I first found out from Scott Esposito of Conversational Reading that Hermano Cerdo — the fantastic Spanish-language blog about literature and martial arts — is running an incredible Books of 2008 series of posts.
They’ve asked a wide range of authors and editors (mostly Spanish, although not entirely) to name the best book(s) they read this year. (Like The Millions’ Year in Reading these don’t have to be new books.)
I’ve been slowly working my way through all these posts and recommendations, but the one that caught Scott’s eye was Enrique Vila-Matas’s recommendation of Mis dos mundos by Sergio Chejfec
Chejfec es un escritor argentino (Buenos Aires 1956), tal vez no muy conocido, pero autor de libros tan recomendables como Los incompletos (Alfaguara 2004). En Mis dos mundos desarrolla la crónica de un paseante, de un caminador, en la línea de Walser, Magris o Sebald. Incorpora un sorprendente humor dentro de la densidad germánica de una historia casi inmóvil en la que cuenta básicamente la reflexión sobre el desconcierto general de un viajero extraviado, inteligente y con buena disposición (a todas luces inútil) para acoplarse en un mundo que no parece hecho para él.
In my opinion, when Vila-Matas compares another writer to Sebald and Walser, it’s worth paying attention . . .
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .