August is the month that celebrates women writers in translation, of which statistically there are still far too few. Teresa Solana has the distinction of being both a writer in translation and a career translator.

Her books, which often blend crime, dark satire and the surreal or grotesque, are translated from her native Catalan by partner Peter Bush. This latest collection, which Bush also worked on, takes its rather brilliant name from the title story, ‘The First Prehistoric Serial Killer’, which finds a caveman detective investigating a series of murders. Here, Solana’s humour and sense of irony shine through:

‘We all know that women have a secret: what they do to get pregnant … Do they hoard their farts, inflate their bellies and thus create a child inside themselves? All us males are obsessed with procreation … If we could crack the secret behind pregnancy, the power they exert over us would evaporate.’ 

We’re great fans of the short story and there are some cracking women writers in this form, including personal favourites Alice Walker, Doris Lessing, Angela Carter, Jean Rhys, Jhumpa Lahiri and Daphne du Maurier. Even in such company, Solana doesn’t disappoint – her tales clever and well-crafted, the characters who dance through them funny, shocking, oblique.

Solana says her stories are ‘a satirical portrait of the society in which we live’, be that through the public and critical response to a ‘sculpture of a male corpse in the foetal position’ in an avante-garde museum (‘Still Life No. 41’) or in one of the eight connected stories that make up the second half of the book.

Entertaining content apart, there are two things on which we tend to judge books at first sight, the title and cover. In Solana’s case, publisher Bitter Lemon Press has got both right, no mean feat when the jacket is purely font- and colour-driven. It’s a very pleasing volume – from the author’s vivid prose and Bush’s careful translation to the physical edition itself.

We say read it, read it, read it. And don’t be afraid to laugh.


The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories | Teresa Solana | Bitter Lemon Press | August 2018 | paperback | £8.99 |

We’re great fans of literature in translation (see reviews below). August is the month celebrating women in translation. For further details go to


Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of the The First Prehistoric Serial Killer and Other Stories‘ virtual book tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for arranging it and to the publisher, Bitter Lemon, for kindly supplying a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Quoted text, pages 18, 8 © Teresa Solana 2018; English translation © Peter Bush 2018. Image ‘Choose your words carefully’ © The Literary Shed 2018.


Also of interest: ‘Beautiful words – The Language of Secrets‘; ‘Beauty in translation – Roxanne Bouchard’s French Canadian noir’; ‘Johana Gustawsson’s Keeper – indie publisher Orenda does it again‘; ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes – a Billy Wilder classic?’; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Come Sundown – a tale of strong women’; How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original Penguin Ten’; ‘Book covers we love – Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday’.


This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.