de Queirós has justly been compared with Flaubert and Stendhal.”



Vampire in Love

Fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning the author’s entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of the Spanish master Enrique Vila Matas’s finest short stories. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber on the verge of death falls in love with a choirboy. A fledgling writer on barbiturates visits Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. The stories in Vampire in Love, selected and brilliantly translated by the renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life.



On the Edge

Fiction by Rafael Chirbes

translated by Margaret Jull Costa
with a contribution by Valerie Miles

On the Edge opens in a swamp on the outskirts of Olba, Spain, a town wracked by despair after the economic bubble bursts. Stuck in this corrupt, defeated town is Esteban—his small factory bankrupt and his investments stolen by a "friend." Much of the novel unfolds in Esteban's raw and tormented monologues. But other voices resound from the wreckage—soloists stepping forth from the choir with their own terse, hypnotic rants about debt, prostitution, and ruin. However, now and again, with his own majestic authorial voice, Chirbes interrupts the chorus, allowing a lyrical note to usher in profound if uncertain hopes. On the Edge, as Valerie Miles writes in her afterword, "is masterful, a centrifugal novel with sentences like sticky tentacles that clutch onto readers and suck them into a swirling, tempestuous, pulsating center."



While the Women Are Sleeping

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Slippery figures in anomalous situations – ghosts, spies, bodyguards, criminals – haunt these stories by Javier Marías: the characters come bearing their strange and special secrets, and never leave our minds. In one story, a man obsessed with his much younger lover endlessly videotapes her every move, and then confides his surprising plans for her; in another a ghost can’t stop resigning from his job. Masterfully, Marías manages in a small space to perplex and delight. "The short story fits Marías like a glove," as Le Point noted. His stories have been hailed as "formidably intelligent" (The London Review of Books), "a bracing tonic" (The Chicago Tribune), and "startling" (The New York Times Book Review).



Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 3: Poison, Shadow, & Farewell

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

A spectacular finale, Poison, Shadow and Farewell brings to a close Javier Marías’s daring, unfolding three-part novel Your Face Tomorrow. Marías’s magnum opus has already been acclaimed "exquisite" (Publishers Weekly), "gorgeous" (Kirkus), and "outstanding: another work of urgent originality" (London Independent). With its heightened tensions between meditations and noir narrative, Poison, Shadow and Farewell takes our hero, Jacques Deza––hired by a shady branch of M16 as a person of perception––back to Madrid to spy on and try to protect his own family, as he plunges into new depths of love and loss.



The City and the Mountains

Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Born in a mansion on the Champs-Elysees, Jacinto is the heir to a vast estate in Portugal which he has never visited. He mixes with the crème de la crème of Paris society, but is monumentally bored. And then he receives a letter from his estate manager saying that they plan to move the bones of his ancestors to the newly renovated chapel–would he like to be there? With great trepidation, he sets off with his best friend, the narrator, on the mammoth train journey through France and Spain to Portugal. What they discover in the simple country life will upend their own lives deliciously.



The Club of Angels

Fiction by Luis Verissimo

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

The Club of Angels is an irresistible, enticing book about the sin of gluttony. With wit and dark humor, Verissimo tells the story of ten well-to-do men who meet every month to dine fabulously. When their leader and chef dies of AIDS, he is replaced by a mysterious, strangely taciturn cook who gives them gastronomic experiences to die for!



Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 2: Dance & Dream

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

A book unlike any other, a daring experiential unfolding Spanish masterpiece, Your Face Tomorrow now leaps into uncharted new territory in Volume Two: Dance and Dream. Your Face Tomorrow, Javier Marías’s dazzling unfolding magnum opus, is a novel in three parts, which began with Volume One: Fever and Spear (New Directions, 2005). Described as a "brilliant dark novel" (Scotland on Sunday), the book now takes a wild swerve in its new volume. Skillfully constructed around a central perplexing and mesmerizing scene in a nightclub, Volume Two: Dance and Dream again features Jacques Deza. In Volume One he was hired by MI6 as a person of extraordinarily sophisticated powers of perception. In Volume Two Deza discovers the dark side of his new employer when Tupra, his spy-master boss, brings out a sword and uses it in a way that appalls Deza: You can’t just go around hurting and killing people like that. Why not? asks Tupra. Searching meditations on favors and jealousy, knowledge and the deep human desire not to know, violence and death play against memories of the Spanish Civil War as Deza’s world becomes increasingly murky.



The Man of Feeling

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Narrated by a young opera star, The Man of Feeling opens as he recalls traveling on a train from Milan to Venice, silently absorbed for hours by the woman asleep opposite his seat. In the measured tones of memory, the novel revolves on the twin poles of anticipation and recollection. Our protagonist’s peculiar rarified life -- a life of rehearsal and performance and luxury hotels and constant travel -- and his resulting almost ghost-like detachment adds a deeper tone to Marías’s weave of desire and distance. As the author remarks in a brief afterword, this is a love story "in which love is neither seen nor experienced, but announced and remembered." Can love be recalled truly when it no longer exists? That twist will continue to revolve in the reader’s mind, conjuring up in its disembodied way James’ The Turn of the Screw. Beautifully translated by Margaret Jull Costa, this fascinating and eerie early novel by Javier Marías bears out his reputation for being "a true genius of literary subterfuge" (Village Voice) and "dazzling" (TLS). "There is nothing," The New York Times commented about The Man of Feeling, "quite like it in fiction today."



Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 1: Fever & Spear

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Part spy novel, part romance, part Henry James, Your Face Tomorrow is a wholly remarkable display of the immense gifts of Javier Marias. With Fever and Spear, Volume One of his unfolding novel Your Face Tomorrow, he returns us to the rarified world of Oxford (the delightful setting of All Souls and Dark Back of Time), while introducing us to territory entirely new—espionage. Our hero, Jaime Deza, separated from his wife in Madrid, is a bit adrift in London until his old friend Sir Peter Wheeler--retired Oxford don and semi-retired master spy—recruits him for a new career in British Intelligence. Deza possesses a rare gift for seeing behind the masks people wear. He is soon observing interviews conducted by Her Majesty’s secret service: variously shady international businessmen one day, would-be coup leaders the next. Seductively, this metaphysical thriller explores past, present, and future in the ever-more-perilous 21st century. This compelling and enigmatic tour de force from one of Europe’s greatest writers continues with Volume Two, Dance and Dream.



Borges and the Eternal Orangutans

Fiction by Luis Verissimo

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allan Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kabbala, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee’s "Eternal Orangutan," which, given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos. Verissimo’s small masterpiece is a literary tour de force and a brilliant mystery novel rolled into one.



The Crime of Father Amaro

Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

A priest explodes after a fish supper while guests at a neighbor’s birthday party are wildly dancing a polka. So begins José Maria Eça de Queirós’s The Crime of Father Amaro––a sparkling, lucid satire of clerical corruption set in Leira, a small city in Portugal, during the 1870s. Young, virile Father Amaro (whose name means "bitter" in Portuguese) arrives in Leira and is taken in as a lodger by São Joaneira. Her budding, devout, dewy-lipped daughter Amelia is soon lusted after by the young priest. What ensues is a secret love affair amidst a host of compelling minor characters: Canon Dias, a priest, glutton, and São Joaneira’s lover; Dona Maria da Assunção, a wealthy widow with a roomful of religious relics, agog at any hint of sex; João Eduardo, repressed atheist, free-thinker, and suitor to Amelia. Eça’s incisive critique flies like a shattering mirror, jabbing everything from the hypocrisy of a rich and powerful Church, to the provincialism of Portuguese society of the tinte. Haunting The Crime of Father Amaro is the ghost of a forgotten religion of tolerance, wisdom, and equality. Margaret Jull Costa has rendered an exquisite translation and provides an informative Introduction to a story that truly spans all ages. The Crime of Father Amaro inspired a series of magnificent paintings by the Portuguese artist Paula Rego, one of which graces the cover of this edition. The novel was also made into a controversial film, El Crimen del Padre Amaro, by Mexican director Carlos Carrera in 2002.



Requiem: An Hallucination

Fiction by Antonio Tabucchi

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

In Requiem, one of his most evocative novels, Antonio Tabucchi takes the reader on a dreamlike trip to Portugal, a country to which he is deeply attached — he even chose to write the novel in Portuguese, and it had to be translated for publication in his native Italy. Requiem’s narrator has an appointment on a quay in Lisbon at twelve, and when that turns out to mean not noon but midnight, he has a long time to while away. As the day unfolds, he has many encounters: with a young junkie, a taxi driver who is not familiar with the streets, several waiters, a gypsy, a cemetery keeper, the mysterious lsabel, an accordionist — in all, almost two dozen people, both real and illusory. Finally he meets The Guest, the ghost of the long dead great poet Fernando Pessoa. Part travelogue, part autobiography, part fiction, and even a bit of a cook-book, Requiem becomes an homage to a country and its people, and a farewell to the past as the narrator lays claim to a literary forebear.



When I Was Mortal

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Eavesdroppers, failed bodyguards, night doctors, forgers, liars, suicides, assassins, and ghosts populate the dozen stories of When I Was Mortal. "In the space of ten or twenty pages," as the Nouvel Observateur remarked, "Marías contrives to write a novel." "The short story fits Marías like a glove," as Le Point noted, and these stories have been acclaimed as "formidably intelligent" (The London Review of Books); and "startling" (The New York Times Book Review); "a refreshing discovery... [they] should be welcomed here like a bracing tonic" (The Chicago Tribune).



A Heart So White

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With unnerving insistence A Heart So White chronicles the relentless power of the past. Juan knows little of the interior life of his father Ranz; but when Juan marries, he considers the past anew, and begins to ponder what he doesn’t really want to know. Secrecy, its possible convenience, its price, and even its civility permeates the novel. A Heart So White becomes a sort of anti-detective story of human nature. Intrigue; the sins of the father; the fraudulent and the genuine; marriage and strange repetitions of violence: Marías elegantly sends shafts of inquisitory light into shadows––and reckons the costs of ambivalence. ("My hands are of your colour; but I shame/To wear a heart so white" – Macbeth.) Called "dazzling" by The London Times Literary Supplement and "a landmark by a genuine artist" by Le Monde, A Heart So White won the Dublin IMPAC Prize and was rated by El País as "his best and most ambitious novel."



All Souls

Fiction by Javier Marías

translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With high black humor, a visiting Spanish lecturer bends his gaze over that most British of institutions, Oxford University. In All Souls, our narrator views Oxford through a prismatic detachment, alternately amused, puzzled, delighted, and disgusted by its vagaries of human vanity. A bit lonely, not always able to see his charming but very married mistress, he casts about for activity; he barely has to teach. His stay of two years, he recalls, involved duties which "were practically nil" – "Oxford is a city in syrup, where simply being is far more important than doing or even acting." Yet so much goes into that simply being: friendship, opinion-mongering, one-upmanship, finicky exchanges of favors, gossip, adultery, book-collecting, back-patting, back-stabbing. Marías has a sweet tooth for eccentricity, and his novel "crackles with deliciously sly observations of Oxford mores," as James Woodall noted in the Independent. And yet further, All Souls is a love story within a "mysterious narrative," as The New Statesman noted, "within a turmoil of choreographed stories."


Available: November 01 2000