In 1931, a time of economic and social turmoil in America, The Epic of America by the historian John Truslow Adams was published. In it, Adams coined the term “American Dream”, which embodied for him the differences between the old and new worlds of Europe and America.
Book reviews on Indian fiction and non-fiction from 2018, covering history, literature, sociology, art, culture and international relations.
Our reviews of Chinese fiction—novels and short story collections—in translation this year.
This collection of short stories presents the grim reality of war-torn Manchuria in the 1930s. Despite the extreme poverty and brutality depicted, such is the skill of author Kang Kyeong-ae that her oppressed characters achieve a kind of nobility, at least in art if not in life.
What if Michelangelo had not, as history concurs he had, declined the Sultan’s invitation to come to Constantinople in 1506 to design a bridge over the Golden Horn? This is the conceit behind Mathias Énard’s new novel, or rather novella, Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants (a perhaps anachronistic borrowing from the preface of a collection of Rudyard Kipling stories). What if Michelangelo had instead accepted?
What do you do when you’re given a magic sword and a “dragon horse”? You sally out into the wicked world, of course, rescue maidens in distress, overthrow evil kings and chop off a great deal of heads while shouting over and over again variations of “Stretch out your neck and receive my sword!” However, as you fight manfully to restore your Crown Prince to his throne, which has been usurped by a wicked, scheming Prime Minister, you demonstrate at the same time the supreme Confucian virtues of filial piety and loyalty as well as respecting your teachers and learning how to become a good judge of people.
Some of the most lasting consequences of war are displacement, refugees, and broken families. Eugenia Kim’s new and brilliant novel examines a family separated by not just one, but two wars.