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.

Rambling Jack
Rambling Jack by Micheál Ó Conghaile
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

“Rambling Jack—what’s that?”
“A novel. Novella, I guess.”
“Yeah, it looks short. What is it, a hundred pages?”
“Sorta. It’s a duel language book, so really, only about… 50 pages total.”
“50 pages?”
“Including illustrations.”
“And this—what. . .

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The Things We Don't Do
The Things We Don't Do by Andrés Neuman
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Many authors are compared to Roberto Bolaño. However, very few authors have the privilege of having a Roberto Bolaño quote on the cover of their work; and at that, one which states, “Good readers will find something that can be. . .

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Private Life
Private Life by Josep Maria de Sagarra
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Josep Maria de Sagarra’s Private Life, a man harangues his friend about literature while walking through Barcelona at night:

When a novel states a fact that ties into another fact and another and another, as the chain goes on. . .

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Dinner by César Aira
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .

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We're Not Here to Disappear
We're Not Here to Disappear by Olivia Rosenthal
Reviewed by Megan C. Ferguson

Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .

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The Queen's Caprice
The Queen's Caprice by Jean Echenoz
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .

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French Concession
French Concession by Xiao Bai
Reviewed by Emily Goedde

Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .

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