Book Reviews

Last Evenings on Earth by Roberto Bolaño

Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews New Directions, 2006 Few writers translated into English in the past several years have generated as much excitement as Roberto Bolaño. Bolaño, who died in 2003, is one of the most popular literary authors in the Spanish-speaking world. Thus… more »

Amulet by Roberto Bolaño

Translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews New Directions, 2006 The narrator of Roberto Bolaño's Amulet, his latest work to be translated into English, promises in its first paragraph that hers will be "a horror story," full of "murder, detection and horror.ut it won't appear to be,… more »

The Heretic by Miguel Delibes

This international bestseller follows the life of a boy born on the day the Protestant reformation began-when Martin Luther nailed his list of ninety-five theses to a church door in Wittenberg-through his last days in prison and burning at the stake. Cipriano Salcedo, the only son of the Salcedo family,… more »

The Silent Steppe by Mukhamet Shayakhmetov

The Silent Steppe: The Story of a Kazakh Nomad under Stalin is a vivid, personal story of courage and hope in the face of persecution and terror. It breathes new life into a neglected chapter of European history, and should prove useful for Cold War research and socio-cultural anthropology studies. Famine,… more »

Stick Out Your Tongue by Ma Jian

When Stick Out Your Tongue was first published in China in 1987, one commentator denounced it as a "vulgar, obscene book that defames the image of our Tibetan compatriots," and Ma Jian's works were banned forevermore in the country. The remaining copies of the serialized novel were traded on the… more »

The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Keret

Almost all of the thirty (very) short stories in Etgar Keret's wonderfully vivid collection, The Nimrod Flipout, take place against backdrops that are deceptively banal. Each site, though, eventually reveals a rupture, a tear in its seeming ordinariness through which the perverse, bizarre or fantastic… more »

Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky

Suite Francaise feels epic for a number of reasons. First, because of the scope of the fear it documents-that of French civilians on the eve of and during German occupation. Second, because it artfully balances the anguish (and verisimilitude) of any unsparing portrayal of war with the pretty, carefully… more »

The Book about Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist

In Andrè Brouillet's famous painting of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot's lecture on female hysteria, a woman is draped over Charcot's assistant's arm. She is placid and completely sensual in the cold room; her dress has fallen from her shoulders and a nurse reaches out to help… more »

Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women on Japanese Women, compiled by Cathy Layne

Inside and Other Short Fiction--Japanese Women by Japanese Women offers a corrective to Western and Japanese stereotypes of Japanese women's sexuality. The stories in this collection are connected by an exploration of women's sexual liberation, and provide a female readership with a sophisticated… more »

Big Breasts & Wide Hips by Mo Yan

At a time when Western eyes fixate on China's influence as a budding economic superpower, Mo Yan has turned his gaze inward on the vicissitudes of the last Chinese century. Big Breasts & Wide Hips is more than an act of catharsis; it's a nine-course sensual feast, peppered with colorful characters… more »

I Loved You for Your Voice by Sélim Nassib

Modern Egypt is a dream unfulfilled. Independence from Britain was supposed to usher in a glorious era in which Egypt would unite the Middle East under the banner of pan-Arabism. That dream died in 1967, when Egyptian forces suffered a catastrophic defeat in the Six Day War against Israel. Egypt's… more »

Captain of the Sleepers by Mayra Montero

In chapters that alternate between past and present, this slip of a novel recounts the pain of a child witnessing his parents' infidelities. J.T. Bunker is the "Captain of the Sleepers," a small-time pilot who falls in love with the narrator's mother and begins transporting cadavers, or "sleepers"… more »

The Successor by Ismail Kadare

In The Successor Ismail Kadare mines his country's recent history and puts an infamous death into a crucible. In this way, Kadare captures the strangeness of what was Albania's perverse version of an elite community, those close enough to power to be direct psychological captives of its quixotic… more »

The Noodle Maker by Ma Jian

The pace of change in China over the last fifteen years has been extraordinarily fast; the pace at which its literature reaches us in translation shamefully slow. Chinese dissident writer Ma Jian is already known in the English-speaking world for his award-winning travel memoir of rural China in the… more »

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