RaveThe Cleveland Review of BooksNot simply a patient returning the medical gaze, Molinard writes to and from the void. And this means writing with death and its sisters—panic, fear, bodily mutilation, futility, loss—whispering in her ear ... Moments of panic, suggests Molinard, bring us to the void, where we may glimpse death’s annihilation of self and other, reason and emotion. It is here that language fails, too. If death is the ultimate silence, the ultimate suspension of human reason, then the void becomes Molinard’s way of hollowing out original meanings and speaking into those empty spaces. Panic is not a sign of madness. For Molinard, panic is a way of making meaning outside of repressive institutions which, in claiming to keep death’s sisters at bay, only draw them closer.
Lina Wolff tr. Frank Perry
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksSharply translated by Frank Perry, Carnality is the crystallization of Wolff’s years of narrating carnality and its effects. This novel answers the central question posed in her previous works: What is the solution to the problems of the flesh? ... Whatever the case may be, Wolff’s understanding of carnality is multilayered, all-consuming, and deeply entrenched ... Where Carnality excels is in such penetrating analyses of how these wounds influence group psychology, with her portrayals of online trolling—through the perspectives of both Mercuro and Lucia—standing out as exceptionally perceptive.
Jazmina Barrera, trans. by Christina MacSweeney
RaveThe Chicago Review of Books... takes maternal creativity to surprising and rewarding places ... Thanks to Christina MacSweeney’s deft translation from the Spanish, Linea Nigra expands the scope of Anglophone cultural conversations around motherhood and allows Barrera to stand alongside Galchen and Heti as the genre’s foremost thinkers in the 21st century ... Where Barrera diverges from her predecessors is in her visceral descriptions of childbearing as a form of writing and reading. The title foregrounds how ruptures of the mother’s body can spark new, and yet timeless, modes of storytelling ... By way of linea nigra—the book and the line—Barrera ultimately gestures towards the poetics of writing as a mother. The demands on the maternal body and the wonders it yields in the white-milk months inform this poetics ... This language beyond words leads Barrera to consider what embodied knowledge is transferred from mother to daughter and, in turn, from one literary generation to the next. In the honestly rendered birth and breastfeeding scenes grounding Barrera’s essay, conceiving and bearing a child is not merely an instinctual process: a text writing itself. It is the product of communal support: a text written by multiple bodies over generations ... Barrera lets the story write itself, like the child in her womb, and she points to the ways she, too, has been written by the mothers who came before her ... If writing about motherhood is, as Barrera claims, destined to be unoriginal, she has nonetheless conceived a book which pushes cultural conversations about motherhood forward.