18 November 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

In one of my Frankfurt posts I mentioned the 30 Great Authors from Argentina (warning—pdf file) “brochure” that the Fundacion TyPA put together to help promote writers who had yet to be translated out of Spanish.

It’s hard to describe this elegant, unique brochure (more like oversized trading cards in a box than a printed brochure), but some (poor quality) pictures might help:

It’s really cool that TyPA decided to feature only authors who hadn’t been translated. Sure that leaves out some great contemporary writers (in the intro they mention Cesar Aira, Martin Kohan, and Alan Pauls), but brings attention to authors most editors otherwise wouldn’t hear about, such as Eduardo Muslip, Oliverio Coelho, and Carlos Gamerro. (Descriptions of their novels can be found in the pdf version of the brochures.)

There were three books that really caught my eye:

The No Variations by Luis Chitarroni (Interzona, 2007): “In this book—one of the most complex and challenging texts of Argentine literature in recent years—the Borgesian themes of erudition, tradition, and consecraton are sent through the shredding machine. The result is a ‘novel’ made up of diaries, notes, forgetfulness, articles, and poems created by writers invented by the author.”

Apex by Gustavo Ferreyra (Sudamericana, 2004): “The city—Buenos Aires—emerges slowly in this novel, and it is the city we deserve, the novel-city of the present. Action and geography seem to walk together and, sometimes, join efforts to keep the characters of the story apart, missing each other in the places where they should have met. And the other way around. In this way, we—the readers—can discover details that a more general view would never show us. Up close, Apex seems to say, every act is a criminal act; up close, every fictional character is a monster.”

Neon by Liliana Heer (Paradiso, 2007): “Neon, a wonderful example of this century’s expressionism, invites the reader to delve into the fundamentals of power. In this novel three characters recreate humanity in Kafka’s style. Evil is shown from different points of view, in relation with an inheritance, with repression, with racial prejudices, and with some humorous lines that balance on the edge between madness and reason, justice and injustice, man and animal. And above all towers an erotic scene that is the leitmotiv of the whole story . . .”

....
This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

Read More >

A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

Read More >

Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

Read More >

The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

Read More >

Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

Read More >

Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

Read More >

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

Read More >