Roadside Picnic is short, bleak, and fantastic. It has a typical Russian life-is-a-meaningless-struggle-against-absurdity vibe, but there’s enough going on to make it an interesting read.
Earth has received a mysterious message from space, and several thousand scientists are tasked with decoding it. They fail (this isn’t a spoiler—it’s revealed early in the book).
For readers a little tired of familiar stories, non-English science fiction is one of their best sources for new perspectives, ideas, and stories. From Polish great Stanislaw Lem (in my opinion, the best science fiction writer out there) to newcomers like Ryu Mitsuse from Japan, Ofir Touché Gafla from Israel, Khaled Towfik from Egypt, and Vandana Singh from India, people who have only read English-native science fiction are in for a treat when they broaden their global horizons.