A Quietly Radical Tale of the Rise and Fall of Communist Russia in Eugene Vodolazkin’s “The Aviator”
Reviewed by Sam George Jackson
Born in 1900, Innokenty Petrovich Platonov wakes up one day to find himself in a modern hospital, in 1999, with the body of a young man and memories that barely reach the 1930s. As he strives to figure out what happened to him, personal memories and historical investigation combine to create a harrowing narrative of Russia's history in the XX century, from the makings of revolution to the collapse of the Communist regime. "The Aviator" is a quietly radical novel, which challenges contemporary official narratives about Russia's past.
Reviewed by Emily Roese
A French bestseller and winner of the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, "Small Country" holds a mirror to the childhood of the Burundi-born rapper and author Gaël Faye, who emigrated to France with his French father, Rwandan mother, and younger sister in the 1990s. They were a Tusi family living in Burundi and decided to flee when they realized that the conflicts in war-torn Rwanda threatened their lives. In his perceptiveness, developing love of literature and nostalgia for a pre-war idyll, Gaby calls as much to Faye’s history as it does to the artistic career he would follow.
Reviewed by Anne Posten
Austrian writer Ilse Aichinger was an important figure in the “Gruppe 47,” the seminal meetings that significantly shaped post-war German literature, but remains largely unknown outside of the German-speaking word. The late short prose works collected in "Bad words" show how she grappled with a language grown unusable and unruly after the horrors of the Second World War. In her daring and masterful texts, Aichinger wrote against or through a language that could no longer be trusted; a language become foreign, which could only be reclaimed through further foreignization—or through silence.
In “Moon Brow,” Shahriar Mandanipour Recounts the Iranian Revolution Through the Fragments of Trauma
Reviewed by Damara Atrigol Pratt
"Moon Brow", by Shahriar Mandanipour, recounts the recent history of Iran through a fragmented narrative structure that emulates the disjointed remembrances of trauma. While the political facets of its story report the grim consequences of the Iranian Revolution, the physical and emotional world described in the novel is alive with vivid and provocative encounters. The book offers beauty while confronting the ugliness of revolution, oppression, and war.
Reviewed by Ángel Gurría-Quintana
In "Tomb Song", Julián Herbert combines a visceral lament about his mother's death from leukaemia with a scathing portrayal of Mexican society. The book’s title plays on the Spanish expression for a lullaby – a cradle song. Except that here the narrator – also named Julián Herbert – is keeping vigil over his dying mother in a hospital room in the north-eastern Mexican city of Saltillo, and writing the book as a way of finding comfort while coming to terms with her life.
Reviewed by Mary Ann Scheuer
Ulf Stark and Linda Bondestam’s sweetly eccentric picture book "My Little Small" tells the story of a creature who lives alone in a cave until she befriends a sun spark. On the surface, it’s a story of finding a small friend to care for. Dig a little deeper, and Stark’s philosophical ruminations come through.
Reviewed by Evan Kleekamp
In "The Song of Seven," a classic of children's literature by Dutch author Tonke Dragt, a schoolteacher woos his students with stories about his heroic alter ego. The division between the teacher and his adventuring alias disappears when a mysterious count summons enters the scene. Through the mishaps of her narrator and protagonist, Dragt explores the means and ends of storytelling.
Reviewed by Andrew Hungate
In a Japan that has once again closed its borders to the outside world, the infant Mumei and his great-grandfather Yoshiro face the perils of a dysfunctional society that seems hauntingly familiar
Reviewed by Jeff Tompkins
The destructive consequences of his character's obsessions, traced with an almost clinical precision, are the substance of Barba’s absorbing, unnerving stories.
Reviewed by Darren Huang
Since her debut novel, Shankini (2006), the Indian writer Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay has been exploring female sexuality with an uncompromising and subversive vision.
Reviewed by Meghan Forbes
"The Well at Morning" offers a selection of Reynek's poems and prints that spans five decades.
Reviewed by Kasia Szymanska
Books such as Into English help us to understand how translation transforms our reading and how it changes us, too.
Reviewed by Andrew Shields
Elke Erb is a poet of observation, and her observations often lead quickly and vividly to problems of the act of observing.
Reviewed by Mary Catherine Ford
The trial and sentence condemning Naji to prison for his work sparked protests in Egypt last year and brought his work international attention.
Reviewed by Sean Gasper Bye
Even as the early raging poet's later work opened to a broader set of concerns, it's clear he never lost his desire to challenge simplistic narratives and to ask difficult questions.
Reviewed by Anne Posten
In "The Construction of the Tower of Babel," the Spanish writer tackles Bruegel, the Bible, and the necessity of treason
Reviewed by Kate Prengel
Malagasy writer Naivo's ambitious historical novel grapples with love, colonialism, and the transformation of a society.
Reviewed by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue
Olsen and Jensen create a world in which humans, reconfigured as animal machines, somehow assume their most human form.
Reviewed by David Varno
Is it ever possible to leave the past behind and restart one’s life?
Reviewed by Emily Lever
The story of the life of a Congolese orphan.