Publishers Weekly is one of my favorite review sources, providing a slew of brief, intelligent reviews every week. I especially like the fact that they cover a higher percentage of independent, small press, and university presses than most newspapers or magazines.
In this week’s reviews there’s a nice write-up of Yoko Ogawa’s The Diving Pool: Three Novellas. My friend Amber Quereshi acquired this for Picador some time back, and I’ve been anticipating its release ever since. (I believe James Gurbutt from Harvill also bought this, adding even more literary coolness to the book, topped off by the fact that Anna Stein was the agent.)
PW calls her work “crafty” and “suspenseful,” and state “Ogawa’s tales possess a gnawing, erotic edge.” The novella “Domitory” about a Toyko wife who nurses an armless one-legged manager at her old college dormitory sounds fantastic.
And if you’re interested, two of her stories appeared in the New Yorker — The Cafeteria in the Evening and a Pool in the Rain and Pregnancy Diary.
What’s troubling about this week’s PW is the starred review of the new Dean Koontz book. Really? He needs to be reviewed? I think there should be a ban on reviewing titles I can by in the Express Checkout Line at the local Wegmans. Yuck.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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.. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .