This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf
I really do love book fair and publishing people and the business of publishing and the discovery of new artists. I love drinking too much, knowing that when I sip my first beer at a 5 o’clock Australian reception that I’ll be talking, mingling, and imbibing for the next eleven or so hours. I love that despite all this—which must seem a bit decadent to outsiders—that business gets done. That I can find a Flemish author with echos of Kafka, Beckett, and Pinter. (I’m keeping this book secret for the moment . . . If you want to find out who the next hot Flemish author will be, you’ll have to read my posts tomorrow . . .) That I can learn about Bragi Olafsson’s latest novel. That I can meet a Polish editor who’s really excited about some of our translations.
Juergen Boos is absolutely right: Frankfurt is a platform. A place where everyone can come together to meet, friend each other (like in the old-school, non-Facebook sense), exchange info, do business. I’m sure this happens in other industries as well, but there’s something about a gather of tens of thousands of literary folk that makes this Fair hum with some sort of cultural import. We will all shape the future of publishing and part of that future is being designed over the course of this week.
We talked a lot about eBooks. Maybe too much—like Erin Cox said in her Publishing Perspectives editorial we don’t want to lose focus on our real business: “creating content for the reader, not content for the technology.” We talked about rights deals that did and didn’t get done. We talked about the “monkey sex” book and the graphic novel Michael Jackson “wrote.” We talked about Zombies. (We did a lot of talking about Zombies.) But most of all, we talked.
I’ve heard lots of people mention how the Frankfurt Book Fair is like a family reunion. (Caveat: they’re talking about one of those pot-o-gold rare fun family reunions.) And it sort of is. It’s hard (for me) to not get a bit emotional about the end of the fair. These are my people; this is what I love. So forgive my over-the-top sentimentality, but I’m going to miss this, and will be waiting patiently for next year, when I can come back, reconnect, tell new stories, have more drinks, and find more books. See you next year—
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
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?),. . .