Gregor Von Rezzori translated by David Dollenmayer, Joachim Neugroschel and Marshall Yarbrough
RaveAsymptoteThis book is an extended elegy for the death of history, literature, and Europe ...There is an honesty that burns through this work. It wants to but can’t be serious. It is the funniest elegy I’ve ever read. It is perhaps at its best when it is imitating bad writing, i.e. commercial novels and films. These imitations are vaudevillian, grotesque, and vulgar, like mean-spirited playground bullying. They occur in a postmodern world beyond the distinction of high and low culture, where intellectuals are frauds who are just as narrow as the philistines they disdain, and where literature devolves into caricature, because the novelist can’t seriously claim to transcend himself and represent humanity ... This book is as much a novel as it is a repudiation and critique of novel-writing. It is explicit about its attempt to reinvent the novel. As I have tried to make clear, nothing about this novel is transparent ... As much as it wants to please the reader, and succeeds in doing so, this book also intends to hurt.\
PositiveThe Guardian\"[Lee] has a pronounced ability to take normal, even mundane situations and nudge them out of true, propelling his characters into positions of strangeness and danger that they are often fatally slow to identify ... Lee has darkly comic fun with the authoritarianism such bodies can exhibit ... the tight focus Lee brings to bear on [disintegration of suburban security] increases the tension, and makes it impossible for us as readers to accurately gauge each situation we encounter, or, increasingly, endure alongside James.\
PositiveThe Guardian\"Marcus’s prose is deceptively straightforward, precise but chatty, and often a lot of fun – which is helpful, albeit in a confusing way, when the subject is the physical or psychological collapse of a person, or even of society as a whole. In stylistic terms he has come a long way from the disturbing, almost alien syntax of his earlier books... and his characters now feel less like malfunctioning allegories and more like flesh and bone ... Is this a bleak book? Absolutely. But there’s beauty in it, too.\
PositiveThe GuardianAlex Pheby puts us disturbingly close to this troubled individual, but pointedly opts for third person instead of first: throughout this compelling novel the space between reader and Schreber becomes a sombre reminder of how alone we all are ... Pheby’s writing is elegant and straightforward, but the discontinuous structure of the book is not, and the clarity of the prose can be deceptive: certain characters and events presented as real turn out not to be; others we are left to wonder about ... Fittingly for a book about a psychoanalytical subject, Playthings is swollen with buried truths ... Every action, every situation, is influenced by what lies beneath it.
RaveThe Guardian...[an] excellent short story collection ... in each Eugenides deploys his pronounced gifts for comedy and characterisation at the same time as he builds an overwhelming atmosphere of suffocation. It is hard to say exactly why money exerts such fascination for the author. It can efficiently propel a story towards crisis, of course, but beyond that it emerges from these pages as the central subject of American life, driving the country but also infecting its citizens with a kind of mania.
Samanta Schweblin, Trans. by Megan McDowell
RaveThe Guardian\"...[a] short, terrifying and brilliant first novel ... Over the course of the novel the landscape becomes almost as prominent a character as Amanda and David. The rural Argentina that Schweblin portrays is an eerie place ... The way Fever Dream is written invests every scene with suspense and makes a tantalising riddle of the book’s meaning. Its events play out somewhere between fears about GM crops (Argentina is one of the world’s leading producers) and folk superstition ... Fever Dream’s ambiguities, and the intricate psychologies with which Schweblin invests her characters, mean that rereading proves rewarding even when the suspense is removed.\
Alejandro Zambra, Trans. by Megan McDowell
PositiveThe GuardianThe conceit is playful, gimmicky even, but its results are not. By being forced to reread each piece several times, and think about how it may be better organised, you discover resonances that might be missed on a first pass. Reading Multiple Choice, we all become its author ... It is funny, melancholy, surprising. It is silly at times, profound at others. Its interactivity will entertain you, and might just change the way you think about fiction.
PositiveThe GuardianParker’s narrative might jump from the chaos of an Afghan firefight to a Sainsbury’s car park and back again, but it never feels all that puzzling: his prose, economical but evocative and at times wincingly graphic, confidently shepherds you through the ruptured timeline. What might cause puzzlement, however, is his decision to rotate the first-person narrative voice not between characters, but between objects involved in Captain Barnes’s story ... Would the book be more successful if Parker had chosen a different narrative method? I think so. But considered apart from its executional difficulties, Parker’s decision to let the objects around Barnes do the talking makes a lot of sense. After all, Barnes is himself an object for much of the book.