So, a couple months back, I posted a long look at Riffle, the new “Pinterest for Books.”
The other day, after blowing up on Bookish I went back into Riffle and played around a bit, adding some books I’ve read in recent months, and making a few lists—all with the goal of increasing my “Influence” score.
Yes, that IS how lame I am. But an Influence Score of 6 just seemed damn pathetic. I’ve since gotten it up to 16, mainly by creating lists of books—those I want to read (based on last week’s podcast), and books that I use in the “World Tour” section of my class.1
There’s no way this will replace GoodReads for me, but it can be fun to play with. (And the site is pretty slick looking. Much nicer than that Bookish disaster, the aesthetics of which are designed to appeal to exactly no one.) Although, to be honest, I’m using these in two different ways—I track everything I’ve read and want to read on GoodReads, and am using Riffle to make fun lists of books. (Although Kaija Straumanis’s lists are much more interesting. Especially that “Open Letter Books” one.)
Anyway, I just got a message from Gina Rodriguez, the World Literature editor at Riffle, with a special invitation for readers of Three Percent. Riffle is still in Beta mode, so you need an invite to join. I have a few personal ones that I’ve sent to people, but Gina sent me this link
which will allow 100 people to join.
So if you’re interested in checking this out, click there, then follow me and check out my lists. That way my Influence Score will go up, and I won’t have to cry myself to sleep at night. (At least not every night.)
1 There are three sections to my class: a section about the craft of translation (where we read Clifford Landers’s Literary Translation: An Introduction and David Bellos’s Is That a Fish in Your Ear?, among others), a World Tour in which students read excerpts from influential authors from around the world and present on them, and discussion of six contemporary translations resulting in the class deeming one of them “The Best Translated Book of LTS206/406” (the sexiest title I could come up with). The World Tour usually blows their mind, since today’s college students are exposed to just a sliver of a fraction of a culture’s literature, and very few are well-read in literature from more than one country in the world. They might know a lot about Shakespeare and Latin America, but have never read anything from Scandinavia. So this “World Tour” helps expose them to all the varied greatness that is out there, and helps to build a bit of a mental map of what authors have influenced others, etc., so that they can see that “world” literature constitutes a field not a series of individual authors or literatures bound by language.
So, yesterday was the official release date for Benjamin Stein’s The Canvas, one of the most curiously designed Open Letter books to date. With two openings, and myriad ways to read it, you can read a totally different Canvas at the same time as your friend:
The novel consists of two narratives: Amnon Zichroni’s depiction of growing up in an orthodox Jewish family, and his eventual realization of his “gift” to see people’s memories; and, Jan Wechsler’s quest to recover his missing memories after receiving a mysterious briefcase with information about his past. These two stories play off each other in subtle ways, and it’s not until the very end of the book (or middle, if you prefer) that you find out how the two character intersect . . .
To celebrate this (and my birthday, which is why we always publish a book on September 26th), we’re offering The Canvas for free to all new Open Letter subscribers. If you’ve been thinking about signing up—and who hasn’t? what could be better than receiving an excellent work in translation every month—this is the time. You’ll get 6 books for $60 or 11 for $100, which is just an insanely good bargain.
So since up for the savings, and stay for the literature.
Or just sign up as a birthday present to me. Please?
This weekend, the National Book Critics Circle announced the finalists for its books wards for publishing 2011 and—not to bury the lede—including Dubravka Ugresic’s Karaoke Culture as one of the five finalists in the Criticism category.
This is the first major book award that one of titles has been nominated for (not counting the BTBA), and we’re extremely psyched. I’ve been on and on and on about this book for the past year, which makes this news just that much sweeter. To celebrate this honor, we’re selling copies of Karaoke Culture through our website for the special price of $9.99.
OR, if you’d rather become an Open Letter supporter and receive all of our fantastic books, you can buy a subscription and we’ll throw in a copy of Karaoke Culture for free.
Going back to the NBCCs, I have to say, the Criticism category is the very definition of LOADED. Check out this list of finalists:
Bellos, Lethem, Ugresic, AND Dyer?!?!? Damn. That’s all I can say.
By contrast, the other categories—all of which contain a few truly excellent books—seem tame. You can read the full press release and list of all finalists by clicking here. And here are my picks for which titles should win in the various categories:
Congrats to everyone, and special congrats to Dubravka Ugresic, David Williams, Ellen Elias-Bursac, and Celia Hawkesworth!
“The small stone plaza was floating in the midday heat. The Christ of Elqui, kneeling on the ground, his gaze thrown back on high, the part in his hair dark under the Atacaman sun—he felt himself falling into an ecstasy.. . .
This slender, uncanny volume—the second, best-selling collection of stories by Russian author Ludmilla Petrushevskaya to appear in the U.S.—has already received considerable, well-deserved praise from many critics and high profile publications. Its seventeen short tales, averaging ten pages each, are. . .
The Urdu word basti refers to any space, intimate to worldly, and is often translated as “common place” or “a gathering place.” This book by Intizar Husain, who is widely regarded as one of the most important living Pakistani writers,. . .
The Whispering Muse, one of three books by Icelandic writer Sjón just published in North America, is nothing if not inventive. Stories within stories, shifting narration, leaps in time, and characters who transform from men to birds and back again—you’ve. . .
Luis Negrón’s debut collection Mundo Cruel is a journey through Puerto Rico’s gay world. Published in 2010, the book is already in its fifth Spanish edition. Here in the U.S., the collection has been published by Seven Stories Press and. . .
To have watched from one of your patios
the ancient stars
from the bank of shadow to have watched
the scattered lights
my ignorance has learned no names for
nor their places in constellations
to have heard the ring of. . .
When Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason first published LoveStar, his darkly comic parable of corporate power and media influence run amok, the world was in a very different place. (This was back before both Facebook and Twitter, if you can. . .