18 January 08 | Chad W. Post

Scott Esposito of Conversational Reading, reviewed Quim Monzo’s The Enormity of the Tragedy in the Philadelphia Inquirer, hitting upon the fascinating way Monzo takes the setup for a lewd joke (the main character has a permanent erection that’s actually a symptom of a disease leaving him with seven weeks to live) but creates something more interesting:

A priapic protagonist virtually begs for bawdy, Rabelaisian humor, but The Enormity of the Tragedy is actually quite restrained. The book is full of subtly funny lines, and often they have nothing to do with Ramon-Maria’s tumescence. At one point, for instance, Anna-Francesca reflects somewhat foolishly on a 17-year-old she almost went all the way with: “Unlike other older youths she’d met . . . he didn’t spurn her because she was too young.” In other words, he was the only boy slimy enough to try to take advantage of an underage girl. Throughout, Monzó has a lot of fun condemning his protagonists’ innocence and self-involvement by presenting similarly ironic thoughts. At times this borders on excessive, but for the most part Monzó mocks without seeming cruel.

Adding a healthy dose of Thanatos to the book’s Eros, Anna-Francesca fantasizes about killing Ramon-Maria. Eventually she gets around to doing some research, the fruits of which Monzó lays out in an amazing, seven-page-long list. Fascinating and deadening, the list makes murder both titillating and banal.

Monzo is one of Catalan’s most honored contemporary writers. He gave the opening address at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October, and is extremely funny, sharp, and playful. In addition to this novel, there was one book of stories published in the States back in the ’80s called O’ Clock. His stories remind me of a cross between Cortazar and Coover, if that makes any sense.

As you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of his work, and actually, Open Letter is going to be publishing his novel Gasoline (as translated by Peter Bush) next spring. And hopefully many more of his books . . .


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Odyssey
The Odyssey by Homer
Reviewed by Peter Constantine

Now goddess, child of Zeus,
tell the old story for our modern times.

–(The Odyssey, Book I, line 10. Emily Wilson)

In literary translation of works from other eras, there are always two basic tasks that a translator needs. . .

Read More >

I Remember Nightfall
I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio
Reviewed by Talia Franks

I Remember Nightfall by Marosa di Giorgio (trans. From the Spanish by Jeannine Marie Pitas) is a bilingual poetry volume in four parts, consisting of the poems “The History of Violets,” “Magnolia,” “The War of the Orchards,” and “The Native. . .

Read More >

Joyce y las gallinas
Joyce y las gallinas by Anna Ballbona
Reviewed by Brendan Riley

This review was originally published as a report on the book at New Spanish Books, and has been reprinted here with permission of the reviewer. The book was originally published in the Catalan by Anagrama as Joyce i les. . .

Read More >

Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >