cover image In/Half


Jasmin B. Frelih, trans. from the Slovenian by Jason Blake. Oneworld, $26.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-78607-390-7

Three long-separated friends find their lives becoming fairy tales in Frelih’s disorienting debut, set in a world that is both just around the corner and as distant as a dream. Evan, trying to direct a troubled play in a future Tokyo, is sidetracked by his drug habit and ditches his robot “minder” to travel Alice-like through a hallucinatory sector of the city, one that requires a gas mask to enter. Meanwhile, Kras, ex-Slovenian minister for war, tries to celebrate his 50th birthday with family but is driven, like the Big Bad Wolf, to take an axe to the tree in which his father seeks sanctuary when he finds pornography in it. Zoja, a censored poet, stands naked, as in a nightmare, before her Brooklyn audience at the performance planned in her honor—before she is attacked by a man who is stalking her. The book culminates with the three characters all sharing the same taxi ride and each seeking closure to the estranged intimacies that haunt them. This story of trauma, family, and ambition sustains its ghostly, ethereal tone and will be appreciated by readers looking for a mind-bending puzzle. (Nov.)