Tag Archives: winter 2008


John McNally Jefferson Press ($22.95) by Leah Raven “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia,” E. L. Doctorow once said. John McNally takes full advantage of this acceptability in his book of short stories Ghosts of Chicago. His characters, some purely fictional and others based on late, great Chicagoans such as John Belushi and Gene […]


Francine Prose HarperCollins ($24.95) by Joyce J. Townsend Instead of unctuous stereotypic babble—the contrived kind that smacks so clearly of an adult author emulating a teen—Francine Prose’s latest book presents a classic young protagonist whose utterly believable point of view unfurls seamlessly. Destined to take its place among the great novels of adolescence, Goldengrove tells of the […]


Nahal Tajadod translated by R. Bononno The Overlook Press ($26.95) by Rasoul Sorkhabi This book is the first comprehensive and authoritative historical novel in English about the life and mind of Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic who is one of the most widely read poets in North America. Nahal Tajadod confesses that it took […]


Marilynne Robinson Farrar, Straus and Giroux ($25) by Jill Stegman Told through the eyes of a middle-aged spinster named Glory Boughton, Marilynne Robinson’s Home is a challenging story played out in a Midwestern kitchen, involving heavy doses of theological discourse. However, while the scenes all take place in the kitchen and area surrounding the Boughton residence in […]


José Eduardo Agualusa translated by Daniel Hahn Arcadia Books (£11.99) by Jeff Bursey José Eduardo Agualusa’s previous novel, The Book of Chameleons, winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007, featured a small cast of Angolans who purchased false histories to give themselves distance from their roles in Angola’s civil war (1975–2002), while the narrator, […]


Deb Olin Unferth McSweeney’s ($22) by Stephanie Hlywak At the heart of Deb Olin Unferth’s astonishing, unsettling first novel is the idea and intention of vacation: what do we escape from? Where do we go? And at what point do we transition from being happy that we’re away to wanting to return back home? “A […]


Roberto Bolaño translated by Chris Andrews New Directions ($23.98) by Luke Sykora Since the author’s untimely death in 2003, Roberto Bolaño has risen to a level of international prominence. Nazi Literature in the Americas is one of his most innovative works, as it charts the lives of 33 writers from the Western Hemisphere, all of whom are […]


FINAL SILENCE Ronald Flores translated by Gavin O’Toole Aflame Books ($15.95) SENSELESSNESS Horacio Castellanos Moya translated by Katherine Silver New Directions ($15.95) by Aaron Shulman How does one write about terror in fiction? Until September 11th, 2001, this wasn’t a pressing question for writers exploring contemporary life in the United States; now it is unavoidable. […]


Phillip Lopate Other Press ($24.95) by Joseph Jon Lanthier It’s typically a sign of desperation when writers, even critics, begin littering their work with deferential references to their influences. Susan Sontag dismissed this tendency—an occasional indulgence in her early pieces—as inflated didacticism. “My pedagogical impulse got in the way of my prose. All those lists, […]


Geoff Ryman Small Beer Press ($16) by Margaret Shaklee “The words will come again, when your people need them most. When they cry out, tormented and disrespected, this book will flourish to shade them from the sun.” —Leaf 155, Kraing Meas In The King’s Last Song, noted speculative fiction author Geoff Ryman weaves together ancient legend […]