Back a few years ago, when I was at Dalkey Archive Press, we published Voices from Chernobyl, a stunning book by Svetlana Alexievich (and translated by Keith Gessen) that collected dozens of monologues by survivors of the Chernobyl catastrophe. The book is as haunting as anything I’ve ever read, and everyone who’s read this remembers certain stories, certain images that they’ll never ever forget. Which is one of the reasons why this won the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction that year.
The reason I bring this up (aside from my belief that everyone should read this book) is because over at io9 there’s a gallery of images from Prypiat today:
Before the Chernobyl Disaster, Prypiat was a thriving, modern city with a population 50,000, many of them workers and scientists at the plant. It was two days after the disaster before Prypiat was entirely abandoned, and many of the plant workers exposed to the initial wave of radiation were brought to the Prypiat Hospital for treatment, before it became clear that the hospital itself was dangerously irradiated. Unfortunately, intrusions of nature and normal decay aside, images of modern Prypiat don’t necessarily offer a pure sense of the state in which the residents and rescue workers left the city, as items have been moved and removed by vandals, looters, and photographers looking for more emotional pictures. Still, the photos offer a sense of an aging, crumbling city, and how plant and animal life can quickly take over when humans have departed.
The images are pretty arresting, and worth checking out.
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. . .
Like any good potboiler worth its salt, Fuminori Nakamura’s The Gun wastes no time setting up its premise: “Last night, I found a gun. Or you could say I stole it, I’m not really sure. I’ve never seen something so. . .
Heiner Resseck, the protagonist in Monika Held’s thought-provoking, first novel, This Place Holds No Fear, intentionally re-lives his past every hour of every day. His memories are his treasures, more dear than the present or future. What wonderful past eclipses. . .
If you’ve ever worked in a corporate office, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “Perception is reality.” To Björn, the office worker who narrates Jonas Karlsson’s novel The Room, the reality is simple: there’s a door near the bathroom that leads. . .
I recently listened to Three Percent Podcast #99, which had guest speaker Julia Berner-Tobin from Feminist Press. In addition to the usual amusement of finally hearing both sides of the podcast (normally I just hear parts of Chad’s side. . .
Let’s not deceive ourselves, man is nothing very special. In fact, there are so many of us that our governments don’t know what to do with us at all. Six billion humans on the planet and only six or seven. . .
“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“And this—what. . .
Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .
In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:
When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .