I can’t believe September is almost over . . . Although I’m sort of glad—October brings the Frankfurt Book Fair, a study trip to France (more on that in another post), and another playoff appearance for the St. Louis Cardinals. (Next year, Cubs fans. Next. Year.)
October also brings some interesting translations, a few of which are listed below:
The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk, translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely (Knopf): Publishers Weekly gave Nobel Prize recipient Pamuk’s latest a starred review, calling it “a soaring, detailed and laborious mausoleum of love.” And in summary, “though its incantatory middle suffers from too many indistinguishable quotidian encounters, this is a masterful work.”
Dream of Reason by Rosa Chacel, translated from Spanish by Carol Maier (University of Nebraska): a massive, 656-page “masterpiece of modernist fiction” (Lev Grossman, you are fairly warned!) centers around a self-absorbed chemist and his relationships with three women around the time of the Spanish Civil War. According to Javier Marias, Dream of Reason “is one of the best, most original, and most daring novels of twentieth-century Spanish literature.”
The Last Reader by David Toscana, translated from Spanish by Asa Zatz (Texas Tech University Press): the first title to come out in Irene Vilar’s revitalized The Americas series, which was formerly housed at the University of Wisconsin Press and is now at Texas Tech, sounds pretty intriguing (see above link for full description).
Blind Sunflowers by Alberto Mendez, translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor (Arcadia): an import from UK-based Arcadia, a section of this book—which features four connected stories—was excerpted in The New Yorker back in 2006.
There Once Lived a Woman Who Tried to Kill Her Neighbor’s Baby: Fairy Tales by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, translated from the Russian by Keith Gessen (Penguin): awesome title, translation by Keith Gessen, creepy jacket cover, and another New Yorker excerpt.
Brazil: A Traveler’s Literary Companion, edited by Alexis Levitin, translated from the Portuguese by several translators (Whereabouts Press):these Traveler Literary Companions are great books, and with Alexis guiding this one, it’s sure to feature some interesting authors and sharp translations.
Jerusalem by Goncalo Tavares, translated by Anna Kushner (Dalkey Archive): Tavares is an interesting writer, although his series of Neighbourhood books (short, playful texts named and modeled after famous authors such as “Mister Calvino” and “Mister Walser”) might be even more inventive and interesting. Excellent that there is a full-length novel of his available in English though.
Rien ne va plus by Margarita Karapanou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (Clockroot): a strange and disturbing book featuring two versions of a failed marriage. One in which the husband takes a male lover on his wedding night and emotionally abuses his wife before killing himself. And another in which the wife is the sexually promiscuous one, and writes a story in which she depicts their failed relationship in an inverted way, making the husband the one who destroys their marriage. This is one of two Karapanou books Clockroot — a new line within Interlink — is bringing out this fall. They’re also doing Landscape with Dog by Ersi Sotiropoulos, another Greek book translated by Karen Emmerich. I think Clockroot just effectively cornered the market on contemporary Greek translations . . .
Running by Jean Echenoz, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (New Press): Echenoz is an amazing writer who has greatly expanded his range over the course of career from more postmodern mysteries like Cherokee and Double Jeopardy to a novel on Maurice Ravel and now this book on Czech runner Emil Zátopek.
Season of Ash by Jorge Volpi, translated from the Spanish by Alfred Mac Adam (Open Letter): Volpi is part of Mexico’s “Crack Group”—a collection of young authors dedicated to breaking away from derivative magical realism and returning to more complex, formally innovative ideas of what a novel can be. Season of Ash is a sweeping novel about the big ideas of the latter half of the twentieth century, starting with the Chernobyl incident and ending with the Genome Project. Told through the lives of three women it’s also a murder mystery and quite a page-turner.
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. . .