(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 . . .
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!
On Tuesday when we announced the Best Translated Book Award fiction longlist, we included links from each of the books to the Idlewild online catalog in hopes of directing some sales to our Indie Bookstore of the Month.
As an added incentive, Idlewild has decided to offer 20% off all BTBA books. Here’s a post from the recently redesigned Idlewild website with all the details.
What kind of dreamer opens a bookstore in a recession, gives it a nostalgic name that means nothing to most people under 40, and stocks it with travel guides and obscure foreign novels?
Meet David Del Vecchio, owner of Idlewild Books, who says business is thriving despite the odds against independent bookstores, the travel downturn and an economy that was already heading south when Idlewild opened in May 2008.
This event is not to be missed . . . On Thursday, April 9th at 7pm, Attila Bartis—author of Tranquility, which won this year’s Best Translated Book Award—will be appearing at Idlewild Books (12 West 19th St., NY) with author and translator Brian Evenson.
You can find our overview of Tranquility by clicking here, and here’s a blurb Evenson gave for the book: “Reading like the bastard child of Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, Tranquility is political and personal suffering distilled perfectly and transformed into dark, viscid beauty. It is among the most haunted, most honest, and most human novels I have ever read.”
According to Jill Schoolman, they’re going to try and videotape this conversation so that all of us living outside of NY will have a chance to see this incredible event . . . I’ll post an update as soon as this becomes available online.
Bookslut has an interview with David Del Vecchio, the owner of Idlewild Books:
At Idlewild, “International Literature” is not hidden away, but is featured and celebrated. To uncover a particular niche that is missing in the independent bookselling business is rare and exciting. To successfully open a bookstore in today’s economy is heroic. Idlewild’s owner, David Del Vecchio answered questions about his store.
What is your vision for Idlewild Books?
To create a resource, meeting place and event venue for people who are interested in other parts of the world — whether as travelers, readers, people interested in humanitarian issues, or some combination of the three. Even though we’re only four months old, we’re getting good word of mouth among customers and publishers and have had the privilege of hosting several book launch parties for travelogues, newly translated international lit, and books related to sexual trafficking, war-affected women and children, and other humanitarian issues. I want to continue to mix these topics and people in a unique and organic way, together with authors, publishers, cultural and humanitarian organizations, and, most importantly, our customers.
David Del Vecchio is all set to open Idlewild Books in NYC:
“I was in a chain bookstore and realized I would have to go to five different sections to get what I needed—a travel guide, a map, a language book, a novel,” he noted. “At Idlewild, everything will be shelved by country, and in the case of the United States, by state—that way people will be able to browse according to the place of their interest.”
This is stop number one for me next week when we’re in town.
Thanks to Literary Rapture for bringing Idlewild Books to our attention.
According to its sparse website, Idlewild is
a beautiful new store and event space near Union Square, is New York City’s only bookshop specializing in travel and international literature.
A bookstore organized by country rather than genre, Idlewild carries fiction and non-fiction from all parts of the world, including new and classic works in translation, travel guides, books about politics and culture, graphic lit, language-learning books, maps and more. Idlewild also carries a wide variety of travel accessories, cards and gifts — making the store a one-stop shop for travellers or people shopping for a gift.
Sounds very promising, but if you’re talking international bookstores in NY, one shouldn’t forget McNally Robinson, which organizes its fiction section by region. (Something that I did at Quail Ridge Books when I worked there, back, um, a while ago . . . It actually boosted sales for international fiction enormously, and although I understand the arguments for how this shelving system could ghettoize translations, there’s something appealing to me about being able to look through 50 Japanese books on one shelf rather than scanning through a section and only picking out the 5-10 that jump out at me.)
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .