I’m leaving tomorrow morning for BookExpo America (aka BEA, aka ABA, well, OK, ABA is more than a bit outdated, but I think some people still say this), and with E.J. in Norway things might be a little quiet around here for the next few days.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 . . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .