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!)
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. . .