Following up on an earlier post, I wanted to point out that there’s also a great interview with Sergio Pitol in La Jornada Semanal from July 29. There he talks about his grandmother who he calls “una senora de rancho” who used to sit him down with his brother and tell them tall tales over lunch: her travels to Italy and her life on the ranch and her fascination with Tolstoy. The plots of his first collection of short stories he attributes entirely to her. It took him a while after that to find other things to write about (so he says).
Interestingly, he decided to buy a small house in the country and set out to be a translator after his first stories came out!!! Since then he has never been at a loss for topics, and his interview then has a bit about the theatrical and cinematic elements of his characters and his passion for the plays of Oscar Wilde.
Who claims he always thought he’d write comedies for the theater? Who says his real passion has always been the dramatic arts? No one else but Sergio Pitol, the Mexican short story writer and novelist whose most recent bestsellers have included the 2005 Premio Cervantes work of fiction titled El mago de Viena [The Magician from Vienna]. Called the chronicle of a playful, delirious, and macabre world, and Mexico’s own version of the ESPERPENTO, this book combines autobiography and fiction into a perfect follow up to El arte de la fuga [The Art of the Fugue]. Pitol still awaits his day in English translation!!
(A bilingual interview with Pitol about El Mago is available online from Literal Magazine. Warning—link is to a pdf file.)
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. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .