All readers should rejoice at the sudden burst of writing newly available from Moroccan master Ahmed Bouanani, a long-neglected (and long-reclusive) late writer and filmmaker with a beautiful ear for the active mind’s poetic streams. In The Hospital, a man finds himself in a hospital ward with other male invalids of all ages and backgrounds. While it might sound like a sad place, and while it does inspire many surreal nightmare visions, it’s also revivifying in other ways—a perfect spot for imagination and self-creation, and full of wonderful characters with equally wonderful names: the Guzzler, the Rover, and many more. And it’s all brought into lovely English by phenomenal DC-based translator Lara Vergnaud.
Like a mirror version of Patti Smith’s M Train, no description of Fox will contain it all, not with an author as wily as her titular character. Over six chapters, you meet Russian radical authors, Croatian landmine removers, Vladimir Nabokov’s butterflies, late-in-life first-time writers, amusingly callow kids, and Ugresic herself. And Ugresic is an amazing character: a Croatian exile as approachable and funny as she is erudite and politically reflective. Every episode in this book is unforgettable, and while they all stand alone as perfect mini-novellas, it’s the force of them together (and the moments of revelation that span stories) that makes this book so moving. Read now and tell all of your friends: Dubravka Ugresic is one of the world’s best writers.
Growing up in 1950s Rome with a renowned American painter as your father gives you a skewed perspective of the world. But times change, and tastes change and maybe no one likes or understands your father’s art anymore, at least not in the way you once knew everyone should. And what is your life’s work in comparison? (And that’s not to mention your mother and her pottery -- what about her?) That’s Pinch Bavinsky’s struggle. The sad truth of The Italian Teacher’s world is that “relatives are judged relatively,” a truth no one buys into more than the relatives themselves. It’s devastating to witness Pinch’s decades-long scramble to free himself from his father’s achievement, with Tom Rachman using each jump forward in time to gently insert new layers of unsteady emotion.