Imagine a world where any shameful thought, any lie, lust, anger or envy are materially embodied, so that they cannot be hidden from anyone. It is this world that the American writer of Czech-German origin, Dan Vyleta,draws in his novel: in the alternative Victorian England he created, someone should think about something bad, from the pores of his skin heavy black smoke begins to leak, staining clothes and intoxicating mind.
Nigeria’s debut novel Chigozie Obioma is a classic case of a book written for a specific task: the author obviously wanted to enter the short list of the Booker Prize for the quota for writers from the Commonwealth countries and brilliantly succeeded (“The Fishermen” was called one of the main contenders for the 2015). As a result, the Obioma book has all the advantages and disadvantages of an exemplary “premium” novel: secondary and predictable (we have all read this many times, sometimes with a more talented performance), sincere and deep anguish, charming local flavor and a clear political message.
Despite the 700-page cyclopic volume, Englishman Nick Harkaway’s “The Gone-Away World” reads more like a synopsis of a novel than a novel itself. The action in it rushes at a gallop with a breathless haste, almost without the participation of adjectives and adverbs. In addition, having begun with a vigorous action, the novel’s plot suddenly lays a flashback loop of three hundred pages – seemingly unmotivated and too long by any measure.
American Lucia Berlin was born in 1936 in the family of a mining engineer and died on her sixty-eighth birthday, clutching one of her favorite books. She lived in California, Colorado, Chile and Alaska, was beautiful, alcoholic and a hunchback, taught Spanish at school, cleaned other people’s houses, worked as an emergency room nurse, call center operator, huddled in a trailer, got married three times, and gave birth to four sons. In addition, Lucia Berlin wrote stories – only seventy-six pieces, which were published from time to time, but never brought fame or money to their creator.