Dennis Lim

  • Fearful Circuitry

    KLARA, THE TITLE CHARACTER OF KAZUO ISHIGURO’S new novel, would seem to have some serious shortcomings as a narrator. Introduced in a retail outlet in an unnamed city where she alternates between the window and less desirable display positions, Klara is a solar-powered AF, or Artificial Friend, who exists solely to assist and accompany the human child who purchases her. Despite her impressive capacity for mimesis and spongelike powers of absorption, we never forget Klara’s obvious limitations. Her view of the world is circumscribed, her vocabulary stilted, her agency virtually nonexistent. All

  • The Possessed

    The title of Garth Greenwell’s new novel appears exactly once in the book, close to its midpoint, in the second of its three sections, as the narrator describes a relationship that has introduced him to the heretofore alien qualities of stability and happiness. The unnamed protagonist, who was also the central figure in Greenwell’s 2016 debut, What Belongs to You, is an American living in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, where he teaches at a prestigious high school. What Belongs to You, and other chapters of this new book, Cleanness, contain vivid accounts of the teacher’s sexual habits and

  • The Elements of Style

    Robert Bresson's Notes on the Cinematograph holds a special place on the small shelf of books about filmmaking by filmmakers. First published in 1975, this slender and endlessly quotable manifesto by one of the cinema's supreme masters remains, for the receptive reader, potentially seismic. As distilled and exacting as his films, Bresson's compendium of epigrams—its title misleadingly translated in previous English editions as Notes on Cinematography and Notes on the Cinematographer—is film theory at its most aphoristic, the cinephile's equivalent of Letters to a Young Poet, a book to be read

  • Disaster Relief

    Practically the opposite of a tell-all, J. G. Ballard’s memoir, Miracles of Life: Shanghai to Shepperton, suggests that this is an author who said all he wanted to say in his fiction. First published in the UK in 2008, a year before his death from cancer at the age of seventy-eight, the genial and reflective Miracles of Life adds little to what faithful readers will have already gleaned about the workings of his mind and the contours of his life from various interviews, his provocative science fiction, and most of all from his two autobiographical novels, Empire of the Sun (1984) and The Kindness

  • Satellites of Love

    Haruki Murakami’s stories are forever slipping from one plane of existence to another. Whether it happens at the bottom of a well (The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle) or atop a Ferris wheel (Sputnik Sweetheart) or through a television screen (After Dark), most of his characters at some point find themselves transported from what they thought was reality to a strange new unreality. But Murakami, for one, would argue that, amid the confusion of our new world disorder, those concepts are not exactly what they used to be. Writing in the International Herald Tribune last year, he wondered, “In an age when