My latest book review is up at PopMatters. The Dark Interval is a collection of 23 letters written by Rilke to friends and acquaintances who were suffering from the losses of loved ones. There's no pithy condolence or mystical ideology here. These letters are filled with beautiful language and intense insights about how grief, death, and loss can actually make us whole and even transform us. If you've read his Letters to a Young Poet, you will be moved by this collection too. The excellent translation is by Ulrich Baer, a Rilke scholar at NYU. There's a bit more about the translation at the end of the review.
My review of A.M.Homes' latest short story collection, 'Days of Awe', is up at PopMatters. These stories have her trademark darkly satirical takes on American consumerism and more. Also, they are a masterclass in dialogue and in listening to both what is said and, more importantly, what isn't said.
The Great Indian Novel (TGIN) has been an old, thorny debate among Indian literati for decades now. With literature spanning centuries in many languages and across class/caste/region divides, there has never been any consensus on what makes for truly great Indian literature. And, certainly, Indian writing in English, particularly fiction, continues to have its ups and downs. During the years when there are international awards, everyone is happy. During the years when the pickings are far too slim, as with this year, there is muttering and hissing about how bad all English fiction in India can be.