New England Review of Books

published in boston // launched 2016 // its own excuse for being

criticism, commentary and literary news // page updates monday-friday

Quarter 1, 2018
Quarter 4, 2017
Quarter 3, 2017
Quarter 2, 2017
Quarter 1, 2017
Quarter 4, 2016 (displayed)
Quarter 3, 2016

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Items of note this quarter:
Give Nyarlathotep a chance
The Spinoff's Top 20 of 2016
Dylan's speech in absentia
Defying epic gender tradition
Golden ink on black silk
Is the Web killing lit crit?
Seth Godin's bookshelf
Welcome, wikisonnet botlords
Scotland's book picks 2016
NYTimes 100 books of 2016
5 Slavic sci-fi picks
Short stories vending machine
Kate visits Geneseo
New Johnny Cash poems
Essay grading, post-Trump
AQR invokes Emma Lazarus
Lib arts helps cons
Gaelic MA online
Kit Marlow gets credit
Book buyers as snobs
Death of books, forestalled
Booklist: Modernist women
Aussie Peter Porter Prize
Meet the Grinder
A collective poem translation
Win a book a month for life
Sonnet Bake-off 2016
On books bought and not read
Spillman slams Ferrante outing
On the typeface Benguiat
Trump, book reporter
The Global Book Review
Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor
Mr. Harold J. Grump, à la Seuss
A librarian arrested
Ricks on Dylan's Nobel
Memoir of an SNL alum
Newtonville Books interviewed
This book's a gas


Books Received



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Reviews and
12.20.16: Per Stassa Edwards, The Natural Way of Things is the prescient feminist horror novel we need to read. link>>
12.19.16: Piotr Gwiazda reviews Robert Archambeau's The Kafka Sutra for Chicago Review. link>>
12.16.16: A novel about India's present-day society and polity, straddling the "twilight zone between the speculative and the firmly realistic." link>>
12.15.16: At Hong Kong Review of Books, the latest in Joel Swann's 21-part review of the epic Poetry and Conflict box set. link>>
12.14.16: Rain Taxi reviews a nonfiction anthology of childhood retreats, cubbies, and other forms of "dream closet." link>>
12.13.16: Column antho tells the story of Jack Jones and other Quaker vols in WWII China. link>>
12.12.16: Megyn Kelly's riveting memoir tells of individual mettle, media dysfunction, and self-replicating platitudes. link>>
12.09.16: "Cynthia Ozick’s latest collection of essays seems poised to take a stand about the value of literary critics." link>>
12.08.16: "Our Revolution is a book that must have been written very quickly." link>>
12.07.16: The exhaustive report of a middle-aged reader who goes back to The Hardy Boys. link>>
12.06.16: An "elegiac new book about the natural world and our slow and implacable destruction of it," reviewed. link>>

12.05.16: "Friedman's great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary." link>>

12.01.16: A brief take on The Angel of History, a novel that in the course of one night moves from a childhood in an Egypt whorehouse to life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco. link>>
11.30.16: On Irish writers who looked upon the Caribbean as a mirror image of Ireland. link>>
11.29.16: Kenneth Jost reviews Indelible Ink, a story of the Zenger case that laid foundations for an American free press. link>>
11.28.16: 'Alexandre Trudeau is a well-informed guide to the New China, insofar as a "barbarian" can be well-informed.' link>>
11.25.16: In Eve Out of Her Ruins, adolescence, poverty and despair stalk the slums behind the luxury hotels of Mauritius. link>>
11.24.16: Shiraz Maher’s history of Salafi-Jihadism analyzes ISIL and other manifestations of the "Al Qaeda tradition." link>>
11.23.16: On Stefan Hertmans's War and Turpentine. link>>
11.22.16: Round-up of boundary-breaking books that are diverse (but not about diversity). link>>
11.21.16: A new history looks at the links between Noh theater and literary Modernism. link>>
11.18.16: Malcolm Forbes reviews Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "taut, tantalizing" Reputations. link>>
11.17.16: New novel from Yoko Tawada tells of a retired circus bear turned writer. link>>
11.16.16: Another review of new Hitler bio agrees: "this book is so important right now." link>>
11.15.16: Lab Girl details Hope Jahren's love of science, and her fight to keep it funded. link>>
11.14.16: In her new book about war and its matériel technology, Mary Roach delivers "snark leavened with science." link>>
11.11.16: A 1961 review of Leonard Cohen's first poetry collection. link>>
11.10.16: New bio of Thomas De Quincey is "short on literary analysis and long on dish." link>>
11.09.16: Uzbek Hamid Ismailov on the poetry of Soviet Russia, and the older poetic traditions of the Central Asian steppes. link>>
11.08.16: A new collection by Liberian-born Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, from the African Poetry Book Series. link>>
11.07.16: "Teethmarks on My Tongue truly is a bildungsroman, so much so, in fact, that it even ends in Germany." link>>
11.04.16: On Tama Janowitz's memoir essays: "She’s not stupid … she’s also not an adult." link>>
11.03.16: "Thunder at the Gates remembers the black regiments of the Civil War." link>>
11.02.16: "It's a memoir. It's a love story. It's a buried treasure tale. It's a philosophical tract. It's a group biography." link>>
11.01.16: Mike Berry reviews The Starlit Wood, fairy tales retold by Theodora Goss, Charlie Jane Anders and other writers. link>>
10.31.16: "The Angel of History holds on to the stories of the powerless against corporate, military and cultural erasures. Yet if a man holds on to every memory, he’ll go mad…" link>>
10.28.16: A round-up of reviews for the novel Land of Love and Ruins by poet, artist, and Björk collaborator Oddný Eir. link>>
10.27.16: BoingBoing reviews a "steampunk novel of Fabian socialists and American Black Zionists in Belgian Congo." link>>
10.26.16: A new history details "the people, their personalities, and their interactions" involved in the rise of ISIS. link>>
10.25.16: Ha Jin's The Boat Rocker has a powerful moral core. link>>
10.24.16: "Even superpowers can’t save you from capitalism"; Constance Grady on Lethem's Gambler's Anatomy. link>>
10.21.16: Did this Elizabethan dictionary and its scribbled notes belong to the Bard? A review of Shakespeare's Beehive. link>>
10.19.16: Otosirieze Obi-Young on "Imperialism-in-Artistry", or, why Dylan's Nobel win is proof Adichie is right about Beyoncé. link>>
10.18.16: 'Books I looked forward to with the excitement a new Dylan album used to inspire'; David Wheatley on Roy Fisher's forthcoming collection. link>>
10.17.16: It's a good day to look back at this 2004 review of Sir Christopher Ricks's book-length study of Bob Dylan as poet. link>>
10.14.16: Regina Munch reviews White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, opens with mention of Trump. link>>
10.13.16: Graphic novelist Sarah Glidden documents a journalistic trip to Turkey, Syria, Iraq. link>>
10.12.16: Biology, x-ray vision, and religion in Ludmila Ulitskaya's The Kukotsky Enigma. link>>
10.11.16: A story of love and injustice in the internment camps: The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake, reviewed. link>>
10.10.16: 'Childlike obliviousness of a dying Norwegian working class'; a new translation of poems by Håkan Sandell, reviewed by Micah Mattix. link>>
10.07.16: Emma Brockes thinks Michiko Kakutani had a certain POTUS candidate in mind while reviewing new Hitler bio. link>>
10.05.16: A review of Grace & Other Stories, the debut collection by Bongani Sibanda. link>>
10.04.16: Collegiate reviewer finds The Sympathizer captivating, but "not an easy novel." link>>
10.03.16: Saleem Haddad's Guapa 'explores the dangers and dread of being gay in a country that forbids it.' link>>
09.30.16: Rayyan Al-Shawaf reviews Shelter, the debut novel of MA writer Jung Yun. link>>
09.28.16: In The Blind Roadmaker, poet Ian Duhig disinters heritage in his critique of the "falsenesses of the present." link>>
09.27.16: Sorry Martian fans, this year's space-themed book turned movie is African-American history, not science fiction. link>>
09.27.16: Quelle surprise; write-up of Sarkozy tell-all has a section titled "Worst Friends." link>>
09.26.16: Carey Baraka reviews Oduor Jagero’s The Ghosts of 1894, for Enkare. link>>
09.23.16: Marginalia's Simon Rabinovitch reviews György Spiró's Captivity, "the ultimate Jewish road novel." link>>
09.22.16: Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun says more about US racial tensions than about mules. link>>
Excerpts, Features
and Interviews
12.20.16: A UC Merced interview with faculty member Vanesha Pravin, author of the award-winning collection Disorder. link>>
12.19.16: A timely special collection of articles on Syria and the Left from Muftah. link>>
12.16.16: Novelist Maria Smilios, writing ruminatively, on the lingering, closing, of New York's remaining bookstores. link>>
12.15.16: Diana Senechal on listening to poetry in unfamiliar languages, hearing "cadences, repetitions, rhythms." link>>
12.14.16: María Esther Vázquez recalls the eighteen years when Borges was director of the National Library. link>>
12.13.16: Arts Fuse talks with George Scialabba about his Low Dishonest Decades, and the dishonesty to come. link>>
12.12.16: To kick off the week,
we present a microfiction from up-and-coming Nigerian author Chukwuebuka Ibeh. link>>
12.09.16: In short, this essayist believes book reviewers will survive, but lit theorists will be driven to extinction by AI. link>>
12.08.16: Latin American writers at the Oaxaca International Book Fair express their bewilderment over election of Trump. link>>
12.07.16: The future of the book industry is not print vs. ebooks but understanding when and how people want to read. link>>
12.06.16: Amish Trivedi on contests and independent publishing. "Social capital alone will not sustain presses or put food on the table." link>>
12.05.16: Let us begin the week by marveling at this video of an old book being restored to new usefulness. link>>
12.02.16: Ello, the social media platform for "creators", has a conversation with conceptual artist Joseph Shaeffer. link>>
12.01.16: Yes, experimental literary modernism informed by the folklore tradition does indeed exist on YouTube. From Open Culture, two video animations of short tales by Italo Calvino. link>>
11.30.16: Exclusive; two new lyric poems from A. J. Odasso. link>>
11.29.16: An expansive interview by Michael Healy with the two editors of the new Spanish issue of The Battersea Review. link>>
11.28.16: The Paris Review reprints a 1959 interview with Fidel Castro, discussing literature in his socialist country. link>>
11.25.16: "As long as we use language we’ll find a away of making something beautiful or memorable from it;" an interview with Adam O'Riordan. link>>
11.24.16: "Sex in Mao's China," an excerpt from Richard Kirkby’s new work of memoir. link>>
11.23.16: Journo Mohamed Fahmy talks about his experience in Cairo's Scorpion Prison, and the book he wrote about it. link>>
11.22.16: Michael Chabon writes about Borges, and pity, for The Atlantic's By Heart series. link>>
11.21.16: This essay in Asymptote examines book design across editions in translation. link>>
11.18.16: Make wolves great again? We present an original MAGA poem by Somerville writer Maya Ramakrishnan. link>>
11.17.16: Blaine Greteman, "What It's Like to Teach Poetry in the Age of Trump." link>>
11.16.16: Can we connect Bob Dylan's Nobel win to the extinction of pleasure reading? link>>
11.15.16: Translation Tuesday returns! Enjoy "Shadow Puppets" by Wong Yoon Wah." link>>
11.14.16: An out-of-print interview with poet Melissa Green, republished in advance of the release of Soundings from Arrowsmith. link>>
11.11.16: An excerpt from Robert Seethaler's The Tobacconist, via the Picador webpage. link>>
11.10.16: "all my lovers lie in fields I do not mow"; a new poem by Chris Nelles. link>>
11.09.16: An interview by Ricardo Zanfardini with Argentine writer María Esther Vázquez. link>>
11.08.16: 'Lit crit taught me to scrub feelings out of my reading; a medieval mystic showed me how to put them back in.' link>>
11.07.16: Carey O'Donnell chats with Ryan Sandoval about parody and lonewolfism in a time of hyperbolic patriotism. link>>
11.04.16: John Berger and Susan Sontag converse, in 1983. link>>
11.03.16: Priscilla Coit Murphy addresses our perennial fretting in this short review of predictions of the end of books. link>>
11.02.16: Remembering Islandia, "simultaneously a fantasy of otherness and of America's pre-industrial simplicity." link>>
11.01.16: Joshua Corey on translating Francis Ponge, courtesy of the In Their Own Words series from the PSA. link>>
10.31.16: Sven Birkerts, editor of Agni, on the continual discoveries of reviewing submissions. link>>
10.28.16: Annalia Luna of Brazos Bookstore chats with Monica Youn about Blackacre and the person behind the poems. link>>
10.27.16: Ilan Stavans on the precursors, beneficiaries, and impacts of "El Boom" on Latin American letters. link>>
10.26.16: "Journey in Search of Indo-Islamic Papermaking Heritage;" video of a 2015 lecture at the Met in NYC. link>>
10.25.16: Robert Casper explains his connection to a recent "Poetry, Publishing, and Race" panel at the Library of Congress. link>>
10.24.16: The Guardian on Shirley Jackson: "queen of gothic horror claims her literary crown." link>>
10.21.16: Bustle profiles Paul Beatty after he's named to the 2016 Man Booker shortlist. link>>
10.20.16: Story behind the poems of Counting Descent, the debut collection from Clint Smith. link>>
10.19.16: From the Asymptote archives, Anita Raja on translation as a practice of acceptance. link>>
10.18.16: Min Kyung-Won talks with Alain de Botton about his newest novel and "enough of Romanticism!" link>>
10.17.16: A conversation with Connie Willis, award-winning writer of sci-fi screwball, and author of Crosstalk. link>>
10.14.16: A.Z. Foreman translates Yanysheva's anti-prayer poem, "St. Petersburg." link>>
10.13.16: Sir Ricks affirms the justice of Bob Dylan's Nobel win. (He's been making this case for some time now.) link>>
10.12.16: Aaron Sach asks, are there ways of making academic prose more stylish without sacrificing scholarly cred? link>>
10.11.16: On the Faber blog, Francesca Kay considers how writers of fiction approach the books they are reading. link>>
10.10.16: Nine fragments from Josué Guébo's collection addressing migration, shipwreck, hope, fear, loss. link>>
10.07.16: Elisa Albert on writerly ambition and self-pride. "I am just so goddamn proud of her." link>>
10.06.16: In 1920 Stuart Sherman asked, is there anything to be said for literary tradition? link>>
10.05.16: O. T. Marodin asks, how should a poet make money? "This is a terrible question." link>>
10.04.16: Hyperallergic interviews Kathleen Rooney, editor of René Magritte: Selected Writings. link>>
10.03.16: Louis MacNeice reads two poems for BBC's Three Score and Ten audio series. link>>
09.30.16: Three short original surrealist texts from Pen & Anvil author Daniel Hudon. link>>
09.29.16: BUST sits down with Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder. link>>
09.28.16: Eugene Fischer crunches some numbers re: the Library of Babel. link>>
09.27.16: Anca Pusca on the relevance of Benjamin’s oeuvre just as it is entering the public domain in a digital age. link>>
09.26.16: Tony Tulathimutte on robot poetry, machine stylistics, and other notes on the impending end of writing. link>>
09.23.16: Submissions tips from Shearsman, e.g. "sincerity of expression does not necessarily make for good poetry." link>>
09.22.16: Safiya Sinclair on how Caliban and exile fed the creation of her first book. link>>
New Books and
Literary News
12.20.16: Kerala novelist arrested for insulting national anthem begins hunger strike. link>>
12.19.16: Intrigue in the world of antiquarian tomes as Feds throw book at bogus bookbinder. link>>
12.16.16: German research institutions unite to pressure Elsevier journals division. link>>
12.15.16: According to the South Korean's biggest bookstore, sales of Korean-language poetry this year are up 505%. link>>
12.14.16: Ilana Masad thinks it's the small independent publishers who are doing the heavy lifting to find new talent. link>>
12.13.16: So, how many non-white writers are published in Australia each year? Natalie Kon-yu on the Diversity Count. link>>
12.12.16: Adam Kirsch bids farewell to Obama, our Writer-in-Chief stepping down to make way for a barely literate POTUS. link>>
12.09.16: Despite threat to press and publisher freedom, chairman of the Tanzania Editors Forum tells journos not to question but to follow the new media law. link>>
12.08.16: From the bilingual Black Herald Press, The Return to Silence and Other Poetical Essays by Paul Stubbs. link>>
12.07.16: NYTimes on strange gaps in Turkey's crackdown on "treason": "Some Turkish authors who are not in prison may well be wondering why not." link>>
12.06.16: In a chill and censorious climate, Chinese publishers wouldn't touch her book. So Mei Fong published it herself and is giving it away free. link>>
12.05.16: The team at Book Culture has compiled a reading list for improving understanding of Trumpism and related ills. link>>
12.02.16: The Chronicle profiles the 20- and 30-something intellectuals whose critical journalism and little magazines are gaining influence. link>>
12.01.16: Nuestra Palabra Books and Art opens in "book desert" of downtown Houston. link>>
11.30.16: Mini Krishnan and Bhanumati Mishra discuss the work and rewards of publishing Indian lit in translation. link>>
11.29.16: "One cannot be too careful not to think of it." Quiet thoughts of C. S. Lewis on the anniversary of his death. link>>
11.28.16: His writers tried, but alas, liberals don't "take the bait" of fake news. link>>
11.25.16: Book from The Babadook now available in the real world. "You can't get rid of the Trump Babadook." Sad! link>>
11.24.16: "I don’t call my poetry activist; I call it active." Talking youth poetry in Uganda. link>>
11.23.16: Petrarch's Canzoniere newly available in Catalan. link>>
11.22.16: Will the 2016 Kuwait Intl. Book Fair mark a turning point against censorship? link>>
11.21.16: China makes a play to displace Western cultural exports in the African market. link>>
11.18.16: "You could think of this book as a prediction, not necessarily of Trump himself, but the Trump phenomenon." link>>
11.17.16: Women are winning top literary prizes more often; the gender gap is still huge. link>>
11.16.16: How First Lady Eliza Reid, a Canadian, is working to champion Iceland writing. link>>
11.15.16: Next time you visit Hanoi, make sure to stop by their new "book street." link>>
11.14.16: The Point's Crisis of Language Project is like Urban Dictionary for American political terminology. Mind the gaps. link>>
11.11.16: The NYTimesThey Can't Kill Us All, dealing with the new struggle for racial justice in America. link>>
11.10.16: Disseminating Urdu and Hindu poetry via swag. link>>
11.09.16: The Goldsmiths prize for books goes to an Irish novel made of a single sentence. link>>
11.08.16: The latest volume in the Public Domain Review essay collection series, just in time for the gift season. link>>
11.07.16: Writers join protests against UK library closures. link>>
11.04.16: Is Pakistan ostracized by the global literati? link>>
11.03.16: Orhan Pamuk has won the 2016 Yasnaya Polyana Award for the Russian edition of A Strangeness in My Mind. link>>
11.02.16: Discussing the state and future of Arab publishing at the Sharjah Book Fair. link>>
11.01.16: The Nation talks with Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, author of Season of Crimson Blossoms and winner of the $100k Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2016. link>>
10.31.16: Space to Think collects ten years of the Dublin Review of Books, with some fifty essays on Irish and international lit. link>>
10.28.16: Electric Lit tells the story of Austin's Fifth Dimension Books, a sci-fi bookmobile. link>>
10.27.16: Elizabeth Kiefer talks to debut novelist Brit Bennett about one of the fall's most anticipated debuts, The Mothers. link>>
10.26.16: Michael Basinski, curator of Poetry Collection, to retire after 32 years with U of Buffalo. link>>
10.25.16: Nova Scotia publishers get a grant and op-ed offers silver-lining reading of the state of the print book industry. link>>
10.24.16: A new translation by Peter Wortsman of selected prose of Kafka, released this week from Archipelago. (See also this interview in ArtsFuse.) link>>
10.21.16: Released this week, Social Medium: Artists Writing, 2000–2015, a sourcebook from Paper Monument. link>>
10.20.16: Stevie Emilia reports on the Jakarta delegation to the Frankurt Book Fair. link>>
10.19.16: New hirings & firings as Condé Nast restructures. link>>
10.18.16: HarperCollins will publish J. R. R. Tolkein's Beren and Lúthien in May 2017. link>>
10.17.16: A profile of the debut novel The German Girl by Cuban-American journalist Armando Lucas Correa. link>>
10.14.16: Athol Williams to receive the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. link>>
10.13.16: Reading Nicotine as an indictment of fake shamans, bunk idealism, and the unfortunate influence of Franzen. link>>
10.12.16: New T. S. Eliot site from Faber & Faber is 'aimed at a wider audience, to show the remarkable breadth of what he did.' link>>
10.11.16: Turkish Cypriot literary texts added to syllabus in Greek Cyprus high schools as a way to promote a "peace culture. link>>
10.10.16: Let me be the first to welcome our new poetry-writing AI overlords. link>>
10.07.16: One Thousand Suns is an issue of Modern Poetry in Translation focusing on work from African languages. link>>
10.06.16: A profile of the owners of Symposium Books in Providence, Rhode Island. link>>
10.05.16: Attempts fail to replicate study that suggested literary fiction boosts cognition. link>>
10.04.16: Darrin Pratt of the Univ. Press Colorado lays out the case that university presses ARE good investments. link>>
10.03.16: Always check your shelves! Thomas Becket's personal book of psalms found in Cambridge library. link>>
09.30.16: Do the Mutahi Prize results show Kenyan literature to be in a sorry state? link>>
09.29.16: "They clearly have street cred." Glynn Young reports from a talk with Eliot poetry vol editors McCue and Ricks at the British Library. link>>
09.28.16: The ALSCW announces the launch of their revamped Literary Matters periodical. link>>
09.27.16: The Guardian memorializes Bernard Bergonzi: poet, literary critic and professor of English at Warwick. link>>
09.26.16: On Ricks and the Battles at BU: The closing of his Editorial Institute is a small, but real, loss for our battered res publica, our City of Words." link>>
09.23.16: Members of India's creative community write: 'We are anguished by the suffering our Kashmiri brothers, sisters, children are undergoing.' link>>
09.22.16: Aimee Levitt on Sonali Dev, the Indian-American romance writer ascending to stardom while helping to diversify a traditionally monochromatic genre. link>>

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