Abdellah Taïa writes short sentences, often without verbs. Single words sometimes. There is light and space in his prose. And despair. At times, he uses the ellipsis suggestively . . . bringing out the apertures within and between words and thoughts, eliciting the unbridgeable gap between individuals.
Cathy Park Hong’s poetry can be dark, depressing, grimly prophetic, and fun—often all at once. In Engine Empire, her third book, she examines how governments and companies use information to control people by throwing her voice in all sorts of surprising directions, assuming the personae of very odd,
In his debut novel, Never Mind, published in 1992, the English writer Edward St. Aubyn pokes fun at one of his creations, a distinguished philosopher modeled loosely on A. J. Ayer: "Just as a novelist may sometimes wonder why he invents characters who do not exist and makes them do things
If you are so unfortunate as to be the protagonist of a Heidi Julavits novel, chances are you are both lonely and besieged. You are the girl at the party that everyone stares at but no one will talk to. You are likely clever, plain, and passive, a screen on which other women project their
A new novel by Peter Cameron doesn’t do much to announce itself as a literary event. His books are short—only one, The City of Your Final Destination, is longer than three hundred pages—and are not consciously “brainy.” Their chief literary virtues are wit, charm, and lightness of touch,
The Letters of Samuel Beckett, 1941–1956, volume 2 of a projected four-part compendium, is an endless Chinese banquet at which all but the most determined gourmands are likely to feel stuffed somewhere between the crispy pig ears and the thousand-year eggs: Some may thrill to the hairpin turns
Looming in the background of Hari Kunzru’s novel Gods Without Men are the Pinnacle Rocks, presumably modeled on California’s Trona Pinnacles, stone formations climbing from the bed of a dry lake in Death Valley and familiar to both hikers and couch potatoes (the spires regularly appear in
Like a science-fiction time traveler or the radio character Chandu the Magician, Satantango is an entity with multiple—or at least two—coequal manifestations, a monument of late-twentieth-century cinema and a modern Hungarian literary classic. There is Satantango the mind-boggling seven-and-a-half-hour
Ariana Reines, now thirty, has a curriculum vitae that could make her look like a star of academia. She graduated summa cum laude from Barnard and then studied with the most rarefied, radical philosophers and literary theorists at Columbia and at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
From Lysistrata to Don Quixote to Catch-22, literary comedy works best when a black heart beats beneath the hilarity. The comedic impulse is always transgressive, always an alternate avenue to the two tragic truths at the center of our existence: suffering and death. Levity must be rooted in