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.
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. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .