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—
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. . .