21 October 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

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.

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The Indian
The Indian by Jón Gnarr
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .

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Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories
Mother of 1084; Old Women; Breast Stories by Mahasweta Devi
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .

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Tristana
Tristana by Benito Pérez Galdós
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .

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The History of Silence
The History of Silence by Pedro Zarraluki
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .

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Flesh-Coloured Dominoes
Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are plenty of reasons you can fail to find the rhythm of a book. Sometimes it’s a matter of discarding initial assumptions or impressions, sometimes of resetting oneself. Zigmunds Skujiņš’s Flesh-Coloured Dominoes was a defining experience in the necessity. . .

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Iraqi Nights
Iraqi Nights by Dunya Mikhail
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

In a culture that privileges prose, reviewing poetry is fairly pointless. And I’ve long since stopped caring about what the world reads and dropped the crusade to get Americans to read more poems. Part of the fault, as I’ve suggested. . .

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Three-Light Years
Three-Light Years by Andrea Canobbio
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

I would like to pose the argument that it is rare for one to ever come across a truly passive protagonist in a novel. The protagonist (perhaps) of Three Light-Years, Claudio Viberti, is just that—a shy internist who lives in. . .

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