Category: Book Reviews

A Review of Edouard Levé‘s “Autoportrait”

by Jan Steyn, September 4, 2012

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Self-portraiture occupied the French photographer and novelist Edouard Levé throughout his career, but his third novel, Autoportrait, remains his most thorough and sustained attempt in that direction. Levé was the author of only four works of fiction – Oeuvres (2002), Journal (2004),… more »

Category: Book Reviews

The Explosion of the Radiator Hose by Jean Rolin

by Emma Garman, April 1, 2011

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The connection that a reader forges with a first-person narrator varies tremendously from book to book, depending on the degree of intimacy or detachment elicited, on how convincing or charming or grating we find the voice, on how seduced, manipulated, or outraged we find ourselves. Sometimes, all too… more »

Category: Book Reviews

A Confucian Celerity: On “Angina Day: Selected Poems” by Günter Eich

by Andre Naffis-Sahely, January 13, 2011

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Throughout his years of exile, Bertolt Brecht carried little with him: his manuscripts, his smoker's paraphernalia, and a black scroll containing a painting of Confucius, which he would hang somewhere near his desk by the window. East Asian themes had always fascinated Brecht. In 1950, he published… more »

Category: Book Reviews

Journey Into the Past by Stefan Zweig

by Emma Garman, November 24, 2010

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In his memoir, The World of Yesterday, published the year after his suicide in 1942 at age 60, Stefan Zweig wistfully recalls the sense of security that “made life seem worthwhile” and that defined his parents’ and grandparents’ generation. Pre-WWI Europe, it seemed, was on an… more »

Category: Book Reviews

Chekhov’s mongoose

by Geoff Wisner, September 29, 2010

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You don’t always realize the art that goes into a good memoir until you read one that isn’t so good. I came to Anton Chekhov: A Brother’s Memoir with high hopes, but had to admit after the first fifty pages or so that the book (through no fault of the translator) is a bit of a mess.… more »

Category: Book Reviews

“The Sexual Life of an Islamist in Paris” by Leïla Marouane

by Emma Garman, June 11, 2010

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As first lines go, that of Leïla Marouane’s second novel and debut in English, The Abductor (2000, translated by Felicity McNab), is a masterpiece of concision and intrigue: “My father lay helpless on the sofa while my mother was being joined to Youssef Allouchi in lawful wedlock.”… more »

Category: Book Reviews

“Purge” by Sofi Oksanen

by Emma Garman, April 13, 2010

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Aliide Truu, the warped murderess and tragic victim at the center of Sofi Oksansen’s astoundingly ambitious novel Purge, is an elderly woman when we meet her in the opening chapter. Living alone in the Estonian countryside in 1992, she has recently witnessed her nation’s liberation from Soviet… more »

Category: Book Reviews

“The Patience Stone” by Atiq Rahimi

by Emma Garman, January 22, 2010

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In Afghanistan—where, eight years after the toppling of the Taliban by US and allied troops, women are still routinely arrested and jailed for “running away” or for adultery, where current law does not recognize the crime of rape, and where 70 to 80 per cent of marriages are forced—any… more »

Category: Book Reviews

Three Kilos of Coffee

by Geoff Wisner, October 29, 2009

Manu Dibango is a jazz saxophonist with an international reputation. His song “Soul Makossa” is sometimes credited with being the first disco tune. Dibango was born in Cameroon in 1933. At the age of fifteen he left the country for a boarding school in France. His father gave him a small… more »

Category: Book Reviews

The fun of de Nerval’s The Salt Smugglers

by David Varno, October 19, 2009

"This is not a novel," wrote Diderot repeatedly, in his Quixotic, polyphonic Jacques the Fatalist and his Master. You could say he was ripping off Sterne, who ripped off Rabelais in the grand tradition of Swift; you could even go as far back as Homer, as Gérard de Nerval suggests in the ingenious… more »

Category: Book Reviews

Chain of Voices

by Geoff Wisner, October 15, 2009

Although André Brink is one of South Africa’s leading Afrikaans-language writers, and although his work has appeared in English, at least one article has questioned whether we can categorize those works as African literature in translation. By his own admission Brink remains, in essence,… more »