RaveWords Without BordersThis kind of pulsing, heady prose draws the reader into Harun’s tale immediately. It’s a tale told in order to give the anonymous victim in Camus’s text a name—Musa—and a story of his own ... While The Meursault Investigation certainly critiques Western attitudes toward the foreign other, including those implicitly present in The Stranger, the strength of the novel, like Rhys’s, stems from its ability to stand on its own terms rather than as a gloss of the earlier work ... In giving Meursault’s victim a name, Daoud also grants him the gnarled complexities and twisted narratives that inevitably accompany agency in narrative, and in life.
Natalia Ginzberg, Trans. by Frances Frenaye
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksStraightforward, direct, often avoiding the complexity of the subordinate clause, Ginzburg’s unmistakable style...[is] haunting and tightly wrought ... At less than a hundred pages, The Dry Heart reads as a brief, intense étude for the themes that would continue to preoccupy Ginzburg for the following decades: family and its quirks and foibles, failed relationships of all kinds, the ways in which history torques its way into domestic life ... [a] brutal but restrained throttle ... [Ginzburg\'s] fiction is less interested in examining intellectual life than in training an intellectual’s eye on characters with more petite aspirations ... Ginzburg rigorously limits her scope, exploring the vast realms of the social and the political through a smaller scale—the politics of the family—while refraining even from drawing too many conclusions from that. Between generational differences, genealogical secrets, former and secret lovers, and the desires and limitations related to real and aspirational social milieux, Ginzburg seems to suggest that in the sphere of the family there is always more to tell, and differently.
Natalia Ginzburg, Trans. by Minna Proctor
PositiveLos Angeles Review of Books...vigorous, witty, and spirited ... Rather than the brutal but restrained throttle of The Dry Heart, this is a warmer, comic, polyglossic novel of letters and dialogue. Unfolding in perspective, it engages multiple voices, returning to the pleasure of dialogue and absurdities of familial glue ...[an] investment in dialect and the vernacular returns, here, as songs hummed and whistled and snatches of sayings half-recalled snake their way through its pages ... Between generational differences, genealogical secrets, former and secret lovers, and the desires and limitations related to real and aspirational social milieux, Ginzburg seems to suggest that in the sphere of the family there is always more to tell, and differently. In Happiness, as Such, there is a more robust family saga that might be found between what the characters do and, more importantly, do not, say[.]
Beatriz Bracher, Trans. by Adam Morris
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksPublished in Brazil on the 40th anniversary of the Golpe de 64, I Didn’t Talk can be read as one of many novelistic catalogs of 20th-century atrocities. As with the works of W. G. Sebald and Patrick Modiano, this is a slim, dense novel that lingers in the eddies of personal memory and historical reckoning ... she [Bracher] is interested in the conditions that make such retellings possible, in the many ways one might catalog the library of a national and personal past ... At just 160 pages, with no chapter breaks, the novel reads as a sharp intake of breath, or a syncopated panting. Scraps of prose, quotations from characters, and jagged excerpts from other literary texts accumulate. They mingle with and contradict each other. We are far, here, from the powerful moral certainty of the dictator novel, that classic Latin American subgenre. If Gustavo’s narration can be called a confession, its delivery is far more baroque than a typical denunciation or plea of innocence ... Polyvocal if not cacophonous, these pages unfurl alternatives to the received order of things—the dictatorship’s account of its history, but also the triumphalist narrative of resistance. Gustavo’s way of reframing his personal history opens these \'settled\' stories up for revision in a rowdy, Swiftian, fictional public sphere.
PositiveBookforum\"Powers reminds us again and again that trees and humans share a quarter of our genes. Therefore, we also share a history—one too often characterized by conquest and pain. The plots of these stories weave together subtly, and a number of them converge explicitly in a long set piece about California redwoods, which are targeted for deforestation ... Powers’s other novels, like The Time of Our Singing and The Echo Maker, have been criticized for being more interested in ideas than the characters they revolve around. The same critique could be leveled at The Overstory, and yet there is something more going on ... Manufacturing a narrative arc out of the brambles of history always requires emphasizing some agents at the expense of others, choosing certain strands and ignoring others. While Powers is eager to show that forests might know things we don’t, his novel risks forgetting a history that is known, one which no one can responsibly plead ignorance. Amid the large cast of characters—both human and non-human— indigenous and black histories are glaringly absent. It’s an omission that is all the more disappointing in a novel that urges us to imagine all kinds of stories as intricately, if invisibly, linked.\
PositiveBookforumIf other contemporary novels of the American immigrant experience have worked to portray the cultural slights and acute misunderstandings that arise from attempting to integrate, Palacio is more interested in the way the psychological resonance of past times and places is amplified by the experience of exile—and in meticulously chronicling the physical, bodily expression of this experience ... Picking up strands of Homeric tragedy as well as Christian mysticism, the novel sometimes groans under the weight of its own conceptual scaffolding ... Part of what The Mortifications does remarkably well is explore the cacophonous coexistence and interaction of different, even contradictory, belief systems.