Reiner Stach, KAFKA: THE DECISIVE YEARS
The first volume of Stach’s three-volume biography is already one of the finest I’ve read in years. Here is a portrait of an artist at work, in love, and in strife. Highly recommended not only readers of modernity’s master, but for those who want to see what one can do through the art of biography.
Sergio Chejfec, MY TWO WORLDS
The inner world spilling into the outer, and the outer crowding its way into the world, Chejfec turns a short afternoon’s walk in a foreign city (not to mention short novel) into a philosophical epic.
Clarice Lispector, THE PASSION ACCORDING TO G.H.
My favorite of New Directions’ 2012 retranslations. As much a description as an evocation of a mystical experience for the modern, unbelieving age.
Mary Ruefle, MADNESS, RACK, AND HONEY
Ruefle’s lectures on poetry are a marvel and are as stirring as her best poetry. The breadth of her reading and reference alone are something to behold. With wit and humility, she inhabits poetry as a kind of possibility.
Karl Ove Knausgaard, MY STRUGGLE
I devoured Knausgaard’s novel/memoir in two cross-country plane rides. I do not know if he can possibly maintain in the subsequent five volumes, but I’ve never been so eager to find out. With a painstaking (& often painful) eye for minute detail, Knausgaard’s retelling of even the mundane shimmers. Playful, frank, and heartbreaking, his self-revelations are apt to render the reader all the more exposed.