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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Berlin
Berlin by Aleš Šteger
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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. . .

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The Gun
The Gun by Fuminori Nakamura
Reviewed by Will Eells

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. . .

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This Place Holds No Fear
This Place Holds No Fear by Monika Held
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

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The Room
The Room by Jonas Karlsson
Reviewed by Peter Biello

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. . .

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Thérèse and Isabelle
Thérèse and Isabelle by Violette Leduc
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

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. . .

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On the Edge
On the Edge by Rafael Chirbes
Reviewed by Jeremy Garber

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. . .

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Rambling Jack
Rambling Jack by Micheál Ó Conghaile
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

“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.”
“50 pages?”
“Including illustrations.”
“And this—what. . .

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The Things We Don't Do
The Things We Don't Do by Andrés Neuman
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

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. . .

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Private Life
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

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. . .

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Dinner
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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