Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Two book reviews: A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman & Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen

"At first glance Israeli novelist David Grossman’s new novel, A Horse Walks into a Bar, which as the title suggests recounts a stand-up comedian’s performance one evening at a night club in the coastal city Netanya, appears to be a complete change in tone and direction from his previous two fiction books To the End of the Land and Falling Out of Time (the latter reviewed on NYJB), emotionally heavy works that either indirectly or directly deal with parental grief.

"But initial appearances can be deceiving, and though the new novel is seasoned with jokes it is a serious work that addresses emotional pain as a source of all art, even a genre as coarse and vulgar as stand-up comedy." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books





"Ayelet Gundar-Goshen’s (One Night, Markovitch) second novel Waking Lions starts as a moral drama in its first 14 chapters and becomes a suspenseful crime thriller in its final 11. Its strength lies in its third person narration’s shifting perspectives that develop its characters’ backstories and dramatic situations in the first part and its page turning pacing in the second part, in which the novel’s unanswered questions are resolved." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Book review: The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping by Aharon Appelfeld

"With its universal themes of healing, recovery, creativity, and finding one’s vocation The Man Who Never Stopped Sleeping should engage the wide readership Appelfeld’s prose deserves. Readers may want to buy extra copies and donate them to VA hospitals." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Book review: Recitation by Bae Suah

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"After two novellas translated into English (Nowhere to be Found, 2015 and A Greater Music, 2016, the latter reviewed in NYJB) South Korean post-modernist fiction writer Bae Suah and British translator Deborah Smith—who also translated A Greater Music and two novels by Han Kang (The Vegetarian and Human Acts)—return with an even more ambitious full length novel, Recitation, a novel of ideas with frequent philosophical digressions that further develops A Greater Music’s theme of living abroad while also addressing globalization, racial identity, and intolerance. It is a challenging yet cognitively engaging and rewarding read.

"... This is not a book for lazy readers; Bae expects us to show up ready to work. Her handsome prose, however, is never an obstacle.

"... Recitation will make Bae’s anglophone readers and other fans of post-modern fiction eagerly await the publication of more of her novels in English." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Book review: A Greater Music by Bae Suah

"Bae’s prose alternates between detailed descriptions of everyday life and ruminative passages on music, ideas, and her character’s mental state. The late American poet William Matthews once described his taste in literature as a preference for prosy poetry and poetic prose. A Greater Music exemplifies the latter category; it requires and amply rewards rereading." -- from my review in New York Journal of Books 
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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Book review: Two She-Bears by Meir Shalev


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“Is a proclivity to violence and vengeance a gender and/or regional trait? Are the minds of men more than women and/or rural folk more than city dwellers predisposed to violent acts of revenge? Or put another way, are violence and vengeance intrinsic components of the male psyche, and if so are men more likely to resort to them in rural settings? These are the central questions posed by Israeli novelist Meir Shalev in his seventh novel Two She-Bears (in the original Hebrew Shtayim Dubim, Am Oved, 2013).” — the opening paragraph of my review in New York Journal of Books

Wednesday, September 7, 2016