RaveMusic and Literature... Menasse is too humane a writer to see the world in such bleak terms as [Kafta] ... The strange charm of Menasse’s polyphonic story is in how it suggests that such an European Union is inextricably bound to its diversity of member countries and yet utterly dependent on their continued collaboration ... More often than not, this prison mentality plays out hilariously ... What reads as a thinly veiled rebuke to the British forces determined to sunder the country from the Union is in fact a humane justification for this massive, transnational, determinedly supra-political project ... At moments, the novel feels so sprawling that the only director capable of bringing it to the screen might be Cecil B. DeMille, and yet it feels intensely immediate, deeply personal. Even in light of the years Menasse spent in Brussels researching this novel, it seems rather extraordinary that such an abstract, amorphous entity as the European Union could have been rendered so intimately; that Jamie Bulloch was able to bring this same gentle, ironic humor to the English is proof positive of his formidable skill as a translator ... an accumulation of many small stories that, brought together, tell a broader, truly vital story.
Valeria Luiselli, Trans. by Christina MacSweeney
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksLuiselli’s unusual polyphony asserts itself everywhere as multiplicity ... Christina MacSweeney’s translations are so clean, so gorgeously rendered with Luiselli’s evident collaboration and approval, that my only regret was not seeing Luiselli’s own English at times. I am inclined to call her use of English both felicitous and unusual, and hearing her speak it made me wish I could read more of her own unique language. Still, no matter the language, her formal and stylistic inventiveness is palpable.
PanFull StopI struggled to be moved by this book. Only at one point near the end did I come close to some genuine feeling. It is when the father tries to articulate his vision of the train trip his son will take back home to the city known as A after he dies ... What should we expect of a novel? A momentary escape from gray-skied reality? A catalyst for personal realization? A moment of genuine empathy with someone outside ourselves? Census provided none of these possibilities for me. All it offered me were words and a void that I had no luck in filling. The greatest pitfall in allegorical writing is when the distance between the representation and the reality is too great for the connection to be made, and so even Ball’s heartfelt preface and the fourteen photos following the text failed to hold up the novelist’s side of the compact I as a reader had made with him.
Mathias Enard, Trans. by Charlotte Mandell
RaveThe New Republic\"...the beauty of Compass is the sheer breadth and density of its vision, calling forth a multitude of different worlds, bound only by the capacious mind of its narrator ... Énard’s refusal to let one part of the world or one culture assert absolute authority over the other shows his readers how they themselves might shoulder many contradicting realities. No monolithic religion or reality holds sway here ... In reorienting us in the same way, Compass breathes life into the ashes of history, forcing its readers to see anew the world around them.\
RaveThe New RepublicBarkskins is not a polemic. The beauty of Proulx’s book is how it illuminates the lives of characters who have been affected by this foundational exploitation. With so many pages, and so many characters, a reader can trace various evolutions of viewpoint, such as on the question of the colonizer’s relation to the colonized ... Proulx says she researched the book for more than 30 years, and nary a page goes by without a few exquisitely observed historical details ... Lavinia proves to be one of the most brilliantly rendered and memorable characters Annie Proulx has ever invented ... Proulx establishes in Barkskins a narrative so grand in spatial and temporal scope, so broad in theme, that it cannot conceivably be strictly American. Her pitch-perfect sentences, instead, encompass the entire Western world, and its ever-growing concern with ecological and environmental change.
Marie NDiaye, Trans. by Jordan Stump
RaveThe New RepublicNDiaye’s readers are forced to endure this same emotional distance, as Ladivine’s prose, brought into exacting English by her frequent translator Jordan Stump, insistently refuses them full access to her characters ... NDiaye’s refusal to immerse us within her characters’ minds makes it seem as if something crucial is being withheld, as if we are continually being presented with mere veneers—a sensation at odds with the sheer amount of attention NDiaye devotes to thoughts, feelings, and impulses ... By straddling the realistic and the fantastic, by touching on the needs of the present moment and presenting new answers to age-old dilemmas, NDiaye is writing a literature both innovative and incredible.
RaveThe New Republic[an] astonishing debut novel ... Garth Greenwell’s writing is alive to the foreign and the unknown; he opens our eyes to worlds we had not realized existed alongside our own.