Nonfiction Without Borders
These three books derive creativity from the limits of categorization. Each work, in its own distinct way, boldly crosses borders—whether of memoir, history, or criticism—to create a literature that dramatically (and joyfully) thwarts preconceptions and expands possibilities.
Translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney
Far from home, in the confines of a dim New York apartment where the oppressive skyscrapers further isolate her, Jazmina Barrera offers a tour of her lighthouses—those structures whose message is “first and foremost, that human beings are here.”
“The attentive lyricism of [Barrera’s] self-exploration pulls the reader steadily along the craggy coastlines of the world. Her language, reflected in MacSweeney’s crystal clear translation, is grounded and tranquil, at times contrasting with the turmoil of grief and isolation that Barrera feels throughout her travels.… [On Lighthouses] is a multifaceted collection, vibrant in its constant search for more iterative complexity, meant to be read slowly and considerately.” —Entropy
Translated from French by Sophie Lewis
On the night following the terrorist attack that killed thirty-eight tourists on the beach at Sousse, a woman sits facing the sea and writes a love letter to her homeland, Tunisia, which she feels she must now leave forever. Personal tragedies soon resurface—the deaths of her father, a quiet man who had left all he held dear in Tunisia to emigrate to France, and of another lifelong friend, a writer who just weeks ago died at sea, having forsaken the writing that had given his life meaning.
From Tunisia to Paris to a Flaubertian village in Normandy, and with nods to Proust and Barthes, Fellous’s complex and loving story offers a multitude of colorful portraits, and sweeps readers onto a lyrical journey, giving a voice to those one rarely gets to hear, and to loved ones now silent.
Translated from French by Jordan Stump
Who are the green women? They are powerful (one is a disciplinarian teacher). They are mysterious (one haunts a house like a ghost). They are seductive (one marries her best friend’s father). And they are unbearably personal (one is the author’s own mother). They are all aspects of their creator: Marie NDiaye, an author celebrated worldwide as one of France’s leading writers.