A fine tribute to a writer defined by his singular command of mood and mystery.



A career-spanning story collection from Tabucchi (1943-2012; For Isabel: A Mandala, 2017, etc.) exploring the liminal spaces between dream and waking, fact and fiction.

All but one of the 22 stories here have appeared in earlier books, and taken together they make for a substantive overview of the obsessions that marked Tabucchi's work. “The Reversal Game” and “Night, Sea, or Distance,” both set in Portugal, evoke his admiration for Fernando Pessoa, particularly his interest in the slippery melancholy state of "saudade." “Clouds” and “The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico” are elliptical evocations of the subconscious; in the latter story, a monk’s vision of a trio of insectlike beings can be read as magical realism or a hallucination of a cloistered mind. “Cinema” is a noir satire about two movie actors who attempt to turn their roles as World War II resistance fighters into reality. “The phrase that follows this is false…” and “Little Gatsby” are arch metafictions that weave the author himself into the story. At once modern (fragmentary, interior rhetoric) and postmodern (satirical, suspect of narrative), Tabucchi possessed a lively and inimitable sensibility; “imagination gave him a reality so alive that it seemed more real than the reality he was living,” he writes of one character, a notion that guides many of these stories. Not all of these high-concept stories succeed; some are overly digressive, and Tabucchi has a habit of introducing a stray memory or reverie in a story the way a hack crime writer introduces a thug with a gun. But in magical stories like “Clouds” and “Letter from Casablanca,” he creates somber vignettes that are playful in structure and imagination. The latter is narrated by a man who discovers his capacity to impersonate a woman singer, a fulfillment of Tabucchi’s feeling that we can inhabit any environment, however foreign, if we pay close enough attention.

A fine tribute to a writer defined by his singular command of mood and mystery.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1939810-15-1

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Archipelago

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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