It’s always fun to talk with Bill—he knows more about international literature than almost everyone I know—and I think the conversation went pretty well.
Aside from this podcast though, I can’t recommend the World Books site enough. PRI’s The World—which is produced by PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston—is one of my favorite public radio programs (one of the few, to be honest), and this site is quickly becoming one of the best world literature sites out there. A mix of interviews (with authors and translators), reviews, features, and podcasts, there’s always interesting new content on the World Books page (such as this interesting piece on Jordanian censorship).
I’ve linked to content from World Books a few times, and I hope this site will continue to grow and expand over the coming months and years.
In addition to this podcast with Bill Marx, I also had the honor of speaking with host Lisa Mullins about Reading the World for a short segment that will be broadcast later this week. It’s hard to judge these things, but I’m not sure I was quite on my game during this conversation, although I’m really glad that I recommended Nazi Literature in the Americas and suggested that kids read War and Peace and Don Quixote . . . Thanks to Harry Potter, modern kids are into monstrously long epics, right?
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .