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Book Reviews

September 2010

Ingrid Winterbach’s “To Hell with Cronje”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

If two books can be said to constitute a trend (or even the whiff of a trend) then we might just be in the midst of something of an Afrikaans literary boom.

Mela Hartwig’s “Am I a Redundant Human Being?”

Reviewed by Daniela Hurezanu

It is as if the narrator takes her own self, puts it under a microscope and probes it without flinching.

Laurence Cossé‘s “A Novel Bookstore”

Reviewed by Emma Hamilton

A new bookstore opens in Paris and stirs up a culture war.

August 2010

Camilla Ceder’s “Frozen Moment”

Reviewed by Samantha Schnee

On a bleak winter day in 2006 a body is found, shot execution-style and crushed by a car.

Taslima Nasrin’s “Revenge”

Reviewed by Shaun Randol

A stalwart advocate for freedom of speech, Taslima Nasrin is an exiled political and artistic refugee who has had her share of literary revenge.

Per Petterson’s “I Curse the River of Time”

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

Newly diagnosed with stomach cancer, Arvid’s mother has left Norway for her hometown in Denmark, and Arvid, burdened with a host of ailments of his own, has followed her, his intentions unclear

Jean-Christophe Valtat’s “03”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

A lyric from The Smiths sums up the narrator’s attitude toward feelings: “And if the day came when I felt a natural emotion/ I’d get such a shock I’d probably lie/ in the middle of the street and die”

July 2010

Mauricio Segura’s “Black Alley”

Reviewed by Swetha Regunathan

Good things rarely happen in alleys. They are the sites of illicit exchange—of violence and unsavory trafficking.

Alejandro Zambra’s “The Private Lives of Trees”

Reviewed by Jessica Loudis

In 2007’s The Private Lives of Trees, Zambra returns to the intersection of art, life and the botanical

Agop J. Hacikyan and Jean-Yves Soucy’s “A Summer Without Dawn”

Reviewed by Debra L. Schultz

This sweeping work of historical fiction begins in moral anguish. The novel’s protagonist, Vartan Balian, cannot decide whether to flee with his family on the eve of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

June 2010

Patrick Ourednik’s “Case Closed”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

What do you think is the biggest-selling Czech book of all time? Kundera's Unbearable Lightness of Being? The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek? Something by Havel, Hrabal, Klima, or Skvorecky?

Alex Epstein’s “Blue Has No South”

Reviewed by Jonathan Blitzer

Epstein’s collection is something of a spatial triumph—microscopic stories (some are only single sentences long) with manifold compartments and a capaciousness belied by their slight appearance.

Quim Monzo’s “Gasoline”

Reviewed by Petrina Crockford

Quim Monzó's Gasoline is a novel as an existential question: What happens when the idea of postmodernism becomes tangible reality?

Linda Ferri’s “Cecilia”

Reviewed by Morten Høi Jensen

Cecilia, Linda Ferri’s latest novel, retells the myth of Saint Cecilia, the Roman nobleman’s daughter who would become the patron saint of music and a Christian martyr

Alain Mabanckou’s “Broken Glass”

Reviewed by Anderson Tepper

Alain Mabanckou, the young Congolese author of African Pyscho, seems intent on subverting all the clichés about African writing

May 2010

Durs Grünbein’s The Bars of Atlantis

Reviewed by André Naffis-Sahely

Despite its brief history, East Germany held potent sway over the Western imagination

Olga Tokarczuk’s “Primeval and Other Times”

Reviewed by Tara Bray Smith

Then there is Primeval: protozoic, foundational, “the place at the centre of the universe.”

Romain Gary’s “Hocus Bogus”

Reviewed by Morten Høi Jensen

In the 1970s the French writer and film director Romain Gary had grown, in his own words, “tired of being nothing but myself.”

April 2010

Jo Nesbø’s “The Devil’s Star

Reviewed by Mythili G. Rao

Twenty-three-year-old Camilla Loen has been found dead in her Oslo apartment, her finger severed, a red diamond star under her eyelid.

Martin Page’s “The Discreet Pleasures of Rejection”

Reviewed by Emma Garman

Virgil is a navel-gazing thirty-one-year-old who lives in Paris, works as an advertising copywriter, and always dresses in corduroys

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