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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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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Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

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Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

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Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

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Sphinx
Sphinx by Anne Garréta
Reviewed by Monica Carter

Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .

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Morse, My Deaf Friend
Morse, My Deaf Friend by Miloš Djurdjević
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .

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The Crimson Thread of Abandon
The Crimson Thread of Abandon by Terayama Shūji
Reviewed by Robert Anthony Siegel

The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .

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Life Embitters
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Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .

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The Physics of Sorrow
The Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov
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“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
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