Remembering the Disappeared

The Planets
By Sergio Chejfec

The Planets by Sergio Chejfec“Most Argentines, thrilled with questionable accomplishments like the 1978 World Cup and the 1982 war in the Falkland Islands, noticed too late that the flood of kidnappings, torture, and murder had unequivocally renewed its campaign against frivolity and barbarity,” reports the narrator of Chejfec’s 1999 novel (in a new English translation published by Open Letter). The Planets concerns the narrator’s remembrances of a childhood friend he refers to only as “M,” who was “disappeared” by the government in the 1970s. Chejfec’s focus is not political social realism, though, but instead the slipperiness of time, memory, and identity—and how that slipperiness can be politically exploited. Chejfec has been compared to W.G. Sebald, but where Sebald’s fiction features bits of chronological narrative—someone taking a walk, or a series of meetings with another character—interrupted by long stretches of memory, The Planets dispenses with narrative in order to let wandering itself—literary and intellectual—take center stage. —Alan Limnis


Landscape Overpowers Psychology

By Therese Bohman

Drowned by Therese BohmanDrowned, a debut novel by Therese Bohman, explores the relationship between landscape and psychology. In this family love triangle set in the Swedish countryside, cultivation and culture give way to tangled natural elements. Roots literally push, pull, and seize, while the novel’s characters mirror this behavior. A suspenseful character study quickly gives way to lushly described physical elements, where the landscape not only alters but eclipses psychology. If you are willing to succumb to this process, Drowned is an interesting study. —Rachel Greben