Absinthe 24 pushes and prods Hellenism beyond its geographic and cultural comfort zones, and sets it tumbling off beyond both internal and external borders of its nation-state, in a wide-ranging but always site-specific and localized itinerary. At each stop along the way, this Greekness finds its plurals—hence the “Hellenisms” of the title. While they present no unified topography, tongue or even topic, these Hellenisms map out the contours of a shared conversation. Today’s Hellenism isn’t limited to Hellas, nor to the Hellenic language. The selected texts in this volume explore Greece from the perspective of visitors, displaced persons, and marginalized people looking in, or, conversely, from the perspective of locals striving to break out.
Spanning the period from the late 1930s to World War II, this historical novel dramatizes antifascist resistance and the rise and fall of proletarian political parties in Europe. Living in Berlin in 1937, the unnamed narrator and his peers—sixteen- and seventeen-year-old working-class students—seek ways to express their hatred for the Nazi regime. They meet in museums and galleries, and in their discussions they explore the affinity between political resistance and art, the connection at the heart of Weiss’s novel. Weiss suggests that meaning lies in embracing resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that we must look to art for new models of political action and social understanding. The novel includes extended meditations on paintings, sculpture, and literature. Moving from the Berlin underground to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War and on to other parts of Europe, the story teems with characters, almost all of whom are based on historical figures. The Aesthetics of Resistance is one of the truly great works of postwar German literature and an essential resource for understanding twentieth-century German history.
Lost in a shipwreck in 1895, rewritten before the author's suicide in 1896, and not published until 1925, José Asunción Silva's After-Dinner Conversation (De sobremesa) is one of Latin America's finest fin de siècle novels and the first one to be translated into English. Perhaps the single best work for understanding turn-of-the-twentieth-century writing in South America, After-Dinner Conversation is also cited as the continent's first psychological novel and an outstanding example of modernista fiction and the Decadent sensibility.
Semi-autobiographical and more important for style than plot, After-Dinner Conversation is the diary of a Decadent sensation-collector in exile in Paris who undertakes a quest to find his beloved Helen, a vision whom his fevered imagination sees as his salvation. Along the way, he struggles with irreconcilable urges and temptations that pull him in every direction while he endures an environment indifferent or hostile to spiritual and intellectual pursuits, as did the modernista writers themselves. Kelly Washbourne's excellent translation preserves Silva's lush prose and experimental style. In the introduction, one of the most wide-ranging in Silva criticism, Washbourne places the life and work of Silva in their literary and historical contexts, including an extended discussion of how After-Dinner Conversation fits within Spanish American modernismo and the Decadent movement. Washbourne's perceptive comments and notes also make the novel accessible to general readers, who will find the work surprisingly fresh more than a century after its composition.
“Who knows if there’s a God? There’s us, now, and caterpillars and other insects and mulch. So thinks Stephen Wirth as he watches his marriage collapse. Between bouts of alcoholism and attempts to restore a fleet of decrepit boats, Stephen does his best to help his daughters cope with their mother having fallen in love with another woman. But growing up and making sense of the world is something the girls must do on their own, just as for their mother there is no easy way around building a new life. Set on Long Island, The Agnostics follows the Wirths through several decades as they struggle to redefine themselves and their idea of family.
Painting with a fine and delicate brush, Wendy Rawlings reveals her characters’ lives as a series of discrete moments, illuminating the intimate story of one American middle-class family.
“Already an accomplished stylist, Rawlings has given us a first novel that is at once delicate and intense. The characters are so finely engraved and their passions so recognizable, the river of their daily lives runs so broad and deep, in the end we feel not that we have merely read about them but that we have lived with them, side by side. A poignant, exquisitely focused book.”
—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Last of Her Kind
Traveling through China in 1989, not long after the Tiananmen Square massacre, Fanny hopes to make sense of her brother Bruno’s death in a motorcycle accident by finding a woman with whom he had exchanged letters. On her journey Fanny’s fate becomes entwined with a handsome British rogue, an American of Russian-Cuban descent returning to Tashkent, and two Chinese men—one who loves Charles Dickens, the other a budding, entrepreneurial con man—struggling to find their way in a country undergoing tumultuous transformation. Kathleen Lee’s debut novel explores the tension between the allure of the unfamiliar that draws us to distant lands and its unbidden tendency to reveal us to ourselves. With its rollicking sense of humor and slyly lyrical voice, as well as an extraordinary deftness in the rendering of place, All Things Tending towards the Eternal is an unforgettable ride.
A prismatic, imaginative exploration of David Bowie’s last days
An intricate collage-novel fusing and confusing fact and imagination, Always Crashing in the Same Car is a prismatic exploration of David Bowie through multiple voices and perspectives—the protean musician himself, an academic trying to compose a critical monograph about him, friends, lovers, musicologists, and others in Bowie’s orbit.
At its core beat questions about how we read others, how we are read by them, how (if at all) we can tell the past with something even close to accuracy, what it feels like being the opposite of young and still committed to bracing, volatile innovation.
Set during Bowie’s last months—those during which he worked on his acclaimed final album Black Star while battling liver cancer and the consequences of a sixth heart attack—yet washing back and forth across his exhilarating, kaleidoscopically costumed life, Always Crashing in the Same Car enacts a poetics of impermanence, of art, of love, of truth, even of death, that apparently most permanent of conditions.
Munro’s stories were born five decades ago in a small English village where children were seen and not heard, fathers were wacky, neighbors were snoopy, and maiden aunts were beautifully crafted artifices. Her original stories, dolloped with characters reminiscent of those from her childhood, telling of domestic shenanigans and outings gone revealingly awry are written with meticulous timing. Rich in details about the frailty and strength of the human spirit, her stories resonate with the truth of what is means to be human.
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