Also of interest...in literary discoveries
Life and Adventures of Jack Engle
by Walt Whitman (Free online)
Walt Whitman was “far from a onetrick pony,” said Tolly Wright in NYMag.com. Three years before the poet published Leaves of Grass, he wrote this serialized novel for a newspaper. Recently rediscovered, its tale of an orphan making his way in a world of villainous elites is “not a particularly good example of the author’s oeuvre.” Here and there, though, the overripe drama “gives way to the sort of wandering explorations on nature and the human experience that would make Whitman a hero.”
by Gerard Reve (Pushkin, $22)
It’s hard to believe it took 70 years for this beloved and “acidly comic” Dutch novel to finally appear in English, said Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal. The protagonist is a 23-year-old file clerk who lives with his parents, and the action primarily consists of his pitiful efforts to fill his nights and weekends. Our antihero’s inner monologue “ripples constantly from absurdist joking to biting ridicule to lacerating self-doubt,” and his weeklong existential crisis builds to an “extraordinary” emotional climax.
by Bandi (Grove, $25)
The stories about North Korea gathered in this slim, powerful volume come “straight from the belly of the beast,” said Chelsea Hassler in Newsweek. Written mostly in the 1990s and smuggled out of North Korea by a relative of the author, they offer vivid snapshots: a man risking detention to visit his mother; a young woman worrying about a son’s misbehavior at a political rally. Better still, they’re “absolutely brilliantly written”—“some of the most engrossing fiction to be published in years.”
Amiable With Big Teeth
by Claude McKay (Penguin, $28)
Claude McKay has long been considered a leading light of the Harlem Renaissance, and this lost novel “lives up to McKay’s reputation,” said Sarah Begley in Time. A satire on life in Harlem at a moment when the neighborhood was stirred by debates over Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, the novel skewers the white Communists who tried to rally black Harlem to the anti-Fascist cause. Sure, the manuscript “could have used tightening.” But even decades late, it’s “a treat” to have.