13 December 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Just reproducing the press release the GBO sent me, since it says everything that needs to be said in the best way possible:

The German Book Office is excited to announce that Kurt Beals has won its first ever translation competition.

Beals, a PhD Candidate in German Literature and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley, will receive a $600 commission to translate the first fifteen pages of Nora Bossong’s novel Gesellschaft mit beschraenkter Haftung into English. Translator Elizabeth Janik, meanwhile, has been named runner-up, and both translators will be added to the Goethe-Institut & German Book Office translator database.

“As a reader and a student of German literature, every so often I come across a work that’s brilliant, unexpected, and untranslated,” said Beals. “And as a translator, that’s the kind of problem that I like to solve. But I think that the more fundamental reason to translate, for me, is that there’s no better way to engage thoroughly with a work of literature, to think about each word, why it’s there and how it fits into the work as a whole.”

The competition, which aimed to bring aspiring German language translators into contact with US editors, asked contestants to translate a seven-hundred word excerpt from Gesellschaft mit beschraenkter Haftung. Submissions were limited to translators who had no more than one translated book published in English and are US based.

The first round of judging featured a panel of American editors – comprised of Jenna Johnson from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, John Siciliano from Penguin, and Random House’s Lexy Bloom – who narrowed down the nearly sixty submissions to a shortlist of nine.

A panel of three accomplished translators – Susan Bernofsky, Burton Pike and Ross Benjamin – then chose from that shortlist the winner and runner up.

The announcement was made last night at a reception and awards ceremony at the Goethe-Institut New York.

“I’m pleased that the German Book Office has offered translators at an early stage in their careers an opportunity to test their skills and receive recognition for their efforts,” added Beals. “This is a great way to encourage the next generation of translators!”

2 February 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

We mentioned the Festival Neue Literatur a few days back, and to add to that post, here’s a promotional video the German Book Office put together:

14 December 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

For the past year or so, the German Book Office has been putting together short videos with German readers (critics, translators, agents, etc.) talking about titles featured in the New Books in German publication. All of these are available here, and in honor of the 30th edition of New Books in German, they created a “Behind the Scenes” video which you can watch below.

It’s also worth checking out the specific book videos. So far, it looks like the only one available from the new issue is Cathrin Wirtz presenting The All Land by Jo Lendle.

10 August 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Just got a message from Riky Stock at the German Book Office that there are still a few openings for this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair International Booksellers Program. Similar to the editor’s trip, this program helps introduce booksellers from around the world to their German counterparts. Somewhat geared towards people interested in importing and selling German books, but I can only imagine that any perceptive bookseller would get a lot out of this sort of trip and the various meetings with international booksellers.

Anyway, here’s the info she sent me:

The international programme provides foreign booksellers with an insight into the functions and structures of the German book trade, enabling them to efficiently organise their import and sales of German books. The programme promotes dialogue with other booksellers, German publishers and wholesalers and helps participants to create their own network.

In addition to the attendance at the Frankfurt Book Fair and visits to German publishing companies the programme includes an introduction to the German book market, one day of work experience in a bookshop, two visits to wholesalers as well as cultural activities.

All visits will be supported by presentations given during the seminar. Participants will be able to report about their home countries’ book markets. Time is allowed for in depth exchanges of experience between participants, speakers and organisers.

Booksellers Programme 2009

Organizer: Ausstellungs- und Messe-GmbH / Frankfurt Book Fair

Funded by: Foreign Office, Frankfurt Book Fair

Date: 15 – 22 October 2009

Participants: booksellers from non-German speaking regions with an interest in importing German books

Seminar language: English

Costs for participants: € 290,- incl. VAT;
Travel expenses to Germany and back home are excluded.
Room, board and local transport is taken care of by the organiser.

Contact: Nadja Mortensen: mortensen at book-fair dot com

7 April 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments

One of the biggest books this spring—at least in terms of general coverage and growing hype—has to be Hans Fallada’s rediscovered masterpiece, Every Man Dies Alone.

It’s based on a true story of a working class couple living in Berlin during WWII who launch a “simple, clandestine resistance campaign that soon has an enraged Gestapo on their trail, and a world of terrified neighbors and cynical snitches ready to turn them in.”

The novel’s been receiving heaps of praise, including a very positive review in the New York Times Book Review that opens: “A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred.”

I should save this for my upcoming PRI post, but The World recently did a segment on The Kindly Ones and Every Man Dies Alone that included a brief conversation with Ulrich Ditzen, Fallada’s son.

All of this build-up is just to let you know that the German Book Office in New York is giving away five free copies of the beautifully produced hardcover. To get one, just e-mail Hannah Johnson at johnson at gbo dot org.

(And if you want to get future announcements from the GBO, be sure to join their Facebook Group.

26 March 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments [2]

As announced to members of the German Book Office Facebook Group yesterday, the GBO is giving away a few copies of their recent Book Club pick, Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek.

Here’s the PW review:

Starred Review. Extreme grief permeates Fitzek’s brilliant psychological thriller, a bestseller in his native Germany. When TV psychiatrist Viktor Larenz’s 12-year-old daughter, Josy, who suffers from a number of unexplainable illnesses, vanishes without a trace from her doctor’s office, Larenz’s subsequent search for even the smallest clue to the girl’s disappearance costs him his career and marriage. Four years later, Larenz has retreated to an isolated, storm-prone island, where he’s visited by children’s novelist Anna Glass, a schizophrenic who believes the characters she creates become real. One of those characters bears a striking resemblance to Josy and may have the answer to what happened to her. Unbalanced by his mourning, Larenz emerges as an unreliable but sympathetic character. Is he really losing his mind or is he being gaslighted? Undertones of gothic suspense imbue an unpredictable plot that will remind many of Shutter Island and A Beautiful Mind.

You can click the title above to order the book from Harvard Book Store (our featured bookstore this month), or e-mail Hannah Johnson at johnson at gbo dot org to try and win a free copy . . .

The next GBO Book Pick is Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone, which we’ll be covering in much greater detail in the near future. In the meantime, you can find out more by visiting (and joining) the GBO Facebook Group.

17 July 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The German Book Office recently chose Eros by Helmut Krausser as its book pick for July.

Krausser’s book—which doesn’t actually release until mid-August, though you could pre-order copies now—is coming out from Europa Editions and sounds pretty interesting:

Alexander von Brücken, an ageing millionaire, invites an unknown author into his mansion to record his life story. From there the novel plunges back into Germany’s past when Hitler’s Third Reich is on the brink of failure. In an air raid shelter, Alexander falls desperately in love with a girl named Sofie. She flees with her family, but she is never able to completely escape from Alexander’s grasp. Odd coincidences and fortuitous circumstances find their way into Sofie’s life, and Alexander with his wealth and power lurks in the background. Krausser examines the limits of wealth and the limitless power of unrequited love in this novel. Despite the vast geographical and chronological spaces that the story sweeps through, Alexander’s obsession with Sofie shines more vividly than all the surrounding elements. With the unknown author narrating this seductive and darkly fascinating story, the reader also wonders if Alexander’s perspective and telling of his past have been skewed by years of longing and frustration.

This is the only the second of Krausser’s books to make it’s way into English, the first being The Great Bagarozy. Looking at the stats, I know that there’s a one in a million chance (you know, give or take a few hundred thousand) for a foreign author to be published in English, yet this one sort of surprises me.

In addition to Eros and The Great Bagarozy, Krausser has a book called Fat World (a sample translation of which has been making the rounds) and another called Ultrachronos (or simply UC) that’s described as such:

UC, or Ultrachronos, is a certain way of perceiving the world shortly before death: it is a moment, a single instant, wherein you watch your entire life, but not just the events that actually happened, you also see the events which could have happened. Krausser’s new novel Ultrachronos is both a tale of a man’s seemingly unshakeable existence – as a successful conductor, as an arrogant adulterer – and the story of a man viewing his own Ultrachronos. The reader sees the main character as he flees from his past – and as he meets Kurthes, a writer and guru, who seems to know everything about him and who wants to give him an eerie part in his new book…Helmut Krausser, the critically acclaimed author of several novels, theater-plays, poems, diaries, and opera libretti, works with the instruments of a crime novel, but this book goes much deeper into the borderland of our existence.

It’s possible Europa is doing more of his titles . . . Regardless, Eros sounds intriguing and is definitely something we’ll review as soon as it’s available (you know, give or take a month or two).

14 April 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Just got a press release about new funding available for the translation of academic German books into English.

With Geisteswissenschaften International: Translation Funding for Humanities and Social Sciences from Germany, the German Publishers & Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and the German Federal Foreign Office will now reward innovative academic works on humanities and social sciences written in German by providing funding for the translation of such works into English.

The aim is to support a wider international dissemination of academic research results from Germany and at the same time, to uphold German as an academic language and the language of first publications of works on humanities and social sciences. Geisteswissenschaften International aims to strengthen Germany as an educational and academic base. “Cultural and intellectual understanding within worldwide academic society is the aim of many translations at this time. With Geisteswissenschaften International, we hope to strengthen the participation of German-language academic works in international academic discourse,” said Dr. Gottfried Honnefelder, president of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, foreign minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and chairman of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation committee, Dr. Manfred Schneider, as they welcomed the undertaking.

Applications will be accepted from publishing companies with academic publications in the fields of humanities and social sciences. They should submit their own selection of titles for which rights option agreement is already in place, and provide a brief summary of the reasons for their selection. The amount of funding will depend on each individual case and the actual translation costs.

Application deadline for this round is June 1st. And more info is available here.

11 March 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Each month the GBO selects a German book in translation to feature on their website. This month they selected How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Saša Stanišić, which is coming out from Grove in June. The author will be in the States for the PEN World Voices Festival at the end of April, and this is a title we’re planning on reviewing. Sounds really fun:

Aleksandar Krsmanović grows up in Višegrad, a small town in Bosnia. He has inherited a talent for imaginative story-telling from his grandfather, and through these stories, Aleksandar infuses his world with a fairy tale-like vibrancy and childhood innocence. Suddenly, this idyllic world disintegrates into violence and bloodshed as civil war grips the country. Aleks and his parents flee to Germany, where Aleks’ story-telling plays a vital role for him and his family. He is able to keep alive the happiness they knew before the war and to stave off the difficulties of assimilation. Gradually, Aleksandar begins to crave a deeper understanding of what really happened in his country and what forced his family from their home. His fantasies collide with reality, and Aleks must decide where to end his stories and let reality into his life. How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone is an accomplished, tragic-comic tale that magnificently captures the space between fantasy and reality.

The book has already received some serious praise, including this gushing blurb by Colum McCann:

“I love this book. It’s funny and it’s heartfelt and it’s brazen and it’s true. Find some space on your shelf beside Aleksandar Hemon, Jonathan Safran Foer, William Vollmann and David Foster Wallace. This is a great rattlebag of a book that will stay with you on whatever long journey you choose to go on. What a welcome voice rising up amongst the great voices. Saša Stanišić. Or Sasha Stanishitch. We should all learn how to pronounce his name, because he’s here to stay. “

In addition to all that, there’s a very funny story about how Lemony Snicket accidentally ended up on the cover playing the accordion. Basically, no one realized the picture on the cover was of Daniel Handler until someone mentioned it to Grove publisher Morgan Entrekin at sales conference . . . It’s a nice pic, and I especially like Handler’s quote about this:

“They asked me if I objected,” Handler says. “I said: ‘I think you should check with the author.’ I’d be kind of annoyed if my new novel had my friend Rick Moody on the cover. Not that Rick Moody is not a good–looking man.”

16 August 07 | Chad W. Post | Comments

The longlist for the 2007 German Book Prize was announced yesterday. (See the full list after the jump.)

Here’s what spokesperson for the judges, Felicitas von Lovenberg had to say about the selection of these 20 books from the 117 submitted titles:

“Without allowing ourselves to be seduced by celebrity or distracted by the pressure of originality, we have chosen twenty titles that reflect the unusual diversity and vitality in German-language literature as it presents itself this autumn in particular.”

Good to know that they stood up to the pressure of originality. It’s always a bad sign with originality counts for something.

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