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.
Though far from the most convincing reason to read literature in translation, one common side effect is learning of another culture, of its history. Within that, and a stronger motivation to read, is the discovery of stories not possible within. . .
Despite cries that literature is dead, dying, and self-replicating in the worst way, once in a while a book comes along to remind readers that there’s still a lot of surprise to be found on the printed page. To be. . .
“I was small. And my village was small, I came to know that in time. But when I was small it was big for me, so big that when I had to cross it from one end to the other,. . .
A few weeks after moving into a farm house in the Welsh countryside, Emilie, an expatriate from the Netherlands, starts to think about her uncle. This uncle tried to drown himself in a pond in front of the hotel where. . .
Think back to the last adventure- or action-type book you read. Wasn’t it cool? Didn’t it make you want to do things, like learn to shoot a crossbow, hack complicated information systems, travel to strange worlds, take on knife-wielding thugs,. . .
In Aira’s Shantytown, while we’re inside the characters’ heads for a good portion of the story, the voice we read on the page is really that of Aira himself, as he works out the plot of the book he’s writing.. . .
Noir is not an easy genre to define—or if it once was, that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away; as a quick guess, maybe Silver Lake, Los Angeles, 1935. When two books as different as. . .
Some time ago I read this phrase: “The page is the only place in the universe God left blank for me.”
Pedro Mairal’s short novel The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra is more about these blank spaces than the usual full. . .
“What if even in the afterlife you have to know foreign languages? Since I have already suffered so much trying to speak Danish, make sure to assign me to the Polish zone . . .”
So reads a typical aphoristic “poem”. . .
If you somehow managed to overlook the 2012 translation of Andrés Neuman’s breathtaking Traveler of the Century (and woe betide all whom continue to do so), you now have two exceptional works of fiction from the young Argentine virtuoso demanding. . .