RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksThe structuralist literary critic Tzvetan Todorov defined \'the fantastic\' as a literary genre that hesitates between psychological and supernatural explanations to explain extraordinary occurrences, and Navarro’s work often lives and flourishes in this open space of uncertainty ... The stories in Rabbit Island are beautiful, disquieting, and somewhat unhinged. They are the sort of stories whose narrative logic often defies easy categorization, even as their emotional spell lingers long after reading, like particularly vivid dreams.
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksThroughout the book, the author refers to herself in the second and third-person, creating a sense of a semi-fictional world within the essay. The reader finds herself not just following along on Larson’s journey to understand Takako but also imagining possible pasts for the woman at the center of the mystery ... The pleasure of reading this essay is in the search, and in Larson’s precise, clear-eyed prose ... Though its purported subject remains a cipher, this is an enthralling read that is ultimately about how to make art out of the raw fuel of experience. Reel Bay may be a record of Larson’s failure to render Takako’s story onto the screen, but as an essay, it succeeds at posing thought-provoking questions about the blurred lines between truth and fiction.
Marie Ndiaye, tr. Jordan Stump
RaveChicago Review of Books...she explores throughout her work questions of exile, disjuncture, and belonging, often in fantastic and narratively disjointed ways ... In That Time of Year, NDiaye dispenses information to the reader in a matter-of-fact tone that belies the unusual circumstances of the world in which the novel takes place ... What at first appears to be a Kafkaesque fable about insiders and outsiders quickly morphs into a metaphysical horror story about the bonds between the living and the dead ... The novel shares some DNA with the Argentinian writer Samanta Schweblin’s Fever Dream in its embrace of the fantastic and as a haunting reinvention of the literary horror story ... it left me eager to read more.
Carmen Boullosa, trans. by Samantha Schnee
PositiveChicago Review of BooksWhile the original Anna Karenina is a doorstop of a novel, a nineteenth century work of literary realism whose power accumulates through dense detail over hundreds of pages, The Book of Anna is a slim, playful sequel set in the early twentieth century that is deeply attuned to the concerns of the twenty-first ... Boullosa takes a playful, postmodern approach to her material ... Sergei and Anya, Tolstoy’s characters, feel somewhat static on the page, while Boullosa’s own creations—particularly the anarchist Clementine and the canny Claudia—feel most alive ... The Book of Anna succeeds at defamiliarizing Tolstoy’s original, re-envisioning it through an entertaining feminist lens. It left me wanting to read more of Boullosa’s work — and hoping that more of it will soon be available to the English-speaking world.
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksMajumdar deftly weaves several narrative threads together in a novel that is fast-paced enough to feel like a literary thriller, yet also turns a wise eye toward the complexities of life in contemporary India ... [Majumdar} reveals herself to be keenly attuned to the injustices of life in contemporary Kolkata, especially when it comes to issues of class and gender. The novel renders the physical landscape of the city in brief, vivid imagery ... Majumdar skillfully reveals the ways that her characters rationalize their own moral compromises in a system that rewards them for doing so. In this regard, A Burning is not just a novel about India, but also a mirror through which American readers might contemplate the failings of our own increasingly degraded political system ... The novel ends on a dark note, a stark reminder that those who rise to power often do so at the expense of the poor and the powerless. In this way, A Burning is very much a novel for our times.
E. J. Koh
RaveChicago Review of Books[A] stunning memoir ... Koh, who is both a poet and translator, writes prose that is simple yet elliptical and all the more resonant for what is left unsaid ... The parallels between Koh’s mother’s circumstances and the decisions she makes in regard to her own daughter feel both humanly real and almost uncanny, but Koh allows these parallels to speak for themselves ... it’s both a pleasure and a relief to read about Eun Ji’s success when she turns her attention first to poetry and then translation ... Koh learns to wield language not to further isolate herself, but as a way to connect with others. The result is this beautiful, scorching memoir.