18 June 12 | Sarah Winstein-Hibbs | Comments

Here’s a thought-provoking interview from PMc Magazine, in which editor Tyler Malone interviews Chad Post on Open Letter Books, the world of American publishing, and the importance of international literature. Chad debriefs us on Open Letter’s history and concept, and unfolds his philosophy on the mission of a small press in the U.S.: “I’m truly dedicated to the idea that a nonprofit should do all it to better the part of the world that it’s related to,” he says. “And for us that means helping spread a love and appreciation of international writing and the art of translation.” Even though it may seem like a “losing battle” to many, Open Letter is committed to publishing high-impact books from other cultures, and refuses to cater to the lowest common denominator or to sacrifice art for profit.

It’s scary, and financially daunting, to take on such an enterprise; why does Open Letter do it? – So that the American book market doesn’t degenerate into a boring swamp of cultural incest, and so that American readers have access to inventive, meaningful new books that open our minds. “The more artistic voices available to readers and writers, the better,” Chad says. “A healthy translation culture helps to ensure that the literary world in the U.S. keeps renewing itself and evolving and expanding.” If we fail to expose ourselves to voices of other cultures, the American readership winds up with “books that are “entertainments” that appeal to the largest possible audience.” To keep our culture vibrant, energized, and informed, we need to carve out a place for international writers. On the joy of publishing these new voices, Chad shares lively personal enthusiasm: “. . . there’s probably no better feeling in publishing than when a book you’ve been obsessed with for a few years comes back from the printer and you can hold it, reread it, and finally share it with all your friends.” That’s what Open Letter is here for – to scout out great works from around the globe and share them with American readers, who deserve variety, inspiration, and a truly good read.

Death by Water
Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe
Reviewed by Will Eells

Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .

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Twenty-One Cardinals
Twenty-One Cardinals by Jocelyne Saucier
Reviewed by Natalya Tausanovitch

Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .

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One of Us Is Sleeping
One of Us Is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart
Reviewed by Jeremy Garber

We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .

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Bye Bye Blondie
Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes
Reviewed by Emma Ramadan

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. . .

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La Superba
La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
Reviewed by Anna Alden

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. . .

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Intervenir/Intervene by Dolores Dorantes; Rodrigo Flores Sánchez
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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!. . .

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All Days Are Night
All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

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