RaveNPRThe stories in this collection are ones you can live and wrestle with, like difficult scripture. From the punctuation to the use of repetition, every small detail powers the whole and makes an indelible mark ... These stylistic elements give each story a poetic quality that lingers in the mind like a chorus, or like a painting with multitudes of purposeful and compounding layers. It\'s a welcome occasion when literature can so elevate simple words that you question whether you might be under a spell. And here it happens, over and again, each piece serving as a separate visitation ... Many of her characters, wives and mothers themselves, yearn to experience a life beyond the mediocrity they find themselves in. Her fiction both sympathizes with their hunger and makes it artful ... Reading Lispector is like being handed a world on fire. Or rather, a number of blazing worlds that at any moment could explode and level everything around them. And yet they are worlds you choose to hold, because their melancholy holds a certain depth of meaning. Through these 85 stories, these mini invasions, it\'s apparent that yes, Clarice Lispector was indeed a singular artist. Decades after her death, she continues to champion the possibilities of language, and its ability to mesmerize.
Amparo Dávila Trans. by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson
RaveLos Angeles Times\"Translated by Audrey Harris and Matthew Gleeson, Dávila’s stories contain a playfulness that, not unlike the work of Cortázar, can be intense and deeply unsettling in the best ways. This is a book of beautifully wrought nightmares, one that frequently leaves you searching for breath and looking over your shoulder. To read these 12 stories is to inhabit a world of strange and oftentimes gruesome ideas, all of which blur the lines of fantasy and reality ... Dávila is a master at playing, and preying, on her characters’ fears, as well as their disillusionment with the world around them. There’s a certain brutality to it, how she puts them in situations where they’re made to either continue enduring whatever madness they find themselves in or break free from it ... Even when Dávila’s characters try to do everything in their power to resist an inevitable fate, they cannot escape the page. And neither can the reader. We are trapped, held captive at the mercy of the very real and raw world of the mind — ours and the author’s. Dávila is a marvel, and this book casts a delightful and disconcerting spell.\
Mathias Enard, Trans. by Charlotte Mandell
RaveNPRCompared to the author\'s 500-plus page, one-sentence-long novel Zone, [the book] is a masterful exercise in brevity. It also kept me guessing, as it moves quickly from one scene to the next, never letting you get too comfortable in one place ... Énard\'s descriptions consistently dazzle throughout this short book ... Énard weaves an imaginative and suspenseful tale of civilizations and personalities clashing, of love, of being an artist in a violent era, of enthralling \'what ifs,\' and of the figurative — and perhaps literal — burning of bridges and connections. As the novel is grounded in concrete facts, what I love best is how well Énard manages to blur the lines of truth and fiction ... Énard\'s prose is vivid and elliptical, and his novel, like the sculptor\'s intricate designs, is a true achievement in form.\
RaveNPRTold through chapters that are presented as musical tracks...a work of poetry steeped in history and rich with imagination. The lyrical language keeps the pages turning, track after track...The story centers on a reincarnated Bob Marley and ranges from the rougher parts of Kingston and Zion in Jamaica to Emperor Haile Selassie\'s palace in Addis Ababa. We hear first from Marley\'s one-time lover Leenah, a deaf but wildly perceptive woman who gives her account of the first time she and Bob met. She describes him as a man with \'mischief in his eyes,\' \'misbehaving hair,\' and whose cheekbones could \'balance an egg or a flame or a revolution.\' ... Marvellous Equations is an intoxicating mix of...realism that not only surveys Rastafarian tradition, but also sheds light on the injustices against Rastafarians in Jamaica ... Her chapters are tracks that all work well as singles, but when played together pulsate with...power.
RaveNPRAna Simo's debut novel Heartland is at once manic, brash and unsettling ... It straddles the line between pulp noir and slapstick; it carries the can't-look-away sensibility of a telenovela ...takes readers on an erratic — and sometimes erotic — journey through the mind of a jealous lover. What keeps you engaged throughout is Simo's darkly funny and original voice ... Simo boldly tackles issues of race, sexuality, and immigration. It's an engrossing tale, to be sure — one with traces of surreal horror. Simo's gift lies not only in keeping the reader invested in her narrator's detailed observances and wild tangents, but in her own total fearlessness as a writer ... It's clear that Simo didn't necessarily set out to create a likable character, but a complicated one whose brashness reminds us how our past can ultimately shape who we are and how we relate to the world around us ...an imperfect, yet pleasing cocktail that goes down unexpectedly smooth.
RaveNPRThe most compelling science fiction is the sort which holds weight beyond its sheer inventiveness or even its ingenuity. It takes more. The best in the genre have always functioned like corner prophets reporting from the fringe ... Super Extra Grande is a work of welcome imagination, steeped in science and imbued with satire and philosophy ... One of the most endearing elements of the novel is the use of Spanglish that is peppered throughout ... Not unlike his main character, it's evident that Yoss — as an artist and cultural anthropologist — is intent on doing the dirty work, on digging through the ugly insides of human identity in order to arrive at something pure and lasting.
Juan Gabriel Vásquez
PositiveNPR...line for line Vásquez is a penetrating force, and the most pressing Colombian writer today ... I'd have loved to see Vásquez delve deeper into some of the consequences of art imitating life, where, in his words, 'opinions have their effects.' But Reputations is a powerful, concentrated achievement.
Alejandro Zambra, Trans. by Megan McDowell
PositiveNPRThroughout Multiple Choice, Zambra traffics in a depth of imagination and playfulness that is akin to a guessing game. As with many of his earlier works, he is content to play with, prod, and shake up the reader, confirming once again that the questions we ask about the world and about ourselves are oftentimes far more telling than the answers.