The latest Open Letter Newsletter is now available online.
As an update: the Vilnius Poker giveaway is now closed. We received a lot of submissions and will be sending out e-mails to the three winners (and all other entries) this afternoon.
Another book featured in the newsletter is Fonseca’s The Taker and Other Stories, which was recently reviewed on Literary License, where Gwen Dawson had this to say:
The Taker and Other Stories, by Brazilian author Rubem Fonseca, is a collection of short stories examining death in all its forms: murder, suicide, road kill (animal and human), medical emergencies, sickness, and old age. One protagonist laments, “Man is a solitary animal, an unhappy animal, and only death can fix us.” This thought echoes throughout this collection.
It was also reviewed by Nancy Yanes Hoffman:
Although Fonseca steadfastly refuses to discuss the meaning of his stories, he once said of himself, “Perhaps I am ‘The Taker.’ ” He also says, “A writer should have the courage to show what most people are afraid to say.” Fonseca’s bitterly grim stories, mostly in the first person, show the skull beneath the skin in Rio’s violent world. Tough to read, they analyze Rio’s gratuitous criminality as a symptom of universal hatred among people of every class.
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. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .