12 March 09 | Chad W. Post

The new issue of Bookforum is now available online, and, as always, has some interesting pieces about some interesting works of international literature, including:

  • William Giraldi’s review of Aharon Appelfeld’s Laish: “Being labeled a Holocaust writer might indeed irritate Appelfeld, but no living novelist—not Wiesel, not Amos Oz—better chronicles the spiritual vacuum and extreme disorientation that ensued in the aftermath of Auschwitz.”
  • John Freeman’s review of Impac Prize winner Tahar Ben Jelloun’s Leaving Tangier:Leaving Tangier would read like a blunt political instrument for such sentiments were Ben Jelloun not such a wonderfully specific writer.”
  • Thomas Israel Hopkin’s critique of Albert Sánchez Piñol’s Pandora in the Congo: “Some British reviewers have judged the novel to be postmodern, satiric, and anti-imperialist, but the Garvey/not-Garvey gimmick is more like listening to a protracted joke told by the bastard offspring of Jules Verne and the Eric Idle character Mr. Smoke-Too-Much. It’s not funny. It is, rather, sort of maddening. If I’ve completely missed something clever here, I’d be delighted to learn what it is.”
  • Matthew Ladd’s piece on Abdourahman A. Waberi’s In the United States of Africa: “f there is a sharp glimmer of the absurd in Waberi’s premise, it suits his satire as well as the absurdity of the Lilliputians did Swift’s or that of Pangloss did Voltaire’s. The satirists of the eighteenth century are in fact Waberi’s most evident formal predecessors; his short chapters open with such archaic and mellifluous titles as “‘In which the author gives a brief account of the origins of our prosperity and the reasons why the Caucasians were thrown onto the paths of exile.’ “
  • and, Irene Gammel’s look at Ghérasim Luca’s The Passive Vampire: “Praised by Gilles Deleuze as ‘a great poet among the greatest,’ Luca is well served here not only by Krzysztof Fijałkowski’s faithful translation but also by the elegant introduction, which provides fascinating biographical details and deftly situates the book ‘as a missing piece in the history of international surrealism.’ “ (Gwen Dawson also recently reviewed this book at Literary License, giving it a solid four stars.)

Of course, there are many more good articles in this new issue worth checking out, all of which are available here.

(And just to note—links from the titles above go to Harvard Book Store’s online ordering system. Unfortunately a few of the titles aren’t currently in stock, but I’m sure they can get the book pretty quickly . . .)


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Tristana
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós
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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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