It seems fitting that we run this review of Iceland’s only Nobel Prize winner right after the Le Clezio announcement, and while Bragi Olafsson (our Icelandic author) is on his reading tour.
Larissa Kyzer—who reviewed The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo for us last month—wrote this review of the first Halldor Laxness book to be published in translation in quite some time. Published by Archipelago Books, The Great Weaver from Kashmir is considered Laxness’s “first major novel,” and it’s great that this is now available to English readers.
Over the past week, Bragi’s talked about Laxness quite a bit, about how incredibly funny his works are, and how contemporary Icelandic writers struggle to get out from under his shadow of influence. A few of Laxness’s other books are available in paperback—including Independent People—but for those who haven’t read Laxness, this seems like a great place to start.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .