From Weyward Sisters Press comes another powerful collection of stories, this time by German author Katja Bohnet. Gritty, hard-edged, and abrupt, these pieces explore the nooks and crannies of "noir," veering toward speculative fiction at times, careening toward horror at others.
The title story, along with "Asia, Mid-Flight" and "Indonesian Ping Pong," feature travelers encountering terrifying situations: getting stabbed in a cheap hostel, (imagining) getting sucked out of an airplane via the bathroom, dealing with shady characters on sparsely-populated islands. Bohnet's sentences are short and precise, like the stories themselves, taking us to the point without any fuss while leaving us lost in thought at each conclusion.
Even as Bohnet hones this rough, curt style, she manages to bring out moments of lyricism, too. Take this description in "Indonesian Ping Pong": "The salty film on our skin crackled, whenever we moved. It smelled of sky and stars, cumin, dampness, and fish." Now, I don't know about you, but I could almost feel that crackling and smell that uneasy combination of scents. This is language at its most material, and Rachel Hildebrandt has expertly translated it for our enjoyment and appreciation. I look forward to reading much more by Katja Bohnet.