I’m leaving tomorrow morning for BookExpo America (aka BEA, aka ABA, well, OK, ABA is more than a bit outdated, but I think some people still say this), and with E.J. in Norway things might be a little quiet around here for the next few days.
This year BEA is in L.A., which is always nice and sunny. And somewhat inconvenient, since the fair has to be split up between two halls, forcing most people to walk back and forth and back and forth all day . . . but whatever. It’s still 72 every single day. And the parties are a bit more glamorous than the ones in Chicago.
In case you’re not familiar with BEA, this is an annual gathering of booksellers, publishers, reviewers, etc. It’s a chance for publishers to show off the books they’re bringing out over the next year and to touch base with independent booksellers from across the country. And yes, there are lots of parties. Overall, a good time is had by all.
I was talking to a professor here the other day about the difference between the Modern Languages Association annual conference and BEA. MLA is so high-pressure, both in terms of interviewing and having to present papers. You have to be on your game at MLA.
On the other hand, BEA is more of a celebration for surviving another year. (And really, when talking about indie bookselling, you can’t overplay the survival aspect.) A time to re-energize, to get excited about books all over again with a few thousand of your closest friends. Oh, and did I mention the parties? (This year there’s one at the Chateau Marmont.)
But seriously, BEA is the place where National Book Award buzz starts being generated, and where dudes in costumes walk around giving free hugs. It’s occasionally over-the-top, it’s frenetic, it’s crowded—it’s all of that, but it’s also a lot of fun to see everyone again and at least have a chance to touch base and, you know, congratulate them on surviving for another year.
In addition to mingling and picking up new galleys, there are a ton of educational events, including three panels on translation. (I’m on two of them, both on Saturday. One about funding for translations, the other about marketing them. Which, from what I’ve heard, is just a bunch of hype. And speaking of the marketing one, we have a late scratch—Gregg Nations from Lost won’t be able to attend since he’s “going dark” following Thursday’s season finale, which I take to mean that the finale is going to be “game changing” . . . )
Also on Thursday, we’re having the annual Reading the World party. This year it’s being held in collaboration with Bookforum and will take place at the REDCAT Theater (631 West 2nd St.) from 6-8pm. Anyone interested in going should e-mail me at chad.post at rochester dot edu.
I’ll try my best to blog the BEA, but generally there’s not a lot of downtime. May turn into one long recap next week . . .
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. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .