‘We look for the wrong things in the right places’ [book review]

Thirsty Sea by Erica Mou, translated by Clarissa Botsford ‘I get lost all the time / But I always know which way / the sea lies’. So reads one of the miniature poems scattered throughout the pages of Thirsty Sea, the restless, visceral and compulsively playful debut novel by Erica Mou. The Italian singer-songwriter’s forayContinue reading ‘We look for the wrong things in the right places’ [book review]

‘The light comes in cautiously’ [book review]

A review of Never Did the Fire by Diamela Eltit, translated from the Spanish by Daniel Hahn In Diamela Eltit’s novel Never Did the Fire, the two main characters, an unnamed man and woman, spend most of their time in a room. In a bed, to be even more specific. Sometimes they lie in it,Continue reading ‘The light comes in cautiously’ [book review]

‘Not an elegant, studied gesture but a convulsive act’ [book review]

A review of In the Margins by Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein In our world of instant celebrity, Elena Ferrante is something of an anomaly. For three decades, she has been publishing – with wild success – under a pseudonym, her true identity known only to her Italian publisher. Though sheContinue reading ‘Not an elegant, studied gesture but a convulsive act’ [book review]

‘Life from the margins can be perfectly fruitful’ [book review]

A review of The Intimate Resistance by Josep Maria Esquirol, translated from the Catalan by Douglas Suttle, and Wilder Winds by Bel Olid, translated from the Catalan by Laura McLoughlin The world can be pretty exhausting sometimes. In this age of information and global connection, it can seem as though we are being urged fromContinue reading ‘Life from the margins can be perfectly fruitful’ [book review]

‘Truth is merely our perception of the truth’ [book review]

A review of The Night Will Be Long by Santiago Gamboa, translated from the Spanish by Andrea Rosenberg Santiago Gamboa’s The Night Will Be Long takes its title from a line by Spanish poet José Ángel Valente. Gamboa has chosen it as one of two epigraphs for his novel – the other is a lineContinue reading ‘Truth is merely our perception of the truth’ [book review]

‘Whether it could be borne’ [book review]

A review of The Bureau of Past Management by Iris Hanika, translated from the German by Abigail Wender The Bureau of Past Management doesn’t exist, but, after reading Iris Hanika’s excellent novel of the same name, I certainly wish it did. This vast institution at the heart of the German capital – nation, even –Continue reading ‘Whether it could be borne’ [book review]

‘I could draw it in writing’ [book review]

A review of Planet of Clay by Samar Yazbek, translated from the Arabic by Leri Price ‘A story . . . seems understandable when it’s about a large beast that eats people,’ muses the narrator of Samar Yazbek’s Planet of Clay, a haunting exploration of conflict, trauma and the utter impossibility of using words toContinue reading ‘I could draw it in writing’ [book review]

‘What does memory feed on?’ [book review]

A review of Madgermanes by Birgit Weyhe, translated from the German by Katy Derbyshire Sometimes you pick up a book and just know that this one is going to be special. There are a few things to suggest that Madgermanes might be so: the line drawings on its bright-yellow cover, the unusual size and gentleContinue reading ‘What does memory feed on?’ [book review]

‘So desperately temporary’ [book review]

A review of The Song of Youth by Montserrat Roig, translated from the Catalan by Tiago Miller Eva Baltasar, a prominent Catalan poet and author whose novel Permafrost I reviewed earlier this year, describes Montserrat Roig’s work as ‘an array of lagoons in which [her] most extraordinary flowers lay their roots’. It’s certainly an arrestingContinue reading ‘So desperately temporary’ [book review]

‘They’re the heads and we’re the bodies’ [book review]

A review of Here Is A Body by Basma Abdel Aziz, translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright Basma Abdel Aziz’s Here Is A Body begins, appropriately enough, with a chapter that is all about the corporeal. In vivid, fast-paced prose focused on immediate sensations – sound and smell in particular – the reader isContinue reading ‘They’re the heads and we’re the bodies’ [book review]

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