13 May 14 | Chad W. Post

Two summers ago, Will Evans (aka Bromance Will) came to Rochester for the summer to learn about how to launch his own press dedicated to international literature. Although he did help out at Open Letter by reading a bunch of manuscripts, editing High Tide, doing some marketing and publicity, and arranging a bunch of Frankfurt Book Fair meetings, the hours we spent watching Euro Cup matches and talking about publishing in the most general terms (“Chad, how does distribution work?”) was probably the most important part of his apprenticeship.

Anyway, two years later, Deep Vellum—the press Will was figuring out while he was here in Rochester—officially launched on May 8th (which happens to be my son’s birthday, and that of Thomas Ruggles Pynchon). Here’s the press release:

On May 27, 2014, Deep Vellum, an independent non-profit publisher of books in translation, launches in New York City, timed to Book Expo America. Its debut authors are recipients of numerous international awards and worldwide acclaim, several of whom have never before been available in English.

Led by Publisher and Executive Director Will Evans, Deep Vellum was founded to connect the world’s greatest contemporary writers of literature and creative nonfiction with English-language readers through original translations, while facilitating educational opportunities for students of translation in the Dallas community, and promoting a more robust book culture in Dallas and beyond.

“I was inspired to start Deep Vellum when I learned just how few literary translations were published each year in the U.S. and how many timeless works of literature remain to be translated into English,” said Evans. “I wanted to start Deep Vellum in Dallas because this is an exciting, vibrant, ever-evolving city that supports the arts and big bold ideas. My dream is to publish the world from Dallas, raising the profile of world literature in America’s book culture, and promoting the cross-cultural dialogue that comes from reading translated literature.”

Deep Vellum is pleased to announce the publication of its debut book Texas by Carmen Boullosa this fall. Highlights of the fall list include:

Texas by Carmen Boullosa (October): Loosely based on the little-known 1859 Mexican invasion of the United States, Texas is a richly imagined evocation of the volatile Tex-Mex borderland, wrested from Mexico in 1848, in the combustive time just before the American Civil War. Described by Roberto Bolaño as “Mexico’s greatest woman writer,” Boullosa views the border history through distinctly Mexican eyes, and her sympathetic portrayal of each of her wildly diverse characters—Mexican ranchers and Texas Rangers, Comanches and cowboys, German socialists and runaway slaves, Southern belles and dance hall girls—makes her storytelling tremendously powerful and absorbing. With today’s Mexican-American frontier such a front-burner concern, this novel brilliantly illuminates its historical landscape is especially welcome.

Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories by Mikhail Shishkin (November): The first English-language collection of stories by the only author to win all three of Russia’s major book prizes and a worldwide celebrity, including five stories that have been published in various English-language sources (Words Without Borders, Read Russia Anthology, Spolia, the Independent, New England Review) and several previously untranslated stories (including two previously unpublished in any language). Shishkin is the first and only writer to win the three major Russian literary awards (the Russian Booker, National Bestseller, and Big Book Awards).

The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol (December): Winner of the Cervantes Prize in 2005 (the “Spanish-language Nobel”) and considered one of Mexico’s greatest living authors, Pitol makes his English-language debut with The Art of Flight. Also the first book in Pitol’s “Trilogy of Memory,” which Deep Vellum has signed to publish in full, this collection of essays and stories blends the genres of memoir and creative essay in an imaginative swirl of reflection and contemplation as Pitol looks back on a life lived through literature and travel.

Sphinx by Anna Garréta (Feb 2015): A debut novel, originally published in 1986, by the incredibly talented and inventive French author Anne Garréta, one of the few female members of OuLiPo, the influential and exclusive French experimental literary group whose mission is to create literature based on mathematical and linguistic restraints, and whose ranks include Georges Perec, Italo Calvino, and Raymond Queneau, among others. Sphinx is a remarkable work of literary ingenuity: a beautiful and complex love story between two characters, the narrator, “I,” and “A***,” written completely without any gendered pronouns or gender markers referring to the main characters. Sphinx is not only the first novel by Garréta to appear in English but the first work by a female Oulipian published in English.

The Indian by Jόn Gnarr (March 2015): The Indian is a highly entertaining, bittersweet autobiographical fiction by the world-famous Icelandic comedian and Mayor of Reykjavik, Jón Gnarr, described by VICE Magazine as “boundlessly creative and extremely compassionate.” Diagnosed as a child as “retarded” because of his severe dyslexia and ADHD, Gnarr spent several years in a “home for retarded children.” He finally escaped, only to find himself subject to ridicule in regular schools for being slow and red-headed. Subjected to constant bullying, young Gnarr watched Westerns, always rooting for the Indians to defeat the bully cowboys. Taught in schools throughout Iceland, The Indian resonates with young readers as much as with parents of children with emotional and learning issues as with readers of world literature. The Indian is the first novel in a trilogy on Gnarr’s youth that Deep Vellum will be publishing in its entirety.

Deep Vellum has been awarded grants from a number of cultural organizations, including the Hemingway Grant from French Cultural Services office, for Anne Garréta’s Sphinx; the Transcript Grant from the Prokhorov Foundation for Mikhail Shishkin’s Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories; a PROTRAD grant from the Mexican government’s FONCA program for the Sergio Pitol and Carmen Boullosa novels; and a grant from the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses.

Distributed by Small Press Distribution, Deep Vellum’s books will be featured both domestically and internationally. Deep Vellum is fiscally sponsored by The Writer’s Garret, a nationally recognized literary nonprofit.

For publicity inquiries, contact Erin L. Cox at erinlcox@gmail.com or 347-581-0211.

That’s a pretty impressive list of titles . . . I’ll be surprised if Consortium doesn’t jump on this and start distributing Deep Vellum with their spring 2015 list.

Also, Will’s been on a publicity tear of late, including this article about Deep Vellum, and this interview with KERA in Dallas.

Congrats, Will, and I know we’ll be reviewing all of these books on Three Percent as they come out . . .


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