Some call Osamu Dazai the Japanese Thomas Bernhard—a masterful writer of estranged narrators, the relentlessly dour, and timeless cruelties. Originally published in 1948, and translated into English by Donald Keene in 1958, this extraordinary book recently found new life on TikTok, where it's introduced thousands of young readers to literature in translation.
Nestled within the nucleus of motherhood literature comes Linea Nigra, written in aphorism and anecdote that intersect over and over again in beautiful orbits. Barrera writes about childbirth, breastfeeding, and care through her mother’s artwork and her grandmother’s experience as a doula, as well as the author’s own extensive reading notes and frustrations with healthcare. Barrera’s seriousness and intelligence is punctuated by expressions of delight in parenthood.
I’ll be a mess if I can find a better novel this year than Gospodinov’s Time Shelter. Gaustine, a geriatric ward clinician, opens a clinic for Alzheimer’s patients that reproduces decades of the past in perfect detail. The treatment is wildly effective, and within the comfort of past eras, patients inhabit their former selves. Angela Rodel somehow manages an encyclopedia’s worth of obscure cultural references from across the globe, rending them with clarity and beauty. Gospodinov is a keen observer of both the melancholy of time’s passing and the slippery joy of nostalgia.
If 2001: A Space Odyssey was also about chilling, unnameable workplace minutiae... well, here you go. In the far future, a spaceship orbits a planet littered with strange objects, and the ship's crew—janitors, captains, all—become obsessed with these mysterious mementos. A story of dread and survival, both existential and physical, to be read in a morning, quaking over your coffee. You won't forget it.
I'm hard-pressed to find something similar to Carl de Souza anywhere in American fiction—his haunted stylings, his wanderings, his dense depictions of violence that feel both immediate and unreal.
The Love Parade stands out as a fascinating addition to Pitol's unsolveable mysteries and glassy realism. Complete with a cantankerous bookseller, an array of monologue-sick characters (like Dante's dead), and a futile search for answers (or is it?), George Henson's new translation is sure to delight.