I feel like I’m pretty knowledgeable about international authors, but I have to admit that I’ve never heard of Swedish author Klas Östergren, whose latest novel is reviewed in today’s New York Sun:
Klas Östergren is hailed as one of Sweden’s most important living writers. Swedish critics have compared his writing to that of Paul Auster and Haruki Murakami, whose influences are clearly felt in Mr. Östergren’s fourth novel, Gentlemen (MacAdam/Cage, 375 pages, $25), an elegantly written work of metafiction.
The book sounds really interesting—the story of three artists during the years of 1948 to 1978. Sounds funny, light, and kind of wild, until things take a slightly darker turn.
It is not until three-fifths through the novel that the brothers’ ideals collide with reality, and the book, hitherto an episodic, plotless account, is plunged into its most sustained and gripping action. For about 50 pages, Gentlemen becomes a political thriller as Leo unravels a dark secret in Sweden’s history involving the Third Reich. Although he endeavors to bring the story to light, the powers that be stymie him, driving him first to a mental institution, and then to the bottle.
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .
There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .
In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .
I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .
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.. . .