“The Best Tool Available”: Portugal’s José Rodrigues dos Santos on Truth vs. Fiction

In English Language by Guest Contributor

• José Rodrigues dos Santos, one of Portugal’s best known journalists and novelists, discusses the relationship between truth and fiction. • “If I was doing journalism, I should tell the truth, right?” he posits, only to reveal that sometimes fiction is, indeed, “the best tool available” — the proverbial lie that tells the actual truth. By José Rodrigues dos Santos LISBON: …

Review: The Surf Guru by Doug Dorst

In Book Review by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka The Surf Guru shows off what Doug Dorst does best, which is channel an array of lifelike voices that seem to be simultaneously of and not of this world. Much like his debut novel, 2008’s Alive in Necropolis, which featured a cast of fictional and historical characters, some who were alive and most who were dead, his latest book …

Review: A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Good Squad, is a collection of loosely connected short stories presented as a novel that spans decades and covers the overlapping lives of numerous characters. Each of thirteen chapters is told from the perspective of a different character, such that no single character emerges as a protagonist. In addition to …

Abstinence or Sex: Twilight vs. In Praise of Older Women

In Europe by Guest Contributor

• In Praise of Older Women is the anti-Twilight, telling the story of a young man’s sexual education in the arms of older women. • Stephen Vizinczey believes one reason his novel In Praise of Older Women isn’t in print in the U.S. is because it doesn’t fit into America’s “puritanical or macho traditions.” Editorial by Lewis Manalo When I …

Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson In 2004, David Mitchell impressed readers and critics alike with Cloud Atlas, his genre-defying (and Booker-Prize-shortlisted) novel with a structure more akin to a set of Russian nesting dolls than a typical novel. In his most recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell skips the literary fireworks in favor of the more conventional form …

Twisted Spoon Press on “Trickle-Up Publishing”

In Growth Markets by Amanda DeMarco

By Amanda DeMarco PRAGUE: In an April 15th New York Times Op-Ed piece, Olga Tokarczuk ruminated on Polish public response to the recent plane crash that had killed the Polish president and 95 other people: “…sometimes I fear that the people of my country can unite only beside victims’ bodies, over coffins and in cemeteries…I dream of Poland becoming a …

Review: The Most Beautiful Book in the World by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Although labeled “novellas” in the subtitle, these eight pieces are true short stories; each one contains only a few key characters and spans roughly twenty pages.  In the broadest sense, these stories uncover the hidden sources of humanity’s best qualities:  happiness, forgiveness, love, and generosity.  Schmitt’s tormented characters stumble upon these redemptive qualities in the unlikeliest of places, often despite …

Anchee Min Offers a Chinese Look at Pearl S. Buck

In What's the Buzz by Edward Nawotka

By Ed Nawotka Anchee Min’s new novel Pearl of China re-imagines the life of Nobel Prize-winner Pearl S. Buck (The Good Earth) from a Chinese perspective for what is perhaps the first time. She spoke about the book, which is told from the point of view of a contemporary of Buck, at a recent event at the Asia Society in New York. …

Review: The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Physicist Paolo Giordano’s debut novel, The Solitude of Prime Numbers, won Italy’s premier literary award, the Premio Strega, in 2008. Now available in the U.S. in an English translation, The Solitude of Prime Numbers explores the poignant relationship that develops between two misfits, Alice and Mattia. Alice, an anorexic with a limp left over from a childhood skiing accident, resists …

Are There Still Topics Too Taboo for Fiction?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka Today’s lead story by Chip Rossetti discusses the popularity of Essam Youssef’s heroin-fueled novel 1/4 Gram, which is set in the world Cairo’s high society. Some of the popularity of the novel is that it portrays a world — a taboo world — little seen by readers in the Arab world. The same could be said for …