An absorbing exercise in existential contemplation. The Archive of Feelings is a memory palace furnished with isolation and melancholy, its protagonist feeling fully human thanks to Stamm's hallmark clarity and precision.
Lights over the sky! Mysterious relatives! Ennui, domestic discomfort, ufologists who invade the streets and parks of a coastal Spanish town. A singular, upsettlingly good book that's also partially about the dangers of freelancing. Think THE EMPLOYEES by Olga Ravn but better.
Raised in an underground bunker with no outside contact, our protagonist has no name and no idea where she is. When she and the 38 other women imprisoned with her suddenly find themselves freed, they are released onto a vast, barren plane. Described as "Ursula K. LeGuin meets The Road" Harpman's writing is austere and beautiful. This is a book I will not soon forget.
Even when Jazmina Barrera is in the business of writing novels, she can't escape the essay form. Barrera's Ferrante-esque novel of friendship, woven within a cultural history of sewing, makes for an engrossing story, the kind that has you drawing exclamation points in the margins with abundance. I'm amazed by the breadth of Barrera's thinking, her manifold interests. Christina MacSweeney, returning for a third time to render Barrera's work into English, is the only translator I want to see at the helm.
When think of my own death, I will forever see Fosse's dark woods and his shining, barefoot apparitions in snow-smothered quiet. I don't know how to speak of this brief book without reverence or animal fear. A book to be read aloud, around a campfire, with loved ones, in its entirety.
A woman vacationing in the Austrian mountains awakes one morning to find herself cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible wall. With only a dog for company, she must learn to live off the land; hunting, farming and scouting for supplies all while maintaining her sanity. The prose of this translated work is straightforward and somewhat bleak, touching on themes of identity, women's "worth" and the importance (or not) of physical appearance. Haunting and beautifully original, this is a book I'll be thinking about for a long time.
A vivid, hardened tale of the slaughterhouse trade by Brazilian author Ana Paula Maia. In Zoe Perry's translation, Maia reads like Cormac McCarthy with the labor consciousness of George Orwell. Good, haunting, bloody old west stuff with an ethical imperative—if I wasn't already a vegetarian, this would do the trick. I'm keeping "Of Cattle and Men" high on the shelf.
I could not pull myself away from this book. STILL BORN is the horrifying, miraculous, nuanced story of two friends and their decisions to have children. When Alina becomes pregnant, her doctors assure her the child won't live. Then, she does. Without melodrama or melancholy, Nettel's characters endure moral dilemmas beyond imagination, and commit acts that make life more complex, and richer still. STILL BORN leaves me in awe.
This book is simultaneously uncomfortable and endearing, remaining in an amorphous zone of being content and discontent and constantly questioning what it means to see and to be seen. Dusapin writes of the acquaintance between a young receptionist at a tourist hotel on the border between North and South Korea and a visiting French graphic novelist. As they explore the area and grow close, the distance between them remains. It is slow, uneventful, and absolutely gorgeous. Dusapin's words and Higgins's ensnaring translation will leave you grasping for more until the very last sentence.
This is one of the wackiest, most elusive, and most bizarre books I've encountered in a while. The protagonist, whose first name remains unknown, pretends to be pregnant at work to be relieved of the mindless tasks her male coworkers blatantly assume she'll do: making coffee, distributing snacks, cleaning, etc. Committing to the ruse, she gains a new sense of identity, tracking her body's changes, eating for the baby, going to aerobics for the baby...but what baby??? You'll be confused and delighted until the very last week of the pregnancy and the very last page of this book.