At Reading in Translation, I review the first novel of Turkish modernist Yusuf Atilgan to appear in English, Motherland Hotel, translated by Fred Stark. In this psychological thriller, Atilgan bends and shapes language, testing its mettle in the fire of his disturbed protagonist's mind. The result is "a shape-shifting tour de force, a stumble through a noirish house of mirrors," which seeps into the "shadowy recesses of consciousness," thereby pushing literature into the realm of cinema. A wildly experimental novel which boldly treads new existential territory, Motherland Hotel announces the arrival of a voice who should have long ago climbed to a place within the canon of "the world's most daring modernists."
My latest review at Reading in Translation looks at a picaresque masterpiece from Georgian author Mikheil Javakhishvili, Kvachi. In its exploration of themes from personal legacy to the stain of twentieth-century history to the ambivalence of Georgian identity, Kvachi proves "both epic and intimate." Thanks to Donald Rayfield's painstaking translation, modern Anglophone readers can enjoy this "devilishly provocative, heartfelt and ironic" novel in its most complete version to date (in any language), making it a literary event not to be missed.
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."
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!
Publication announcements, bookish items of note and the occasional literary musing.