In one of my Frankfurt posts I mentioned the 30 Great Authors from Argentina (warning—pdf file) “brochure” that the Fundacion TyPA put together to help promote writers who had yet to be translated out of Spanish.
It’s hard to describe this elegant, unique brochure (more like oversized trading cards in a box than a printed brochure), but some (poor quality) pictures might help:
It’s really cool that TyPA decided to feature only authors who hadn’t been translated. Sure that leaves out some great contemporary writers (in the intro they mention Cesar Aira, Martin Kohan, and Alan Pauls), but brings attention to authors most editors otherwise wouldn’t hear about, such as Eduardo Muslip, Oliverio Coelho, and Carlos Gamerro. (Descriptions of their novels can be found in the pdf version of the brochures.)
There were three books that really caught my eye:
The No Variations by Luis Chitarroni (Interzona, 2007): “In this book—one of the most complex and challenging texts of Argentine literature in recent years—the Borgesian themes of erudition, tradition, and consecraton are sent through the shredding machine. The result is a ‘novel’ made up of diaries, notes, forgetfulness, articles, and poems created by writers invented by the author.”
Apex by Gustavo Ferreyra (Sudamericana, 2004): “The city—Buenos Aires—emerges slowly in this novel, and it is the city we deserve, the novel-city of the present. Action and geography seem to walk together and, sometimes, join efforts to keep the characters of the story apart, missing each other in the places where they should have met. And the other way around. In this way, we—the readers—can discover details that a more general view would never show us. Up close, Apex seems to say, every act is a criminal act; up close, every fictional character is a monster.”
Neon by Liliana Heer (Paradiso, 2007): “Neon, a wonderful example of this century’s expressionism, invites the reader to delve into the fundamentals of power. In this novel three characters recreate humanity in Kafka’s style. Evil is shown from different points of view, in relation with an inheritance, with repression, with racial prejudices, and with some humorous lines that balance on the edge between madness and reason, justice and injustice, man and animal. And above all towers an erotic scene that is the leitmotiv of the whole story . . .”
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. . .