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Roxane Gay's novel is as dramatic as it is literary, maybe because this story of a woman's kidnapping in Haiti recalls some of our most terrifying ancient tales, (Lot's sacrifice of his daughters, Grimm's traumatized fairy stories) while told in vivid, contemporary psychological realism. A thrilling and important novel from an exciting writer.
Absolutely stunning. Yuri Herrera writes about the US/Mexico border like no one else I've read. Here is a place where the wind cuts like a knife, where flags wave, where a snake lies in wait, and here is Makina, who trangresses the boundaries of this world, translating all through a brilliant, strange consciousness. And speaking of translation, Dillman deserves a prize for preserving the verve, vigor, and startling images of Herrera's prose.
Proust's all about light, color, and texture, characterized by a lush, slow pace. The mind moves more quickly with images than it moves through the original text, but the long rhythms of Proust's sentences are retained alongside beautifully rendered images here, compelling the reader to savor each panel with care and attention. I'm reading this alongside the Moncreiff translation; my buddy's reading Lydia Davis's translation, and we are comparing notes as we go: not a bad way to spend the close of summer.
Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector's been as much a personal goddess to me as a favorite amongst favorite prose writers since I discovered her slender novels. To read her stories is to examine a body, unavel a consciousness, study a luminescent mind. (Her notion of plot is weird, elegant, and inspired.)
What Luiselli does in her 2nd novel to be translated into English seems beyond the scope of writing. Following a commission by the Jumex Gallery (yes, an art gallery adjacent to the enormous Mexico City juice factory), Luiselli wrote the novel in collaboration with Jumex factory employees. So, we have "Highway," a notorious auctioneer and purveyor of celebrity teeth, Cervantes, Borges, clowns, fortune cookies, and even contemporary Latin American writers like Guadalupe Nettel and Francisco Goldman. Woo-eee! xo, Gina
My favorite book that I read in 2015. Set in Mexico City and Manhattan, this book is a jewel. A DF writer remembers an earlier life in NYC, when she worked as a translator of Latin American literature and did freewheelin' things like paint her entire apartment cobalt blue, in her chonis. Now, she's a mother of a baby and a prescient, omen-spouting little boy, married to a man who may be on the verge of leaving her, and in her scant free time she's writing a novel in which her pantheon of alter-selves inevitably appear, as well as little-known Mexican poet Gilberto Owen. It's rare to find a slim novel (experimental in structure, about "writing," no less) with characters as rich and compelling as Luiselli's, and her prose has the lightness and transparency to to display gorgeous motifs like the subway and the titular Pound image, a potted plant stolen from a roofop, a false manuscript, and darn near perfect sentences.
O. Holy Book. Map love's golden ratio with one of our greatest contemporary artists and thinkers. Learn from Sappho's sweet, irresistable apples: "the reach of desire is defined in action: beautiful (in its object), foiled (in its attempt), endless (in time)." Dude.
"I'm as tired as you ae of genius. Hey,/do you know where we put the sky?" Carrie Fountain askes in her poem "Surprise." These poems come from a place where no one's being awarded cash prizes over the phone or making New Year's resolutions, but time rinses tiny lovely moments anyway.
In Lydia Davis's foreword to this excellent collection of stories, she praises Berlin's sensitivity to "the perfec coincidence of sound and sense"--which often arrives in a dazzling, horrifying image that shocks the reader into a cackle.
Erasmus is a Salvadoran journalist living in exile in Mexico City during the Salvadoran Civil War. His marriage is breaking up, his bowels are unwell, and his doctor, Don Chente, another displaced Guanaco, is hypnotizing him into madness. In Moya's world, and in Salvador, then and now, paranoia is inevitable and somewhat practical. Despite ongoing violence, Erasmus decides to return to his country. Why leave DF for a country that has put family members in body dumps? Because of what all Salvys know:"it was as though my umbilical cord was attached to the place"--or perhaps, Erasmus considers, "because I'm an ass." In anothe writer's hands, the material might skew towards sentimental tropes. But in Moya's telling, anxiety, guilt, and historical trauma culminate in a delicate set of neuroses--in some places the novel reads like a Seinfeld episode, but with more screaming.
“So the ghost children marched down into the valley and fell into the abyss.” A duende-soaked love song to Latin America told by a bizarre toothless Uruguayan woman named Auxilio. I think this is Bolaño’s best.
Idra Novey's vocation as a poet is evident in every line of this well-plotted literary thriller. In Brazil, an American translator hunts for her missing author, a mystical writer of bizarre, beloved fiction, who reminded me of the great Clarice Lispector (who Novey has translated). Novey's certainly written a swift and mysterious romp, but she's also concerned with the act of translating another's art and the beautiful questions that arise when the translator seeks permission to create on her own.
Nettel's protagonist is preternaturally wise and aware of her self--mind, body, and soul--as "being different." She navigates bizarre parental hemispheres, all the while developing her powers of observation into artistry. A wonderful novel from the author of the short story collection NATURAL HISTORIES. She writes: "the origin of this tale lies in the need to understand certain events and certain dynamics that formed this complex amalgam--this mosaic of images, memories, emotions--that breathes within me, remembers with me, entwines others, and takes refuge in a pencil the way others take refuge in drinking or gambling."
During a green card glitch, Luiselli decides to volunteer as a translator for undocumented children, refugees from Central America's Northen Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras). With wisdom, curiosity, and compassion, Luiselli guides us through the cruel absurdities of the 40 question intake interview, only an introduction to "the vast legacy of chingaderas" perpetuated by the US and Luiselli's native Mexico, in both countries' responses to the Central American refugee crisis. "Partir es morir un poco/ llegar nunca es llegar." Read it to better understand our current chingadera--I promise it contains hopeful glimmers too.