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.
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. . .