Barbara Epler gave me a copy of the new New Directions catalog at the 2666 party on Friday, and it’s so amazing that it deserves its own post.
There are a ton of translations coming out from ND next year—well, OK, nine—a good mix of classic authors (Walser, Borges, Bolano) and some new (like Guillermo Rosales). Here are some of the highlights:
The Tanners by Robert Walser (trans. by Susan Bernofsky) is coming out in May and features an introduction by W. G. Sebald (trans. by Jo Catling). Walser’s first novel, I heard Susan B. read a section of this at the PEN World Voices event last spring. It was a great reading (and great event), and made me excited to read The Tanners. The part she read wasn’t as wildly off-kilter as some of the other pieces, but it reminded me of The Assistant.
I think this is the season of Susan Bernofsky (and why not?) . . . Ini addition to the Walser, she translated The Naked Eye by Yoko Tawada, her first novel to be translated into English. (ND published a few story collections, and Kodansha brought out a few novellas.) (May)
Guillermo Rosales’s The Halfway House (trans. by Anna Kushner) sounds really intriguing. It’s about an exiled Cuban writer trapped in a halfway house after arriving in Miami in a very disturbed state. Rosales destroyed most of his work before committing suicide, but this novel survived and was published posthumously. (May)
Declan Spring is editing Inger Christensen’s novel Azorno (trans. by Denise Newman) and told me that it is as good as anything he’s worked on in the past few years. He mentioned Beckett, he mentioned Borges, and based on the description, this is the book that I’m personally most exited about from the new catalog. “Set in modern Europe, Azorno is a kind of logic puzzle or house of mirrors, concerning five women and two men. . . . Reminiscent of the works of Georges Perec and Alain Robbe-Grillet . . .” (July)
Also coming out in July is Seven Nights by Borges (tran. by Eliot Weinberger), a collection of seven lectures given by Borges in the summer of 1977.
Berberova’s Billancourt Tales (trans. by Marian Schwartz; July) and Yoel Hoffmann’s Curriculum Vitae (trans. by Peter Cole; July), both sound fascinating as well. As does the next Bolano title, The Skating Rink. Told by three male narrators, “The Skating Rink is not fundamentally a crime novel, or not exclusively: it’s also about political corruption, sex, the experience of immigration, and frustrated passion.” Translated by Chris Andrews, it’s due out in August. Which should be about the time that most everyone is finishing 2666 and looking for more Bolano . . .
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. . .
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. . .