RaveOn the Seawall... a poignant ode to storytelling, bearing witness to historical memory from the Trojan War to World War II. German author Hans von Trotha presents an imaginative report by an envoy extending a Holocaust life preserver to Jewish archaeologist Ludwig Pollak ... At times, it’s difficult to determine who’s actually speaking, or to distinguish between past and present. He in one paragraph might refer to German writer Gerhart Hauptmann while in the next he suddenly means Pollak, and in the following K. is the speaker indicated by I. Yet it’s hard to find fault with this incredibly complex narrative. Von Trotha’s extensive knowledge of German history demonstrates there’s still much insight to be excavated from Nazi ruins. Elisabeth Lauffer, who won the 2014 Gutekunst Translation Prize, conveys von Trotha’s innovative approach skillfully from one language to another.
PositiveThe Woven Tale PressOn Freedom is an academic search, peppered with viewpoints from all the sources Nelson has consulted—and there are many ... When she works her own experiences into her treatise, however, it sings ... Nelson is at her most effective when sharing such individual segments during this discourse sprinkled with words such as phantasmagorical, perseverating, opprobrium, astralized, and inchoateness. I admit to keeping a dictionary handy, and pausing to wonder what the readability score might be on tests such as Flesch-Kincaid, Cloze, Gunning Fog, Coleman Liau, SMOG, or Fry. Her analysis of the Anthropocene in relation to the steam engine becomes poetic as she watches her son playing with trains and wonders how long dead dinosaurs can fuel their comfortable lifestyle ... One wishes for a fifth song of care and constraint, one on freedom in the COVID-19 era in regard to masking and vaccinations ... Maggie Nelson’s special talent hook is her mental acumen.
RaveWoven Tale PressBen Okri has a fantastic imagination. Reading the collection is similar to turning a glass snow globe and watching several dozen flakes each descending differently. He’s not creating magical realism as much as redefining it. He plays with reality, pushing the boundaries of certitude as far as they will stretch ... Okri is a master of minimalistic metaphor ... Okri’s passion for the written word had my heart soaring. Prayer for the Living covers so many current issues in such a potent manner. Ben Okri made me laugh. He made me cry. He made me think.
Dorthe Nors, Trans. by Misha Hoekstra
RaveWorld Literature TodayRanging from four to seven pages, the stories are small sips ending in dark rum punches ... Scenes capture feelings that elude a camera lens, unveiling inner motivations. Voices shift effectively, with some in first person, others in third. Most pieces convey remoteness, in landscape as well as character. Even in large cities there’s a bareness. People neither exude joy nor connect with one another. Nors teases at times with a cozy beginning, but eventually the murky underbelly emerges ... The twists Nors inserts veer toward the bleak yet encapsulate relatable emotions in sometimes witty ways ... Nors juggles adeptly, often keeping several story strands aloft and then abruptly walking away, leaving them suspended in midair, powerfully unresolved ... The Danes have long lauded Dorthe Nors, and the English-speaking world now understands why.
Gaëlle Josse, tr. Natasha Lehrer
RaveOn the SeawallIt is a poignant tale of reminiscence, as well as a subtle commentary on current issues ... The book is a master study in emotion sans wordiness. Josse’s selection of the medium of journal writing for her anguished storyteller allows him to express these \'deeply troubling\' memories in a safe space as they bubble up at the end of his Ellis tenure ... There’s subtle wit at play here, too ... Mitchell’s viewpoint is particularly interesting since it is that of an author from the other side of the Atlantic who chose to focus not on the immigrants themselves but rather on a character observing the passing tide of humanity ... a meditation on memory, but also a timely narrative on an unending condition.
RaveWorld Literature TodayOne book at a time, she continues to personify the Palestinian story in masterful prose ... a compelling novel by an author who’s lived Middle East headlines.
RaveThe Woven Tale PressSkibsrud’s work is nothing if not poetic ... Her microscopic lenses examine the slippery edges of nothing with sensitivity and insight, establishing graceful boundaries for the concept ... There’s nothing like The Nothing That Is. In these Essays on Art, Literature and Being, Johanna Skibsrud set herself a daunting task: To search for what hasn’t yet been imagined. And in doing so, she found nothing less than imaginative new ways of being.
Johannes Anyuru, Trans by. Saskia Vogel
RaveWorld Literature TodayAnyuru turns sturm und drang into elegant speculative fiction ... Vogel translated it into English, maintaining Anyuru’s poetic approach, infusing despair with hopefulness ... Anyuru luminously combines the motifs of light and moths as they flit through his pages ... Anyuru narrates a horrific story in graceful prose. He’s captured the zeitgeist in this Swedish saga, creating a literary outlet for global mourning strengthened by his experience as a poet, playwright, novelist, and essayist ... This scenario feels more contemporary than futuristic, layered so subtly that the full impact doesn’t hit until several days after finishing the book ... Anyuru plants hope in They Will Drown in Their Mothers’ Tears. And we need it.
Dag Solstad, Trans. by Steven T. Murray
RaveWorld Literature TodaySolstad hints at mythology, modernizing the ancient lore of conflict ... All the while, Solstad chats merrily away with himself. Readers eavesdrop as the author toys with his emerging \'us vs. them\' tale, departing at times from the storyline to mosey around on other topics. His intellectual maneuvering is often hilarious ... Already renowned in Scandinavian literature, Solstad once again brilliantly defies categories, this time in English.