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Book Reviews

June 2013

Georges Perec’s “La Boutique Obscure”

Reviewed by Stefanie Sobelle

For Perec even the task of recording a dream becomes a demanding literary and intellectual game.

May 2013

Oleg Pavlov’s “Captain of the Steppe”

Reviewed by Christopher Tauchen

Pavlov skillfully navigates the razor-thin gap between dark comedy and tragedy, making the novel more humane and serious than many satires.

March 2013

Amélie Nothomb’s “Life Form”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

For her nineteenth book, "Life Form," Nothomb has applied her preternaturally original mind to two favorite subjects—writing and “superhunger”

Yoko Ogawa’s “Revenge”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

The experience of reading Revenge is like getting caught in a beautiful, lethal web.

February 2013

Antonio Tabucchi’s “The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico”

Reviewed by Elisa Wouk Almino

A comfort in death and loss pervades this collection of letters, ekphrastic prose, short stories, and historical fiction.

Mia Couto’s “The Blind Fisherman” and “The Tuner of Silences”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

Mozambican author Mia Couto has practically created a genre all his own.

January 2013

Eduardo Halfon’s “The Polish Boxer”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

"The Polish Boxer" is a book of small miracles

Alejandro Zambra’s “Ways of Going Home”

Reviewed by David Varno

These instances abound: life imitating art, while art reflects back images of life.

Homero Aridjis’s “A Time of Angels”

Reviewed by Andrew Seguin

Homero Aridjis’s angels have not fallen, but the world has.

Dany Laferrière’s “The World is Moving Around Me”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

This is Laferrière’s own take on the cataclysmic effects of the quake, both political and psychological.

December 2012

Andrey Platonov’s “Happy Moscow”

Reviewed by Christopher Tauchen

Love is grasped at but never secured. Each person is exhausted, weary, and alone.

Niq Mhlongo’s “Dog Eat Dog”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

Has South Africa found its modern voice of the people, its cutting-edge bard of the townships?

Juan Gelman’s “Dark Times Filled with Light”

Reviewed by Heather Cleary

History, for Gelman, is something both deeply personal and inherently communal, just as poetry can be both politically charged and aesthetically refined

Lygia Fagundes Telles’s “The Girl in the Photograph”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

Although Lia, Ana Clara, and Lorena can’t help thinking uncharitable things about one another from time to time, when they’re together, their connection is electric.

November 2012

The Canvas

Reviewed by Shaun Randol

The mystery is only the vehicle by which Stein delivers a Kafkaesque tale that constantly toys with memory, truth, and identity.

José Antonio Ramos Sucre’s “Selected Works”

Reviewed by E.C. Belli

This syntax hypnotically weaves its way into the mind of the reader, hunkers down, and only later bites.

October 2012

Mikhail Shishkin’s “Maidenhair”

Reviewed by Christopher Tauchen

How can you convince anyone of the truth when the only evidence you have is your word?

Alessandro Piperno’s “Persecution”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

"Persecution," the title of Alessandro Piperno’s scorchingly ambitious second novel, is not a straightforward label for the catastrophe that befalls the protagonist, Leo Pontecorvo.

September 2012

Abdourahman Waberi’s “Transit” and Marie Ndiaye’s “Three Strong Women”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

These crisscrossing lives and unsteady unions caught between Europe and Africa beg the question: Who is escaping, and who has arrived?

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