The Quearterly Conversation has just published its 19th edition. A few articles and reviews that look interesting:
From The Girl with the Golden Parasol by Uday Prakash
By Jason Grunebaum
The Girl with the Golden Parasol follows Rahul, a non-Brahmin, who finagles his way as a student into the department of Hindi: one of the most corrupt in the university, and a “den of Brahminism.” He does so after falling utterly for Anjali, a Brahmin girl, who, through simple bad luck, could find a home in no other department. The narrative chronicles exactly how the powers-that-still-be in India have harnessed globalization to further consolidate power over language and culture at the most local of levels. It’s also a love story, and a tale of students protesting the corruption of the Indian university system.
On Jonathan Swift’s Poetry
By Patrick Kurp
In the popular mind Swift remains a one-book author, and even ambitious readers may be unaware he wrote poetry. But scholars have identified roughly 280 poems in English . . .
Per Petterson and The Masculine Question
By Adam Gallari
Petterson, whose work calls to mind the reserved nature of such “masculine” writers as Knut Hamson and Richard Yates, makes a more difficult target than present-day male writers exploring the masculine question through worlds of hyper-violence and hyper-reality. They are the men at the bar talking a good fight, while Petterson is the guy in the corner.
Fascism, Art, and Mediocrity: Monsieur Pain by Roberto Bolaño
Review by Stephen Henighan
Precise and dramatic yet suffused with a dreamy suggestiveness, Monsieur Pain is a real discovery and a substantial addition to the growing Bolaño library in English.
Word Games and Surreal Imagery: The System of Vienna By Gert Jonke
Review by Matthew Jakubowski
Jonke’s writing isn’t difficult, though his sentences can stretch on into multi-page masterpieces, and he’s a fan of word games and surreal imagery. But beneath these formal surfaces and experimental style (some have called Jonke a “text composer”), these stories are frequently tender and funny; for all the book’s curiosities and through-the-looking-glass moments, System proves Jonke was that rare thing: a huge, rebellious talent with tremendous heart.
Devotion to the Book: Rex by Jose Manuel Prieto
Review by Geoff Maturen
Rex’s narrative structure—consisting of twelve “commentaries” written some time after the events have occurred, and addressed to J.’s former student Petya—offers an initial clue that it is not a straightforward novel. As becomes evident, J. is not really concerned with relating what has happened. Rather, he seizes upon the events as a series of “teaching moments,” ostensibly to instruct Petya, but, one suspects, really intended as a way for J. to come to terms with the trajectory his life has taken.
Correspondence Theory: The Abyss of Human Illusion by Gilbert Sorrentino
Review by Daniel Green
In his now posthumously released (and presumably final) novel, The Abyss of Human Illusion, Sorrentino again offers a relatively brief work (150 pages) built out of narrative fragments. As Christopher Sorrentino points out in his introductory note, the most obvious features of the novel’s formal structure are its division into fifty numbered sections.
Existential Mysteries: Fugue State by Brain Evenson
Review by Salvatore Ruggiero
Evenson’s story collection has characters who try to dissociate themselves from their beginnings (or who have their beginnings redefined by others), who consciously neglect previous happenings and logical prognostications to believe what they want to believe to make the best of their situation at hand. They look at their past as a constellation, trying to fit the events in order so that it makes the now more palatable. It’s an unrealistic notion, but it’s one that is aptly accentuated by the gothic and grotesque nature of these stories.
A Sensual Anti-Novel: Juan the Landless by Juan Goytisolo
Review by Gregory McCormick
In grappling with Peter Bush’s recent re-translation of Juan Goytisolo’s 1974 novel Juan the Landless, I kept wondering why we read at all. Goytisolo’s book is notoriously challenging: there’s no real punctuation save frequent colons, and the book is full of shifting protagonists and pronouns and constant pressure on the language, as though Goytisolo aims to make the text itself implode. So why do we read, and what can be said about a book seemingly created to subvert the entire act of reading?
Humor in the Face of the Tragical: The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov
Review by Karen Vanuska
What if your country was in a midst of a purge of all private wealth, yet all you longed to do was to get your hands on a million rubles and run off to Rio de Janeiro? Well, if you were affable and clever Ostap Bender, the hero of The Golden Calf, you would scheme your way into a fortune.
Reimagining Greek History: The Lost Books of The Odyssey by Zachary Mason
Review by Michael Moreci
When it comes to the elusive concept of authorship, there’s no shortage of reference points. From Harold Bloom’s The Anxiety of Influence to Jonathan Lethem’s “The Ecstasy of Influence,” the definition of authorship is both a polarizing and fascinating topic. In his debut novel The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason takes this debate a step further by conjuring a set of interpretations to a story whose authorship has sparked many academic studies: Homer’s Odyssey.
Gert Jonke’s Radical Compassion: The Vincent Kling Interview
Interview by Matthew Jakubowski
I looked up—there was Jonke at the bus stop. And he got on the bus. And I thought, “OK, he’s going to sit next to me.” I know it. And he did. He sat right next to me. And it wasn’t a very crowded bus. And I thought, “OK, you’re never supposed to talk to strangers in Europe—I’m doing it.” So I just said, “You’re Herr Jonke, I believe?” And he said, “Yes, why?” And I said, “Well, I’m writing a scholarly article on you.” He said, “You have to be from Great Britain because nobody from the United States knows who I am.”
The Jason Grunebaum Interview
Interview by Annie Janusch
“No U.S. publishing house has brought out a single living Hindi novelist in translation in more than a generation.” Hindi translator Jason Grunebaum discusses the state of Hindi writing, language, and publishing—and what American readers are missing out on.