Reviewed by Chad Felix
Deep within My German Brother, Chico Buarque’s rich and inventive new novel, the narrator Ciccio, the youngest son of a respected literary family, announces that he’s “almost beginning to believe the things [he] made up.” The statement’s directness underscores its starkness: because his older (Brazilian) brother is gone, their mother is grieving by constructing a world in which her eldest child is still alive, “now drinking hot chocolate in the Café Tortoni, now strolling trough Plaza San Martín, now greeting a blind poet on Calle Maipú.” Ciccio plays along, making things up in an effort to soften the blow, half-believing . . .
Reviewed by Timothy Aubry
…let’s get back to Murnane’s strangeness for a minute, because his fiction is so very, so intricately strange and one benefit of his refusal of realist protocols is that he can make it just as strange as he likes, thereby expanding our sense of and our admiration for the possible—the one thing, he notes, that the “actual” can never be.
Reviewed by Anne Posten
Apparently, if we are to believe the venerable Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Robert Seethaler’s slim latest work, A Whole Life, is “a novel for sadists.” Such a proclamation seems an extreme one for a book whose diminutive size and unpretentious premise fairly trumpet harmlessness. Nor does the title belie the content. A Whole Life is in fact just that: a compressed chronicle of one man’s entire life, from birth (nearly) to death. The facts that the man in question is a resident of a tiny Austrian alpine town, and that his life spans the first three tumultuous quarters of the twentieth century do not at first glance contradict the assumption that the reader will find little fodder here for her darker impulses. Or perhaps they do. What is it, really, that a reader looks for from an encounter with a foreign life, whether fictional or real? What impulses, dark or ennobling, attract us to a work of literature in the first place?
Review by Alexandra Primiani
It starts with a description of the thing: what it does, how we relate to it, how we describe it. The heart of Simon Limbres—the character who will lose his life—is more than just the tissue and blood and valves that make it up, but a kind of catalyst for the life he has led until this day. The Heart, Maylis de Kerangal’s eighth book in French and her third to be translated into English, drops its readers into the life of Simon Limbres and documents the reverberations of his death felt within his family, community and through France...