Review: The Privileges by Jonathan Dee

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Jonathan Dee’s latest novel follows Cynthia and Adam Morey, a loving couple leading a charmed life ensconced within “a zone of privilege.” Surrounded by friends and family, Adam and Cynthia get married young and quickly produce two beautiful children. Adam’s career in a private equity firm in Manhattan is progressing well while Cynthia stays home with the children. …

Review: The Possessed by Elif Batuman

In Book Review by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka Russian literary scholars aren’t known for their sense of humor, unless they’re Elif Batuman. Her new book, The Possessed, a collection of essays that can best be described as a series of academic misadventure stories, is possibly the best thing to come out of a graduate program in recent years. Describing a conference about the writer Isaac …

Review: The Salt Smugglers by Gérard de Nerval

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson The Riancey Amendment passed into law in France on July 16, 1850 and imposed a serial novel tax on newspapers, charging one centime per copy of any newspaper that included an installment of a serial novel. The law was based on the belief that serial novels had been responsible for fomenting subversive ideas. Gérard de Nerval’s The …

Review: The Confessions of Edward Day by Valerie Martin

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson Written in the style of an intimate memoir, The Confessions of Edward Day delves into the daily lives of a group of struggling stage actors living in New York City in the 1970s and 1980s. Edward Day is the first person narrator and the undeniable star of this novel. As his career unfolds, we follow Ed through acting school, numerous …

Review: The Golden Calf by Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson The Golden Calf, a classic Russian novel now available in a new English translation by Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson, published by Open Letter Books, is an exuberant road trip story, a financial thriller, an examination of the criminal underworld, and a social commentary, all rolled into one package. The story spans the era of Lenin’s …

Review: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson In Colm Toibin’s latest novel, Brooklyn, young Eilis Lacey leaves the struggling economy of her small hometown in southeast Ireland to forge a new life in Brooklyn, New York. In unadorned prose, Toibin describes the daily struggles and triumphs of Eilis’s life in the unfamiliar, and often inhospitable, urban environment of her new home. In many ways, …

Review: The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

The Patience Stone by Atiq Rahimi (translated by Polly McLean) Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson In this slim novel, an unnamed woman ministers to her comatose husband in a small back room of their house in war-torn Afghanistan. The man, wounded by a bullet in his neck, lies inert on a dirty mattress, indifferent to the action unfolding around him, from gunshots …

Review: Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

By Gwendolyn Dawson This bleak novel tracks the slow destruction of a marriage and, ultimately, a family. Irene, a failed historian, and her husband Gil, an artist who’s grown famous off of his revealing portraits of Irene, are the parents of three precocious children, including a math genius and a budding artist. While the love between Irene and Gil is …

Review: Don DeLillo’s Point Omega

In Book Review by Edward Nawotka

By Edward Nawotka Starting with 2002’s Cosmopolis about the 2000 Internet-stock-bubble burst, Don DeLillo has used his considerable skills as a fiction writer to dwell on current events. His previous novel, 2007’s Falling Man, concerned 9/11, and his latest, Point Omega, looks at the recent war in Iraq. Richard Elster, a 73-year-old academic who served as a war strategist, has …

Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky

In Book Review by Gwendolyn Dawson

Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, translated from the Russian by Joanne Turnbull Reviewed by Gwendolyn Dawson This collection of seven loosely interconnected short stories, by turns whimsical and menacing, examines Soviet Moscow in the 1920s. In these stories Krzhizhanovsky primarily focuses on the lives of displaced intellectuals — those who, after World War I and the Russian Revolution …