Anyone who’s met me knows that I can, on occasion, speak a bit fast. Almost incomprehensibly fast. Especially if English isn’t your first language . . . This “talent” kind of came in handy at the 21st Century Publishing Symposium at the Reykjavik International Literary Festival last week. The symposium was extremely interesting, with presentations by Kristjan B. Jonasson on the Future of Icelandic Publishing (I did a video interview with him that will run at Publishing Perspectives later this week), Heiko Strunk on Lyrikline.org, Helga Frese-Resch on finding and publishing literature in translation, and Alexander Schwarz on e-books.
I somehow managed to fit the bulk of my speech (which is probably 45 minutes long spoken at a normal, understandable clip) into about 20 minutes . . . So, for the benefit of anyone who attended the symposium and couldn’t understand a word I said, or anyone in general interested in the future of e-books and literature in translation, click here to download a pdf version of the entire presentation.
In terms of the Festival—I am writing a longer piece about it for Publishing Perspectives, and will post another update later today about some of the interesting authors I met in Iceland. And hopefully I’ll even have a few samples to run over the next few weeks . . .
In the meantime, enjoy this picture of a bone in the prison cells in the basement of the President of Iceland’s house. (I’m just going to let that statement stand as is for the time being.)
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. . .