About the Author

Gwendolyn Dawson

Book Review: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Review by Gwendolyn Dawson In South African writer Damon Galgut’s latest novel, which is shortlisted for this year’s prestigious Man Booker Prize, the narrator (also named Damon) describes three different journeys he took as a younger man, one where he filled the role of the follower, one the lover, and one the guardian. Although each trip is distinct, involving different …

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 …

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 …

Review: Gasoline by Quim Monzó

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson Gasoline, the Catalan author Quim Monzó’s latest novel to be translated into English, opens at a moment of crisis in Heribert’s career as a painter: he must paint enough canvases to fill two galleries in time for an imminent double show. Instead of working, however, Heribert wallows in indifference and boredom, wandering the city streets, drinking …

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 …

Review: The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson In this collection of linked short stories, each story follows the perspective of an employee (or, in one case, a devoted reader) of an international English-language newspaper based in Rome. As a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism and with experience as a foreign correspondent stationed in Rome, Rachman is well-qualified for his subject. Every story …

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 …

Review: Solar by Ian McEwan

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson Solar, Ian McEwan’s eleventh novel, follows the troubled career and love life of 53-year-old physicist Michael Beard. Beard won the Nobel Prize in physics for work he completed as a young man but, after five failed marriages, is now trapped in a decades-long slump of “no new ideas.” Living the life of an aimless bureaucrat saddled with speech …

Review: The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart by Mathias Malzieu

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Jack, the first-person narrator of Mathias Malzieu’s most recent novel, is born in Edinburgh on an uncommonly cold day in April 1874. A clever midwife saves the newborn from certain death by surgically implanting a cuckoo clock in his chest to regulate his weak heart. Abandoned by his mother and sporting a loudly ticking clock for a heart, Jack …