Margaret Jull Costa

The peerless translator MARGARET JULL COSTA has won countless prizes for her translations from the Portuguese and Spanish.

Mac's Problem

Mac is currently unemployed and lives on his wife’s earnings from her furniture restoration business. An avid reader, he decides at the age of sixty to keep a diary. Mac’s wife, Carmen, a dyslexic born of dyslexic parents, thinks he is simply wasting his time and risking sliding further into depression—but Mac persists, and is determined that this diary will not turn into a novel. However, one day, he has a chance encounter with a near neighbor, a highly successful author who once wrote a collection of enigmatic, willfully obscure stories.…
More Information

What's in a Name

Poetry by Ana Luísa Amaral

Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

With the elliptical looping of a butterfly alighting on one’s sleeve, the poems of Ana Luísa Amaral arrive as small hypnotic miracles. Spare and beautiful in a way reminiscent both of Szymborska and of Emily Dickinson (it comes as no surprise that Amaral is the leading Portuguese translator of Dickinson), these poems—in Margaret Jull Costa’s gorgeous English versions—seamlessly interweave the everyday with the dreamlike and ask “What’s in a name?”…
More Information

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition

Fiction by Fernando Pessoa

Translated from the Portugese 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.…
More Information

The Illustrious House of Ramires (New)

Fiction by José Maria de Eça de Queirós

Translated from the Portuguese 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.…
More Information

Vampire in Love

Fiction by Enrique Vila-Matas

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

On the Edge

Fiction by Rafael Chirbes

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

While the Women Are Sleeping

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

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

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

The City and the Mountains

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.…
More Information

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!
More Information

Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 2: Dance & Dream

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

The Man of Feeling

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

Your Face Tomorrow Vol. 1: Fever & Spear

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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.…
More Information

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.…
More Information

The Crime of Father Amaro

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.…
More Information

Requiem: An Hallucination

Fiction by Antonio Tabucchi

Translated from the Italian 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.…
More Information

When I Was Mortal

Fiction by Javier Marías

Translated from the Spanish 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).…
More Information

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.…
More Information

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.…
More Information

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’s new translation of the masterpiece of Eca de Queiros, The Maias, is vastly more readable that the other version now available in English.

—Harold Bloom
< Philip Boehm Mark Hutchinson >