Here’s the half-hour discussion with Dubravka Ugresic and Breyten Breytenbach that we mentioned earlier:
Yesterday, Sign and Sight ran a brand-new essay by Dubravka Ugresic called “Radovan Karadzic and His Grandchildren” and which opens in typical Ugresic fashion:
One hundred and forty-one old men
Over the weekend of the 19th and 20th of July 2008, the town of Key West in Florida played host to one hundred and forty-one — Ernest Hemingways. Hemingways from all over America gathered in Key West in a competition for the greatest degree of physical resemblance between the famous writer and his surrogates. This year the winner was Tom Grizzard, in what is said to have been a very stiff competition. The photograph that went round the world shows a collection of merry granddads, looking like Father Christmases who have escaped from their winter duties, that is to say like Ernest Hemingway. The old men, who meet every year in Key West on Hemingway’s birthday, took part in fishing and short story writing competitions.
Another old man . . .
The following day newspapers in Croatia carried a photograph of an old man who has no connection at all with the hundred and forty-one old men from the previous article. In Croatia on 21st July 2008, Dinko Sakic died, at the age of eighty-six. Who was Dinko Sakic? Sakic was the commandant of the Ustasha concentration camp of Jasenovac, where Jews, Serbs, Gyspies and communist-oriented Croats were systematically annihilated. After the war he managed to escape to Argentina, and it was not until 1999 that the Argentinian authorities handed him over to Croatia, where he was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
It’s a really interesting piece—as are all of her essays—and would have fit in nicely with the essays in Nobody’s Home, which started shipping to stores earlier this week . . .
And it’s fitting that this morning’s New York Times has this report on Karadzic refusing to enter pleas on the 11 charges brought against him by the United Nations war crimes tribunal, claiming that he is “deeply convinced that this court is representing itself falsely as an international court, whereas it is a court of NATO, which wishes to liquidate me.”
Things have been a bit slow around here the past few weeks, but now that I’m back in the office for the rest of the month (I think), things should pick up.
We have a couple of reviews coming up in the next week or so—Sun, Stone, and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories and I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou—and more interviews with booksellers.
Copies are being mailed out to subscribers today (subscriptions to the “fall season” are only $65 plus shipping and can be found here), and will be arriving in better bookstores—and online retailers—everywhere in early-September.
To celebrate this first release, we’re offering a special discount on Nobody’s Home through our website. From now until the end of the month you can order it directly through our website for only $11.95. (30% off the cover price.)
For all LibraryThing members, 10 copies are available through the Early Reviewers program. All you have to do is “request a copy” through the Early Reviewers page and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free copy. Registration closes on August 17th, so you’ll have to sign up soon.
The long-awaited moment—something the three of us have been dreaming about since standing together in a parking lot in Normal, IL nearly two years ago—has finally arrived: the first copies of Open Letter’s first book, Nobody’s Home by Dubravka Ugresic, showed up this morning at Open Letter Plaza on the bucolic campus of the University of Rochester. We couldn’t be any more excited.
Here is the package:
You can see the books peeping out, just waiting to take a look around their new home:
Here they are, shrink-wrapped for safe keeping. Can they breath in there?
That’s better. Spines out, like you’d do it on a book shelf:
A first look inside:
And Milan, the designs look great on the finished books:
Lately, I’ve been dying of anticipation for the first finished copies of our first book to arrive (We’re a publisher, too, you know). It’s taken a long time for what was conceptual to begin accumulating the myriad aspects of the actual, but we have our almost final evidence that we’re really publishing books: the cover proofs. So, here you go, a blurry cell phone image of the 300 (yes, 300) cover proofs that showed up in the spacious, modern offices of Open Letter this very morning:
Any day now we should have a few copies of the finished books on hand. Drinks will be drunk.
A couple of the early reviews for Dubravka Ugresic’s Nobody’s Home came out recently, with Library Journal stating that she “leaves no stone unturned and no thought contained, doing what she does best: writing about the human condition through her own experience” and Kirkus calling this collection of essays “taut, timely pieces by a writer who sees the cosmic in the quotidian.”
Both E.J. and I love Dubravka’s work (and both edited her in the past—E.J. did The Ministry of Pain at Ecco, and I did Thank You for Not Reading at Dalkey Archive. One of her greatest books is The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, which is available from New Directions) and feel fortunate that this will be our first Open Letter publication. (The book doesn’t officially release until September 26th, but we will be offering an advance special deal via this blog as soon as these arrive from the printer.)
Nobody’s Home is a great collection, and to celebrate it, we’ve put together a bit of a reading tour for Dubravka. We may still add some dates, and more details will be available on the Open Letter website (and our Facebook page) in the near future, but for now, here’s the current itinerary:
Tuesday, September 16th
Reading and Conversation at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY)
Tuesday, September 23rd
Reading at the 92nd St. Y with Breyten Breytenbach (New York, NY)
Wednesday, September 24th
Harvard Book Store at 7pm (Boston, MA)
Tuesday, September 30th
57th Street Books at 6pm (Chicago, IL)
Wednesday, October 1st
Bookslut Conversation Series (Chicago, IL)
Wednesday, October 8th
McNally Jackson (aka McNally Robinson) event with Open Letter author Bragi Olafsson (New York, NY)
Tuesday, October 14th
Conversation with Brigid Hughes of A Public Space, at Melville House Press office and bookstore (Brooklyn, NY)
I’m working on Dubravka Ugresic’s new book of essays, Nobody’s Home, which won’t be out until a year from now (I know, it’s a long time), and I wanted to share this tiny little excerpt since I just ran across it:
Things would be simpler if the people who did all this were willing to agree that they had been killing for the sake of killing, destroying for the sake of destroying, torching for the sake of torching. That, of course, will not happen. History and culture are the most reliable ‘banks’ for laundering a dirty conscience. History and culture are part and parcel of what is known as the national cultural identity, though the national and the identity are only figments of the collective imagination. The collective, however, is to be believed. An individual killer would never be able to say: “I killed defending William Shakespeare because he is part of my cultural heritage.” A collective, on the other hand, can. This is seen, indeed, as its right.
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
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. . .