Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Review: North Station by Bae Suah

"One way to view these stories is as philosophical essays in fictional form that address some of the same philosophical, psychological, spiritual, aesthetic, cultural, and societal topics and concerns that are found in Bae’s longer fiction. But by devoting each story to only two or three of those topics and freed from a longer work’s overarching narrative the stories address those issues in even greater depth and convey them with poetic prose of comparable beauty to that found in her previous books in English translation. Compared to them this book has an even higher degree of difficulty—with abrupt linguistic changes in voice, number, and/or gender and multiple starting, stopping, and resuming narrative threads—that demand highly focused concentration but like them reward rereading." -- From my review of North Station by Bae Suah in New York Journal of Books

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book review: Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali

"Seventy-four years ago, nine years before the publication of The Second Sex and 20 years before The Feminine Mystique, a male Turkish communist novelist created a fictional feminist character who is the heroine of a love story that suggests an egalitarian heterosexual courtship can be based on honesty, candor, and mutual respect.

"Three quarters of a century after it was written Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali feels both dated and timeless; dated because strong, independent women are no longer a rarity and contemporary gender roles are more fluid, and timeless as the ideal of a love without ulterior motives, the theme of missed opportunities, and the psychology of the principle characters—all of which are conveyed in crisp contemporary English by translators Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe." -- From my review of Madonna in a Fur Coat in New York Journal of Books 

Madonna in a Fur Coat book cover

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Book review: Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

forestdarkbookcover"In writing her way out of a personal trial Krauss has expanded her range." -- from my review of Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss in New York Journal of Books

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Book Review: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander

dinneratthecenteroftheearthbookcover "In the book’s acknowledgements Englander thanks his editor for extracting the text of the novel from a much longer manuscript. The salvage operation feels uneven as a work of literature, but its ideas are worth engaging." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books

Book Review: An Egyptian Novel by Orly Castel-Bloom

anegyptiannovelbookcover   "A recurring theme is how and to what extent characters recover from setbacks, displacement, and disappointments. Tel-Aviv, particularly north Tel-Aviv (an established affluent neighborhood in the later chapters/stories but new construction in the early ones) where the Kastil brothers and their families live, gives the book a sense of place." -- from my review of An Egyptian Novel by Orly Castel-Bloom in New York Journal of Books

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Book review: How to Behave in a Crowd by Camille Bordas

"How to Behave in a Crowd will resonate with readers who grew up in large intellectual families, but it should also appeal to fiction readers interested not only in families but in learning how to find fulfillment by balancing the life of the mind with life among others in the world outside oneself." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books 

There is so much more I could have said about this book, but revealing spoilers would diminish the pleasure I hope readers will find unraveling its details on their own.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Book Review: Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen

"Though Moving Kings is considerably shorter and more accessible—with less erudite but nonetheless stimulating vocabulary, similes, and fewer stream of consciousness run-on sentences—than Cohen’s previous novel Book of Numbers (also reviewed on NYJB) it, too, skillfully weaves descriptive character portraits and plot lines into a novel of ideas that addresses issues as diverse as capitalism, gentrification, army veterans, the IDF’s conduct in the West Bank, and Jewish identity with sharp sardonic humor." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books
Also see Lit Hub's interview with Cohen about the novel