3 July 12 | Sarah Young

My name is Sarah Young, but Chad calls me Sarah Two because I was the second intern named Sarah to start at Open Letter this summer. I know my nickname is not as cool as “Quantum Sarah” or “Paranoid Sarah” (whose name is actually Rachel), but I’m just grateful my parents didn’t give me a weird, hyphenated last name and I don’t live in fear of being taken to a concentration camp in the Midwest. Later today, Alek will be posting my review of Second Person Singular, a new novel by Sayed Kashua chronicling the lives of two Arab Israelis working in Jerusalem. Also, Quantum Sarah and I wrote a joint review of Alessandro Barricco’s Emmaus, which should be up soon.

I’m an English/Creative Writing major at University of Rochester, minoring in Spanish and Biology. People often think the Bio minor is random, but it makes sense in my head. For instance, Wallace Stevens? Great companion reading to cell biology. Anyway, I ended up at Open Letter after taking a course in translation studies last fall. I initially enrolled in it because just about every visiting author I met in my fiction workshop agreed that translating is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. Now, I think translation is my favorite way to study language.

When I’m not writing reviews, making spreadsheets, or mailing large quantities of books for Chad, I like to read, bike, cook, and knit. During the academic year, I work as an undergraduate peer writing tutor for our campus’s College Writing Program and write plays for a student run theatre company, The Opposite of People. Last summer, I submitted a one-act to the Samuel French Off Off Broadway play festival, and by some miracle they accepted it. Phillip Witte (an intern from the days of yore) directed it, and Kelsey Burritt (one of last summer’s interns) acted in it, making the production an Open Letter intern lovechild. I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to work with such a unique publishing house, and I look forward to a summer full of good books and good company.

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Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

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We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

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The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

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French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

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Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .

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The Cold Song
The Cold Song by Linn Ullmann
Reviewed by David Richardson

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .

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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

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