• print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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    DEAD CALM

    Roberto Bolaño died (of liver failure) in 2003 at the age of fifty; he died in Spain, exiled from his birthplace, Chile. Much remains mysterious about his life. He had bad teeth. As a child he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He was arrested by Pinochet’s police. He wrote two impossibly long novels—his last, called 2666, is over one thousand pages long—and many poems; neither of the novels, and none of the poems, as far as I know, has yet appeared in English translation. He remains, for readers marooned in English, an unfolding discovery: New Directions, our savior, has published his two aria-like

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  • print • June/July/Aug/Sept 2006

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  • print • Feb/Mar 2007

    Unhappy Returns

    In Nuruddin Farah’s first novel, From a Crooked Rib, a young woman’s rebellion against traditional Somali society subtly mirrors the modern nation’s struggle for autonomy. That 1970 debut, written when Farah was a twenty-three-year-old philosophy student (and recently reissued by Penguin), exposed the brutalities of infibulation—a pre-Islamic custom—and forced marriage through the eyes of its nomadic heroine, Ebla, spurring recognition of its male author’s uncompromising feminism.

    Forceful women characters, and an anatomy of family relationships from the viewpoint of those who have the least

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  • print • Feb/Mar 2007

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