3 August 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Just got an email about this awesome offer from Melville House that I wanted to share for a few reasons.:

From the As-If-The-Cover-Didn’t-Tip-You-Off-Already department: Death and the Penguin by Andrei Kurkov is the perfect example of why the Melville House International Crime series is like no other: It’s political, it’s literary, it’s hilarious, it’s terrifying, and IT DOESN’T TAKE PLACE IN SCANDAVIA.1

To get the word out, for the next four days the ebook version of Death and the Penguin is on sale all over the interwebs for only $3.99.



To make this deal even sweeter if you buy it in the next 48 hours we’ll reimburse the complete cost of your purchase with a gift certificate to our website.

 All you have to do is buy the ebook, — we recommend from your local Independent Bookstore’s website — and email us your receipt —contact@mhpbooks.com.
 We’ll reply with a coupon.

 It’s that simple.

I might be jumping the gun here—currently, the book is stil $14.95 via the Indie Bound website, although the Amazon price is updated—but as soon as you can TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS DEAL.

I read this book a number of years ago when it came out from Harvill in the UK and thoroughly enjoyed it. We’re actually going to be featuring the sequel Penguin Lost as part of Read This Next, so you should start preparing now . . .

The idea of giving readers a $3.99 gift certificate is super-awesome as well. And if you look at Melville House’s website, it will take approximately .03 seconds to find something you want to buy.

Coincidentally, L Magazine released their “Best of Brooklyn” lists today, including one for Books & Media that includes this award:

Best Small-Press Branding

Melville House
How to trick attractive young people into buying reissues and literature in translation? Collect-‘em-all series of jacket-pocket sized titles with clean covers. Their Art of the Novella and Contemporary Art of the Novella now being imitated by New Directions’ Pearls series, the Dumbo publisher has moved into an International Crime line (shades of Europa Editions and, well, large-house trends) and started the Neversink Library for out-of-print classics (including slim, terse Simenons) not already rediscovered by NYRB Classics.

AGREE.

1 Yeah, we all make spelling mistakes. Especially when typing in ALL CAPS which, for some reason known only to Bill Gates and that Jobs guy, seems to circumvent most spellchecking programs. LIVING ON THE EDGE.2

2 Also interesting is that there are over 465,000 instances of SCANDAVIA on the interwebs. Including sites like this, where crazy people can ask batshit questions such as “What is the official language of Scandavia?” I LOVE THE WORLD WIDE WEB.

20 July 09 | Chad W. Post | Comments [1]

Although I’m personally not a reader of Scandinavian crime fiction (unless you can somehow count Jan Kjaerstad’s trilogy in that group, which is closer to a leap than a stretch), I find the debate between Nathaniel Rich and Larissa Kyzer about why these books are so popular pretty fascinating.

First off, here’s the core of Rich’s explanation, which he articulated in this Slate review of the new Stieg Larsson book:

What distinguishes these books is not some element of Nordic grimness but their evocation of an almost sublime tranquility. When a crime occurs, it is shocking exactly because it disrupts a world that, at least to an American reader, seems utopian in its peacefulness, happiness, and orderliness. There is a good reason why Mankell’s corpses tend to turn up in serene, bucolic settings—on a country farm, on a bobbing raft, in a secluded meadow, or in the middle of a snow-covered field: A dark bloodstain in a field of pure, white snow is far creepier than a body ditched in a trash-littered alley.

Well, Kyzer takes great exception to that in her L Magazine piece:

One need only skim recent headlines from mainland Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) to ascertain that the famed tranquility of the Nordic welfare state has begun to face some dramatic challenges. For instance: each of these countries has seen a marked increase in immigration in the last few decades, an influx which has challenged the homogeneity of the local populations, and more often than not, created quite an existential crisis for societies which have for so long been able to claim a fundamental sameness in traditions, language, and cultural outlook.

She then goes on to offer a different explanation:

It’s then more accurate to say that Scandinavian crime novels are not set apart from similar traditions simply because of the consistent contrast between peaceful settings and “the tawdriness of the crimes,” but rather, that the genre is unique because it tends to hold its society up to itself and take an unflinchingly honest stock of its failures. So often, these are novels of conscience and reflection. Novels which, in their own small way, take responsibility for a social system which makes earnest promises of inclusion and protection, but continues to fail so many of its constituents.

Both are rather interesting articles, and I’m sure many others will weigh in on this as well . . .

....
Miruna, a Tale
Miruna, a Tale by Bogdan Suceavă
Reviewed by Alta Ifland

Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .

Read More >

Kamal Jann
Kamal Jann by Dominique Eddé
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .

Read More >

I Called Him Necktie
I Called Him Necktie by Milena Michiko Flašar
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.

Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .

Read More >

Return to Killybegs
Return to Killybegs by Sorj Chalandon
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .

Read More >

The Last Days
The Last Days by Laurent Seksik
Reviewed by Peter Biellp

Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.

It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .

Read More >

Selected Stories
Selected Stories by Kjell Askildsen
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

To call Kjell Askildsen’s style sparse or terse would be to understate just how far he pushes his prose. Almost nothing is explained, elaborated on. In simple sentences, events occur, words are exchanged, narrators have brief thoughts. As often as. . .

Read More >

Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories
Letter from an Unknown Woman and Other Stories by Stefan Zweig
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

After a mysterious woman confesses to an author simply known as “R” that she has loved him since she was a teenager, she offers the following explanation: “There is nothing on earth like the love of a child that passes. . .

Read More >