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.
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?),. . .