Tag Archives: NYRB Classics

The Wedding of Zein by Tayeb Salih

I’ve been fond of reading for as long as I can remember, but I only started reading translated fiction roughly a decade ago. Not a lot of books get translated to Sinhala, my native tongue, so I wasn’t able to access most of the translated works until I improved my English reading fluency. And now, […]

The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns

I was worried about reading Barbara Comyns’s The Juniper Tree when I discovered it is a retelling of an old Brothers Grimm tale of the same name. The original story (which you can find here) features a wicked stepmother who does something unimaginably nasty to her stepson. So I made up my mind to read […]

An Ermine in Czernopol by Gregor von Rezzori

An Ermine in Czernopol is an autobiographical novel by the European writer Gregor von Rezzori. Rezzori was born in Czernowitz in 1914, four years before it became a part of the Kingdom of Romania after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So in this novel, which is set right after WWI, Czernopol is based on […]

Like Death by Guy de Maupassant

At one point in Like Death, Richard Howard’s elegant translation of Guy de Maupassant’s fifth novel Fort comme la Mort, Olivier Bertin the novel’s protagonist mentions that his heart is “worm-eaten with love.” After reading Maupassant’s reflective and evocative prose, that is exactly how I feel about this book and its lovers’ fate! Let me […]

War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944 by Iris Origo

After reading Iris Origo’s diary A Chill in the Air a couple weeks ago, I was glad to get my hands on War in Val d’Orcia, the most popular of Iris’s works. Iris stopped writing A Chill in the Air on 23 July 1940, a few days after Mussolini declared war against the Allies. The […]

A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary 1939–1940 by Iris Origo

I was thrilled when A Chill in the Air slipped through my mailbox on Monday. Before 2017, I avoided wartime memoirs like the plague. I’ve been an avid reader of war fiction, but I always thought reading factual accounts of wars would be more than I could handle. Then I spent the last year working […]

Niki: The Story of a Dog by Tibor Déry

The Ancsas are a middle-aged couple in Communist Hungary. They are quite an ordinary couple – Mr. Ancsas is a mining engineer, and Mrs. Ancsas a housewife – living in the outer suburbs of Budapest. However, Niki is not a story about them; it is the heartwarming story of the terrier that finds and adopts […]

Victorine by Maude Hutchins

Because I’ve had more hits than misses with NYRB classics, nowadays I don’t even read the descriptions when I buy them. So far my criteria for buying NYRB classics has been whether or not they are selling at a discount, so bought on that basis, I had no clue that Victorine is a story about a […]

Young Once by Patrick Modiano

In 2014 Patrick Modiano who is called “Marcel Proust of our time” won the Nobel Prize in Literature “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the Occupation.” He was a well-known writer in France at the time, but he was not popular […]

The Judges of the Secret Court by David Stacton

In 1963, two years after David Stacton published The Judges of the Secret Court, Time magazine named him one of “the best American novelists of the preceding decade.” Alongside Stacton in the list were big-league literary giants like Joseph Heller, John Updike, and Philip Roth. However, Stacton was not a well-known writer in his time – his historical novels didn’t make […]

Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus

I’ve never been a big fan of Greek mythology. But reading Prometheus Bound converted me! Prometheus Bound, which is probably the oldest book I’ve ever read (I am yet to read The Iliad and The Odyssey), is an ancient Greek tragedy. The play has been historically attributed to Aeschylus (525 – 456 BC, however, the […]

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age by Bohumil Hrabal

The novella Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age is written as a single (unfinished) sentence! Long sentences that run for pages are not my usual cup of tea. I still remember how daunting it was to read Gabriel García Márquez’s (he is one of my favorite authors) The Autumn Of The Patriarch. And that […]

The Black Spider by Jeremias Gotthelf

The Black Spider written in 1842 is a short novella set in a remote Swiss village. On a summer Sunday, the villagers gather to celebrate a baptism at a lovely farmhouse. During the feast (the child is the firstborn son, so food doesn’t stop coming!), one of the villagers wants to know the story behind […]

The Goshawk by T. H. White

Reading The Goshawk was a first for me. I have read memoirs before, but The Goshawk was the first time I read a memoir about a man’s feral companion(s). T. H. White is known for his Arthurian novels; The Once and Future King. But before he made his mark in the literary world, T. H. […]

The Pilgrim Hawk by Glenway Wescott

The Pilgrim Hawk is a very short novel. It describes the events that take place in a single summer afternoon in the late 1920s at a French chateau. The owner of the house is Alexandra (Alex) Henry, a young American heiress. Her friend, Alwyn Towers, an American expatriate/ novelist is staying with her, served by […]