RaveAsymptoteMorábito skillfully pairs this moving (and slow-moving) individual arc with a feverish collective story, whose twists and turns again relate to Fraire’s poem ... What follows is a nightmarish comedy of manners, equal parts horror and humor, each serving to enhance the other. The humor in particular deserves a side note; it’s a deliciously smooth blend of irony and slapstick, cementing Morábito’s fame as a master of the genre. Translator Curtis Bauer does a brilliant job of conveying that mastery in English ... It’s rare for a novel to so deftly balance character and plot. It’s even rarer for a complex plot to sprout from such unlikely sources: the old, the ill, the poets. This, I think, is what makes Home Reading Service exceptional. On the one hand, its protagonist evolves through increasingly close contact with bodies past their prime; he is able to do so because Morábito paints them as bona fide subjects of love and lust—a far cry from our own take on aging and infirmity. Meanwhile, poetry is often relegated to the dark and dusty corners of our local bookstores—many think of it as idle exercise, free of any real-world implications. In the novel, though, it captivates the masses and drives them to a darkly epic climax.
Daniel Saldaña Paris, Trans. by Christina MacSweeney
RaveAsymptote... a counter-formative tale that is both masterfully constructed and poignantly penned. In it, he exposes existential and political conservatism without dealing cheap blows, and introduces readers everywhere to a profoundly relatable narrative voice ... The...novel artfully explores the tension between the classic formative tale and its antithesis ... there’s an overarchingly grim shift from promise to flop. It’s made all the starker by a series of deliciously clever winks from the author ... the novel doesn’t ride on events. It is, at its core, an absorbing character study, driven not just by voice (more on that later) but by a deeply original theme ... local dynamics serve to illustrate broader inequities—notably, the rampant machismo at the heart and loins of Mexican society ... Saldaña París understands that exposure is much more damning than verdict; in this, too, he proves a deeply intelligent writer. I’d hate to give the impression that his brilliance is merely formal, though, riding on the bold subversion of a literary genre—not that that isn’t plenty, but I promised I’d come back to voice ...The novel elegantly straddles slang and lyricism, heartache and humor, young candor and adult nuance, yielding prose that is nothing short of exquisite.
Ronit Matalon, Trans. by Jessica Cohen
RaveAsymptoteOne could tout the graces of Matalon’s novella on a number of fronts. Its layered brand of humor—part slapstick, part wit—seeps in and out of darkness with bite, yielding a compact tragicomedy on love and loss. While its characters may flirt with the cartoonish, they never quit the realm of plausibility: their foibles are utterly, achingly human. Its prose, translated by Man Booker Prize winner Jessica Cohen, is a deftly wielded knife. The author’s approach to longstanding issues in Israeli politics warrants special praise. Her concern for women, Arab Jews, and Palestinians marks the narrative but doesn’t outweigh it—a glowing case of show-don’t-tell ... Perhaps most interestingly, though, the book can be read as an allegory of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at large: a tale of mutually perceived \'others\' fighting for a home ... And the Bride Closed the Door, [Matlon\'s] parting song of loving wrath, is arguably her finest. One can only hope that it is heard widely and often, and that the key to peace soon turns in its all-too-rusty lock.
Wolfgang Hilbig, trans. Isabel Fargo Cole
PositiveAsymptoteWriters writing about writing run the risk of alienating certain readers; writers writing about politics will sometimes feed us narrow partisan lines, thereby flattening an otherwise rich narrative. Hilbig is talented enough to avoid these traps. Far from building walls between us and an aptly named protagonist, the novella’s puzzle-like structure allows us to partake in Waller’s own disorientation ... [An] already powerful message is bolstered by Hilbig’s stunning prose.