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.)
Gustavo Faverón Patriau’s The Antiquarian, translated by Joseph Mulligan, is a genre-blending novel, a complete immersion that delves into a lesser-used niche of genre: horror, gothic, the weird. There are visual horrors, psychological ones, and dark corners with threats lurking.. . .
What a wonderful, idiosyncratic book Weinberger has written. I say book, but the closest comparison I could make to other works being published right now are from Sylph Edition’s “Cahiers Series“—short pamphlet-like meditations by notable writers such as Ann Carson,. . .
Early in Sun-mi Hwang’s novel The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly, the main character, a hen named Sprout, learns about sacrifice. After refusing to lay any more eggs for the farmer who owns her, she becomes “culled” and released. . .
When Sankya was published in Russia in 2006, it became a sensation. It won the Yasnaya Polyana Award (bestowed by direct descendants of Leo Tolstoy) and was shortlisted for the Russian Booker and the National Bestseller Award. Every member of. . .
Stalin is Dead by Rachel Shihor has been repeatedly described as kafkaesque, which strikes a chord in many individuals, causing them to run to the bookstore in the middle of the night to be consumed by surreal situations that no. . .
Paradises by cult Argentinian author Iosi Havilio is the continuation of his earlier novel, Open Door, and tells the story of our narrator, a young, unnamed Argentinian woman.
The very first sentence in Paradises echoes the opening of Camus’s The Outsider. . .
This pearl from New Directions contains one short story from Russian literary master Fyodor Dostoevsky (translated by Constance Garnett) and one short story from Uruguayan forefather of magical realism Felisberto Hernández (translated by Esther Allen). Both pieces are entitled “The. . .