6 April 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

With only one book left to cover, we’re reaching the end of the “25 Days of the BTBA” series, which means that the announcement of the finalists is right around the corner. Literally.

Next Tuesday, April 10th, fiction panelists Jeff Waxman will be here in Rochester for a special Reading the World Conversation Series event, during which he’ll reveal the BTBA finalists in poetry and fiction.

Before he unveils the shortlists (which will also be posted here as soon as he reads them off), we’ll talk about the evolution of the award, the role of the BTBA in general book culture landscape, how the panel came to make its decisions, and so on. Seeing that Jeff works at the University of Chicago Press and 57th St. Books, he has a unique perspective on literary awards and promoting international literature.

Following our talk and the unveiling of the finalists, we’ll read a few pages from a few of my favorite titles on the list. (We don’t have enough time to read from all of them—anyone want to camp out in the Welles-Brown room?—but we want to at least highlight a few of the books in a special way.)

(NOTE: Cover images on this were chosen randomly by Nate for design purposes only. Read nothing into this. And having the list in front of me, I can only reiterate—read nothing into this poster.)

Also, this means that over the three weeks building up to the celebration of the two winners—which will take place on Friday, May 4th at 6pm at McNally Jackson Books during the PEN World Voices Festival—we will be highlighting all of the poetry finalists and running short excerpts from the ten fiction finalists. Which means you have almost one more month of BTBA stuff to look forward to . . .

28 November 11 | N. J. Furl | Comments



Our second (and final!) Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall is happening in just a few days. As always, it’s taking place in Rochester, NY. So, if you’re in the area, you’d better check it out—lest all your friends go without you and bond intimately over the great time they all had (true story).

Here are the rousing details:


Reading the World Conversation Series:
Sergio Chejfec & Margaret B. Carson

DECEMBER 1, 2011
Thursday, 6:00 p.m
Plutzik Library in Rare Books & Special Collections
Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester
(Free and open to the public.)

Sergio Chejfec is the author of a dozen books, three of which are coming out from Open Letter Books: My Two Worlds (available now), The Planets (2012), and The Dark (2013). Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas singled out My Two Worlds as one of the “best books of the year.” The English edition has been universally praised, with Publishers Weekly saying Margaret B. Carson’s “magnificent translation” should be “treated as a significant event.”

My Two Worlds is a novel about an author walking through a city in the South of Brazil. As he wanders, this unnamed narrator thinks about his walk, about his new book (which isn’t getting very good reviews), and about his life (his birthday is a few days away).

Chejfec and Carson will discuss this novel, literature, and the process of translation.

(Sponsored by The Dept. of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation)

Visit this event on Facebook
Or over at the Open Letter site

(This event is presented by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

26 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

If you’re near the University of Rochester at 6:00 p.m., today is our Open Letter Celebration—our final Reading the World event of the spring.

We’ll have ten participants doing ten micro-readings from ten different Open Letter books (also, there will be food and an after-party/get-together at Tapas 177 to which all are invited). You can checkout the full details on Facebook or at the Open Letter website.



23 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments


For the sixth time in under three years, Chad has appeared on the preeminent local morning news show in Rochester, NY—clearly breaking/setting a record of some sort.

In today’s video, Chad’s talking about Open Letter hitting the three-year mark, and our celebration on Monday, April 26, (featuring 10 micro-readings from our books (as well as an after-party to which all are invited)) commemorating this, apparently inexplicable, achievement.

13 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Last night we hosted our second Reading the World event of the spring, featuring a really engaging reading and conversation between leading Latin American author Horacio Castellanos Moya and Chad Post. As always, video will be posted soon.

But, now, we have an cool change in programing for our final Reading the World event of the spring: On April 26, we’re having a celebration of sorts, in a big event featuring 10 readers, 10 great works of literature in translation, and some free food. Here are the details:



APRIL 26, 2010 – 6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room
Rush Rhees Library
University of Rochester
Reception to Follow
(free and open to the public)

To celebrate the third anniversary of Open Letter Books, ten participants—UR faculty members, Open Letter interns, and fans—will read 3–5 minute segments from ten different Open Letter titles. You’ll hear a wide range of voices from all over the world, and find out firsthand what types of works Open Letter is making available to English readers. All 18 books published by the press will be available for sale, and a reception will follow this lively event.

Featuring: Dean Susan Gibbons, Jennifer Grotz (Dept. of Eng.), Meredith Keller (Open Letter intern), John Michael (Chair of Eng. Dept.), Dean Joanna Olmsted, Claudia Schaefer (Chair of Modern Languages & Cultures), Joanna Scott (Dept. of Eng.), Laurel Stewart (Open Letter Intern), Brad Weslake (Dept. of Phil.), Phil Witte (Open Letter intern), and hosted by Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

25 March 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Our first Reading the World Conversation event was Monday, and it featured Helen Anderson & Konstantin Gurevich—the translators of our recently released edition of the Russian comedic classic The Golden Calf by Ilf & Petrov. Video of whole, engaging discussion will be posted soon, but, now, it’s time to look forward:

In a few short weeks, we’ll be be taking the stage, again, to talk with renown Latin American author Horacio Castellanos Moya. Here are the details:




APRIL 12, 2010
6:30 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Horacio Castellanos Moya (Dance with Snakes, Senselessness, The She-Devil in the Mirror), widely considered among the leading contemporary Latin American writers, will discuss his work, journalism, the myth of Roberto Bolaño, and world literature in general with Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books.

A finalist for the 2009 Best Translated Book Award, Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness introduced English-language readers to one of the most provocative, singular voices of twentieth-century Latin American literature. The recent publications of The She-Devil in the Mirror and Dance with Snakes received widespread attention, and with more translations already in the works, it’s clear that readers will be hearing about Moya for years to come.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

16 March 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

And below is some more info the first new Reading the World event, coming up very soon on Monday, March 22. Click to enlarge:




MARCH 22, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)
Sponsored by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries

Open Letter editor E.J. Van Lanen will discuss the difficulties, joys, and controversies of re-translating Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf, a revered Russian comedic classic, with the novel’s translators, and Rush Rhees Librarians, Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson

Teaming up with two petty criminals and a hopelessly naïve driver, Ostap Bender leads his merry band of mischief makers on a raucously hilarious jaunt across the “wild west” of the early Soviet Union in pursuit of a secret fortune. One of the true classics of Russian literature, this new translation of Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf—the first complete translation of the novel—restores the absurd, manic energy of the original and reaffirms the judgment of the Soviet censors, who said: “You have a very nice hero, Ostap Bender. But really, he’s just a son of a bitch.”

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

16 March 10 | N. J. Furl |



More information on each event will be posted separately, but—so you can mark your calendars now—here is the rundown of all three events in this spring’s Reading the World Conversation Series at the University of Rochester.

These events are hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. All events are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.

MARCH 22, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Helen Anderson & Konstantin Gurevich

Open Letter editor E.J. Van Lanen will discuss the difficulties, joys, and controversies of re-translating Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf, a revered Russian comedic classic, with the novel’s translators, and Rush Rhees Librarians, Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson.
(Co-sponsored by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries.)

APRIL 12, 2010
6:30 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Horacio Castellanos Moya

Horacio Castellanos Moya (Senselessness, The Devil in the Mirror), widely considered among the leading contemporary Latin American writers, will discuss his novels, short stories, and journalism with Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books.

APRIL 26, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
Reception to Follow
(free and open to the public)

A Celebration of Open Letter

To celebrate the third anniversary of Open Letter Books, ten participants—UR faculty members, Open Letter interns, and fans—will read 3–5 minute segments from ten different Open Letter titles. You’ll hear a wide range of voices from all over the world, and find out firsthand what types of works Open Letter is making available to English readers. All 18 books published by the press will be available for sale, and a reception will follow this lively event.

Featuring: Dean Susan Gibbons, Jennifer Grotz (Dept. of Eng.), Meredith Keller (Open Letter intern), John Michael (Chair of Eng. Dept.), Dean Joanna Olmsted, Claudia Schaefer (Chair of Modern Languages & Cultures), Joanna Scott (Dept. of Eng.), Laurel Stewart (Open Letter Intern), Brad Weslake (Dept. of Phil.), Phil Witte (Open Letter intern), and hosted by Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter.

(For additional info, contact nathan dot furl at rochester dot edu)

16 February 10 | Chad W. Post | Comments [2]

(A glamorous shelf in my glamorous office filled with BTBA titles.)

Just a reminder that after five weeks of build-up, we’ll be announcing the fiction and poetry finalists for this year’s Best Translated Book Awards tonight at 7pm tonight at Idlewild Books (12 W. 19th St.).

Cressida Leyshon will be moderating the event, and Idra Novey (poet, translator, executive director of the Center for Literary Translation at Columbia University) will announce the poetry books, and I’ll do the honors for the fiction.

Most of the time will be spent mingling and drinking wine (and hopefully buying books), and it promises to be a lot of fun. So if you’re in the NY area, be sure to come out.

Oh, and yeah, I’m totally open to bribes if anyone wants to find out what’s on the list before the event . . .

9 February 10 | Chad W. Post | Comments

We still have a few (like seven) books from the fiction longlist left to profile, but to be honest, my attention is turning to next week’s announcement of the fiction and poetry finalists . . . As we did last year, we’ll be announcing 10 books from each category—truly the best of the best of the literature in translation published last year.

Rather than simply announce these on the website, this year we’re going to have a special event at Idlewild Books to celebrate the finalists.

So, next Tuesday, February 16th at 7pm, Cressida Leyshon of The New Yorker will host the festivities and Idra Novey and I will make the grand announcements. This won’t really be a formal panel—more a chance for us to talk about the importance of international literature and to bring some extra deserved attention to these books.

And, as with every great publishing party, there will be drinks.

Everyone reading this should definitely come, and tell all your journalist and blogger friends. It’d be great to use this event as the next push to bring attention to all of these wonderful books and the great translators who often go unappreciated . . .

Copies of all the books will be on hand as well so that attendees can cough financially support cough the publishers/authors/translators/Idlewild. (And all BTBA titles are 20% off . . . )

Hope to see you all there!

10 November 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Last Thursday, we held our final Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall, featuring a group of four international writers and translators in residence at Ledig House — an international writers residency in New York that specializes in hosting authors and translators from around the world.

Now, the video of the event is available. Contained within this eight-part playlist is some reading, some commentary, some strong opinions on translating, and some Q&A:


And here are some more specifics about the event, Ledig House, and our four guests:

November 5, 2009 – Ledig House International Writers Residency is one of the only residences of its type in the United States. Since its creation in 1992, Ledig House has hosted hundreds of writers and translators from roughly 50 countries around the world.

At this event, Chad Post (Director of Open Letter at the University of Rochester) leads a panel of writers and translators from around the world—all of whom are currently in residence at Ledig House. The panel includes readings and discussion from:

Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany): Her first novel, published 2007, became a bestseller in Germany.

Tom Dreyer (South Africa): His second novel received the Eugene Marais Prize. His third was shortlisted for the M-Net Prize.

Linda Gaboriau (Canada): She is an award-winning translator of Quebecs most prominent playwrights.

Pravda Miteva (Bulgaria): She has worked as a literary translator since 1994, and owns a small publishing house.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

28 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments



Our final Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall is already upon us. Next week, four international writers and translators—all in residence at Ledig House International Writers Residency—are visiting the University of Rochester.

Here are all the details:

Nov. 5, 2009
6:00 p.m.
Gowen Room, Wilson Commons
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Ledig House International Writers Residency is one of the only residences of its type in the United States. Since its creation in 1992, Ledig House has hosted hundreds of writers and translators from roughly 50 countries around the world. The colony’s strong international emphasis reflects the spirit of cultural exchange that is part of Ledig’s enduring legacy.

At this event, Chad Post (Director of Open Letter at the University of Rochester) will lead a panel of writers and translators from around the world—all of whom are currently in residence at Ledig House. The panel will include readings and discussion from:

Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany): Her first novel, published 2007, became a bestseller in Germany.

Tom Dreyer (South Africa): His second novel received the Eugene Marais Prize. His third was shortlisted for the M-Net Prize.

Linda Gaboriau (Canada): She is an award-winning translator of Quebec’s most prominent playwrights.

Pravda Miteva (Bulgaria): She has worked as a literary translator since 1994, and owns a small publishing house.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

Facebook link.

27 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

The video is now available of last week’s (and, dare we say, our best to date) Reading the World Conversation Series event with the internationally bestselling author Jorge Volpi and preeminent translator Alfred Mac Adam. Parts 1-3 are Jorge’s reading, and parts 4-8 are the questions/answers between Jorge, Alfred, and the audience.


Here’s the skinny on the event:
Oct. 20, 2009 – Jorge Volpi—author of international bestseller In Search of Klingsor, and a founder of the “Crack” group—reads from his latest novel, Season of Ash, and discusses the new generation of Mexican writers.

Season of Ash puts a human face on the earth-shaking events of the late twentieth century: the Chernobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism and the rise of the Russian oligarchs, the cascading collapse of developing economies, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. Praised throughout the world for his inventive story telling and stylistic ambition, Jorge Volpi has become one of the leading innovators of twenty-first-century world literature.

After reading from Season of Ash, Jorge Volpi is joined in conversation by Alfred Mac Adam—professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University since 1983 and translator of novels by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Donoso, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Cortázar, as well as Season of Ash.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

15 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Video is now up from our Reading the World Conversation Series event with the acclaimed French-to-English translator Charlotte Mandell. It’s in seven parts, and there’s interesting stuff throughout—with parts 1-3 comprising the reading and parts 4-7 comprising the questions/answer portion (conducted with aplomb by our own senior editor, E.J. Van Lanen).

About the event:
Oct. 6 2009 – The French translator of Balzac, Proust, Flaubert, and others reads from her new translation of Mathias Énard’s Zone (forthcoming from Open Letter) and takes questions about literary translation. Zone has already been called “The novel of the decade, if not of the century” (Christophe Claro). In short, it is a 517-page, one-sentence novel about a spy, a train ride, a briefcase, and the pervasive violence of the twentieth century.

Charlotte Mandell is one of the great French-to-English translators, and has translated such prominent works as: The Girl with the Golden Eyes by Honoré de Balzac, The Book to Come by Maurice Blanchot, A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert, The Horla by Guy de Maupassant, Listening by Jean-Luc Nancy, and The Lemoine Affair by Marcel Proust.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

15 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Our second Reading the World event in Rochester, NY, is right around the corner, and it’s going to be a great one featuring internationally best-selling author Jorge Vopli and Spanish translator Alfred Mac Adam. One and all should come. Here are the details:

OCT. 20, 2009
6:30 p.m.
Plutzik Library (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Jorge Volpi—author of international bestseller In Search of Klingsor, and a founder of the “Crack” group—reads from his latest novel, Season of Ash, and discusses the new generation of Mexican writers.

Alfred Mac Adam is the acclaimed Spanish translator of Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, among others.

Jorge Volpi’s new international bestseller Season of Ash puts a human face on the earth-shaking events of the late twentieth century: the Cher­nobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism and the rise of the Russian oligarchs, the cascading collapse of developing economies, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. Praised throughout the world for his inventive story­telling and stylistic am­bition, Jorge Volpi has become one of the leading innovators of twenty-first-century world literature.

After reading from Season of Ash, Jorge Volpi will be joined in conversation by Alfred Mac Adam—professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University since 1983 and translator of novels by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Donoso, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Cortázar, as well as Season of Ash.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

6 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

To all those in the Rochester area, don’t forget that—today at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Rochester—celebrated French translator Charlotte Mandell (Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, et al.) will be reading from her new translation of Zone by Mathias Énard (a 517-page, one-sentence novel, forthcoming from Open Letter) and talking about the art of translation.

Here’s the Facebook link.

Or just click on the flyer below to get all the primary details.

1 May 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

In last last-minute switcheroo (sp?), Chad will be moderating-and-more at a PEN World Voices Festival event tonight in NYC.

Title: On the Edge – Writing in Post-Reunified Germany
When: Friday, May 1, 6–7:30 p.m.
Where: Deutsches Haus, 42 Washington Mews

You can get the full info here, but what that page doesn’t yet tell you is that this event now features Clemens Meyer and Chad (who will be playing the roles of moderator and special guest).

Why the change-up, you ask? Why, worries about swine flu, of course. But due to our extreme caution, this event is now the ONLY PLACE YOU WILL NOT CATCH SWINE FLU. And, seriously, it’s bound to be interesting and a lot of fun, too.

30 April 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

To all of you in the Rochester area, be sure to come to the University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel today at 6 p.m. for the newest installment of our ongoing Reading the World Conversation Series. This time we’re proud to bring to town Jan Kjærstad (an internationally renown author from Norway) and Mark Binelli (an American author and contributing editor to Rolling Stone). All the good info is here.

Also, to sweeten the deal, we’ll have an some excellent organ music at the top of the show, and food and drinks at the bottom. All of this, of course, is free.

We hope to see you there!

17 March 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

With our Politics of Translation event coming up next Monday, this seems like a good time to post the video of a different event that we hosted last fall.

As part of the Reading the World Conversation Series, this “Translators’ Roundtable” brought together four literary translators—who work in a variety of languages and genres—to discuss their experiences. The conversation explored a number of different topics, from how they got started as translators, to the obstacles of retranslating classic works, to translating film scripts during the writers’ strike, etc.

In attendance were Michael Emmerich, Edward Gauvin, Marian Schwartz, and Martha Tennent. There’s a lot of brilliant discussion here—one of my favorite points coming from Michael who makes a case to those who lean on the phrase “Lost in Translation” that it is, instead, and “100% gain.”


Translators’ Roundtable from Open Letter Books on Vimeo.

16 March 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments [1]

Next Monday (March 23), we’re hosting a roundtable discussion at the University of Rochester with several highly distinguished guests—and, also, Chad will be there. Here are the basics:

“The Politics of Translation: What Gets Translated and Why”
March 23, 5:00 P.M.
Plutzik Library
(in Special Collections at Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester

It’s sure to be a lively discussion on the forces and fortuities that bring (or stop) literary books into English translation. The panel will feature:
-Amanda Hopkinson, British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia, translator of Diamela Eltit and others.
-Suzanne Jill Levine, University of California-Santa Barbara, author of The Subversive Scribe, translator of Manuel Puig and others.
-Kathleen McNerney, West Virginia University, editor of “Garden across the Border: Merce Rodoreda’s Fiction.”

And will be moderated by:
-Chad Post, director of Open Letter Books, the University of Rochester’s publishing imprint specializing in literary translations.

This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Humanities Project, University of Rochester Arts & Sciences, and Open Letter Books.

Click below for the PDF poster/invite.

14 January 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

If only teleporting was cheap, and, you know, possible . . .

Friday, January 23, 2009
7:00pm – 9:00pm
Housing Works Bookstore Café
126 Crosby Street
New York, NY

Panelists Esther Allen, translator, former co-director of PEN World Voices, author of International PEN report on Translation and Globalization; Yvette Chrisianse, South African poet, novelist, professor; Elizabeth Macklin, poet, translator from Basque of Uribe; Jill Schoolman, Director of Archipelago Books; Karen Emmerich, translator of NBCC award finalist Miltos Sachtouris, among other Greek writers.

Moderator: NBCC board member and poet Kevin Prufer (National Anthem), editor of Pleiades and coeditor of “New European Poets” (Graywolf).

You can find out more (and RSVP) on the Facebook event page.

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