The book appears to have been completely ignored by American newspapers. There’s this snobbish Bookforum review which observes “lowbrow thrills” and appears written by a humorless gentleman who wouldn’t know fun even if he were offered the role of his choice in a custard pie fight. (This regrettable quality is quite typical of the people who Albert Mobilio hires these days. It has been suggested to me that Mobilio does not laugh at all or that he titters infrequently at best. To expect humor, much less fun, in Bookforum‘s dilletantish pages is akin to asking a paraplegic to wake up one morning and participate in a 10K run. It’s simply not going to happen.)
My own take on Alberto Sánchez Piñol’s new novel, Pandora in the Congo, a book that is especially wonderful, can be found in today’s Barnes and Noble Review. I must also praise translator Mara Faye Lethem (who is disgracefully unmentioned in the Bookforum review). Translators are often granted the least hosannas. But between Pandora and Javier Calvo’s Wonderful World (which I am now sneaking pecks at between other books), Lethem is one of the few translators who truly gets pulp, perspective, and idiosyncratic voice. These are vital aspects of literature that are beyond the understanding of Mobilio’s army of hubristic hucksters, but are thankfully within the easy reach of the rest of us.
© 2009, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.