3 August 17 | Kaija Straumanis

The latest addition to our Reviews section is by Will Eells on César Aira’s The Little Buddhist Monk and The Proof, out from New Directions.

Here’s the beginning of Will’s review:

Aira continues to surprise and delight in his latest release from New Directions, which collects two novellas: the first, The Little Buddhist Monk, a fairly recent work from 2005, and The Proof, an earlier work from 1989. There are a number of similarities to be sure—they both revolve around the sudden but intense relationship between three characters, they both take place over the course of less than twenty-four hours, they are both, at turns, wildly funny. And while they share a sudden twist in the final act (also an Aira speciality), the rug-pulling involved could not be more different. The Proof erupts into brutal, giddy violence, while the The Little Buddhist Monk is Hitchcockian in its eerie and melancholy finale. The Little Buddhist Monk is a sort of modern fairy tale; The Proof is a philosophy lesson disguised as a nightmare.

The titular character in The Little Buddhist Monk is an autodidact who dreams of escaping Korea to the Western world, but, being monastic and therefore penniless, has yet to figure out how achieve his goal. By sheer chance (of course), he happens to literally bump into a French couple outside a hotel, and impresses them both with his mastery of French, as well as his knowledge of the local temples, one of which will be the next subject of the famous husband’s photography project. A mutually beneficially partnership forms: the couple get the monk to guide them around the city, and the monk, hoping to make himself indispensable to the couple, gets his ticket out of Korea.


For the rest of the review, go here.


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