Ever since World War II ended, American novelists have used China, Italy, the Philippines, Dunkirk, Dresden, and many other battlegrounds to represent everything from the effect of racism on American society to the strength of the American family. Katie Wadell argues that Haruki Murakami introduces us to an altogether different warfront in novels such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and A Wild Sheep Chase.
One of our time’s most fecund writers, Murakami has composed a dizzying array of short fiction. Here, Matthew Tiffany runs down some of the best, making an excellent starting point for those looking for an entry into Murakami’s short works.
I. When the German army sped across the Soviet border in June 1941 in a double-cross that left the more-than-adequately forewarned Stalin shocked and a few of his most prominent generals conveniently scapegoated and summarily shot, Vasily Grossman, too, was caught unawares. The Ukrainian novelist was fat, brainy, and Jewish, credentials that were more counter [...]
In the introduction to the English edition of his new short story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Haruki Murakami writes: “I find writing novels a challenge, writing short stories a joy. If writing novels is like planting a forest, then writing short stories is more like planting a garden.” Yet if the individual stories are flowers in a garden, what is the collection, the mass of all these carefully planted terrains?
The challenge in reviewing a new book by Haruki Murakami is that one has a sense of writing for a group of people who already know about his work—Murakami-fanatics, if you will—and they have preconceived notions. They’re reading the review for tidbits, excerpts, news. Like writing a review of a new Star Trek movie, you’re writing to those who want to find out how this newest installment adds to the overall, larger story.
I. Clare Messud’s The Emperor’s Children is a novel that obstinately defies easy classification. It is, at various times, and often at once, a contemporary comedy of manners, a postmodern fairy tale, a murder mystery sans a body, and an apocalyptic canto. The novel begins with a tony dinner party in Sydney in March 2001, [...]
I. The Obstacles is the first novel translated into English by Mexican writer Eloy Urroz, who is one of five Mexican writers who took part in writing the Crack Manifesto—a manifesto which declares its signatories against the Latin American literary tradition of Magical Realism. The Obstacles is the story of two writers, Elias and Ricardo, [...]
I. Though I don’t know much about Australia, its origin seems an irresistible tale, one that begs novelistic retelling, either as a vast metaphor or as a historical panorama. In her new book The Secret River, Kate Grenville chooses the latter approach. The story deals with the colony of New South Wales, newly home to [...]
I. “The imagination will not down,” William Carlos Williams writes in The Great American Novel. “If it is not dance, a song, it becomes an outcry, a protest. If it is not flamboyance it becomes deformity. If it is not art, it becomes crime. Men and women cannot be content, any more than children, with [...]
I. Peter Orner’s The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo is a collection of vignettes loosely strung together like macaroni on yarn. It takes place in a boys’ primary school in Goas, a tiny outpost in Namibia’s desert, yet the childish setting belies the narrative’s nuanced artistry; each short chapter is titled by a character, a [...]
I. In Tomorrow They Will Kiss, Eduardo Santiago explores the inter-woven lives of six Cuban-American women by examining their relationships and their past in Cuba. Told from the perspectives of three of the six women, the narrative goes back and forth between different characters, blending the events of the past into present-day drama. Caridad, Imperio, [...]
Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow was first published in 1973, three years before the birth of Zak Smith. Who would have guessed that almost three decades later Smith would make a pen-and-ink drawing for every page of Pynchon’s famous classic? I first heard about Smith’s illustrations, now housed in full at the Walker Art Center in [...]
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