This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog.
In contrast to Russia, both the Korean government and the Romanian government have recently launched large projects to better promote their writers abroad.
The Korea Literature Translation Institute (6.0 E 937) recently published some wonderful, quite elegant materials to help foreign publishers get a better sense of the Korean literary scene. Just in time for the fair, they published the first issue of a list: Books from Korea, a new quarterly magazine with essays, articles, samples, reviews, and interviews of Korean writers and books. It’s a nice glossy magazine filled with interesting content, like a piece called “The Postmodern City and Its Discontents.”
As if that weren’t enough, they also published the first volume of “New Writing from Korea,” a 374-page collection of excerpts from twenty-five contemporary Korean authors. It’s about half-prose, half-poetry, and is one of the densest, heaviest books I’ve ever tried to lug around in my bag. And possibly the first comprehensive introduction to Korean literature that I’ve encountered.
Over in Romania, they announced the launch of Contemporary Romanian Writers, a new website providing bio and bibliographic information along with book descriptions and excerpts for a host of Romanian writers. From a quick scan, it’s a very well designed site, and one that will be incredibly useful to any publisher interested in Romanian lit.
Obviously a number of other countries are producing beautiful brochures and other materials to promote their authors, but these two really stand out as impressive, ambitious projects.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .