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Book Review: Human Acts by Han Kang

Translated literature offers an opportunity rarely seen in American literature. We know America, we grew up here, we reflect — if not create — its culture. Books from other countries allow us to go someplace that is, by definition, alien. They can immerse us in the country’s culture and let us see life from a […]

Book Review: Slade House by David Mitchell

Immortality — and its consequences — have been on author David Mitchell’s mind. His 2014 novel, The Bone Clocks, involved two groups of immortals, the Horologists and the Anchorites, who battle over the proper way to remain immortal, through reincarnation or by “decanting” human souls. The next year brought Slade House, a stand alone work […]

Favorite novels of 2014

I read more fiction than nonfiction this year so discussion of my favorite books is going to be limited to novels. In putting the list together I discovered something interesting: three of the five are about war. Not only that, they don’t share conflicts. One is set in World War I, another in World War […]

Book descriptions that scare me

Anyone who’s read this blog knows I’m a fan of foreign fiction. As a result, I pay attention to book awards involving such books, including the BTBA. But when this year’s winner was announced it got me thinking about things that tend to cause me to prejudge a book.

The NPR review of the winner, […]

Anniversary of a banned American classic

This week marked the 75th anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Normally, what comes to mind is the book’s portrayal of the plight created by the Dust Bowl years of the Depression. Yet it stands for another object lesson about America. It was banned — and burned — in the […]

Abstaining from best books mania

For some reason this year’s onslaught of “best of the year” lists really wore on me. As a result, I’m not going to do one of those posts for 2013. Instead, I will note that, based on books listed in both of two different compilations of this year’s book lists, it’s again clear I am […]