Alonso Cueto, Trans. by Frank Wynne and Jessie Mendez Sayer
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThis installment feels more like two novels. The larger part is rote exercise and bald suspense. Within this, there is a more nuanced, and thus more mesmerizing, consideration of purpose and atonement, but because it’s subsumed by Cueto’s flailing prose and tiresome stereotypes, in the end, it doesn’t amount to much ... The translators Frank Wynne and Jessie Mendez Sayer haven’t lost anything here. This is a story about a man’s veneration of two women he wronged — the dead mother he neglected in life, and the person he shot — yet it offers not a single convincing female character, instead parading around \'enchantresses\' and girls who have \'legs like a gazelle.\' Women in this novel are either \'slim\' or not pictured ... Machista litanies of sexual assaults and torture feel pat, flat and not in the spirit of bearing witness, setting a record straight or even probing the depths of the human psyche in an effort to comprehend the sadism of men toward women, as presented throughout the book ... The dubious conclusions The Wind Traveler draws are a far cry from the moral solution it set as its task. It remains for the reader to fathom the problem of guilt and redemption — provided she’s slim enough to do so.
Virginie Despentes Trans. by Frank Wynne
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books[The] prose is so powerful, and so perfect, that we forget we’re even reading. Opening up Vernon Subutex 1 is more like stepping inside a thrilling, pulsing party and getting instantly mesmerized by the whirling couple at the center of the crowd ... Part of what makes this book so exciting to read is Despentes’s ability to broach so many topics, toggling between them in seamless, almost superhuman fashion. Deftly she tackles sex, materialism, the technologies that are hastening society’s collapse, capitalism, racism, gender fluidity, wounded masculinity, wounded femininity, domestic violence, homelessness, porn, the hypocrisy of the left, and the virulence of the right ... Despentes writes her characters with such heart, locating in their simplicity a kind of masterful complexity, making them wonderful and mediocre—in other words, human ... Despentes and Wynne are both humble, respectful, graceful, and unbelievably effective at conveying story and ideas. If they felt like it, we feel, they could destroy us. But instead they’ll just tell us this great story that will make us see ourselves and others in a whole new way.
Fernando Aramburu, Trans. by Alfred Macadam
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewFernando Aramburu’s gift lies in the links between action and reaction ... while the book overflows with tight, cinematic scenes, it remains static, almost dull. It reads like a long catalog of victimhood, sparing none of its characters. Glimpses into the origins of their friendships, or the nature of their filial piety or their love, are few and far between ... Homeland oscillates between a telenovela without intrigue and Dostoyevsky without moral inquiry ... the lackluster prose, while much clumsier and more confusing than the original Spanish, suits the desultory social landscape it describes ... Homeland is indeed less interesting than it could have been with more balance and more motion in any direction.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksKushner’s intellectual gifts are prominent throughout her third novel, which traces the fates of characters delicately treading the line between desperate and hopeful before arriving at a cinematic conclusion ... Part of what the looping structure of The Mars Room accomplishes is an emphasis on all relationships — not only loving and loveless ones, but also those we don’t even realize we’re in. The unintended consequences of every minor act of disrespect, of every little lack of consideration, may well be enormous. Kushner’s greatest achievement in this unique work of brilliance and rigor is to urge us all to take responsibility for the unconscionable state of the world in which we operate blithely every single day.