Readers interested in introducing themselves to the rich heritage that is Indian literature would do well to begin with Saadat Hasan Manto, a master of the short-story form and one of the most celebrated Urdu-language writers, influential to such luminaries as Salman Rushdie. Nevertheless, as I point out in my review of a recently released Manto collection, Bombay Stories (translated by Matt Reeck and Aftab Ahmad) featured on Reading in Translation, while these stories are imbued with a vivid sense of place, the genre-bending originality of Manto's narrative style and themes transcends the stories' specific setting, "playfully treading that fine line between traditional and modern, individual and collective, to alight upon an enduring universality."
I believe it is safe to say that Flann O'Brien's novels, in particular At Swim-Two-Birds and The Third Policeman, had a profound influence upon me and my writing. Therefore, I was thrilled to learn that Dalkey Archive had released further O'Brien fare, a collection of short fiction and the unfinished novel Slattery's Sago Saga, published under the title The Short Fiction of Flann O'Brien (ed. by Neil Murphy and Keith Hopper, with translations by Jack Fennell). Hallmarks of O'Brien's singular wit, his trenchant sociopolitical satire and wildly imaginative metafictional layering abound, comprising a poignant and hilarious "postmodern labyrinth" sure to appeal to both die-hard "Flanneurs" and newcomers alike.
Cigale Literary Magazine has included my review of Mina Loy's Insel (recently re-released by Melville House Books) in the Summer 2014 issue. This "surrealist satire of surrealism" seduces and confounds, luring readers into labyrinths of sublime prose where controversial themes are irreverently explored. A book not to be missed for its importance among the canonical works of modernism.
My latest review over at Reading in Translation is With My Dog-Eyes, by Brazilian vanguard Hilda Hilst, now available for the first time in English. Adam Morris' "bold and beguiling" translation "skates the boundaries of language," exploring profoundly unsettling existential terrain. A book not to be missed!
This review marks my new role as regular contributor to the blog The Mookse and the Gripes. The book is Barbara Comyns' Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead, a novel so darkly powerful yet "strewn with hidden gems of wry humor and glitter[ing] with flashes of tenderness." I hope you will check out the review - and then read this wonderful book.
Publication announcements, bookish items of note and the occasional literary musing.