Nota Benes, May 2017

Diane Glancy

The Collector of Bodies: Concern for Syria and the Middle East

Resource

A volume that can be read as an expansion of The World Is One Place (see below), The Collector of Bodies delves deeper into Glancy’s own experiences in visiting Syria, combining the sense of wonder that often accompanies travelogues but informed by a gifted poet’s troubled vision of the future; a vision that became a reality when the country descended into a chaos of civil war from which it has yet to emerge.

 

Janet Rogers

Totem Poles and Railroads

ARP Books

This collection of verse from the former poet laureate of Victoria, British Columbia, places the relationship between the personal and the institutional at the center of her creative expression. Focusing her verse through the lens of the indigenous experience, Rogers navigates the treacherous waters between the erudite and the intimate with impressive poise. The result is poetry with an impact that lingers beyond the final line.

 

Drew Hayden Taylor

Take Us to Your Chief

Douglas & McIntyre

Take Us to Your Chief is a collection of science-fiction short stories with a distinct indigenous twist. With a measured and approachable tone that reveals the author’s love for classic sci-fi writers (Verne, Wells, Asimov), Take Us to Your Chief effortlessly buttresses Taylor’s argument that the philosophies and belief-systems of indigenous peoples can provide rich raw material for speculative fiction.

 

The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East

Ed. Diane Glancy & Linda Rodriguez

BkMk Press

The poetry in this anthology exhibits the urgency that Voltaire once ascribed to God, in that if it didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. Given the synchronicities between the displaced peoples of the Middle East and the Americas, it is a testament to Glancy and Rodriguez’s vision that drew these powerful poems (including work by Joy Harjo and Allison Hedge Coke) into a single, timeless collection.

 

Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac

Beyond Elsewhere

Trans. Hélène Cardona

White Pine Press

Beyond Elsewhere is a breathless testament to the transcendent power of love, ranging as it emerges from the poet’s pen, from the attraction between individuals to the diffuse but unmistakable connection between the soul and the universe from which it emerges and for which it serves as a kind of holy mirror. Cardona’s translation captures Arnou-Laujeac’s fervor in this series of prose poems that have captivated the attention of the French literati.

 

Alessandro Barbero

The Anonymous Novel

Trans. Allan Cameron

Vagabond Voices

Italian novelist Alessandro Barbero masterfully re-creates the zeitgeist of Gorbachev’s Russia through an array of carefully crafted and dynamic characters. Through the author and translator’s lyrical, detailed prose, we are transported to snowy Moscow in the early 1990s, where we come to appreciate an often-overlooked time in Russian history while learning to love the unexpected interconnectedness of the human condition.

 

Zeina Hashem Beck

Louder Than Hearts

Bauhan

Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck delivers a tour de force in her second collection, inviting the reader to join her in the emotional interstices between the Arab and Western worlds that she inhabits and embodies. Beck’s use of language is rarely coy, sketching out images pregnant with meaning and grounded in the everyday that accumulate into an insightful portrait of a troubled world that dreams of peace.

 

Christos Chrissopoulos

The Parthenon Bomber

Trans. John Cullen

Other Press

Greek author Christos Chrissopoulos plunges us immediately into a dystopian reality where the most beloved and revered Greek historical marker has been bombed. Told through various accounts, The Parthenon Bomber brings the issue of cultural attachment to the forefront of the reader’s mind to beg this question: If the Parthenon is destroyed, is Greece’s culture destroyed with it?

 

The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things

Interlink Books

Through a series of short stories, novellas, and essays, the Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop amplifies voices from all over the continent of Africa, using the device of the first-person narrative that unifies the short stories and connects the reader to the narrator as they tell deeply personal accounts which transcend time, space, and technology.

 

Roberto Echavarren

The Espresso between Sleep and Wakefulness

Trans. Donald Wellman & Roberto Echavarren

Cardboard House

Urguayan poet Roberto Echavarren’s latest volume of poetry explodes from its opening with the salacious force of Rimbaud, burrowing inside of conventions regarding gender and sexuality with an insistent imagistic surrealism. Wellman’s translation, formulated collaboratively with the author, ensures that Echavarren’s poetic frenzy (presented in the original Spanish in the second half of the volume) is not lost but finds new admirers in the transition to English.

 

Jérôme Ferrari

The Principle

Trans. Howard Curtis

Europa Editions

Parisian writer Jérôme Ferrari plunges us into the world of Werner Heisenberg, Nobel Prize winner and physicist responsible for Nazi nuclear advancement, through a young philosopher attempting to come to terms with the balance of good and evil in the world. Deeply thought-provoking and engaging, this four-part novel poses the inescapable question, What is truly evil?

 

Gisela Heffes

Sophie La Belle and the Miniature Cities

Literal

A wealth of dizzying ideas emerges from this tiny book (presented by the author in both Spanish and English) as Heffes plays storyteller, philosopher, and provocateur in her quest to entertain and edify her audience. Walking a thin and blurry line between apocalypse and fairy tale, Sophie La Belle and the Miniature Cities is a book that both defies classification and demands multiple reads to appreciate its many facets.

 

Trevor Herriot

Towards a Prairie Atonement

University of Regina Press

Herriot builds on a legacy of successes in raising awareness about the relationship between land and the people who inhabit it with this short but immaculately designed volume that explores the psychogeography of the grasslands of the Aspen Parkland in Saskatchewan. More than just a recounting of history, Towards a Prairie Atonement is a call to action for author and reader alike.

 

Keigo Higashino

The Name of the Game Is a Kidnapping

Trans. Jan Mitsuko Cash

Vertical

When a hard-charging advertising executive is pulled off a huge campaign at the request of the client’s privileged son, he passes on good living as the best revenge and joins with the man’s unrecognized daughter in a scheme to even the score. A popular Japanese author of crime novels, Higashino doesn’t disappoint with this plot-driven, sleek novel of low-down crime in the world of high business.

 

Major Jackson

Roll Deep

W. W. Norton

Major Jackson’s fourth book, Roll Deep, finds the poet traversing distances, measured both in miles and in years, with his confident voice and impressive command of ideas and associations in tow. Whether wandering the streets of his hometown of Philadelphia or refugee camps in Somalia, Jackson’s verses bridge the stately with the straightforward, all the while contributing something unique to the conversation across generations that poetry represents.

 

Hanna Krall

Chasing the King of Hearts

Trans. Philip Boehm

Feminist Press

Award-winning Polish novelist Hanna Krall explores the tragedy of the Holocaust in a revitalized, intimate way through this true-life story. Over the course of a series of vignettes, the reader is taken on a journey along with the protagonist, Izolda, to witness firsthand the fears, turmoil, and humanity behind one of the most horrific events in human history.

 

Baret Magarian

The Fabrications

Pleasure Boat Studio

The Fabrications explores one writer’s ability to spin fiction into reality as he weaves a suddenly fantastic life for his otherwise boring friend, though, it appears, at the expense of his own sanity. Anglo-Armenian novelist Baret Magarian uses satire and surrealism to foreground some of the pressing issues of our times, including the power of celebrity, madness, and alternative truths that increasingly plague our society.

 

Paul Robert Magocsi & Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern

Jews and Ukrainians: A Millennium of Co-Existence

University of Toronto Press

Through a variety of different media, Jews and Ukrainians explores the political, societal, and economic arms within the coexisting but rarely converging Eastern European Jewish and Ukrainian communities. Embedded within various detailed chapters on a range of cultural topics, Jews and Ukrainians holds a wealth of knowledge that transcends academic writing to engage the audience.

 

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Kintu

Transit Books

A Kwani? Manuscript Project award-winning Ugandan novel, Kintu embarks on a mystical journey to break the curse that plagues Kintu Kidda’s descendants. With crisp details and precise prose, Makumbi draws us into the dynamic and vast world of Uganda—its rich history, its people’s intricate beliefs, and the collective weight of their steadfast customs.

 

Dipika Mukherjee

Shambala Junction

Aurora Metro Press

Traveling on a train through India, Iris hurtles toward the biggest change of her life—only she doesn’t know it yet. Shambala Junction discusses the need for adventure, the nag of curiosity, and passion for doing what’s right through romantic, fluid prose that takes firm hold of the plot to produce an invigorating, engaging, and dynamic story.

 

The Muslimah Who Fell to Earth

Ed. Saima S. Hussain

Mawenzi House

This book collects the personal narratives of twenty-one Canadian Muslim women in order to challenge prevailing stereotypes about what it means to be a Muslim woman in the twenty-first century. Highlighting diversity in terms of ethnicity, social status, economic position, and religious orientation, The Muslimah Who Fell to Earth is guaranteed to impress with the range of its scope.

 

Mukoma Wa Ngugi

Logotherapy

University of Nebraska Press

Ngugi’s poetry, like the poet himself, is the product of a lifetime suspended between disparate locations. In Logotherapy, the reader finds him pursuing meaning in his memories and experiences stretched between the urban jungles of Nairobi and Boston alike. His measured lines unspool precisely and draw the reader into the landscapes that his imagination inhabits. 

 

Gaspar Orozco

Autocinema

Trans. Mark Weiss

Chax

This bilingual edition, ably translated from the Spanish by Mark Weiss, is a series of paragraph-shaped poems that Orozco describes as films projected from inside his mind “upon my skull’s thinnest wall.” Eschewing traditional poetic concerns of meter and rhyme, Orozco relies on the strength of his imagery and the precision of language to entice the reader to join him in this cinema of the mind.

 

Claudia Salazar Jiménez

Blood of the Dawn

Trans. Elizabeth Bryer

Deep Vellum

Peruvian author Claudia Salazar Jiménez’s debut novel examines the turbulent mid-1970s during the Shining Path conflict in Peru. Told through the accounts of three women, Salazar Jiménez uses revolutionary prose and disjointed syntax to create a sense of unease that parallels the fast-paced, suspenseful plot.

 

Magnús Sigurðsson

Cold Moons

Trans. Meg Matich

Phoneme Media

Icelandic poet Magnús Sigurðsson captures the microexpressions of nature within his delicate lines, accruing in stanzas no less spare for the immensity of ideas contained within them. The cumulative effect is a kind of stereoscopic meditation on humanity’s position suspended at the midpoint between Pascal’s infinite and infinitesimal.

 

Spark of Light: Short Stories by Women Writers of Odisha 

Ed. Valerie Henitiuk & Supriya Kar 

AU Press

Collecting short fiction written by women in Odia, one of the six nationally recognized classical languages of India, Spark of Light spans more than a century in its quest to draw attention to women’s contributions to the language’s literary history. Rich with themes of struggle and social critique, this collection will serve as an introduction for many to both the Odia people and the evolving role of women in their culture.

 

Gerald Stern

Death Watch: A View from the Tenth Decade

Trinity University Press

Celebrated poet Gerald Stern delivers this series of essays ruminating on his rich and storied past while meditating on the inevitable conclusion to his life that awaits. Readers will be rewarded by Stern’s intimate connections to the big moments of the twentieth century as well as the clear-eyed humor with which he contemplates the end awaiting us all.

 

Rabindra K. Swain

This House Is Not for Knowing

Authors Press

Swain’s poems in this collection often seem to leap into being from some simple observation—of nature, of human nature—before swelling into a universal register that brings the reader alongside author in the poem. With lines composed of simple yet inviting words, Swain’s poems can surprise with a surrealist flair or raise a lump in the throat from an unexpectedly emotional twist.

 

Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam 

Ed. Charles Waugh, Lien Nguyen & Van Giá

Curbstone Books

Covering an important and influential economic time in Vietnamese history, Wild Mustard goes beyond the imagined by expanding on cultural awakenings, increased technological pursuits, and educational advancements within the post–Vietnam War era. As the country emerges as a viable and dynamic global economy, we hear from nineteen young Vietnamese people from all areas of life who come of age in a turbulent society completely different than that of their elders.

 

Māra Zālīte

Five Fingers

Trans. Margita Gailitis

Dalkey Archive Press

Latvian-Siberian author Māra Zālīte recounts Latvia’s rich history with energy, vigor, and electricity that is engaging for all audiences. Sectioned into short chapters, we follow the main character, Laura, on her quest to escape her birthplace of Stalin’s Siberia, where her parents were in exile, to discover the Latvia about which she has always dreamed.