The french novel Zone by Mathias Énard has been receiving some early press for a few reasons.
1. We’re publishing it (with an English translation by Charlotte Mandell) in spring 2010.
2. It’s about 500 pages.
3. It’s about 1 sentence.
The Chicago Tribune just ran an article, including some helpful references to other long sentences with which you may be familiar. Within the article, Chad helpfully describes this incredible book:
Open Letter Books at the University of Rochester has purchased the rights to the book and expects to publish a translation by Charlotte Mandell in spring 2010, according to Chad Post, the press director.
But is the record-setter gibberish? Not at all, says Post.
“It’s told from inside this guy’s mind as he takes a train trip,” he says. “It has a lot of commas.”
Intrigued? Here’s a little excerpt.
This past weekend, Pat Reardon featured Dalkey Archive Press, Northwestern University Press, University of Illinois Press, and University of Chicago Press in an article for the Chicago Tribune about how the State of Illinois is one of the centers of translation in the country.
Translators are unofficial ambassadors, negotiating the meeting of two cultures, says Willis Regier, director of the University of Illinois Press.
And, although little recognized locally, one of the major centers of this sort of literary diplomacy is Illinois, home of four publishing houses with strong translation programs, responsible for some 50 translations each year.
Put together, these four presses are pretty impressive—Northwestern’s “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series alone is pretty remarkable and includes a ton of impressive authors.
It’s also worth noting that Reardon is talking about all translations, not just fiction and poetry. (For instance, the bit about U of I Press mentions that they specialize “in non-fiction works by scholars and great writers, such as Simone de Beauvoir and Ludwig van Beethoven.”) In terms of fiction and poetry, a small segment of Brooklyn would compete with Illinois in terms of translation dominance . . . In Gowanus and Dumbo alone one can find Ugly Duckling Press, Archipelago Books, and Melville House, three of the top publishers of literary translations in the country.
Personally, my favorite part of this article is John O’Brien’s quote that “This area is translation territory.” It calls to mind images of Illinois as the wild west of international writing, where roving editors carry around bilingual dictionaries . . .
Rather than blogging the crap out of Harry Potter (a la the Chicago Tribune—just check their last 10 posts), the Guardian has an interesting post on Blaise Cendrars, whose Moravagine was reprinted by—yep, again—NYRB a few years back.
Fascinating and strange, it’s great to see that someone in the world of mainstream newspapers is drawing attention to his work.
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .