RaveThe New York TimesMr. Padura’s novel tells this triple story without ever abandoning the general conventions of fiction. More concerned with the emotional life of its characters than with their historical roles, the novel still imparts a sense of reality, thanks to its deft handling of an astonishing quantity of information about Trotsky and Mercader’s lives. This doesn’t impair the book but it does make it a serious reading project: There is an almost courtroom rhythm to Mr. Padura’s storytelling, as if an urgent need to offer evidence had overwhelmed his ability simply to present the macabre dance between the victim and his assassin ... The three alternating stories resonate with one another, acquiring deeper meaning as they paint the complete fresco of a political paradigm’s downfall ... Ms. Kushner’s rendering of the novel in English brilliantly demonstrates her loyalty to the author’s voice. She nudges the English to give it a Cuban tone, respectful of the brutal efficiency of Mr. Padura’s Spanish, while never sacrificing the lyrical flourishes with which he occasionally bedazzles his readers.
Roberto Bolano, Trans. by Natasha Wimmer
PositiveBook PostThe Spirit of Science Fiction, now appearing in the US in Natasha Wimmer’s translation...has the charm of being a sort of raw spinoff of the extraordinary initial section of the first of Bolaño’s international hits, The Savage Detectives ... There is no way to know if the novel was unfinished or abandoned ... The book itself, now quite readable as an archival fragment, may not have had much of a chance as the product of a living author ... The fact that the novel doesn’t have an end is less problematic, in the first place because the reader is aware of its origins: it is a book found abandoned in a hard drive ... his books tend to adhere to the tradition of open-ended entropic writing that leaves the reader with the exquisite sensation of having read a story in which nothing else need be said ... Maybe it’s precisely the sense of reading a work under construction that makes The Spirit of Science Fiction such a pleasure.
Roque Larraquy, Trans. by Heather Cleary
RaveBook Post...a mutilated novel about the art of mutilating bodies ... an impeccable and quite smart translation by Heather Cleary ... The story is told through the journal of a doctor taking notes on the project. Larraquy’s embodiment of this monstrous figure is wonderfully elegant ... The reader proceeds with a cringing smile that sometimes turns to laughter and sometimes horror ... The second part of the novel, not so masterfully executed as the first but more fun and equally unfiltered and lacerating, simulates a long letter written by a famous, burned-out-but-still-fashionable contemporary artist ... Larraquy confronts this duty with the confidence of an older writer, the fun ingenuity of a prankster, and a singular faith in the powers of irony to ridicule those who misuse power given by the people.