Aliefka Bijlsma's new novel, The Consult General’s Wife, is a sad, funny, and eye-opening story about an aging Dutch diplomat in Brazil. At Words Without Borders, Bijlsma and I talked about topics including: her childhood spent in various different continents; the challenges of creating a character who’s different in age, sex, and temperament to yourself; and what happened when she got lost in a favela ruled by Rio’s main gang.
At Words Without Borders, I reviewed Chilean novelist Roberto Ampuero’s English language debut, The Neruda Case, a globe-spanning detective story featuring Pablo Neruda and his checkered love life.
HHhH by Laurent Binet — a novel about the author’s obsession with Reinhard Heydrich, the high-ranking Nazi who masterminded the Final Solution — won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman and a bunch of critical raves. I admired aspects of it but found much to quibble with too.
At Words Without Borders, I review Always Coca-Cola by debut author Alexandra Chreiteh, a surprising, disturbing and mordantly funny novel about what it’s like to be an obedient young woman in contemporary Beirut.