If I didn’t spend every morning writing about things that bug me, I’d have more time to write about new books . . . Which, in the end, is probably more interesting and useful. So here are three more September titles:
We’re going to be running a review of this title in the near future, but instead of describing the book, I want to point out Danish Accent Fogtdal’s excellent blog that includes some info about The Tsar’s Dwarf.
The Tsar’s Dwarf is the story of a Danish dwarf who is given to the Russian Tsar Peter The Great as a gift. She is brought to the Russian court where she falls in love, is humiliated, and treated like a toy. It’s a funny but gruesome story about human dignity. At least, that’s what it says on the cover, so it must be true.
Also on his blog is an excerpt from the book, and a sweet rant about the Olympics that includes making fun of Americans for not getting badminton (one of the sports I wish NBC had covered better, along with table tennis and team handball) and this bit about Michael Phelps:
What’s wrong with Michael Phelps? I worry about him. Sure, he has won eight gold medals, but what’s up with the greed? Can’t you get enough, Michael? Aren’t you aware that you’ve won eight times as many medals as fucking India? India is a continent, Michael. It’s not a dump in Michigan. Have a little respect.
I wouldn’t say Ann Arbor is a dump, and I don’t think India is its own continent, but still, this gave me a chuckle.
Although their book production has changed a bit (compare one of the new titles to Unger’s The Maimed and you’ll know what I mean), Twisted Spoon Press still produces some fine looking books from some very interesting European authors. We have a couple TSP reviews coming in the near future, and this sounds like a book we should take a closer look at as well:
Taking its cue both from Joyce’s Ulysses and Hrabal’s freely associating stream of anecdote, Of Kids & Parents is about a father and son taking a walk through Prague, over the course of which, and in the pubs and bars they stop into, their personal lives are revealed as entwined with the past sixty years of upheaval in their corner of Europe.
And this Boyd Tonkin quote doesn’t hurt: “Anyone who has ever crawled from pub to pub in Prague — or anyone who wants to — should read this utterly beguiling novel of uproarious surfaces and melancholy depths.”
Along with Dubravka Ugresic, Drakulic is one of the few female writers from the former Yugoslavia whose books are routinely published in English translation. And along with Ugresic and three other female Croatian authors, she was labeled a “witch” in the infamous 1992 Globus article that lead to at least Ugresic and Drakulic leaving Croatia to live in exile. Drakulic made a name for herself first as a journalist, but has since become a respected novelist.
The Frida in the title is Frida Kahlo, and this is a fictional book that blends Frida’s paintings and imagined interior life. The San Francisco Chronicle recently gave it a decent review, though admitting that the book doesn’t always succeed.
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
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. . .