Review by Jason Diamond
The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
By Alina Bronsky, translated by Tim Mohr
Europa Editions, 246 p.
Not only is The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine one of the finest examples of dark humor writing to come out this year, but translator Tim Mohr’s work from the novel’s original German is done so well that you practically expect English to be the first language of author Alina Bronsky.
Bronsky has given us an unforgettable anti-heroine, Rosa, a character both wretched and ignorant, but strangely sympathetic. Is she implicitly bad? Or is society responsible for her behavior? Are we supposed to side with the people she destroys, or is Rosa just misunderstood?
The only difficulty I had with the book is that it moved at Rosa’s pace. You hardly realize what is going on in the world around her; it’s hard to keep track of time because this book isn’t focused on Rosa’s daughter, granddaughter, pushover husband, or the other people that flit in and out. It’s Rosa’s book, just as it is Rosa’s world. I suppose the fault I find in The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine may also be one of its strengths, with the narrator lingering with me long after I’ve turned the last page.