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Book Reviews

September 2017

Solid but Yielding: Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s “Third-Millennium Heart”

Reviewed by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue

Olsen and Jensen create a world in which humans, reconfigured as animal machines, somehow assume their most human form.

A Tale of Displacement and Dissolution: Rodrigo Hasbún’s “Affections”

Reviewed by David Varno

Is it ever possible to leave the past behind and restart one’s life?

July 2017

“Black Moses” by Alain Mabanckou

Reviewed by Emily Lever

The story of the life of a Congolese orphan.

June 2017

“A Fortune Foretold” by Agneta Pleijel

Reviewed by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue

A prophecy is received by a beloved aunt, a prophecy that her young niece eagerly waits to see fulfilled.

“Inheritance from Mother” by Minae Mizumura

Reviewed by Michelle Kyoko Crowson

Minae Mizumura’s Inheritance from Mother is a literature lover’s novel and a translator’s novel.

“The Hunger in Plain View: Selected Poems” by Ester Naomi Perquin

Reviewed by John W. W. Zeiser

A Dutch poet laureate offers her unique, subtle, fascinating, sometimes weird, and sometimes creepy voice for our consideration.

May 2017

“The Revolution of the Moon” by Andrea Camilleri

Reviewed by J. A. Tyler

A tragicomic parable of justice.

April 2017

“The Accusation” by Bandi

Reviewed by John W. W. Zeiser

Stories that shine a light on the dark half of the Korean peninsula.

March 2017

“The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love” by Per J. Andersson

Reviewed by Camila M. Santos

An against-all-odds love story from India, by way of Sweden.

“The Impossible Fairy Tale” by Han Yujoo

Reviewed by Ariell Cacciola

A fresh and terrifying exploration of the ethics of art making and of the stinging consequences of neglect.

February 2017

“Frontier” by Can Xue

Reviewed by Kate Prengel

Explores the borderlands between barbarism and civilization, spiritual and material, mundane and sublime, beauty and death, Eastern and Western.

January 2017

“Dance on the Volcano” Marie Vieux-Chauvet

Reviewed by Juliet Grames

The backdrop of the story of Minette’s meteoric rise to opera stardom is the “volcano” of the title: the escalating tensions of the brutal racial war that is about to explode.

“Savage Theories” by Pola Oloixarac

Reviewed by David Varno

Fear and violence, war and sex, eroticism and philosophy, and flawed characters grappling with the messiness of life in a fragmented digital world.

December 2016

“Seed in Snow” by Knuts Skujenieks & “Andes” by Tomaž Šalamun

Reviewed by Kate Prengel

Two new translations of poetry, one from Slovenia, the other from Latvia, both very different, both well worth the effort.

“Memoirs of a Polar Bear” by Yoko Tawada

Reviewed by Thomas Michael Duncan

A meditation on foreignness, alienation, and the nature of consciousness, as told through the experiences of three anthropomorphized polar bears.

November 2016

“The Midwife” by Katja Kettu

Reviewed by Gordon Slater

A juxtaposition of brutal and tender moments evoking the stark and rapidly shifting paradoxes of a world at war.

“Frantumaglia” by Elena Ferrante

Reviewed by Carla Baricz

A difficult book raising important questions about the relationships between author, publisher, audience, and genre.

“Land of Love and Ruins” by Oddný Eir

Reviewed by Gordon Slater

In seeking to create personal ecology, Eir confronts the necessity of large social change.

October 2016

“Martutene” by Ramon Saizarbitoria

Reviewed by Carolyn Silveira

A disruptive romance as metaphor for the complexities of contemporary ethnic and political Basque identity.

September 2016

“Limbo Beirut” by Hilal Chouman

Reviewed by Emily Lever

For six strangers, the brutality of May 2008 reawakens forgotten memories of the Lebanese Civil War.

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