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.
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .
While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.
Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .
The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .
Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.
It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .