10 September 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Complete Review pointed this out as well, but the Independent has an article by Elizabeth Nash about the latest Saramago book, The Elephant’s Journey:

Portugal’s Nobel Literature laureate Jose Saramago has announced the completion of his latest work “The Elephant’s Journey”, based on the real-life epic journey of an Indian elephant named Solomon who travelled from Lisbon to Vienna in the 16th century.

Saramago’s achievement marks a rebirth for the veteran writer, 86, whose flagging health, for which he received hospital treatment late last year, sounded alarm bells in the literary world.

The author describes the book as “a story rather than a novel”. It will be published shortly in Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan, and opens with the line: “However incongruous it may seem . . .”

This sounds pretty promising, and will hopefully be translated into English in the next year or so.

In other Portuguese literary news, the latest Antonio Lobo Antunes book What Can I Do When Everything’s On Fire? is now available in bookstores everywhere. I started reading this the other day and am pretty amazed. It’s a bleak book, but the style is incredible and innovative. At first glance, it looks like a prose poem, with lines abruptly breaking off, voices from various characters and times intruding on the protagonist’s consciousness, sudden italics. But as you start to read it, things become clear (or at least comprehensible) very quickly, and this strange style creates a nicely textured novel.

Rambling Jack
Rambling Jack by Micheál Ó Conghaile
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“50 pages?”
“Including illustrations.”
“And this—what. . .

Read More >

The Things We Don't Do
The Things We Don't Do by Andrés Neuman
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .

Read More >

Private Life
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:

When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .

Read More >

Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .

Read More >

We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

Read More >

The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

Read More >

French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

Read More >