This is not your ordinary short story collection. In his newest work, Daniel Chacón subverts expectation and bends the rules of reality to create stories that are intriguing, hilarious, and deeply rooted in Chicano culture. These stories explore the concept of a wall that reaches beyond our immediate thoughts of a towering physical structure. While Chacón aims to address the partition along the U.S.-Mexico border, he also uses these stories to work through the intangible walls that divide communities and individuals—particularly those who straddle multiple cultures in their daily lives.
Set in El Paso and other Latinx-dominant urban spaces, Kafka in a Skirt is an immersive look into the myriad lives of the characters who inhabit these culturally diverse areas. Chacón masterfully weaves elements of the surreal and fantastic through a shining tapestry of fiction, creating moments of touching realism in contrast with scenes that are fascinatingly unfamiliar. Occasionally teasing the ghosts of Jorge Luis Borges and the Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik, this collection disregards boundaries and transports readers into a world merely parallel to our own. Kafka in a Skirt unravels the intricacies of culture, sexuality, love, and loneliness in a collection that shows the personal implications of barriers while remaining hopeful and bright.
Klaus Wagenbach Haus Publishing, 2019 Library of Congress PT2621.A26Z98213 2011
Nearly one hundred years after Franz Kafka’s death, his works continue to intrigue and haunt us. Kafka is regarded as one of the most significant intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth century, and even for those who are only barely acquainted with his novels, stories, diaries, or letters, “Kafkaesque” has become a term synonymous with the menacing, unfathomable absurdity of modern existence and bureaucracy. While the significance of his fiction is wide-reaching, Kafka’s writing remains inextricably bound up with his life and work in a particular place: Prague. It is here that the author spent every one of his forty years.
Drawing from a range of documents and historical materials, this is the first book specifically dedicated to the relationship between Kafka and Prague. Klaus Wagenbach’s account of Kafka’s life in the city is a meticulously researched insight into the author’s family background, his education and employment, his attitude toward the town of his birth, his literary influences, and his relationships with women. The result is a fascinating portrait of the twentieth century’s most enigmatic writer and the city that provided him with so much inspiration. W. G. Sebald recognized that “literary and life experience overlap” in Kafka’s works, and the same is true of this book.
A crumbling marriage. An ancient mystery. And a way to change the past . . .
When archaeologist Aaron Keeler finds himself transported eighteen years backward in time, he becomes swept up in a strangely illicit liaison with his younger wife. A brilliant musician, Violet is captivated by the attentive, “weathered” version of her husband. The Aaron she recently married—an American expat—has become distant, absorbed by his excavation of a prehistoric site at Kilmartin Glen on Scotland’s west coast, where he will soon make the discovery that launches his career. As Aaron travels back and forth across the span of nearly two decades, with time passing in both worlds, he faces a threat to his revelatory dig, a crisis with the older Violet—mother of his two young children—and a sudden deterioration of his health. Meanwhile, Violet’s musical performances take on a resonance related to the secrets the two are uncovering in both time frames. With their children and Aaron’s lives at risk, he and Violet try to repair the damage before it’s too late.
The King David Report
Stefan Heym Northwestern University Press, 1997 Library of Congress PT2617.E948K65 1997 | Dewey Decimal 833.914
In this retelling of the biblical story, King Solomon commissions Ethan the Scribe to write the official history of King David. In return for the finest cooking in the land and the wages of a minor prophet, Ethan must write a proper record, full of glory and battles, statecraft and honor--a tribute to David and, of course, to Solomon, his heir. But as Ethan explores the story, he finds another life hidden behind the iron curtain dividing past from present: the story of a David who seduced, lied, bragged, and plundered his way to power. Ethan wonders: which life should be reported in the King David Report?
Written by one of Germany's most acclaimed dissident authors, The King David Report is both an analysis of the writer's obligations to truth, and an astute satire on the workings of history and politics in a totalitarian state.
The Kingdom of Strangers
Elias Khoury University of Arkansas Press, 1996 Library of Congress PJ7842.H823M3513 1996 | Dewey Decimal 892.736
Alexandra Chasin University of Alabama Press, 2007 Library of Congress PS3603.H3797K57 2007 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Alexandra Chasin’s remarkable stories employ forms as diverse as cryptograms (in "ELENA=AGAIN") and sentence diagrams (in "Toward a Grammar of Guilt") to display her interest in fiction as al form constituted by print on the page, every bit as much as poetry.
In "They Come From Mars," the words are arrayed on the page like troops, embodying the xenophobic image of invading armies of immigrant and illegal aliens that animates the narrative. One story incorporates personal ads ("Lynette, Your Uniqueness"), another is organized alphabetically ("2 Alphabets"), while another leaves sentences unfinished ("Composer and I"). A number of stories take metafictional turns, calling attention to the process of writing itself. The last piece in the collection plays with genre distinctions, including an index of first lines and a general index. Set in New York, New England, Paris, and Morocco, these tales are narrated by men and women, old and young, gay, straight, and bisexual; one narrator is not a person at all, but a work of art. Each of these deft, playful, and sometimes anarchic fictions is different from the others,
yet all are the unmistakable offspring of the same wildly inventive imagination.
The Knight and His Shadow
Boubacar Boris Diop Michigan State University Press, 2015 Library of Congress PQ3989.2.D553C3813 2015 | Dewey Decimal 843.914
A brilliant tour de force, The Knight and His Shadow tells the tale of Lat-Sukabé’s quest to find his former lover, Khadidja, who writes him to “come before it’s too late.” As Lat-Sukabé recounts his past with Khadidja, reality shapeshifts and takes on a dreamlike quality. He describes how Khadidja is hired by a wealthy stranger to sit before an open door and tell stories into an uncertain darkness, unable to see the person to whom she speaks. Like Lat-Sukabé and Khadidja, the reader feels farther from home with every page, as the world turns and morphs. With those shifts, the symbolic order, the basis of meaning and sanity, begins to tremble. Postmodernist sensibilities meet postcolonial concerns in this lyrical novel from a master of Senegalese literature.
Andrei Bely Northwestern University Press, 1999 Library of Congress PG3453.B84K6513 1999 | Dewey Decimal 891.733
One of the most important works of twentieth-century Russian prose, Kotik Letaev, the great symbolist novel of childhood, depicts the emergence of consciousness and its development into self-consciousness in a Russian boy growing up among the Moscow intelligentsia in the 1800s.
Kotik's experience is based on elements from Bely's own early childhood, but on a larger level his experience represents the stages of human history, the history of philosophy, and childhood language development. The story, seen through the eyes of a child from the age of three to five years, is told in complex, poetically developed adult language, rich in imagery and musical sound effects.
The Kukotsky Enigma: A Novel
Ludmila Ulitskaya Northwestern University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PG3489.2.L58K3913 2016 | Dewey Decimal 891.735
Translated from the Russian by Diane Nemec Ignashev
The central character in Ludmila Ulitskaya’s celebrated novel The Kukotsky Enigma is a gynecologist contending with Stalin’s prohibition of abortions in 1936. But, in the tradition of Russia’s great family novels, the story encompasses the history of two families and unfolds in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and the ruins of ancient civilizations on the Black Sea. Their lives raise profound questions about family heritage and genetics, nurture and nature, and life and death. In his struggle to maintain his professional integrity and to keep his work from dividing his family, Kukotsky confronts the moral complexity of reproductive science. Winner of the 2001 Russian Booker Prize and the basis for a blockbuster television miniseries, The Kukotsky Enigma is an engrossing, searching novel by one of contemporary literature’s most brilliant writers.