RaveThe AtlanticKawakami doesn’t just assemble a tactile detail and park it in a scene. Sensation itself drives her scenes, the way the senses can steer a poem ... The startling vividness of Kawakami’s images draws the reader deeper into the emotional intensity of the scenes ... When Fuyuko reconnects with a now married childhood friend with two kids, I hoped Kawakami would scramble my prediction that this friend would be a quickly sketched stay-at-home wife in a sexless marriage. When two work friends each give Fuyuko a present, I hoped Kawakami would conjure a surprise other than the obvious symbolism of receiving the same generic gift from two of the few people in her life. In instances like these, the novel doesn’t seem as finely honed as Kawakami’s earlier books. The translation, too, sometimes falters into vernacular that seems out of place ... Throughout most of the novel, Bett and Boyd conjure the poet’s sensibility of Kawakami’s prose with great skill, and co-translation is a strange art ... This third Kawakami co-translation from Bett and Boyd contains ample evidence of a thriving collaboration. Their choices are especially strong in scenes where Fuyuko finds emotional relief in language ... Kawakami has good instincts for creating an air of suspense, although that’s not what sets her novels apart. It’s her ability to make the mere passing of time, choosing to step outside and be alive, seem like an event ... Kawakami has found a meaningful answer to the question of what to do with feelings. She releases them into novels.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe narrator, Primi, has a refreshing lack of self-consciousness that gives the book the feel of another era ... Apostol grants Primi an exhilarating agency in pursuing these literary and sexual quests, merging her bookish and bodily cravings ... Apostol creates a striking contrast between wry, outlandish statements and earnest ones verging on spiritual ... These last sections have more immediacy and fully realized scenes than the rest of the book. As in many first novels, events in Bibliolepsy often occur in summaries rather than sustained scenes that extend long enough to evoke the nuances of a significant moment.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... an astonishing range of breakdowns ... a more meandering, rollicking novel, full of nutty lines that are, bewilderingly, horrible and hilarious at once ... There’s no predicting where the narrator may veer next, no warning of when Burns might pivot from the consolation of humor to a tender observation on despair ... The genius of Burns’s prose is how boldly it goes for broke, in sync with the breakdowns occurring within the minds of her characters. Her cascading descriptions of internal turmoil spiral the way the mind does, and she often adds some odd shift in pronouns for extra flourish ... Amid all the absurdity and wicked humor of this novel, Burns has created a complex character study in how violence, paranoia and sexual assault can become normalized in a family, and often remain so. It is a rare novelist who can approach the unspeakable with restorative humor, but Burns has a gift for dismantling and reconstructing things on her own quixotic terms, as she suggests with the perfectly chosen title for this book.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesSet in a near future with ever more concentrated wealth for those at the top of the corporate pyramid and bewildering living costs and debt for everyone else, The Transition is bleak but prescient ... Possibly, though clarifying the Transition's true intentions is not the aim of the novel so much as exploring the psychic fallout from being beholden to the whims of a faceless corporation ... The growing paranoia and destabilizing sense of strangeness in The Transition brings to mind the symbol-rich fictional worlds of the late poet-novelist Denis Johnson. Like Johnson, Kennard escalates the strangeness with the oddness of his comparisons ... That desire to innovate in both content and form and 'pull off something' rather than abide by the rule book for fiction fuels many of the excellent subtle acts of disobedience throughout the novel ... With The Transition, Kennard, like so many poets reinvigorating the expectations of what a work of prose can do, makes a case for resisting narrative conventions as a way to infuse a book with a feverish vitality.
László Krasznahorkai, Trans. by George Szirtes, Ottilie Mulzet & John Batki
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review\"This new collection of stories, like all of Krasznahorkai’s work, consists mostly of the searching, capacious sentences for which he has become known, each additional clause circling the unutterable … With impressive subtlety, the translations recreate the playful irony that undercuts the incessant anguish in each story, an anguish that can become predictable and therefore tiresome ... Krasznahorkai’s stories refuse to submit to the expectation that fiction provide any kind of reassurance or intimation of redemption. What the stories offer instead is a singular kind of immersive intensity in scenes flooded with such despair that reading them feels at times like drowning in the spiritual questions of our era.\
Elena Ferrante, Trans. by Ann Goldstein
RaveThe Los Angeles Times\"In each interview in this volume, Ferrante repeats her conviction that an author’s duty ends with writing a meaningful book. One of the many pleasures of this book is the increasing feistiness of her replies ... American readers hungry for every Ferrante sentence they can get will find many here in which she lowers her knife through the bread of life with the same startling force as she does in her novels.\
Alejandro Zambra, Trans. by Megan McDowell
RaveThe New York Times Book Review...for all the discussion of frustration and misery in Multiple Choice, it’s in no way a miserable book to read. Zambra’s wry humor gives buoyancy to even the most disturbing story ... [Zambra] exhibits a poet’s awareness of how the confines of a form, of an era, can push a writer to a place he might not have otherwise gone. Like a test taker, a writer sits both alone and among others.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThis brief book lacks the emotional heft of some of Sada’s longer novels, but for readers new to his work, One Out of Two offers a bewitching introduction to one of Mexico’s most inventive prose stylists of the last 50 years.