Book Reviews

Edgard Telles Ribeiro’s “His Own Man”

In "His Own Man," nations, like the individuals therein, adapt and change such that their contemporary states bear little resemblance to their earlier incarnations.


Ondjaki’s “Granma Nineteen and the Soviet’s Secret”

It is no surprise that this energetic and endearing novel is the work of a writer of such stunning accomplishment as Ondjaki.


Alessandro Baricco’s “Mr. Gwyn

In an attempt to combat an approaching aimlessness after his sudden retirement, Gwyn chooses the new vocation of a copyist.


Gonçalo M. Tavares’s “A Man: Klaus Klump”

Gonçalo M. Tavares (Does the M stand for Man? Maniac? Master? Certainly not anything as common as Manuel . . .) is a writer that trades in oppositions. And business is good.


Antonio Ungar’s “The Ears of the Wolf”

It is this instability, this dance between beauty and horror, fear and elation, and this delicate navigation of power, which can turn one into the other, that animates Antonio Ungar’s singular, captivating novel.


Andrei Bitov’s “The Symmetry Teacher”

Andrei Bitov describes his book "The Symmetry Teacher" as a “novel-echo,” a palimpsest of a text which, as he explains in his preface, is his Russian “translation” of an obscure and untraceable English novel by a writer called A. Tired-Boffin.


Dorothy Tse’s “Snow and Shadow”

Dorothy Tse’s third book, "Snow and Shadow," is a collection of surreal stories set in a fantastical version of Hong Kong.


Guadalupe Nettel’s “Natural Histories”

In each of her five short stories, Nettel places humans under the microscope and examines them at their most fragile and desperate.


Vladimir Pozner’s “The Disunited States”

The result is a frenetic portrait of the United States that he assembles bit by bit, fragment by fragment.


Gunnar Harding’s “Guarding the Air”

Steeped in broad cross-cultural influences from traditional jazz to Guillaume Apollinaire, Harding masterfully crafts vision and music into free verse.


Bohumil Hrabal’s “Harlequin’s Millions” and Jáchym Topol’s “Nightwork”

With the English publication this month of Bohumil Hrabal’s "Harlequin’s Millions" and Jáchym Topol’s "Nightwork," it’s Vánoce (“Christmas”) for fans of Czech literature.


Juan José Saer’s “La Grande”

The author’s urgency to finish "La Grande" is palpable in the anxious prose.


Andres Neuman’s “Talking to Ourselves”

"Talking to Ourselves" considers our defenses against loss—it sees language and its arguable opposite, sex, as both weapons against and records of the inevitable.


Wilma Stockenström’s “The Expedition to the Baobab Tree”

The story unsettles from the outset, as we are immediately plunged into the protagonist’s turbulent inner world.


Jonas Bengtsson’s “A Fairy Tale”

A Fairy Tale starts with a young boy, his father, and the political assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme.


Xu Zechen’s “Running through Beijing”

To the average Westerner, reared on crisp autumn breezes and revitalizing spring air, Beijing’s tianqi, its weather, is a surreal departure.


Hassan Blasim’s “The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq”

Hassan Blasim's Iraq is a debased and deadly place


Rodolfo Walsh’s “Operation Massacre”

Walsh was sitting in a café when a man approached him and said cryptically: “One of the executed men is alive.”


Mikhail Shishkin’s “The Light and the Dark”

Shiskin pushes us to the realization that we are part of the book that we are reading, and that the book we are reading is part of us.


Julia Franck’s “Back to Back”

Franck’s story is engrossing—immediately, completely.


Albert Cossery’s “Laziness in the Fertile Valley”

In a musty, cavernous house, three brothers, their father, and uncle sleep through day and night. The men can scarcely eat without falling back to sleep. The sunlight insults their eyes and even the softest of sounds, such as “a noise of dishes . . . [lays] itself upon the motionless air, like…...read more »

Guillermo Rosales’s “Leapfrog & Other Stories”

"Leapfrog & Other Stories" is the last of what’s left of the Cuban writer Guillermo Rosales.


Robert Walser’s “A Schoolboy’s Diary”

There is an inevitable period of adjustment when reading the work of Robert Walser.


Mircea Cărtărescu’s “Blinding”

Together, these texts form an ecstatic and elegiac epic, in which the reader travels across the body of a butterfly (literally and figuratively), from the begining to the end of time.


Sergio Chejfec’s “The Dark”

At his best, the Argentine Sergio Chejfec carries the torch of the great ambulatory writers, from De Quincy to Sebald.


João Almino’s “Free City”

"Free City" is a novel about a literary sort of redemption


Elisa Ruotolo’s “I Stole the Rain”

With the deceptive kick of an apertivo that slides down like water but is 80 proof, the three stories in "I Stole The Rain" promptly engaged my attention.


Mario Bellatin’s “Shiki Nagaoka: A Nose for Fiction”

Games are always a serious matter when they are played by the Mexican writer Mario Bellatin.


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