PositiveLibrary JournalInexplicably ignored and relegated to minor status below fellow Argentines like Borges and Cortázar, di Benedetto is every bit as rewarding and meaningful. The novel’s message about the frustrations of an individual desperately but ineffectively fighting the system is even more relevant today, over half a century after it was written.
Mario Vargas Llosa trans. by Adrian Nathan West
MixedLibrary JournalVargas Llosa takes a while to get the story going; forward progress often gets bogged down in long sections that read like extracts from a newspaper or a history book ... The publication of a new work by Vargas Llosa is always a major event, but in this go-round, though treading new territory, he relies too heavily on recycled themes, indistinguishable characterizations, and documentary to carry the weight.
Wendy Guerra tr. Achy Obejas
PositiveLibrary JournalExcept for Castro, Sánchez, and Che Guevara, the historical names that populate these pages will probably be unfamiliar to most American readers. Nevertheless, readers will get a peek at everyday life in Cuba after 60 years under Castro, but (like Cubans themselves) can only speculate about the country’s future, as the novel concludes with Castro’s death.
Antonio Muñoz Molina tr. Guillermo Bleichmar
PositiveLibrary JournalFor the reader accompanying this walker, each new section reveals something unexpectedly different, akin to what one might find after crossing the street to the next block ... Those familiar with Muñoz Molina’s more traditional works will be surprised, though not necessarily dissatisfied, with his latest offering. Relative newcomer Bleichmar’s excellent translation adds to the prize, despite the absence of the illustrations from the original.
RaveLibrary JournalNeuman succeeds in individualizing and exposing his female characters based entirely on their monologs, a format that recalls his earlier Talking to Ourselves. He also cautions about the dangers of repeated nuclear disaster from Hiroshima to Fukushima ... The fragmented and destructive power wielded by memory and trauma in developing one’s outlook on life, coupled with a two-pronged narrative technique for character development, makes Neuman’s latest a winner.
Fernanda Melchor, Trans. by Sophie Hughes
PositiveLibrary JournalMelchor’s English-language debut made the cut for the Booker International 2020 long list and employs a creative storytelling technique, but readers must be forewarned that its vulgar, raunchy language is not for the linguistically squeamish.
Mercè Rodoreda, Trans. by Martha Tennent
PositiveLibrary JournalRodoreda is possibly the most important modern Catalan novelist, and this availability to English speakers corroborates that well-deserved reputation. Though the book was first published in 1967, its aesthetic and literary qualities still hold up well.
Juan Carlos Onetti, Trans. by Katherine Silver
PositiveLibrary JournalThe dense writing, grim if not macabre atmospheres, melancholy characters leading futile lives of misery and despair, and generally unsettling but often inexact endings necessitate an attentive if not subsequent reading ... The haunting yet engaging stories in this comprehensive collection will expose Onetti to a much broader readership than has heretofore existed.
Jorge Comensal, Trans. by Charlotte Whittle
PositiveLibrary JournalIn his first work, young Mexican writer Comensal creates markedly credible characters and instills a vein of humor with a cussing parrot and Ramón’s clueless and self-absorbed adolescent children. But this book remains a chilling reminder of the suffering, both physiological and psychological, that cancer patients and their families endure. For those who have cared for a cancer patient or have been victims themselves, it hits very close to home, reminding many that its gravity trumps humor.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe mostly female characters, levelheaded yet sensitive, generally undergo a change, but the stories eschew plot development for mood creation and generally do not end with a twist. Instead, they end quietly and subtly because that’s all Uhart has to say. Though the length varies from two to more than 30 pages, the shorter ones are exquisite because of their simplicity and singular purpose ... These stories cover a broad spectrum of situations and will appeal to a wide range of readers. A remarkable introduction to one of the unsung women writers of Argentine letters.
PositiveLibrary JournalPuntí here expands his English-language repertoire with a compilation commissioned (and in some cases rewritten) between 2000 and 2016, deriving its title from a 1985 song by David Bowie and Pat Metheny. The wry humor makes it an appropriate introduction to the works of a rising Iberian writer.
Agustín Fernández Mallo, Trans. by Thomas Bunstead
MixedLibrary JournalDefying adequate genre classification, this \'docu-fiction\' is a hybrid of the real (including verbatim passages from a wide range of works) and the imaginary infused with quotidian images to create an unusual literary pastiche ... Readers of Borges, Cortázar, or Vila-Matas, all acknowledged in the text, will embrace the unconventional narration; for others it may be an original yet challenging reading experience.
Cesar Aira, Trans. by Chris Andrews
PositiveLibrary JournalThough Aira is not quite as rambling here as in his other works, in deference to the memoir format, he maintains a stylistic quirkiness that leads him to jump from one topic to another, seemingly at random, in what comes across as a confessional tone. Touches of absurdity grace the pages ... A good introduction to Aira for those unfamiliar with him, as noted translator Andrews skillfully conveys the lively prose and subtle humor of this 2003 novel into English.