In contrast to Joshua Cohen’s cranky review in Forward, the review of Kertesz’s Pathseeker in the New York Sun (which, at risk of beating a dead horse, has become the premiere daily newspaper for thoughtful reviews of international lit) is much more positive.
Slender though it is, The Pathseeker is a necessary addition to Mr. Kertész’s work in English, and should occasion thanks to both the novelist and his translator, Tim Wilkinson, who has rendered Mr. Kertész’s (famously difficult) Hungarian into a flowing, able English — as well as to Melville House’s fascinating “The Contemporary Art of the Novella” series, which rubric The Pathseeker falls under.
(I’m planning a long post on this, but the Melville House “Contemporary Art of the Novella” series is not just impressive, but fucking amazing. Much more to come on this . . .)
In terms of the book itself, this may not be the most “selling” of paragraphs, but it totally caught my interest:
Mr. Kertész’s prose, recursive and long-breathed, keeps pace with the circular, frustrated action of the plot. Anonymity, elliptical speech, a fluid, almost euphuistic beauty, and an obdurate refusal on Mr. Kertész’s part to concede to even the most usual desires of the reader: The Pathseeker might seem, in a summary treatment, like the colorless, belabored works produced by writers whose sole aim is to toy with narrative convention. But Mr. Kertész places its maddening, permanent, and eerie periphrasis in the highest possible service: moral witness. And precisely because Mr. Kertesz refuses to speak with full openness about the scenery, its history, and his protagonist’s deep and damaging relation to both, The Pathseeker avoids even the slightest tendency toward ethical didacticism, a great risk when writing about the Holocaust.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .