Not sure how I missed this when it first came out, but this piece in the Independent is fascinating:
House sales have plunged, automobiles have tanked, and credit is throttled, but Spain is experiencing an unprecedented boom in books. Once the nation that read fewer books than any other in Europe, Spaniards have become voracious readers, devouring more books than ever before.
Spain’s book trade has not only escaped the downturn afflicting the rest of the economy, but is spectacularly bucking the trend. Publishing houses say business last year broke all records, and they predict even better results for 2008. The sector was said to be euphoric [. . .]
Funny—“euphoric” is the last word that I would ever associate with publishers and/or any discussion of a nation’s reading habits. . . .
And these stats!
Even with the leap in literacy of recent years, Spaniards were slow to adopt the reading habit. Not so long ago, more than 50 per cent said they had never read a book, nor had one at home. Now 57 per cent claim to read regularly.
Everything about this stands in stark contrast to the situation here in the States, where Cody’s goes out of business and we’re constantly talking about the decline of readership . . .
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. . .