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Book Reviews

January 2015

Sheng Keyi’s “Death Fugue”

Reviewed by Amanda Calderon

There are moments of real clarity and elegance in "Death Fugue."

December 2014

Tove Jansson’s “The Woman Who Borrowed Memories”

Reviewed by Kate Prengel

A collection of very short stories which bubble up from the subconscious only to vanish as soon as they get to the surface.

Eduardo Halfon’s “Monastery”

Reviewed by Megha Majumdar

In Halfon's "Monastery," our narrator asserts the accidental nature of nationality.

Sakutarō Hagiwara’s “Cat Town”

Reviewed by John W. W. Zeiser

Hagiwara’s poetry is a strange mixture of gloomy wonderment.

November 2014

Sérgio Rodrigues’s “Elza: The Girl” and Paulo Scott’s “Nowhere People”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

Where are all the young Brazilian writers?

Joseph Roth’s “The Hundred Days”

Reviewed by Abby Margulies

An achingly beautiful fictional account of the rise and fall of the Emperor Napoleon

Otfried Preussler’s “Krabat and the Sorcerer’s Mill”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

Preussler’s storytelling mastery and gift for atmosphere render this Bildungsroman-meets-Gothic horror both timeless and splendidly, creepily original.

October 2014

Antal Szerb’s “Journey by Moonlight”

Reviewed by Carla Baricz

This phantasmal, complex novel of ideas takes place in a “wild, precipitous landscape”

Venedikt Erofeev’s “Walpurgis Night”

Reviewed by Ethan Alexander Perets

Current events can make us wonder: In times of tremendous violence, do literary questions and conflicts matter at all?

David Albahari’s “Globetrotter”

Reviewed by Daniel Goldman

This sense of absence pervades the characters’ ideas of national identity — all of them are personally defined by things they lacked in their pasts, either symbolically, literally, or both.

Ernst Meister’s “Wallless Space”

Reviewed by Christopher Shannon

What happens when a “piteously naked” philosopher-turned-poet decides to pursue philosophy in the form of verse?

September 2014

Edgard Telles Ribeiro’s “His Own Man”

Reviewed by Julian Murphy

In "His Own Man," nations, like the individuals therein, adapt and change such that their contemporary states bear little resemblance to their earlier incarnations.

Ondjaki’s “Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret”

Reviewed by Amanda Calderon

It is no surprise that this energetic and endearing novel is the work of a writer of such stunning accomplishment as Ondjaki.

August 2014

Alessandro Baricco’s “Mr. Gwyn

Reviewed by Jennifer Florin

In an attempt to combat an approaching aimlessness after his sudden retirement, Gwyn chooses the new vocation of a copyist.

Gonçalo M. Tavares’s “A Man: Klaus Klump”

Reviewed by Ethan Alexander Perets

Gonçalo M. Tavares (Does the M stand for Man? Maniac? Master? Certainly not anything as common as Manuel . . .) is a writer that trades in oppositions. And business is good.

Antonio Ungar’s “The Ears of the Wolf”

Reviewed by Anne Posten

It is this instability, this dance between beauty and horror, fear and elation, and this delicate navigation of power, which can turn one into the other, that animates Antonio Ungar’s singular, captivating novel.

July 2014

Andrei Bitov’s “The Symmetry Teacher”

Reviewed by Lucy Renner Jones

Andrei Bitov describes his book "The Symmetry Teacher" as a “novel-echo,” a palimpsest of a text which, as he explains in his preface, is his Russian “translation” of an obscure and untraceable English novel by a writer called A. Tired-Boffin.

Dorothy Tse’s “Snow and Shadow”

Reviewed by Camila M. Santos

Dorothy Tse’s third book, "Snow and Shadow," is a collection of surreal stories set in a fantastical version of Hong Kong.

Guadalupe Nettel’s “Natural Histories”

Reviewed by Kristina Fazzalaro

In each of her five short stories, Nettel places humans under the microscope and examines them at their most fragile and desperate.

Vladimir Pozner’s “The Disunited States”

Reviewed by Scott Borchert

The result is a frenetic portrait of the United States that he assembles bit by bit, fragment by fragment.

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