Publishers Weekly is one of my favorite review sources, providing a slew of brief, intelligent reviews every week. I especially like the fact that they cover a higher percentage of independent, small press, and university presses than most newspapers or magazines.
In this week’s reviews there’s a nice write-up of Yoko Ogawa’s The Diving Pool: Three Novellas. My friend Amber Quereshi acquired this for Picador some time back, and I’ve been anticipating its release ever since. (I believe James Gurbutt from Harvill also bought this, adding even more literary coolness to the book, topped off by the fact that Anna Stein was the agent.)
PW calls her work “crafty” and “suspenseful,” and state “Ogawa’s tales possess a gnawing, erotic edge.” The novella “Domitory” about a Toyko wife who nurses an armless one-legged manager at her old college dormitory sounds fantastic.
And if you’re interested, two of her stories appeared in the New Yorker — The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain and Pregnancy Diary.
What’s troubling about this week’s PW is the starred review of the new Dean Koontz book. Really? He needs to be reviewed? I think there should be a ban on reviewing titles I can by in the Express Checkout Line at the local Wegmans. Yuck.
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .