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Book Reviews

November 2012

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?

Roberto Ampuero’s “The Neruda Case”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

An unusual meld of history, biography, and fiction, "The Neruda Case" conveys with great acuity how it’s not just the famous who are subject to others’ unrealistic projections.

August 2012

Sergio Chejfec’s “The Planets”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

"The Planets" considers the impact of friendship—and its loss—in cosmic terms.

Carlos Fuentes’s “Vlad”

Reviewed by Heather Cleary

Few monsters have weathered the years with greater aplomb.

July 2012

Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s “Satantango”

Reviewed by Jean Harris

In the world of "Satantango," everything is caught up in an infernal dance.

June 2012

Liu Xiaobo’s “June Fourth Elegies”

Reviewed by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Poetry charts a circular path to freedom for Chinese political activist and writer Liu Xiaobo.

Lauren Binet’s “HHhH”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

Laurent Binet took an unusual gamble when composing his debut novel "HHhH," a unique blend of WWII history, personal memoir and postmodern experimentation.

Nichita Stanescu’s “Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems”

Reviewed by Andrew Seguin

Part physicist and part naturalist, Romanian poet Nichita Stănescu was always a consonant lyricist.

Andrés Neuman’s “Traveler of the Century”

Reviewed by Megan Berkobien

"Traveler of the Century" is a novel of collisions: of intellectual idealism and cruel reality; of originals and translations; of complacency and unrest

May 2012

Adania Shibli’s “We Are All Equally Far from Love”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

"We Are All Equally Far From Love" is hypnotically visceral in its accrual of mundane details

April 2012

Abdellah Taia’s “An Arab Melancholia”

Reviewed by Shaun Randol

Yet, it is not homosexuality or an Islamic culture that torments the narrator of "An Arab Melancholia"; rather, love is the tyrant in this brief, emotional saga.

Etgar Keret’s “Suddenly, a Knock on the Door”

Reviewed by Andrew Seguin

If a man comes knocking at your door to steal your magic goldfish, what do you do?

Andrey Kurkov’s “The General’s Thumb”

Reviewed by Christopher Tauchen

A retired general is found dead in central Kiev—hanged, apparently, from a giant Coca-Cola advertising balloon.

March 2012

Osamu Dazai’s “Schoolgirl”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

Hardly anything about this book seems to have aged, least of all the narrator herself, who is perfectly preserved somewhere along the road to adolescence.

Jan Phillip Sendker’s “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”

Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes

Sendker tells the story of an incorruptible love, forged by two kindred spirits, set against the rustic yet lushly exotic backdrop of Southeast Asia

February 2012

Friedrich Christian Delius’s “Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman”

Reviewed by Rosamund Hunter

Christian Delius confirms his facility with experimental form and skillfully creates a varied and textured experience for the reader

César Aira’s “Varamo”

Reviewed by Heather Cleary

What is it that we do, really, when we write? And why can’t a fish be embalmed to look like it’s playing a tiny piano?

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