If you don’t already subscribe to our (sporadic, but in good times, bi-weekly) newsletter, you can do so by clicking here.
And if you missed the one that went out earlier this week, you can see the prettified version here, or just read it all below.
In almost every issue of Publishers Weekly—the trade magazine for booksellers, publishers, agents, and authors—the editors select one title to promote as the “Pick of the Week.” It’s usually something predictably large and respectable (like the new David Mitchell book, for example), but in the July 14th issue it was Open Letter’s The Last Days of My Mother by Icelandic author Sölvi Björn Sirgdsson!
The “starred” review, subtitled “Goodbye to All That,” had this to say:
The setup: Hermann’s girlfriend of seven years leaves him for a French dentist, then his native Iceland’s banking system goes belly-up, and finally his 63-year-old mother, Eva, is diagnosed with a rare and terminal cancer. The punch line: a bitterly laugh-out-loud novel of Nordic misery. [. . .] Sigurdsson’s novel successfully straddles the line between impious gallows humor and a heartfelt depiction of a son’s love for his mother.
Because we switched distributors this summer to Consortium (sorry, bit of inside baseball, but this is a really good thing for Open Letter), we ended up releasing this a couple months early, so your local indie bookseller should have copies, as does your favorite online retailer. Or, you can always order it directly from our website either as a single book, or as part of a subscription . . .
With the official publication date of The Last Days of My Mother coming up in August—and to celebrate the high praise it’s already receiving—if you take out a (or renew your existing) 12-month subscription before the end of August, we’ll throw in two extra books for free. So: Over about the next 14 months, you’ll receive a big 12 Open Letter titles for the same low price of $100—and that even includes free shipping within the U.S..
This is the cheapest and best way to keep up with what’s going on in international literature. By signing up now, you’ll not only get The Last Days of My Mother, but also great titles like A Thousand Forests in One Acorn: An Anthology of Spanish-Language Fiction (probably the prettiest and most impressive book we’ve ever published), a thrilling new book from Mathias Énard (the author of Zone, our first book to sell-out in just over a month), and The Man Between, a unique, intelligent, moving collection of pieces honoring the life and activism of one of the greatest translators of all time, Michael Henry Heim.
Again: Subscribe before August 31st and you’ll get 12 books, instead of the usual 10, for $100 even.
The In case you missed it, this past month Three Percent hosted the first ever World Cup of Literature, which pitted a recent book from each of the 32 countries that qualified for this year’s Real World Cup in a head-to-head knockout tournament.
Each match was written up by a reader or reviewer or translator or bookseller explaining why one of the two titles beat the other—and by what score. The pieces are incredibly fun to read and can help guide you to interesting books from all of the various World Cup counties.
In the end it came down to four literary powerhouses: Chile (represented by Roberto Bolaño’s By Night in Chile), Germany (W. G. Sebald’s Austerlitz), Mexico (Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the Crowd), and the United States (David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King).
If you want to find out who won, you’ll have to click here.
(We have to keep up the suspense somehow!)
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. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .