RaveAsymptoteGaëlle Josse’s intimate novel, winner of the European Union Prize for Literature and skillfully translated by Natasha Lehrer, is a powerful reflection on exile, immigration, and one’s sense of home ... [the protagonist] gives us a complex—and often painful—insight into the bleak conditions and harsh poverty that have driven people to seek out a new home, while also reflecting upon his own career and the people he has worked with, culminating in a very personal reflection on choice, regret, and what makes life meaningful ... What continues to fascinate, however, is the narrator’s continued choice to remain on Ellis Island, markedly contrasting with the forced detention of its inmates ... In this way, the novel is deeply psychological and moves beyond the wider context of the period to reveal the entrapment that can result from a certain way of living—with fears, with regret ... Josse masterfully creates a detailed world from what has been excluded ... complex and conflicted, beautifully capable of capturing simultaneously the varied spectrums of courage, suffering, and hope.
Burhan Sönmez, trans. by Umit Hussein
PositiveAsymptote... translator Hussein’s English prose is both dreamlike and profound. The early shift in narrative form from the first person to the third introduces a masterful weaving of perspective, voice, and time. It is no surprise that the two epigraphs to the book relate to Borges ... In this exploration of the passage of time, Sönmez is at his most philosophical and his most political ... Recurrently throughout the novel, the value of remembering the past is challenged ... Yet Sönmez makes a clear distinction between the past and history.
Silvina Ocampo, Trans. by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan
RaveAsymptote[S]urrealist influences are evident in her writing, and there is undoubtedly a fairytale quality to Ocampo’s stories: fairytale in the sense of its truest origins—innocence is flooded with the dark and the ominous, childhood confronts and battles adulthood. Throughout Ocampo’s tales, there is always a moment when death enters, knocking the innocent out. And these stories are dark ... Ocampo’s conjured worlds are wondrous, bold, and unique ... Her narrators’ glances never come from somewhere expected, and always land on something unpredicted ... Ocampo is never sentimental; the devastating heartbreak of her stories comes from the suddenness of emotion, which is always comprehended too late, through memory ... This translation from the Spanish is a tremendous accomplishment ... Levine and Lateef-Jan have very skillfully kept...wit and imagination alive in their translation. A literal translation is often foregone to save the humor or spirit of the original.