The Thief, Fuminori Nakamura

As an avid fantasy reader, the notion of fate is one in which I am well-versed. Fantasy novels often have a multitude of prophecies or destined heroes, and it always requires even more suspension of disbelief than already necessary to read speculative fiction. What I do not often encounter in any fiction, fantasy or otherwise,…

Ms Ice Sandwich, Mieko Kawakami

It is not often that I so blindly stumble upon a Japanese author without knowing anything beforehand. In this case, I was quite literally browsing library shelves and came upon Ms Ice Sandwich. What a quirky title, I thought, and a Japanese name. I guess I’ll read this. Browsing library shelves, it turns out, has…

The Emissary, Yoko Tawada

Writing weird and quirky fiction,the kind that borders on the fantastic, seems to be a tradition in Japanese literature. Between Haruki Murakami, Kenzaburo Oe, Kobo Abe, and now Yoko Tawada, there is no shortage of puzzling but delightful stories pouring out of Japan. Tawada is no stranger to the Japanese fiction landscape, but she was…

Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid

I have lost count of how many coming-of-age books I’ve read in my life. It seems like every author, at some point in their career, writes about someone growing up. Growing up is a universal commonality, and so the success of this type of narrative should be no surprise. I happily admit that when well-written,…

The Emperor of the Eight Islands, by Lian Hearn

It seems so obvious to merge fantasy with Japanese folklore, and yet so few authors have done so. Fantasy is historically seldom translated, however, so even if there had been a slew of Japanese fantasy books, I likely wouldn’t know of them. That Lian Hearn is a British woman living in Australia is possibly the…

The City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty

I need to admit something right away – I had a song from Aladdin playing in my head almost the entire time that I read this book. I partly blame myself for watching that movie about a million times as a child, and partly blame author S.A. Chakraborty for creating a character called Prince Ali…

A Girl in Exile, Ismail Kadare

Ismail Kadare is Albania’s best-known author and poet, and while my goal with this world literature challenge is to read less popular books , the release of Kadare’s newest work, A Girl in Exile, was too timely to ignore. That it deals so intimately with the culture and land of Albania is a major plus…

Fever Dream, Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream is the first book that I am reading for my World of Books project. Samanta Schweblin is an Argentinian-born writer who now lives in Berlin, and this is her first novel. I found this book on Ann Morgan’s blog, and while it doesn’t appear to be set in any particular country, there is…

Traitor’s Blade, Sebastien de Castell

To my great shame, I have never read The Three Musketeers. I have seen and loved multiple movie versions, despite the poor quality of said adaptations (except for “The Man in the Iron Mask,” which is dope). The myth of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and little baby brother d’Artagnan is one I hold close. I will…

The Thousand Names, Django Wexler

The Thousand Names is something unique in the fantasy genre (at least in this reader’s experience). There is a common piece of advice about writing fantasy that goes something like – look at current the niches within the genre and then see how you can create your own. There are fantasy mysteries and thrillers, mash-ups…

The Black Company, Glen Cook

The Black Company was first published in 1984. This is 12 years before A Game of Thrones is first released and 15 years before Gardens of the Moon. It is six years before The Eye of the World starts The Wheel of Time saga. If you told me that Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, and…

The Bear and the Nightingale, Katherine Arden

The biggest issue I had with The Bear and the Nightingale is that the titular Bear is not identified until halfway through, and the Nightingale does not make an appearance until the final fourth of the book. Does that make this a poorly titled novel? No. The title is inviting and intriguing. My complaint is…