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Smelling Books [BTBA 2020]

This week's BTBA post if from Justin Walls, a bookseller with Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon who can be found on Twitter @jaawlfins. The conceptual artist Anicka Yi's olfactory-based installation Washing Away of Wrongs (2014, created in conjunction with French perfumer Christophe Laudamiel) consists of two ...

Controversy & Value

I absolutely love the Virginie Despentes books that I've read, and Vernon Subutex 1—the first part of a trilogy that she concluded in 2017—is no exception. Like her other novels, the prose is direct, unadorned, and based very heavily in character. Very unlikeable characters. Offensive characters. Characters who are most ...

Greece vs. Ivory Coast [World Cup of Literature: First Round]

This match was judged by Laura Radosh. For more info on the World Cup of Literature, read this, and download the bracket. Artist-activist Maria is on the playing field of her current job when the sudden appearance of the daughter of her ex-best friend, Anna, sends her on a fragmented journey through her life and their ...

Purgatory

Emilia Dupuy is haunted by the memory of her missing husband, Simon Cardoso. During what seemed like a routine mapping expedition in Argentina for the couple (both of whom were cartographers), Simon vanished without a trace. A thread of hope is preserved in Emilia thirty years after his disappearance in spite of testimonies ...

Latest Review: "Purgatory" by Tomás Eloy Martínez

The latest addition to our Reviews Section is a piece by Aleksandra Fazlipour on Tomás Eloy Martínez’s Purgatory, which is translated from the Spanish by Frank Wynne and available from Bloomsbury USA. Aleksandra did an independent study with me last semester to learn about writing book reviewing. She read a bunch of ...

"Purgatory" by Tomás Eloy Martínez [25 Days of the BTBA]

As with years past, we’re going to spend the next four weeks highlighting the rest of the 25 titles on the BTBA fiction longlist. We’ll have a variety of guests writing these posts, all of which are centered around the question of “Why This Book Should Win.” Hopefully these are funny, accidental, ...

Kamchatka

Kamchatka: a remote peninsula in the Russian Far East. However, to the ten-year-old narrator in Marcelo Figueras’s novel Kamchatka, it represents much more. It is a territory to be conquered in his favorite game of Risk, it is “a paradox, a kingdom of extremes, a contradiction in terms,” and it is the last thing ...