This post originally appeared on the Ploughshares blog in November 2019 Kobo Abe’s 1962 novel, The Woman in the Dunes, translated into English by E. Dale Saunders in 1964, delineates in simple yet evocative prose one man’s experience of unjust capture and
The Unexpected Feminism of Elena Ferrante’s Scorned Woman
This post originally appeared on the Ploughshares blog in June 2019. Originally published in 2002, The Days of Abandonment sits uncomfortably in its cultural moment. Elena Ferrante’s examination of the spiraling decline of an abandoned wife resists the hopefulness of the girl-power-era,
The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
A parentless gypsy of fifteen or sixteen, Esmeralda captures the interest of four very different admirers. There is the philosopher Pierre Gringoire, the playboy Captain Phoebus, the repressed archdeacon Claude Frollo, and the eponymous hunchback, Quasimodo. These admirers, though individually very different, fall
Charlotte by David Foenkinos
Charlotte Salomon was a German-born Jewish artist of significant achievement and greater promise but aged just 26, and pregnant with her first child, she died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz. The crowning achievement of Charlotte’s tragically short life, Leben?
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco’s final novel is a fast-paced historical thriller centred on a newspaper that will never be published, and a conspiracy theory surrounding the death of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. At just under 200 pages, Numero Zero is the shortest
By Night in Chile by Roberto Bolaño
Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile is a study in unreliable narration. It tells the story of the writer/priest/critic Sebastian Urrutia Lacroix as he reflects, from his death-bed, on certain events in his life, particularly those in connection to the Pinochet regime.
The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea
Yukio Mishima was a twentieth century Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, model and film director. He was also an ardent nationalist, with extreme right wing views. His death in 1970, aged just 45, came as a result of a failed
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino was an Italian writer associated with both neorealism and postmodernism. He published a number of works during the latter half of the twentieth century and won a number of awards including the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement.