The Dec 08/Jan 09 issue of Bookforum is now available both in print and online. As always, there’s a lot of great stuff, including a review of Saramago’s Death with Interruptions and Olivier Pauvert’s Noir, which sounds pretty cool:
The dystopian thriller is narrated by an unnamed white man, who discovers the mutilated body of a young woman hanging from a tree. He is arrested for the crime and thrown into the back of a police van, but en route to a location out of town, the van crashes and the narrator finds himself the sole survivor. Panic-stricken, he wanders the streets of Paris trying to piece together what happened, soon realizing, with a “piercing sense of déjà vu,” that he has been transported twelve years into the future. The novel then follows a trajectory of malevolent discovery: The narrator has no reflection, his body has morphed into that of another person, and he can kill others with his maniacal stare. He is neither dead nor alive, a “Bastard With No Name, neither chosen nor condemned, an In-Between, a remanence,” hiding from a government that has devised a method of collective mind control. Only the Noir, a disparate group of nonwhites who fight “not to change anything but just to avoid disappearing altogether,” can help him.
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. . .