The lovely and energetic Riky Stock just sent me a ton of information about this year’s Festival Neue Literatur, which will take place in NYC from February 10th-12th and is curated by the also lovely and energetic Susan Bernofsky.
Here’s all the info you need:
The Festival of New Literature (February 10-12, 2012) will take place for the third time at various locations throughout New York City. This year’s festival will feature American authors Chris Adrian and Francisco Goldman, alongside six featured German-language authors. Susan Bernofsky, curator of the 2012 Festival of New Literature, is delighted to have Adrian and Goldman take part: “We were very fortunate to be able to secure these two wonderful writers for our festival. They will enrich our panels by their participation, and I am very much looking forward to hearing them in conversation with our German writers, Larissa Boehning and Inka Parei, our Austrian authors Linda Stift and Erwin Uhrmann and with Monica Cantieni and Catalin Dorian Florescu from Switzerland.” In addition, celebrated author Daniel Kehlmann and literary critic Liesl Schillinger will moderate the panel discussions hosted at powerHouse SoHo, Brooklyn, and at McNally Jackson Books, SoHo, respectively.
Festival Neue Literatur is a joint project of the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, Deutsches Haus at NYU, Deutsches Haus at Columbia University, the German Book Office NY, the German Consulate General in New York, the Goethe-Institut New York and Pro Helvetia.
All of the following events will be in English and are free and open to the public:
How German Is It? Literary Voices from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A Workshop in Collaboration with Columbia Students
February 10, 2012
1-5pm at Columbia University
Deutsches Haus, Columbia University
420 W. 116th St. (Between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive)
Six young novelists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland will present their latest work in a discussion with Columbia graduate students from the Department of Germanic Languages and the Writing Program.
Reinventing the Past: Chris Adrian, Catalin Dorian Florescu, Inka Parei and Linda Stift in conversation with Daniel Kehlmann
February 11, 2012
6pm at powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street, Brooklyn
Literature is often a delving into the past, made all but involuntary because the past has returned to haunt the present. Whether the history in question is familial, political or ancient, traces of old trauma can cast the present in a new light. This panel explores the different ways in which the past can be put to work in the name of storytelling.
Frühschoppen Literary Brunch
February 12, 2012
12pm at Deutsches Haus, NYU
42 Washington Mews
The six German-language authors of Festival Neue Literatur: Larissa Boehning, Monica Cantieni, Catalin Dorian Florescu, Inka Parei, Linda Stift and Erwin Uhrmann, give a sampling from their work, providing a taste of new writing from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Enjoy traditional German fare. RSVP to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writing on the Margins: Literature between Cultures: Francisco Goldman, Monica Cantieni, Larissa Boehning and Erwin Uhrmann in conversation with Liesl Schillinger
February 12, 2012
6pm at McNally Jackson Books
52 Prince Street, SoHo
As in the United States, the literary scene in Europe is currently abuzz with hybridity and border crossings that explore the lives of characters who move between different cultural and ethnic worlds. There as here questions of power and authenticity are not far behind as these authors explore the sometimes explosive conditions that arise when cultures intersect and, yes, sometimes clash.
All the events are free, and all sound really interesting, so if you’re going to be in the area, you should definitely check these all out.
Hard to say that the New York Times doesn’t review translations after this week . . . In addition to Kakutani’s
possibly insane review of The Kindly Ones, this weekend’s Book Review includes articles on four works of literature in translation.
A signal literary event of 2009 has occurred, but if publishers had been more vigilant, it could have been a signal literary event in any of the last 60 years. This event is the belated appearance in English of the novel Every Man Dies Alone, the story of a working-class Berlin couple who took on the Third Reich with a postcard campaign intended to foment rebellion against Hitler’s Germany. Published in 1947, the book was written in 24 days by a prolific but psychologically disturbed German writer named Rudolf Ditzen, who spent a significant portion of his life in asylums (for killing a friend in a duel, for threatening his wife with a gun), in prison (for embezzling to finance his morphine habit) and in rehab. In spite of his precarious emotional state, he wrote more than two dozen books under the pen name Hans Fallada, which he took from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
Then there’s Dennis Overbye’s positive review of Yoko Ogawa’s The Housekeeper and the Professor, which was translated by Stephen Snyder, another Salzburg Seminar participant. Ogawa’s earlier book — The Diving Pool — was included on the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize longlist, and despite my rather tepid review, is worth checking out. I’m sure we’ll review this one sometime in the near future as well. And according to Stephen, the next book of Ogawa’s that Picador is publishing is the best of the bunch . . .
Yet Doghead is a very different book from The World According to Garp, say, or A Prayer for Owen Meany. For all their eccentric habits and physical peculiarities, Irving’s characters are essentially realistic, capable of making a profound emotional connection with the reader. Ramsland’s are larger-than-life creations who go by a roll call of nicknames, among them Jug Ears, the Bath Plug and the Little Bitch. In the world of the Erikssons, life is shocking and childhood brutal. No one is to be trusted, family least of all. Rambunctious, often imaginative, invariably cruel, the stories rattle through a catalog of adultery, duplicity and casual violence. A father sells his son’s precious coin collection to buy booze. A mother hides the letters sent to her son by his distant love. A brother tapes his sister making out with her boyfriend in the room next door and shares the cassettes with his friends. None of these characters learn from their mistakes. Instead they run away from them. And those who stay make more.
Despite its earthy comedy, then, Doghead is ultimately a bleak book.
And last but not least is Floyd Skloot’s review of Antonio Lobo Antunes’s The Fat Man and Infinity and Other Writings. I wrote a very positive review of this for Quarterly Conversation (coming soon) and really hope that this book gets even more attention than What Can I Do When Everything’s On Fire? did. It’s more accessible, and a great intro to Antunes’s world. Skloot’s review isn’t entirely positive, but he does sum up the sundry nature of the book pretty well:
Now, in The Fat Man and Infinity, he turns his attention inward, onto his own life and mind, his own experience of place and community. Neither traditional memoir nor in-depth analysis, it collects 107 brief chronicles from the weekly or biweekly columns Lobo Antunes has written for various publications, particularly the Portuguese newspaper O Público. The Fat Man and Infinity is a genuine miscellany, roughly half reminiscence or reflection and half very short fiction, that struggles to cohere. Detailed and often lyrical, it is best at offering moments of nostalgic charm.
I’m sure people will still jump on Tanenhaus for something, but this is a pretty solid issue . . . now, hopefully one of these weeks an Open Letter title will slip in there . . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
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. . .