A Kirkus Reviews Best Book in Translation of 2019
Zsófia Ban’s Night School: A Reader for Adults uses a textbook format to build an encyclopedia of life—subject by subject, from self-help to geography to chemistry to French. With subtle irony, Ban’s collection of “lectures” guides readers through the importance and uses of the power of Nohoo (or “know-how”), tells of the travels of young Flaubert to Egypt with his friend Maxime, and includes a missive from Laika the dog minutes before being blasted off into space, never to be seen again. A wildly clever book that makes our all-too-familiar world appear simultaneously foreign and untamed, and brings together lust, taboos, and the absurd in order to teach us the art of living.
“Reading Zsófia Ban is simply good. It’s pleasurable. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her. . . . her writing can bring a smile to any reader’s face, in any language.”—Péter Nádas
“Acerbic, playful, full of quick-witted philosophy, and unstintingly original, this is a varied and unsettling reader for our varied and unsettling times."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Bán marries Rabelaisian scholastic satire with a cerebral lyricism, resulting in a fanciful, if occasionally baffling, curriculum.”—Publishers Weekly
“A must-read for anyone who needs a break from the grim currents of contemporary literature, yet still craves the heady thrill of a really smart book.”—The Arkansas International
“This is an impressive, even wonderful work, Bán's dense, bubbling flow of ideas and words carrying readers along like on some wild river raft-ride.” —Michael Orthofer, Complete Review
“Defiant irreverence is Night School’s greatest strength. . . . Zsófia Bán’s textbook parody is a bravura performance, and perhaps it has more to teach us than we might initially think.”—Jacob Silkstone, Asymptote
“No book I’ve read this year has felt as alive and inventive as Zsofia Ban’s Night School, nor has any book provided me with its volume of pure pleasure.”—Jonathan Woollen, Politics and Prose
“Zsófia Bán fashioned the curious frame of a "night school" to interact her readers on a long list of random subjects. . . rearranging the pieces [of cultural history] in intriguing forms, to the delight of the already learned student."
—Thomas Nolden, World Literature Today