Lawrence Olszewski

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Here, truth really is stranger than fiction--or in this case, more “novelable”--and the retention of the photos and excerpts of Marianella’s diary from the Spanish text contributes to the veracity of an engaging work.

Stay This Day and Night with Me

Spanish screenwriter/novelist Gopegui (The Scale of Maps) relies on an intergenerational discourse defending Google’s avowed altruist purpose against a not very harsh or convincing criticism of its dehumanization, but the often tedious dialogues that serve as mouthpieces for these opposing views lack verisimilitude.

How To Turn into a Bird

The escapist scenario may remind readers of Italo Calvino’s The Baron in the Trees, and the theme of the value and place of nonconformity in today’s society will ring true.

Migrations: Poem, 1976–2020

Readers will not find a direct narrative here, as the verses don’t always flow seamlessly from one section to the other, but they can nonetheless bask in a remarkable poetic experience.


As they did for earlier Halfon books, translators Dillman and Hahn effectively render his fourth work to appear in English. Although the narrative likewise relies heavily on autobiography and treats similar themes, like Jewish identity, the end result creates less of an impact on readers than do Halfon’s 2008 The Polish Boxer or his 2018 Mourning.

The Ghetto Within

An Argentine film director and screenwriter residing in France (and writing in French), Amigorena (A Laconic Childhood) almost seamlessly alternates the narration between the fictional lives of the Argentine exiles and documentation of the horrific events in Europe. Coupled with the themes of exile and the struggle for Jewish identity, he brilliantly parallels the plight of the forsaken victims within the ghetto and Vicente’s sense of helplessness, as if he, too, were enclosed by walls.

Let No One Sleep

Readers are forced to suspend disbelief, as they, like the protagonist, are drawn into Lucía’s alternate world and are at times unsure which one is veridical. Millás’s character portrayals, especially of Lucía, are masterly, but the disjointed episodic narration and extraneous elements leave a loose end or two. A disquieting fantasy of the Kafkian variety that’s both unsettling and absurd.

Before Island Is Volcano

The anti-imperialist theme, reminiscent of Neruda’s Canto general, will be especially appealing to Latinx readers in general and to the Borinquen community in particular.

The Books of Jacob

Its extensive length, levels of detail, and geographic and temporal expanse give this a Tolstoyan feel. Enhanced by maps and illustrations and supported by extensive documentation, this saga will reward those who persevere.

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