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 . . .
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. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .