Following up on yesterday’s post about the Helen and Kurt Wolff Symposium I thought I’d pass along the list of works (and publishers) that Denis Scheck recommended in his presentation on contemporary German literature.
Denis Scheck is one of Germany’s most respected critics, and has both a radio and a TV show about books. He’s also a translator and a literary editor. (He used to have a line of books that in some way related to the sea—which included books such as David Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again for the title essay about a cruise ship (which is one of the funniest pieces I’ve ever read)—and is now starting a line of food-related books.)
Here’s the recommendations he gave us:
I want to personally second this. Daniela was at the symposium, so I got to know her a bit, and she’s an incredible person. Her poetry was beautiful (although I don’t understand a word of German, I was still blown away by the poems she read in the original) and her publishing house is incredibly interesting. She gave a speech about Kookbooks and how it came out of an artistic movement that included a record label, various visual art projects, etc., all under the label of “Kook.” The books themselves are gorgeous—very high quality, all designed with a similar sort of abstract and eye-catching artwork—and relatively inexpensive. (Because she has almost no overhead—and no employees—she’s able to keep the prices under 20 euro, which is pretty amazing for hardcovers of this quality.) The titles are fairly experimental, and the list features a lot of younger authors who she’s trying to grow with the press. Definitely worth checking out.
Isabel Kreitz: Der 35. Mai. Als Comic. (Dressler Verlag)
Anke Feuchtenberger/Kathrin de Vries: Die Hure H wirft den Handschuh (Reprodukt Verlag)
Volker Reiche: Strizz (FAZ)
There was a bit of discussion about graphic novels (especially since this is so hot in the States these days), which is why Denis recommended the three above titles.
Hoppe was actually in the States for the PEN World Voices festival a few years back. She’s someone who comes up time and again in glowing terms, yet none of her titles have been translated into English . . . This title is a children’s book.
The book of Kuhn’s that sounds most interesting to me is one he wrote years ago that relates 29 imaginary biographies of Napoleon.
This is the author that the three women who won the Susan Sontag Translation Prize are working on. The book they’re translated (yes, it is a collaborative translation) is Koppstoff: Kanaka Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft, which consists of 26 fictionalized voices of Turkish women in Germany. They read a section of this at the symposium that enthralled everyone. (It helps that this came at the end of the day and was a very energetic, flowing rant filled with vular language and slang. It had an amazing rhythm, and I think all of the publishers in the room were very enthused . . . )
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .