PositiveFull StopRyckman’s thickly lyrical language declines to commit to being either poetry or prose ... Ryckman’s use of plural pronouns is distinctive ... a meditation on social performance and the impossibility of presenting yourself in a singular role...This tactic of her survival unwittingly offers a way forward in a chaotic world.
Miljenko Jergović trans by. Russell Scott Valentino
RaveLos Angeles Review of BooksKin is deeply interested in [...] moments that trickle down through the years, and how, even when languages and the names of countries have changed, when wars have completely reshaped the region, these fleeting seconds have stayed rooted in a family’s mind. Jergović carefully collects the lost objects of family members, in the process documenting, imagining, recreating, and brooding over their lives. The result is a novel made up of stories of varying lengths, with swooping and intersecting narrative arcs ... Kin is a sprawling epic that uses a range of literary resources to capture as fully as possible every branch of a family tree.
Magda Carneci, Trans. by Simona Sora
PositiveBOMBFem flirts with the impulses of a critic to deconstruct its many scenes as gendered experiences, pulling from a scholarly tradition of gender studies, feminist theory, and queer studies to unravel their meanings. Arranging moments like a scientist setting up an experiment, Cârneci strings her novel with an analytical edge—then discards the compulsion to deconstruct ... moments of embodied biology feel exalted in large part because the language and framework (namely, visions and dreams) used to convey them look deeper at the ordinary through extraordinary means ... Mostly, it’s an evaluation of moments, deeply personal even when replicated in millions of organisms a thousand times a day.
Semezdin Mehmedinovic, tr. Celia Hawkesworth
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of Books... offer[s] sweeping novelistic views of the simplest and yet most complex of organisms: the human family ... capture[s] the bizarreness of these deeply knitted groups, warm to one another yet closed to outsiders.
Scholastique Mukasonga, Trans. by Jordan Stump
RaveFull StopRead in order, Igifu is a study in collective grief and trauma that finds its strengths through the observations of ritual. Writer Scholastique Mukasonga is interested in the inability of the human mind to conceptualize genocide, overwhelming in its evilness and reach. As her characters find themselves unable to articulate what has transpired, her stories verbalize the horror of genocide in ways drastically abstract, beautifully and imaginatively rendered. The ineffectiveness of language to explain trauma parallel the creation of ritual employed in the aftermath of violence. The diverse set of characters throughout the five stories in the collection take small actions one at a time, forming habits that work like amulets, as a way to endure. These joint ideas guide the narratives in Igifu to depict the patterns of learning to live in the midst of tragedy.