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Showing posts from October, 2014

Ch’oe In-ho - The novel begins with a series of seemingly minor juxtapositions of the familiar and the strange, as a result of which the protagonist, K, gradually finds himself inside a Matrix-like reality populated with shape-shifting characters

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Ch’oe In-ho,Another Man's City, Trans. by Bruce Fulton, Ju-Chan Fulton. Dalkey Archive Press, 2014.


An excerpt from Another Man’s City in Asymptote


Another Man’s City is structured as a virtual-reality narrative manipulated by an entity referred to variously as the Invisible Hand or Big Brother. The scenario is reminiscent of Peter Weir’s 1998 film The Truman Show and Kazuo Ishiguro's novel The Unconsoled. The novel begins with a series of seemingly minor juxtapositions of the familiar and the strange, as a result of which the protagonist, K, gradually finds himself inside a Matrix-like reality populated with shape-shifting characters.

This lightly Kafkaesque fable from a South Korean writer presents a man who suddenly finds his world not quite right in increasingly strange ways.
Known only as K, the hero wakes up one morning to find his alarm ringing on a Saturday, his pajamas missing and his favorite aftershave changed from brand V to Y. They’re small, almost explainable alter…

João de Melo - Cadete the Healer and Sara the Saint; Barbaro the Pilgrim and the syphilitic priest, His Holiness Father Governo; the death and resurrection of Joao-Lazaro...all on the island in the middle of the ocean...

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João de Melo, My World Is Not of This Kingdom. Trans. by Gregory Rabassa, Aliform Publishing, 2003.


Read two chapters excerpted from My World Is Not Of This Kingdom. This stunning novel, first published in the early 1980s in Portugal, is, according to Katherine Vaz’s fine introduction, “the most astonishing novel [translator Gregory Rabassa] had read since One Hundred Years of Solitude.” João de Melo is an Azorean-born writer apparently well-known in Portugal—according to Vaz, his work has been made into a TV mini-series and a movie and won major prizes there. But My World is Not of This Kingdom took many years to find its way into publication in English. To read de Melo now felt like a belated American discovery of yet another European writer we should have known already. To read him was also to feel the pleasure of reading a new classic of magical realism which both works and matters. And yet it is a book so wild in other ways that the magical realist or fantastic sequence…

Jean-Luc Benoziglio - the monologue of a man, disoriented by the gaping void of not knowing his own nationality, recounting the final remnants of his own sanity and his life. In this buffoonish, even grotesque, yet deeply pitiful man, Benoziglio explores, with a light yet profound touch, weighty themes such as the roles of family, history, one’s moral responsibility towards others, and the fragility of personal identity

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Jean-Luc Benoziglio, Privy Portrait, Trans. by Tess Lewis, Seagull Books, 2014.

The narrator in Jean-Luc Benoziglio’s Privy Portrait has fallen on hard times. His wife and young daughter have abandoned him, he has no work or prospects, he’s blind in one eye, and he must move into a horribly tiny apartment with his only possession: a twenty-five-volume encyclopedia. His neighbors, the Shritzkys, are vulgar, narrow-minded, and racist. And because he has no space for his encyclopedia in his cramped room, he stores it in the communal bathroom, and this becomes a major point of contention with his neighbors. The bathroom is also the only place he can find refuge from the Shritzkys’ blaring television, and he barricades himself in it to read his encyclopedia, much to the chagrin of the rest of the residents of the building.
Darkly amusing, Privy Portrait is the monologue of a man, disoriented by the gaping void of not knowing his own nationality, recounting the final remnants of his own san…

Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert - the autobiography of Davi Kopenawa, one of Brazil’s most prominent and eloquent indigenous leaders. It is the most vivid and authentic account of shamanistic philosophy I have ever read. It is also a passionate appeal for the rights of indigenous people

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Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert, The Falling Sky: Words of a Yanomami Shaman, Trans. by Nicholas Elliott and Alison Dundy. Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 2014.Read excerpts from The Falling Sky in which Davi Kopenawa explains the threats to his people’s way of life

more excerpts
The Falling Sky is a remarkable first-person account of the life story and cosmo-ecological thought of Davi Kopenawa, shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami of the Brazilian Amazon. Representing a people whose very existence is in jeopardy, Davi Kopenawa paints an unforgettable picture of Yanomami culture, past and present, in the heart of the rainforest—a world where ancient indigenous knowledge and shamanic traditions cope with the global geopolitics of an insatiable natural resources extraction industry.
In richly evocative language, Kopenawa recounts his initiation and experience as a shaman, as well as his first encounters with outsiders: government officials, missionaries, road workers, cattle ranch…