1 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Years and years ago, when Karl Pohrt and I were launching the Reading the World program to enable independent bookstores to promote more literature in translation, we found out that May was officially World in Translation Month. This was a pretty happy coincidence, since we had already planned all of our activities to take place in May, and since people don’t celebrate this near enough.

In fact, after Reading the World morphed into the Best Translated Book Awards and whatnot, the concept of World in Translation month sort of faded to the background . . . Which is really too bad. May is the month for the PEN World Voices Festival, and the time when everyone gets out of school and has time to read something from another culture.

So, what I’d like to propose is that for World in Translation Month—and because our book sales for this fiscal year have been rather lagging—is that everyone reading this buy just one Open Letter title this month. But it from your local independent bookstore, from B&N, or Amazon—wherever you want. As a special incentive, we’re offering free shipping on all orders this month that are placed through our website.

And to be completely honest, there are two main reasons I’m personally asking all of you to do this. As you probably know, we don’t spend a lot of time on Three Percent pimping our own books. Instead, I’d rather talk about great works of international literature that are coming out from all over the place—I think that makes for a more interesting and valuable website. At the same time, I do have to try and sell as many Open Letter titles as possible, and for whatever reason—Borders closing, sluggish economy, etc.—this year hasn’t been our best. We do still have time to turn it around though, and literally, if all of the fans of Three Percent, the listeners to our podcast, the people who access our Translation Database, or the readers who follow the Best Translated Book Awards each purchase one single title of ours, we could end the year on a very high note.

Also, reading international lit during World in Translation Month should be mandatory for everyone.

Thanks in advance, and I apologize in advance for posting regular reminders about this. And please, if you support Open Letter and World in Translation Month, pass this post along to all of your FB/Twitter/RealLife friends.

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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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. . .

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