RaveThe Rumpus...unspools as coolly as ribbon in the wind ... As different times, texts, and experiences continue to accumulate in Zambreno’s controlled and well-paced collage, the past seems ever more present, and the future ever closer to touch ... her narrator’s ambition, and literary and artistic attentions, provide the critic with a ready-made template for assessing her own work. Passages devoted to Hardwick or Kafka flow with impressive ease into those portraying the narrator’s intimate struggles to live and make a living from her art, the minutiae and mundanity and embarrassing moments all given equal weight and measure. By elevating the status of the fragment, then restricting the fragment to its most minimal form—dead time, blank space: nothing—Zambreno empties her text and revels in the resultant openness: the opportunity to ruminate, to record, to connect a disparate set of influences and ephemera, in prose that provokes without need of plot. \'Art for me is a way to remark upon solitude,\' writes the narrator. \'A way to mark time.\' Likewise for Zambreno, whose avowed \'worklessness\' undergirds this abundantly productive and imaginative work.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Times... expertly told in Moraga’s lucid prose ... Immigration is always fraught with danger and uncertainty, but Native Country offers some solace for those settling anew ... Moraga’s mix of unitalicized English and Spanish adeptly celebrates and reinforces the culturally specific nature of the work ... Through sections in San Gabriel, grounded in developed settings and revisited in the text, Moraga best addresses the questions she sets out to answer. At other times, she fails to follow her inquiries.
Alia Trabucco Zerán, Trans. by Sophie Hughes
RaveLos Angeles Times... taut and propulsive ... [a] brilliant debut ... The English translation by Sophie Hughes, which appeared in 2018 in the U.K., is truly stunning, full of deft turns of phrase, and shines especially bright when unwinding Felipe’s melodic monologues ... an eerie and effective...plot ... As the road trip progresses, certain chapters narrated by Felipe grow almost nauseating—the risk (and perhaps the purpose) his frenzied prose—but the alternating narration serves its role quite well. Iquela’s descriptions of the trio’s journey are meditative and constructed with meticulous intent. They help anchor the plot and can also be surprisingly comedic. Paired with Felipe’s fugue-like voice, the exchange in perspective becomes mimetic of the fraught reciprocations between then and now, mother and daughter, the memories of parents and those of their children.
Maria Sonia Cristoff, trans. by Katherine Silver
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books\"The stories of priests, abandoned housewives, and others are filtered through the dispassionate prose of Cristoff, the narrator ... In a rare moment of authorial interjection, Cristoff asks readers how we might reconcile this lack with the \'limitless horizons constantly mentioned in Patagonian travel brochures.\' It’s a good point, which calls to mind the American West’s own booster-heavy past. It is also the type of engagement the reader may want more of ... [Cristoff\'s] authorial ghostliness notwithstanding, False Calm is an artful, atmospheric, thought-provoking depiction of life between silence and open space. For readers versed in the American West, the book picks up where Wallace Stegner left off.\