RavePopMatters...one of the most remarkable feminist novels to appear in the English language ... Its unobtrusive plot masks a work of remarkable complexity that launches a radical challenge to both the political and literary status quo ... What renders this work magnificent is its detailed attention to the inner voice ... Fantasy and magic realism are used to further refine that sense of self, as it processes and assimilates the most fantastical of external stimuli. It helps the reader – as well as the protagonist – to winnow an identity down to its essence. This sense of self-understanding, and whatever personal growth it entails, is the goal consistently sought in these stories; its achievement the denouement and reward for both reader and protagonist alike ... The story is a delightful breath of fresh air that scoffs at faux feminist literature – that ubiquitous genre which gently criticizes misogyny while taking care not to venture, in the end, too far from heterocentric and androcentric tropes. In these norm-plagued novels, the protagonists always include some iteration of a heteronormative couple that winds up together ... Kawakami writes with a remarkable frankness grounded in bodily experience and emotional honesty ... Fearless in its demand for accountability, transcendent in its honesty, it breathes life into feminist literature and throws down a gauntlet for other writers to aspire toward.
Rosa Liksom, Trans. by Lola Rogers
PositivePopMattersThe Colonel\'s Wife, by Rosa Liksom...is purely a work of fiction and offers a Finnish setting for the fascist narrative. The novel moves with a sprightly pace, and the rough Northern landscape is beautifully depicted ... The protagonists\' love of the natural world accords with the back-to-nature sentiment with which early strains of fascism were infused, but it also makes for lovely reading ...The sanitized narrative is unsettling to read, particularly for readers who know (as we should all know today) the true scale of fascism\'s horror ... Liksom\'s tale is a brilliantly drawn metaphor, and just as it took tremendous hardship and effort for so many people to wake up from their simplistic, codependent love affair with fascism, so the narrator faces the painful and torturous challenge of struggling to break free of her relationship with the Colonel and to rebuild a new life for herself ... The Colonel\'s Wife is a quick read but a difficult one in many respects. The casual fascism of the narrator, who so easily brushes off the genocidal violence of the Nazis, makes for easy reading but a troubled conscience, particularly for readers who know there\'s more to it than the narrator makes out ... There are times when the author describes such things with just too light-hearted a tone; the literary dimension of harsh truths clearly given primacy. Yet there is a wisdom to be found in this sort of a tale as well.
Therese Bohman, Trans. by Marlaine Delargy
RavePopMattersWhat is in essence a tale of loss and healing is prevented from collapsing into convention, thanks to the subtle touches of its thoughtful and talented author. While the women in the story are the ones struggling to deal with their respective losses, they are also the ones defining their lives, with autonomy and authority ... Bohman is a powerful artist of human feelings, and presents a compelling portrait of the inner life of the woman at the heart of her novel ... Bohman deftly portrays the inner soul of such a woman in all the complexity and contradictions this requires: she drifts from exultant highs at her professional and sexual achievements, to the pits of despair and self-loathing, where she questions the value of everything she has achieved ... For a novel which largely explores the feelings and experiences of a single woman, there\'s nothing stilted or laborious about it; the prose is light and engaging and draws the reader in with a desire to understand its central character and to see how she engages with the unpredictable turns of her life ... a highly rewarding read.
RavePopMatters...a riveting, rollicking read through the explosive intellectualism and labyrinthine love affairs of many of the key writers, philosophers and artists of this decade that came to define Paris and the Left Bank ... What Poirier\'s book provides is not a history of Left Bank thought but of its style—its way of looking at life and love and one\'s place in a world undergoing profound changes. She illustrates skillfully the attitude, sense, paradigm of these artists and writers, and places it within its larger context. While packed with detail, it\'s not an in-depth study, given the broad net she casts. A deeper study of how France and the world responded to the Left Bank would be most interesting. Poirier instead focuses on conveying to the reader a sense of how these artists lived their lives. Of especial interest is her discussion of the complicated decisions these writers and artists had to make during the period of Nazi occupation of France ... There was no single, easy way to respond to the complex moral demands made by the war and the occupation, and Poirier does an excellent job of illustrating the complex problems posed by the times.
Sayaka Murata, Trans. by Ginny Tapley Takemori
RavePopMatters\"Convenience Store Woman is full of wisdom about our modern age, but like any wise book it dwells more on making prescient observations than on offering any answers. ... Murata succeeds in beautifully depicting its many aspects in more profound depth than readers might expect ... deeply insightful and pleasantly thought-provoking.\