Author Archives: smilkova

“Lost and Found”: Franz Kafka’s “The Lost Writings,” Translated from German by Michael Hofmann

Anyone who is interested in Kafka—which is to say pretty much everyone who is interested in literature—will be curious to read the “lost writings” of a man who famously, at the time of his death, wanted all of his unpublished work destroyed.

Alone With One’s Thoughts: Henri Bosco’s “Malicroix,” translated from French by Joyce Zonana

Before the story begins, Bosco alludes to a number of pages omitted from the novel and reserved for that moment when “someone truly qualified” might gain access. And so Malicroix puzzles and conceals even after it is closed.

“Drawing a Blank”: Hiroko Oyamada’s “The Hole,” translated from Japanese by David Boyd

By Alex Andriesse It’s not always clear what is happening in Hiroko Oyamada’s The Hole, but by the time the reader notices how little he understands, he is too immersed in the novel to put it down. Obviously, I am speaking in the third person about my own experience, but I doubt that this experience […]

On the Scale of Conflict, its Crimes and Traumas: Adania Shibili’s Minor Detail, Translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette

By Sheera Talpaz “Try to remember some details,” implores the speaker of one of Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai’s well-known poems (Amichai, 318). In translation, it’s impossible to tell that the original Hebrew recalls the Passover Haggadah’s Rabbi Yehuda (naturally), who proffered a mnemonic for the ten plagues, brutal punishments that God memorably rained down on […]

Halcyon Days: Adrien Goetz’s “Villa of Delirium,” translated from French by Natasha Lehrer

The novel falls within the greater readiness in French culture to reckon with the nation’s anti-Semitic past than its colonialism.

A Life of Ruptures: Frédéric Pajak’s “Uncertain Manifesto,” Translated from French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

A novel that traverses generic as well as geographic and historical boundaries, Uncertain Manifesto switches, from chapter to chapter, between autobiography, essay, illustrated novel, history, literary analysis and fable-like fiction.

“Children are Born Persons”: Toon Tellegen’s “I Wish,” translated from Dutch by David Colmer

By Kelsi Vanada Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is, for me, a prime example of a book with a child narrator that’s often included in literature curricula for middle schoolers, but which in many ways speaks to an adult audience. I taught at a small K-8 school for a few years right out of […]

Elusions and Disillusions

Reading Elena Ferrante’s latest novel from this place of incertitude is consequently a puzzling, if not uncanny experience.

Under His Watchful Eye: Family and Power in “The Lying Life of Adults”

The Lying Life of Adults is about the often-subtle ways men wield their power over women.

On Gender, Pseudonyms, and Authorship: Eloy Tizón, “The Names” and Greta Alonso, “A Shield, a Shelter, a Place to Hide,” Translated by Dorothy Potter Snyder

The essays that follow were written by Spanish writers Eloy Tizón and Greta Alonso in response to a question put to them by El Cultural: “Women writers past and present: Is publishing under a pseudonym necessary anymore, or is it just another marketing tool?” I found great beauty and insight in their responses and so […]