Amy Rosenberg

  • In the Kitchen

    If you’ve ever wondered what life in the kitchen of a grand old London hotel might be like, Monica Ali’s painstakingly detailed new novel, In the Kitchen, is the book for you. In describing the intricate hierarchy that prevails in the restaurant of the Imperial Hotel, the complex choreography it takes to pull off an evening’s dinner service, and the intensity of the personal interactions that underlie the professional ones, Ali reveals a dining establishment’s inner workings with a thoroughness that’s revelatory and disturbing. Do you really want to know what it takes to cater your evenings

  • In Other Rooms, Other Wonders

    The final scene in The Grapes of Wrath is unforgettable: Rose of Sharon nursing a starving old man after the birth of her stillborn baby. And in the face of headlines daily declaring the worst economic collapse since the Depression, Steinbeck is worth remembering. It’s unexpected, though, to encounter echoes of his work in tales set as far from California as rural Pakistan. But Daniyal Mueenuddin, a half-American, half-Pakistani writer, has crafted a chronicle of poverty as detailed and revealing as any by Steinbeck, with the same drive to humanize his subjects. Mueenuddin’s collection of linked

  • We, Brave New World, 1984, A Clockwork Orange: These classics of dystopian fiction provide relief from their grim predictions only because they are predictions. The worlds the books portray are far in the future and thus, it is implied, preventable. Not so with Etgar Keret’s latest collection of disturbing yet hilarious short stories, The Girl on the Fridge. The dystopia that this Israeli writer presents is no imminent nightmare; it’s a reflection of the everyday irrationality and suffering in Keret’s homeland and elsewhere. And though this reflection is as fragmented as the world it

  • It’s fitting that Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon, which first appeared in German in 2004, has been translated into fifteen languages. The novel, as mesmerizing and dreamlike as a Wong Kar-wai film, with characters as strange and alienated as any of the filmmaker’s, is in fact preoccupied with translation, with all that can be lost or gained in the process. But more than that, it is concerned with the power of language to forge and dismantle people’s experiences, desires, and identities.

    Raimund Gregorius, a fifty-seven-year-old Swiss philologist, dwells on questions of language as he