Book Reviews

Kirill Medvedev’s “It’s No Good: poems/ essays/ actions”

In 2004, the Russian poet Kirill Medvedev posted an unusual announcement on his Web site: “I have no copyright to my texts and cannot have any such right.” Those who wished to use his writings, he said, were allowed to do so but only “WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.” One… more »

Eduardo Halfon’s “The Polish Boxer”

"The Polish Boxer" is a book of small miracles

Alejandro Zambra’s “Ways of Going Home”

These instances abound: life imitating art, while art reflects back images of life.

Dany Laferrière’s “The World is Moving Around Me”

This is Laferrière’s own take on the cataclysmic effects of the quake, both political and psychological.

Homero Aridjis’s “A Time of Angels”

Homero Aridjis’s angels have not fallen, but the world has.

Andrey Platonov’s “Happy Moscow”

Love is grasped at but never secured. Each person is exhausted, weary, and alone.

Niq Mhlongo’s “Dog Eat Dog”

Has South Africa found its modern voice of the people, its cutting-edge bard of the townships?

Juan Gelman’s “Dark Times Filled with Light”

History, for Gelman, is something both deeply personal and inherently communal, just as poetry can be both politically charged and aesthetically refined

Lygia Fagundes Telles’s “The Girl in the Photograph”

Although Lia, Ana Clara, and Lorena can’t help thinking uncharitable things about one another from time to time, when they’re together, their connection is electric.

The Canvas

The mystery is only the vehicle by which Stein delivers a Kafkaesque tale that constantly toys with memory, truth, and identity.

José Antonio Ramos Sucre’s “Selected Works”

This syntax hypnotically weaves its way into the mind of the reader, hunkers down, and only later bites.

Mikhail Shishkin’s “Maidenhair”

How can you convince anyone of the truth when the only evidence you have is your word?

Alessandro Piperno’s “Persecution”

"Persecution," the title of Alessandro Piperno’s scorchingly ambitious second novel, is not a straightforward label for the catastrophe that befalls the protagonist, Leo Pontecorvo.

Abdourahman Waberi’s “Transit” and Marie Ndiaye’s “Three Strong Women”

These crisscrossing lives and unsteady unions caught between Europe and Africa beg the question: Who is escaping, and who has arrived?

Roberto Ampuero’s “The Neruda Case”

An unusual meld of history, biography, and fiction, "The Neruda Case" conveys with great acuity how it’s not just the famous who are subject to others’ unrealistic projections.

Carlos Fuentes’s “Vlad”

Few monsters have weathered the years with greater aplomb.

Sergio Chejfec’s “The Planets”

"The Planets" considers the impact of friendship—and its loss—in cosmic terms.

Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s “Satantango”

In the world of "Satantango," everything is caught up in an infernal dance.

Liu Xiaobo’s “June Fourth Elegies”

Poetry charts a circular path to freedom for Chinese political activist and writer Liu Xiaobo.

Lauren Binet’s “HHhH”

Laurent Binet took an unusual gamble when composing his debut novel "HHhH," a unique blend of WWII history, personal memoir and postmodern experimentation.

Nichita Stanescu’s “Wheel with a Single Spoke and Other Poems”

Part physicist and part naturalist, Romanian poet Nichita Stănescu was always a consonant lyricist.

Andrés Neuman’s “Traveler of the Century”

"Traveler of the Century" is a novel of collisions: of intellectual idealism and cruel reality; of originals and translations; of complacency and unrest

Adania Shibli’s “We Are All Equally Far from Love”

"We Are All Equally Far From Love" is hypnotically visceral in its accrual of mundane details

Abdellah Taia’s “An Arab Melancholia”

Yet, it is not homosexuality or an Islamic culture that torments the narrator of "An Arab Melancholia"; rather, love is the tyrant in this brief, emotional saga.

Etgar Keret’s “Suddenly, a Knock on the Door”

If a man comes knocking at your door to steal your magic goldfish, what do you do?

Andrey Kurkov’s “The General’s Thumb”

A retired general is found dead in central Kiev—hanged, apparently, from a giant Coca-Cola advertising balloon.

Osamu Dazai’s “Schoolgirl”

Hardly anything about this book seems to have aged, least of all the narrator herself, who is perfectly preserved somewhere along the road to adolescence.

Jan Phillip Sendker’s “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats”

Sendker tells the story of an incorruptible love, forged by two kindred spirits, set against the rustic yet lushly exotic backdrop of Southeast Asia

Friedrich Christian Delius’s “Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman”

Christian Delius confirms his facility with experimental form and skillfully creates a varied and textured experience for the reader

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