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Book Reviews

May 2015

Max Blecher’s “Adventures in Immediate Irreality”

Reviewed by Dustin Illingworth

It would appear that to write about Blecher is, in some sense, to write about a broad swath of European modernists in a game of contextual one-upmanship.

April 2015

Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”

Reviewed by Lori Feathers

In her remarkable novel The Vegetarian, South Korean writer Han Kang explores the irreconcilable conflict between our two selves: one greedy, primitive; the other accountable to family and society.

Magda Szabó’s “The Door”

Reviewed by K. Thomas Kahn

The Door continues to be eerily resonant, as Szabó’s consideration of the changing sociopolitical terrain in 1950s–1960s Hungary speaks across borders of time and place.

Regina Ullman’s “The Country Road”

Reviewed by John Anspach

Regina Ullman, the Swiss-born contemporary of Herman Hesse, Thomas Mann, and Rainer Maria Rilke, has finally made her English-language debut with a collection of haunting and beautiful stories.

March 2015

Ernst Haffner’s “Blood Brothers”

Reviewed by Scott Borchert

There is a certain pleasure to be found in reading a book that was publicly burned by the Nazis.

Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s “Dirty Dust”

Reviewed by Darragh Mcnicholas

Talk is not only the “principal character in this book,” as Titley writes in his translator’s note, it is the book.

Alejandro Zambra’s “My Documents”

Reviewed by Megha Majumdar

In his nostalgic yet critical gaze, the introduction of home computers in those years becomes a symbol for larger reconfigurations of solitude and companionship.

February 2015

Fuminori Nakamura’s “Last Winter, We Parted”

Reviewed by Ethan Alexander Perets

Lee Si-young’s “Patterns”

Reviewed by John W. W. Zeiser

The language is often serene, and bound to nature.

January 2015

Diego De Silva’s “My Mother-in-Law Drinks”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

The latest novel in translation by Italian author, playwright, and screenwriter Diego De Silva at first glance belongs to the swelling genre of paternalistic parables for the digital age.

Norman Manea’s “Captives”

Reviewed by Daniel Goldman

Navigating the narrative threads of "Captives" is a bit like trying to make it through a hedge-maze while blindfolded, drunk, and asleep.

Pedro Zarraluki’s “The History of Silence”

Reviewed by Anne Posten

Pedro Zarraluki’s "The History of Silence" is concerned with negative space: with absences, with things that can be defined only by what they are not.

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.

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