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Book Reviews

February 2012

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?

Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s “The Letter Killers Club”

Reviewed by Christopher Tauchen

To the members of the Letter Killers Club, letters of the alphabet are the prison cells of concepts, and they need to be destroyed.

January 2012

Alexandra Chreiteh’s “Always Coca-Cola”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

"Always Coca-Cola" comes off as a work of searing intensity that powerfully conjures the atmosphere of contemporary Beirut.

Admiel Kosman’s “Approaching You in English”

Reviewed by E.C. Belli

Sitting in any of the rooms that is each poem in "Approaching You In English" you’ll notice a tear in the ceiling; none of these poems are sealed shut

December 2011

Dubravka Ugresic’s “Karaoke Culture”

Reviewed by Jean Harris

Part of the allure is for the amateur to wrest the microphone away from the stars and, for a moment, to take their place in the limelight.

Tomás Eloy Martínez’s “Purgatory”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

On a certain level, "Purgatory" is a metaphorical ghost story—a meditation on loss, invisibility, and vanishing

November 2011

Abdourahman Waberi’s “Passage of Tears”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

On its most immediate level, "Passage of Tears" is coiled tight with the tensions of a thriller.

Jose Donoso’s “The Lizard’s Tale”

Reviewed by Megan Berkobien

In many ways, "The Lizard’s Tale" is an exercise in concealment through regeneration, or adaptation

Anja Utler’s “engulf – enkindle”

Reviewed by E.C. Belli

Utler’s volume snares readers with a haunted, elliptical syntax. The words walk through these poems as in a preserve

Zoran Drvenkar’s “Sorry”

Reviewed by Nina Herzog

Rare is the thriller that surpasses the limits of genre fiction. But Zoran Drvenkar’s Sorry is one such book: a thriller on its face, but also a thoughtful study in guilt and innocence, violence and redemption.

October 2011

Meir Shalev’s “My Russian Grandmother and her American Vacuum Cleaner”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

Happily for psychological posterity and for us, Tonia Ben-Barak and her never-ending battle against grime have been commemorated by her grandson

Juan Pablo Villalobos’s “Down the Rabbit Hole”

Reviewed by Thomas Bunstead

"Down the Rabbit Hole" is told from the point of view not of a gangster, a cop or a prostitute, but that of a young child.

September 2011

Eduardo Chirinos’s “Reasons for Writing Poetry”

Reviewed by E.C. Belli

At the heart of "Reasons for Writing Poetry," there is a figure: ostensibly, it’s all zebra from the waist down, but from there up, the Okapi, as it’s called, looks like a giraffe

Raymond Roussel’s “Impressions of Africa”

Reviewed by Stefanie Sobelle

Imagine an extravagant pageant during which a marksman shoots off the top of a soft-boiled egg

Sergio Chejfec’s “My Two Worlds”

Reviewed by Jennifer Croft

Technology, for one, has begun to batter life’s perfect syntax

August 2011

Quim Monzó‘s “Guadalajara”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

Monzó is a master of the open-ended conclusion; his characters are often left hovering either on the brink of breakthrough, or of a perfect replay of their previous errors

Lars Kepler’s “The Hypnotist”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

Laszlo Krasznahorkai and Max Neumann’s “Animalinside”

Reviewed by Jean Harris

"Animalinside" is a cultural event in itself.

July 2011

Antonio Lobo Antunes’s “The Land at the End of the World

Reviewed by Adam Eaglin

There’s a feral quality to this particular novel’s narration, with sentences that furiously push forward for entire paragraphs.

June 2011

Shigeru Mizuki’s “Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths”

Reviewed by Deji Olukotun

"Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths" fictionalizes the real-life experiences of the author while he was stationed on the Pacific island of New Britain

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