23 January 15 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a by Valerie Miles on Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney and published by Coffee House Press.

(For those who don’t remember, Faces in the Crowd was the runner-up to the 2014 World Cup of Literature Championship Game, beat out only by Chile’s Roberto Bolaño. Obviously, Luiselli can hold her own.)

Valerie Miles is an American writer, editor and translator who lives in Barcelona. In 2003, she co-founded Granta en español, and among other things, edited and created the recently-published A Thousand Forests in One Acorn: An Anthology of Spanish-Language Fiction. She also translates from the Spanish and Catalán and is a professor in the postgraduate program for literary translation at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Here’s the beginning of her review:

At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map for this conceptually complex work of fiction, which comes in a petite, 144-page package. Ms. Luiselli was born in Mexico City, though her father’s diplomatic post brought them to countries like South Korea, South Africa, or India. She now lives in New York City.

Both books spend a great deal of time in subways and cemeteries asking philosophical questions, like what happens to language if you are disappearing? Why write to sustain life like Scheherazade in 1001 Nights? Why not write from death to life? Keeping in mind the Mexican rites on the Day of the Dead, when altars are built to the departed, it’s oddly appropriate that Ms. Luiselli should find in the New York subway a perfect setting for a classical “nekyia” rite, a descent into the underworld to ask ghosts about the future.

The title is taken from Ezra Pound’s fourteen-word Imagist poem titled “In a Station of the Metro”: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd / Petals on a wet, black bough.” The unnamed female character (hilariously catty, telling fibs and swiping things from friends) unreliably narrates Pound’s shock after seeing his friend, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, in a train station in Haarlem, a month after he died in a trench at Neuville St. Vaast. “The doors of the train car opened and he saw the face of his friend appear among the people.” Pound pruned the poem down to an essential image that was “as brief as his dead friend’s appearance, exactly as startling.” This image and this style inaugurate Ms. Luiselli’s novel, which breathes life into the famous Mexican poet and diplomat, Gilberto Owen, who died in Philadelphia half blind and in a delirium tremens, in 1952.

For the rest of the review, go here

22 January 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This week’s podcast is all about Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters, which came out last year and is “a high-suspense tale of kaleidoscoping loyalties in the post-9/11 world that shows one of our great novelists at the top of his game.”

Writer, critic, and Johnson fan Patrick Smith (here’s a recent review of his in 3:AM and one about Liminov in Music & Literature) joined us for this book club discussion, which goes off in a few different directions—how everyone’s untrustworthy and willing to sell each other out, how Johnson got all this detail about Africa, etc.—with the general consensus that this is a pretty great book and one that fans of Graham Greene and/or spy novels and/or well-crafted fiction in general would like.

(For another analysis/conversation of the book, I highly recommend this discussion between Paul Maliszewski and Jesse Pearson.)

We’ll update you in the future when we have a specific date set, but the next book we’ll be discussing in this “book club” format is Apocalypse Baby by Virginie Despentes, translated from the French by Sian Reynolds and available from Feminist Press. (Then I think we’ll be doing Ann Morgan’s The World Between Two Covers, and may even have her on that podcast.)

This week’s music—and I apologize for bludgeoning your ears with this, but it will make sense by the end—is Fall Out Boy’s Centuries. (I literally cringed writing that sentence. Again, so sorry. We’ll make up for it next week with our annual music podcast.)

As always you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by clicking here. To subscribe with other podcast downloading software, such as Google’s Listen, copy the following link. And you can email us with complaints and comments at threepercentpodcast@gmail.com


21 January 15 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Cameron Rowe on Julio Cortázar’s Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia, translated by David Kurnick and published by Semiotext(e).

Cameron (some of you may have met her at ALTA last fall) is a current student in the MA in Literary Translation Studies program here at the University of Rochester, and will be doing her thesis on a translation from Spanish into English. She’s also a fellow-Minnesotan, and has been known to rock out to Taylor Swift. Here’s the beginning of her review:

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin American literary figures, a comic book superhero, international conspiracies, an attack on culture, multinational vampires.

Fantomas begins with “the narrator” reading a Mexican newspaper on a Belgian train (it was the only paper available at the train station), increasingly distracted, in spite of himself, by the comic book he finds inside—an issue of Fantomas: “Inteligencia en llamas.” It becomes clear that the protagonist, referred to by the narrator as “the narrator,” is actually Cortázar himself. “The narrator’s” narrative bleeds into that of the comic book he is reading, which pulls in other figures of contemporary literary history, including Octavio Paz, Susan Sontag, and Gabriel García Marquez.

The writing is quick and snappy and very funny. It’s also very strange and a little perplexing. A woman at the train station in Brussels only has Mexican newspapers to sell, thinks Mexico is “over near Asia, everyone knows that,” and discusses the delicacies of radioactive hake, all over the course of a page and a half. Later on, the narrator tells Susan Sontag to fuck off. (Actually, not quite. He tells her he “loves her too much to tell her to fuck off.”)

For the rest of the review, go here.

21 January 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

We’re just about prepared to announce the official dates of this year’s American Literary Translators Conference (I can say that it will be the weekend of Halloween and will be in Tucson, AZ), but in the meantime, listed below is the official call for proposals. You have some time—the deadline isn’t until May—but it’s always best to get your thoughts and plans together sooner rather than later.

ALTA 2015: TRAFFIC & TRANSLATION

The annual American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference is the largest gathering of literary translators all year. In a different city each fall, hundreds of literary translators, editors, students, professors, and others come together for three days of panels, workshops, roundtables, readings, and meetings with editors.

Translators traffic in words, sounds, meaning, styles, perception, politics, images, information, and voices. Our traffic as translators—whether literary, poetic, or otherwise—shapes larger-scale flows of people, resources and culture across time, space, and thought. Our translations traverse borders, silences, regions, and ages, often unaccompanied by those of us who made them. To paraphrase Mary Louise Pratt: by translating, we become part of the traffic in meaning, though that becoming doesn’t always mean we can control the traffic too. The 2015 ALTA conference in Tucson will explore, among other things, our roles in the traffic in meaning—as translators, scholars, readers, editors, students, publishers, citizens, and teachers.

The ALTA Conference Committee invites session proposals for panels, workshops, and roundtables for the ALTA 2015 Conference, which will take place in the fall of 2015 in Tucson, AZ (dates and venue to be announced).

Session Proposals deadline May 1, 2015. Click here to submit.
Bilingual Readings Series deadline July 1, 2015. Click here to submit.

Questions may be sent to Conference Committee Chair Chad Post at chad.post@rochester.edu or ALTA Managing Director Erica Mena at erica@literarytranslators.org.

19 January 15 | Monica Carter | Comments

Daniel Medin teaches at the American University of Paris, where he helps direct the Center for Writers and Translators and is Associate Series Editor of The Cahiers Series.

The January 2015 Translation Issue that I edited for The White Review recently went live. Nearly a year in the making, it gathers various kinds of texts: recent poems, excerpts from forthcoming titles, new and newly translated interviews, and works rendered into English expressly for this number. I’m not just mentioning The White Review because its dedication to literature in translation aligns it with projects like Three Percent; I’ve made it the focus of this post because judging The Best Translated Book Award has proven invaluable for my other editorial activities. To state the obvious: there’s no discovery without a search.

Two contributions to this issue resulted directly from past readings for BTBA. Minae Mizumura’s A True Novel, translated by Juliet Winters Carpenter, was one of last year’s most delightful surprises. She is represented here with the opening to a novel whose original title reads 私小説 from left to right. As you can see in the snapshots below, the book does interesting things with language and form—especially for the Japanese reader.


But Mizumura is a gifted storyteller, as anyone familiar with A True Novel knows. That is evident in even an extract this short. Rumor has it that a different novel of hers is on its way into English. In the meantime, I’m priming for it with Mizumura’s recently published polemic, The Fall of English in the Age of English, translated by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter (Columbia University Press).

The other work inspired by the 2014 BTBA is a 6000+ word interview with Guatemalan master Rodrigo Rey Rosa, conducted and translated by my fellow judge Scott Esposito. Like A True Novel, Rey Rosa’s The African Shore, translated by Jeffrey Gray, posed the most serious challenges to last year’s winner. Rey Rosa covers fascinating territory here, from the two novels recently published by Yale University Press (one of which, Severina is eligible for the 2015 prize in Chris Andrews’s excellent translation) to the influence of Borges and Kafka and Wittgenstein. Here is Rey Rosa’s wonderful response to a question concerning the virtues of the baggy novel with cosmic ambitions—in this case Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 (trans. by Natasha Wimmer).

I believe that all kinds of novels are important. The ‘totalising novel’, that can claim to cover the world or contain an entire epoch (although, or course, it can’t actually do that), seems to me as important as the short novel or the fragmentary one. A novel’s particular importance doesn’t depend on its size or theme or intention, only its execution. What matters is the literary experience, what happens to us as we are reading it. Reading 2666 is a unique experience, and because of this it is important. It presents us with a point of view, a ‘segment’ of reality that did not exist before we read it.


I am indebted to the BTBA for Indian novelist Uday Prakash as well. We read The Girl with the Golden Parasol for the 2014 competition. It failed to make the longlist, but the novel was compelling enough for me to seek out Walls of Delhi when Seven Stories published it this year. Prakash’s story for The White Review, “Judge Sa’b,” is set just outside of Delhi but it’s consistent in theme and tone to the three novellas in Walls. All three of these works by Prakash are rendered brilliantly into English by Jason Grunebaum.

It is perhaps too soon to tell, but other contributions to the Translation Issue strike me as potential contenders for the 2016 BTBA. The Vegetarian by South Korean novelist Han Kang, translated by Deborah Smith for Portobello Books, already has a US contract. Had it been published before December 31st, Daniel Sada’s One Out of Two would have undoubtedly made my own shortlist; it is an extraordinary book. Graywolf will release the novel in November (in a brilliant translation by Katherine Silver); in the meantime, you can read its first pages here. Lastly, there’s Max Blecher’s Adventures in Immediate Irreality, which New Directions will publish next month in the late Michael Henry Heim’s masterful translation from Romanian. We’ve accompanied a self-contained episode from Adventures with an essay by Herta Müller that introduces readers to Blecher’s genius.

The crop of French titles competing for the 2015 BTBA is strong. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that two of my recent favorites were both translated by Jordan Stump. (Like Margaret Jull Costa and Daniel Hahn, Stump is making a strong showing among eligible titles.) I admired the muted strangeness of Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, which Two Lines Press published earlier this autumn.

And a thousand cheers to Stump and Dalkey Archive for Éric Chevillard’s wonderful The Author and Me. A cross between Beckett’s Molloy and Monty Python, it is the funniest novel I’ve read yet for the competition. (The villain is a cauliflower gratin.) Halfway through, the novel descends into a footnote, whose story—as it were—consists of the narrator and a growing entourage following an ant. What better way to finish this post than to share its helpful advice for the new year:

Friend, when misfortune strikes, when hard times befall you, entrust your fate to an ant. An ant always knows where to go, and the well chosen path will serve you far better than any endless wandering. May I tatoo this axiom on your forehead? HE WHO WALKS BEHIND AN ANT WILL NEVER AGAIN BE CALLED A VAGABOND. At long last you have a goal, even if you don’t know what it is. What matters is that you will draw strength from the ant’s tenacity. You’ll be galvanized by her glorious ardor. And in your loins, in your once faltering legs, there will be her drive. No more doubt, no more procrastination. Forward! From here on you will cleave the waves.
15 January 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

For all of the translators out there rushing to get their Heim Translation Grant applications finished on time . . . pause. Relax. You have another two weeks.

The official deadline for submissions is now January 30th. And if you need the details on how to apply, click here or read below:

The PEN/Heim Translation Fund was established in the summer of 2003 by a gift of $730,000 from Priscilla and Michael Henry Heim in response to the dismayingly low number of literary translations currently appearing in English. Its purpose is to promote the publication and reception of translated world literature in English. [. . .]

Who is eligible

The PEN/Heim Translation Fund provides grants to support the translation of book-length works of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or drama that have not previously appeared in English in print or have appeared only in an outdated or otherwise flawed translation.

There are no restrictions on the nationality or citizenship of the translator, but the works must be translated into English.

The Fund seeks to encourage translators to undertake projects they might not otherwise have had the means to attempt.

Anthologies with multiple translators, works of literary criticism, and scholarly or technical texts do not qualify.

As of 2008, translators who have previously been awarded grants by the Fund are ineligible to reapply for three years after the year in which they receive a grant. 

In addition, projects that have already been submitted and have not received a grant are unlikely to be reconsidered in a subsequent year.

Translators may only submit one project per year.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this sooner, but starting with this year’s grants, Open Letter is going to donate a copy of The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim & A Life in Translation to all the recipients. It’s only appropriate that they have a copy of the book about the man who made the grant possible . . .

On a tangential note, we recently signed on Guillermo Saccomanno’s Gesell Dome, which we found out about when Andrea Labinger received a Heim award last year. According to the PEN website, 78% of the winning books from the first five years of the Fund have found publishers. So even if you don’t have a publisher lined up for your work, you should definitely apply—you might just find one!

15 January 15 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Lori Feathers on Marie NDiaye’s Self-Portrait in Green, translated by Jordan Stump, and out from Two Lines Press.

Lori is an attorney who lives in Dallas, Texas, and is a member of the Board of Deep Vellum Publishing in Dallas.

Hope everyone is having a great start to 2015. We sure are! Here’s the beginning of Lori’s review:

Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships. In particular, NDiaye conveys a powerful message about the unconscious vulnerabilities that cause women to undermine healthy relationships with each other, and in doing so she solidifies her place as a unique voice in feminist literature.

For the rest of the review, go here.

14 January 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

In this week’s episode, Chad and Tom discuss some of the books they read in 2014 and make specific “reading resolutions” for 2015. They also talk about Mark Zuckerberg’s book club and Tom’s alma mater playing for the National Championship.

Next week, they’ll be discussing Denis Johnson’s The Laughing Monsters, so if you have any questions, suggestions, comments, opinions, rants or raves, email threepercentpodcast@gmail.com.

And this week’s music is Strange Range by Jim Noir—one of the very few musicians Tom’s ever recommended for the podcast.

As always you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes by clicking here. To subscribe with other podcast downloading software, such as Google’s Listen, copy the following link. And you can email us with complaints and comments at threepercentpodcast@gmail.com


12 January 15 | Chad W. Post | Comments

If you want to download all new, up to date version of the Translation Databases, you can do it here.

These include all books that I’ve logged on through this morning, although, as always, if there’s anything missing, just email me. I have a day or two of Edelweiss catalogs to search through before the 2015 database approaches validity, and I’m sure there are a handful of 2014 books that slipped through my cracks.

As a reminder, these are works of fiction and poetry that have never appeared in English before. No new Goethe translations, no Anna Karenina. No reprint of a Polish classic that was available back in the early 1980s. Just books that English-readers would otherwise have no access to in any translation.

There’s always a lot to unpack numbers-wise in these updates, but I just want to look at two things—overall number of translations published and the top ten publishers.

Starting with overall figures, you can see the steady increase in the number of translations published and distributed in the U.S.:

2012: 460 total (387 fiction, 73 poetry)
2013: 541 total (448 fiction, 93 poetry)
2014: 587 total (494 fiction, 93 poetry)

That’s not bad at all . . . When I started this in 2008 there were only 360 books to be identified. (Is this the parenthetical where I start talking about 63% increases so that John O’Brien can shit all over my optimism and claim that my numbers are just percentages—percentages THAT DON’T BRING DALKEY ARCHIVE MORE GOVERNMENTAL SUBSIDIES?)

In terms of the top 10 publishers, there are four that have been in the top 10 each of the past three years: Dalkey Archive, AmazonCrossing, Europa Editions, and FSG.

Five have been in the top ten at least two of those years: Open Letter, Other Press, New Directions, Seagull Books, and Archipelago.

Seven of the nine presses listed above are independent/nonprofits, one is corporate (FSG), and one is Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, in 2014 they knocked Dalkey Archive to second and took over as the top publisher of translations, bringing out 44 titles compared to Dalkey’s 30.

All of which is interesting and can be picked apart in various ways, but in the end, I hope you scan through these lists and find a few books to check out!

12 January 15 | Monica Carter | Comments

Michael Orthofer runs the Complete Reviewa book review site with a focus on international fiction – and its Literary Saloon weblog.

Some five-hundred-odd translated titles are in contention – well, at least get considered – for a book prize, the Best Translated Book Award. Not surprisingly, a number of them have previously won literary prizes of one sort of another, and it’s interesting to see how they stack up against the still-un-prized competition.

Two of the authors with books in the running are Nobel laureates – though in the case of José Saramago, the eligible title is not one which was taken into consideration in awarding him that prize: his posthumously published but very early novel, Skylight, translated by Margaret Jull Costa. 2014 Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano’s Suspended Sentences(trans. by Mark Polizzotti), on the other hand, is unusual in being a three-for-one collection, collecting three novel(las) that were originally published as stand-alones. Despite all the criticism the Swedish Academy gets for some of their Nobel selections, it’s rare that a laureate’s work isn’t worth reading. The Saramago – written in the early 1950s, and, when it was not accepted for publication, leading him to abandon writing fiction for nearly a quarter of a century – stands in every way apart from the rest of his work but already suggests many of the qualities of his later writing. The Modiano-trio, on the other hand, is from a writer at the height of his powers – and benefits some from being a triple-dose: Modiano’s work is all related – arguably part of just one very big book – and this volume nicely presents three versions of it. (On the other hand, it suffers a bit by comparison with one of the few of his other works available in English, Honeymoon(trans. by Barbara Wright), written during the same period (chronologically it belongs in the middle of these three) and still my favorite of the available-in-English Modianos.)

The literary-prize-winner that BTBA watchers might have their eye on most is (sort of) the winner of last year’s Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, which is the closest British approximation to the BTBA. (The IFFP differs from the BTBA in that it does consider re-translations (the BTBA doesn’t) and doesn’t consider books by dead authors (the BTBA does).) The IFFP went to Hassan Blasim’s The Iraqi Christ ; confusingly, the US edition of his stories eligible for this year’s BTBA, The Corpse Exhibition(trans. by Jonathan Wright), is made up of a collection of stories from that volume, as well as from a previously-published-in-the-UK volume, The Madman of Freedom Square. Twice as much Blasim as in his IFFP-winning book – that presumably can’t hurt his chances! Short story collections have historically had a hard time in the BTBA-process, but Blasim’s is certainly among the more promising contenders in recent years.

Not that many national or regional book prizes – beyond those awarded to English-language books like the Man Booker – are well-known in the US but one that probably should be is the Nordic Council Literature Prize, the top Scandinavian prize. The list of winners is an impressive one, and several winning titles have been among the BTBA contenders in recent years. This year Baboon, by Naja Marie Aidt (trans. by Denise Newman), the 2008 winner, is in the running. Another short story collection – in a year with quite a few of these – it’s certainly a title to look out for.

While the Prix Goncourt is the major French literary prize, the Prix Renaudot is the clear runner-up – and Scholastique Mukasonga’s Our Lady of the Nile — translated by Melanie Mauthner and published by Archipelago, who always seem to have a couple of titles on the BTBA longlist – is in the BTBA-running this year.

And while genre novels always have a tough time asserting themselves in the BTBA, how about Bed of Nails, by Antonin Varenne (trans. by Sian Reynolds) – the 2009 Prix Polar Michel Lebrun- and Grand Prix Sang d’encre-winner? (The fact that it’s been such an impressive year for French noir – a quartet of Pascal Garnier novels, and a Jean-Patrick Manchette leading the way – is probably the biggest hurdle to this title making the cut.)

It’s also interesting to see what translations into other languages have been prize-winning. There’s Leonardo Padura’s Trotsky novel, The Man Who Loved Dogs, for example, a Spanish novel whose French translation won the 2011 Prix Initiales.

And then there’s a book like Maylis de Kerangal’s Birth of a Bridge(trans. by Jessica Moore): the original French won the 2010 Prix Medicis and the Prix Franz Hessel, and the Italian translation won the 2014 Premio Gregor von Rezzori. Published in English by Canadian Talonbooks, this is yet another translation that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves but which has the stuff to go far in the BTBA, introducing a new and distinctive voice (in admirable translation) whom we’ll be hearing a lot more of.

Of course, winning a literary prize is not a guarantee of quality, and one title in the BTBA-running stands out in this regard. Winner of both the 2012 Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française and the 2012 Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, a finalist for both the highest French literary prize, the Prix Goncourt, and the Prix Femina, you’d figure Joël Dicker’s The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair would have to be a front-runner for the BTBA. I can’t speak for my fellow judges, who may yet vote to put this thing on the longlist…no, I think I can speak with confidence in stating that this will not be among the books that will be in anywhere near the final running. Despite – or actually in part also because of – its American setting, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair manages to feel foreign in all the wrong ways, certainly to American ears.

The Little Horse
The Little Horse by Thorvald Steen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .

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Guys Like Me
Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre
Reviewed by Peter Biello

We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .

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Birth of a Bridge
Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .

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Faces in the Crowd
Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli
Reviewed by Valerie Miles

At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .

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Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia by Julio Cortázar
Reviewed by Cameron Rowe

Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .

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Self-Portrait in Green
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .

Read More >

The Madmen of Benghazi
The Madmen of Benghazi by Gerard de Villiers
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .

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The Four Corners of Palermo
The Four Corners of Palermo by Giuseppe Di Piazza
Reviewed by Patience Haggin

The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .

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Writers
Writers by Antoine Volodine
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .

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My Brilliant Friend
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Reviewed by Acacia O'Connor

It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .

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