Tag Archives: 21st Century

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian

It’s been ages since I read a book as fast as I read The Vegetarian by Han Kang, with its savagely beautiful cover. Fifty pages in I knew that this well-written novel, translated by Deborah Smith, would not release me … Continue reading

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Genre Sublimation (Bieńczyk, Sebald, Bae Suah)

It isn’t possible to read books like Marek Bieńczyk’s Transparency without seeing traces of Sebald, rather like the lost Da Vinci that might lie hidden behind the Vasari mural in Florence. Bieńczyk’s form of literary historiography weaves autobiography and literary … Continue reading

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Admitting Light: Not Entirely

In Ancient Greece they used the lovely word diaphanes. You can repeat it for its pleasure alone, not knowing what it means, but feeling how it fills the mouth with clear air and opens it to the sun with its … Continue reading

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Transparency, Transparencia, Prezroczystość

Here’s a taster of Marek Bieńczyk’s Transparency, so good that I want to share, but also because typing it here it slows me down. This is one of those books, that you want to inhabit as long as possible, one of … Continue reading

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Strange Struggle With Meaning

It was during this translation [of Blanchot’s work] that I experienced another strange struggle with meaning: when in a simpler paragraph I found I could follow the thread of M. Blanchot’s argument from one sentence to the next, and that … Continue reading

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Max Frisch, Bae Suah and Meaningless Existence

There are my old chestnuts, those writers to whom I’ve become attached. They are sufficient that I could just read and reread their works till the end, but something compels me to seek out new voices, or those that are new … Continue reading

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Istanbul Rewards Persistence

Finished reading Istanbul: Memories of a City by Orhan Pamuk, a book I almost abandoned on a couple of occasions, struggling with its insipid writing style. Through a series of thematic essays, Pamuk scrutinises Istanbul, his family and growing up … Continue reading

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Blue-bottle in a Jar

Last week, I took Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul to the city that is its subject, but read very little. Istanbul, whose siren’s call I’ve heard since watching Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s crazy films, left little time for reading. It is a hypomanic city, caught between projection and reality, … Continue reading

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The Dispute Between Mind and Speech

Relations between Mind and Speech were always difficult and fraught. They sometimes clashed like two warriors-or two lovers. Each wished to do better than the other. Mind said: ‘I am surely better than you, for you say nothing that I … Continue reading

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The Flayed Man

The Book of Leviticus, the third book of the Hebrew bible, instructs the priesthood on the sacrifice that must precede the slaughter of animals for food. Roberto Calasso writes in Ardor of Yājñavalkya’s comparable philosophy in the Vedic Shatapatha Brahmana, but … Continue reading

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