- Reiner Stach, Is That Kafka? 99 Finds, translated by Kurt Beals
(More about this soon.)
- Vivek Shanbhag, Ghachar Ghochar, trans. Srinath Perur
The themes of this novella are familiar (the American tradition would go back through A Hazard of New Fortunes; more recently, Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia was more formally innovative with a very similar subject), but Shanbhag’s book is well done.
- Paul Beatty, Slumberland
Atoning for not reading Paul Beatty earlier: I’m almost of a mind to go through past book reviews to look at his critical treatment.
- Paul Theroux, Saint Jack
- Paul Theroux, Kowloon Tong
I’ve never read Paul Theroux; Saint Jack pops up various places as a good fictional treatment of Singapore: it’s not perfect, but it be part of acanon of expat novels. Kowloon Tong, written much later, deals with Hong Kong just before the handover, and it’s cartoonishly stereotyped: the British seem to be overgrown babies and the mainland Chinese are devilish; the present city, twenty years later, isn’t recognizable at all.
- Geoff Dyer, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the U.S.S. George H. W. Bush
In a trying time, Dyer can make ordinary Americans seem admirable, which is a talent.
- Julio Cortázar, Final Exam, trans. Alfred Mac Adam
Read with a broader sense of his writing, this is pretty clearly juvenilia: there’s a big jump between this and the Rousselian The Winners, written ten years later, and I’m curious whether Cortázar would have wanted this published if he had lived longer. Read now, it feels like an early version of Hopscotch and obviously suffers in comparison.