28 November 11 | N. J. Furl | Comments



Our second (and final!) Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall is happening in just a few days. As always, it’s taking place in Rochester, NY. So, if you’re in the area, you’d better check it out—lest all your friends go without you and bond intimately over the great time they all had (true story).

Here are the rousing details:


Reading the World Conversation Series:
Sergio Chejfec & Margaret B. Carson

DECEMBER 1, 2011
Thursday, 6:00 p.m
Plutzik Library in Rare Books & Special Collections
Rush Rhees Library, University of Rochester
(Free and open to the public.)

Sergio Chejfec is the author of a dozen books, three of which are coming out from Open Letter Books: My Two Worlds (available now), The Planets (2012), and The Dark (2013). Spanish author Enrique Vila-Matas singled out My Two Worlds as one of the “best books of the year.” The English edition has been universally praised, with Publishers Weekly saying Margaret B. Carson’s “magnificent translation” should be “treated as a significant event.”

My Two Worlds is a novel about an author walking through a city in the South of Brazil. As he wanders, this unnamed narrator thinks about his walk, about his new book (which isn’t getting very good reviews), and about his life (his birthday is a few days away).

Chejfec and Carson will discuss this novel, literature, and the process of translation.

(Sponsored by The Dept. of Rare Books, Special Collections & Preservation)

Visit this event on Facebook
Or over at the Open Letter site

(This event is presented by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

22 April 11 | N. J. Furl | Comments



Our final Reading the World event of the spring is coming up next Wednesday, April 27, in Rochester. (This event is not to be confused, by the way, with another that we have scheduled quickly thereafter on May 2. That event is our contribution to the PEN World Voices Tour, and we’ll be posting all the info on that one forthwith . . .) This RTW spectacular will include Thomas Pletzinger—German author of Funeral for a Dog fame—and Ross Benjamin—the award-winning German-to-English translator of Funeral for a Dog. All the good details are below.


Reading the World Conversation Series:
Thomas Pletzinger & Ross Benjamin

APRIL 27, 2011
Wednesday, 6:00 p.m
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library
University of Rochester
(Free and open to the public.
Free parking passes available at information booth.)

Thomas Pletzinger’s Funeral for a Dog received a great deal of praise when it was first released in Germany. It was compared to John Irving (for storytelling) and to Max Frisch (for sensibility and humor), and he even won the prestigious Uwe-Johnson Prize.

Soon thereafter, Pletzinger landed a deal with W.W. Norton to publish the English language edition, translated by award-winner Ross Benjamin. The novel has received attention for its global settings (Germany, Brazil, U.S., Italy), innovative structure, and mixture of intelligence and wit.

Pletzinger comes from a new generation of writers who are less concerned with writing about Germany’s past and whose interests and influences are more global. This reading and conversation will focus on this new generation of writers in Germany and what makes their writing so vibrant and unique on the current stage of world literature.

Visit this event on Facebook

(This event is presented by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

11 April 11 | N. J. Furl | Comments



As mentioned in the previous post, our second RTW event of the spring is almost upon us, and it’s happening this Wednesday, April 13, at the University of Rochester. All the breathtaking details follow below.


Reading the World Conversation Series
Piotr Sommer & Bill Martin:
Polish Poetry and Translation

APRIL 13, 2011
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m
Sloan Auditorium, Goergen Hall
University of Rochester
(Presented with the Skalny Center.
Free and open to the public)

What translates and what doesn’t in contemporary poetry? What are mutual inspirations of Polish and Anglo-American poetry today? This event will feature a poetry reading by Piotr Sommer, followed by a conversation between Piotr Sommer and Bill Martin.

Piotr Sommer, preeminent Polish poet and Visiting Professor at the Skalny Center for Polish and Central European Studies, has published several dozen books, including poetry, literary criticism, and anthologies. He is also a well-known translator of contemporary English-language poets and is the editor of Literatura na Świecie (World Literature), a Warsaw-based magazine of international writing.

Bill Martin, former Literary Program Manager at the Polish Cultural Institute, was responsible for the “Polish Literature” issue of the Chicago Review, which marked the first English publication for dozens of Polish writers. His translations from Polish and German include Natasza Goerke’s Farewells to Plasma and Erich Kästner’s Emil and the Detectives.

Visit this event on Facebook.

(This event is presented by the Skalny Center for Polish & Central European Studies at the University of Rochester and hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

26 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

If you’re near the University of Rochester at 6:00 p.m., today is our Open Letter Celebration—our final Reading the World event of the spring.

We’ll have ten participants doing ten micro-readings from ten different Open Letter books (also, there will be food and an after-party/get-together at Tapas 177 to which all are invited). You can checkout the full details on Facebook or at the Open Letter website.



23 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments


For the sixth time in under three years, Chad has appeared on the preeminent local morning news show in Rochester, NY—clearly breaking/setting a record of some sort.

In today’s video, Chad’s talking about Open Letter hitting the three-year mark, and our celebration on Monday, April 26, (featuring 10 micro-readings from our books (as well as an after-party to which all are invited)) commemorating this, apparently inexplicable, achievement.

13 April 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Last night we hosted our second Reading the World event of the spring, featuring a really engaging reading and conversation between leading Latin American author Horacio Castellanos Moya and Chad Post. As always, video will be posted soon.

But, now, we have an cool change in programing for our final Reading the World event of the spring: On April 26, we’re having a celebration of sorts, in a big event featuring 10 readers, 10 great works of literature in translation, and some free food. Here are the details:



APRIL 26, 2010 – 6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room
Rush Rhees Library
University of Rochester
Reception to Follow
(free and open to the public)

To celebrate the third anniversary of Open Letter Books, ten participants—UR faculty members, Open Letter interns, and fans—will read 3–5 minute segments from ten different Open Letter titles. You’ll hear a wide range of voices from all over the world, and find out firsthand what types of works Open Letter is making available to English readers. All 18 books published by the press will be available for sale, and a reception will follow this lively event.

Featuring: Dean Susan Gibbons, Jennifer Grotz (Dept. of Eng.), Meredith Keller (Open Letter intern), John Michael (Chair of Eng. Dept.), Dean Joanna Olmsted, Claudia Schaefer (Chair of Modern Languages & Cultures), Joanna Scott (Dept. of Eng.), Laurel Stewart (Open Letter Intern), Brad Weslake (Dept. of Phil.), Phil Witte (Open Letter intern), and hosted by Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

25 March 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Our first Reading the World Conversation event was Monday, and it featured Helen Anderson & Konstantin Gurevich—the translators of our recently released edition of the Russian comedic classic The Golden Calf by Ilf & Petrov. Video of whole, engaging discussion will be posted soon, but, now, it’s time to look forward:

In a few short weeks, we’ll be be taking the stage, again, to talk with renown Latin American author Horacio Castellanos Moya. Here are the details:




APRIL 12, 2010
6:30 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Horacio Castellanos Moya (Dance with Snakes, Senselessness, The She-Devil in the Mirror), widely considered among the leading contemporary Latin American writers, will discuss his work, journalism, the myth of Roberto Bolaño, and world literature in general with Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books.

A finalist for the 2009 Best Translated Book Award, Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness introduced English-language readers to one of the most provocative, singular voices of twentieth-century Latin American literature. The recent publications of The She-Devil in the Mirror and Dance with Snakes received widespread attention, and with more translations already in the works, it’s clear that readers will be hearing about Moya for years to come.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

16 March 10 | N. J. Furl | Comments

And below is some more info the first new Reading the World event, coming up very soon on Monday, March 22. Click to enlarge:




MARCH 22, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)
Sponsored by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries

Open Letter editor E.J. Van Lanen will discuss the difficulties, joys, and controversies of re-translating Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf, a revered Russian comedic classic, with the novel’s translators, and Rush Rhees Librarians, Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson

Teaming up with two petty criminals and a hopelessly naïve driver, Ostap Bender leads his merry band of mischief makers on a raucously hilarious jaunt across the “wild west” of the early Soviet Union in pursuit of a secret fortune. One of the true classics of Russian literature, this new translation of Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf—the first complete translation of the novel—restores the absurd, manic energy of the original and reaffirms the judgment of the Soviet censors, who said: “You have a very nice hero, Ostap Bender. But really, he’s just a son of a bitch.”

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

16 March 10 | N. J. Furl |



More information on each event will be posted separately, but—so you can mark your calendars now—here is the rundown of all three events in this spring’s Reading the World Conversation Series at the University of Rochester.

These events are hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. All events are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.

MARCH 22, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Helen Anderson & Konstantin Gurevich

Open Letter editor E.J. Van Lanen will discuss the difficulties, joys, and controversies of re-translating Ilf and Petrov’s The Golden Calf, a revered Russian comedic classic, with the novel’s translators, and Rush Rhees Librarians, Konstantin Gurevich and Helen Anderson.
(Co-sponsored by the Friends of the University of Rochester Libraries.)

APRIL 12, 2010
6:30 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Horacio Castellanos Moya

Horacio Castellanos Moya (Senselessness, The Devil in the Mirror), widely considered among the leading contemporary Latin American writers, will discuss his novels, short stories, and journalism with Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter Books.

APRIL 26, 2010
6:00 p.m.
Hawkins-Carlson Room (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
Reception to Follow
(free and open to the public)

A Celebration of Open Letter

To celebrate the third anniversary of Open Letter Books, ten participants—UR faculty members, Open Letter interns, and fans—will read 3–5 minute segments from ten different Open Letter titles. You’ll hear a wide range of voices from all over the world, and find out firsthand what types of works Open Letter is making available to English readers. All 18 books published by the press will be available for sale, and a reception will follow this lively event.

Featuring: Dean Susan Gibbons, Jennifer Grotz (Dept. of Eng.), Meredith Keller (Open Letter intern), John Michael (Chair of Eng. Dept.), Dean Joanna Olmsted, Claudia Schaefer (Chair of Modern Languages & Cultures), Joanna Scott (Dept. of Eng.), Laurel Stewart (Open Letter Intern), Brad Weslake (Dept. of Phil.), Phil Witte (Open Letter intern), and hosted by Chad W. Post, director of Open Letter.

(For additional info, contact nathan dot furl at rochester dot edu)

10 November 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Last Thursday, we held our final Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall, featuring a group of four international writers and translators in residence at Ledig House — an international writers residency in New York that specializes in hosting authors and translators from around the world.

Now, the video of the event is available. Contained within this eight-part playlist is some reading, some commentary, some strong opinions on translating, and some Q&A:


And here are some more specifics about the event, Ledig House, and our four guests:

November 5, 2009 – Ledig House International Writers Residency is one of the only residences of its type in the United States. Since its creation in 1992, Ledig House has hosted hundreds of writers and translators from roughly 50 countries around the world.

At this event, Chad Post (Director of Open Letter at the University of Rochester) leads a panel of writers and translators from around the world—all of whom are currently in residence at Ledig House. The panel includes readings and discussion from:

Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany): Her first novel, published 2007, became a bestseller in Germany.

Tom Dreyer (South Africa): His second novel received the Eugene Marais Prize. His third was shortlisted for the M-Net Prize.

Linda Gaboriau (Canada): She is an award-winning translator of Quebecs most prominent playwrights.

Pravda Miteva (Bulgaria): She has worked as a literary translator since 1994, and owns a small publishing house.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

28 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments



Our final Reading the World Conversation Series event of the fall is already upon us. Next week, four international writers and translators—all in residence at Ledig House International Writers Residency—are visiting the University of Rochester.

Here are all the details:

Nov. 5, 2009
6:00 p.m.
Gowen Room, Wilson Commons
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Ledig House International Writers Residency is one of the only residences of its type in the United States. Since its creation in 1992, Ledig House has hosted hundreds of writers and translators from roughly 50 countries around the world. The colony’s strong international emphasis reflects the spirit of cultural exchange that is part of Ledig’s enduring legacy.

At this event, Chad Post (Director of Open Letter at the University of Rochester) will lead a panel of writers and translators from around the world—all of whom are currently in residence at Ledig House. The panel will include readings and discussion from:

Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany): Her first novel, published 2007, became a bestseller in Germany.

Tom Dreyer (South Africa): His second novel received the Eugene Marais Prize. His third was shortlisted for the M-Net Prize.

Linda Gaboriau (Canada): She is an award-winning translator of Quebec’s most prominent playwrights.

Pravda Miteva (Bulgaria): She has worked as a literary translator since 1994, and owns a small publishing house.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

Facebook link.

27 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

The video is now available of last week’s (and, dare we say, our best to date) Reading the World Conversation Series event with the internationally bestselling author Jorge Volpi and preeminent translator Alfred Mac Adam. Parts 1-3 are Jorge’s reading, and parts 4-8 are the questions/answers between Jorge, Alfred, and the audience.


Here’s the skinny on the event:
Oct. 20, 2009 – Jorge Volpi—author of international bestseller In Search of Klingsor, and a founder of the “Crack” group—reads from his latest novel, Season of Ash, and discusses the new generation of Mexican writers.

Season of Ash puts a human face on the earth-shaking events of the late twentieth century: the Chernobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism and the rise of the Russian oligarchs, the cascading collapse of developing economies, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. Praised throughout the world for his inventive story telling and stylistic ambition, Jorge Volpi has become one of the leading innovators of twenty-first-century world literature.

After reading from Season of Ash, Jorge Volpi is joined in conversation by Alfred Mac Adam—professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University since 1983 and translator of novels by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Donoso, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Cortázar, as well as Season of Ash.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

15 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

Our second Reading the World event in Rochester, NY, is right around the corner, and it’s going to be a great one featuring internationally best-selling author Jorge Vopli and Spanish translator Alfred Mac Adam. One and all should come. Here are the details:

OCT. 20, 2009
6:30 p.m.
Plutzik Library (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Jorge Volpi—author of international bestseller In Search of Klingsor, and a founder of the “Crack” group—reads from his latest novel, Season of Ash, and discusses the new generation of Mexican writers.

Alfred Mac Adam is the acclaimed Spanish translator of Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, among others.

Jorge Volpi’s new international bestseller Season of Ash puts a human face on the earth-shaking events of the late twentieth century: the Cher­nobyl disaster, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of Soviet communism and the rise of the Russian oligarchs, the cascading collapse of developing economies, and the near-miraculous scientific advances of the Human Genome Project. Praised throughout the world for his inventive story­telling and stylistic am­bition, Jorge Volpi has become one of the leading innovators of twenty-first-century world literature.

After reading from Season of Ash, Jorge Volpi will be joined in conversation by Alfred Mac Adam—professor of Latin American literature at Barnard College-Columbia University since 1983 and translator of novels by Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa, José Donoso, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Cortázar, as well as Season of Ash.

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

6 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

To all those in the Rochester area, don’t forget that—today at 5:00 p.m. at the University of Rochester—celebrated French translator Charlotte Mandell (Balzac, Flaubert, Proust, et al.) will be reading from her new translation of Zone by Mathias Énard (a 517-page, one-sentence novel, forthcoming from Open Letter) and talking about the art of translation.

Here’s the Facebook link.

Or just click on the flyer below to get all the primary details.

1 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

I know we just announced the new RTWCS events, but we’re already on the heels of the first one next week(!), featuring the incredible French translator Charlotte Mandell. Anyone and everyone is welcome to attend. Here’s all the info:

OCT. 6, 2009
5:00 p.m.
Sloan Auditorium (in Goergen Hall)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Charlotte Mandell—the French translator of Balzac, Proust, Flaubert, and others—reads from her new translation of Mathias Énard’s Zone (forthcoming from Open Letter) and takes questions about literary translation.

Zone has already been called “The novel of the decade, if not of the century” (Christophe Claro). In short, it is a 517-page, one-sentence novel about a spy, a train ride, a briefcase, and the pervasive violence of the twentieth century.

Charlotte Mandell is one of the great French-to-English translators, and has translated such prominent works as:

  • The Girl with the Golden Eyes by Honoré de Balzac
  • The Book to Come by Maurice Blanchot
  • A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert
  • The Horla by Guy de Maupassant
  • Listening by Jean-Luc Nancy
  • The Lemoine Affair by Marcel Proust

(This event is hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.)

1 October 09 | N. J. Furl | Comments

For all those in the Rochester area, here are the events we’ve scheduled for this fall’s Reading the World Conversation Series. More information on each individual event will be posted soon, but here is the rundown, so you can mark your calendars now.

These events are hosted by Open Letter and University of Rochester Arts & Sciences. All events are supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts.

OCT. 6, 2009
5:00 p.m.
Sloan Auditorium (in Goergen Hall)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Charlotte Mandell

The French translator of Balzac, Proust, Flaubert, and others reads from her new translation of Mathias Énard’s Zone (forthcoming from Open Letter) and takes questions about literary translation.

OCT. 20, 2009
6:30 p.m.
Plutzik Library (in Rush Rhees Library)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: Jorge Volpi and Alfred Mac Adam

The author of international bestseller In Search of Klingsor, and a founder of the “Crack” group, reads from his latest novel, Season of Ash, and discusses the new generation of Mexican writers with the acclaimed Spanish translator of Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes, among others.
(Co-sponsored by Rare Books & Special Collections.)

Nov. 5, 2009
6:00 p.m.
Gowen Room (in Wilson Commons)
University of Rochester
(free and open to the public)

Featuring: International Writers in Residence at Ledig House

Ledig House is one of the only international writer residences in the U.S. This event features readings and discussion from Tom Dreyer (South Africa), Pravda Miteva (Bulgaria), Kathrin Aehnlich (Germany), and Linda Gaboriau (Canada).

(For additional info, contact nathan.furl at rochester.edu)

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