There are a number of reasons I’m disappointed to be missing BEA this year . . . I’d love to see how this mid-week idea works out (or fails), I’d love to see who actually shows up (or doesn’t), love to see all my friends (hello!), and would love to be able to attend all the various events we’re co-hosting to celebrate the launch of Alejandro Zambra’s The Private Lives of Trees.
And yes, the book is now available. The official pub date is in July, but we got it printed way early so that we could have copies available for his visit. Bonsai — which Melville House published a couple years back, and which was a finalist for the 2009 Best Translated Book Award — is one of my favorite books from recent years, and Private Lives, which is a bit different, maybe not quite as tight, is pretty amazing as well. There’s something about the directness of his writing that I absolutely love. It’s beyond honest in a way that I find really compelling.
Just check out the opening paragraphs from the two books:
In the end she dies and he remains alone, although in truth he was along some years before her death, Emilia’s death. Let’s say that she is called or was called Emilia and that he is called, was called, and continues to be called Julio. Julio and Emilia. In the end Emilia dies and Julio does not die. The rest is literature: (Bonsai)
Julian lulls the little girl to sleep with “The Private Lives of Trees,” an ongoing story he’s made up to tell her at bedtime. The protagonists are a poplar tree and a baobab tree, who, at night, when no one can see them, talk about photosynthesis, squirrels, or the many advantages of being trees and not people or animals or, as they put it themselves, stupid hunks of cement. (The Private Lives of Trees)
One of the best places for more info on Zambra, his reception in Chile, etc., is this article by Marcela Valdes that appeared in The Nation last June. (One interesting tidbit I found out in Torino last week is that Zambra has finished his third novel . . . Don’t know much about it, except that it’s supposedly more substantial than these two.)
And bringing this all full-circle, if you’re going to be in New York for BEA next week, you should check out one (or more) of these events:
Monday, May 24th @ 7:30pm
Greenlight Bookstore (686 Fulton Street)
Celebration of Melville House’s Art of the Novella Series=
Zambra will read with Lore Segal, Margarita Shalina (yay!), and Ian Dreiblatt
Tuesday, May 25th @ 7:00pm
192 Books (192 10th Ave.)
Reading and conversation with Zambra and his translator, Megan McDowell
Wednesday, May 26th @ 1:30pm
BEA Author Stage
This panel on New Spanish Translations will be moderated by Adriana Lopez and will also feature Elvira Lindo and Juan Gómez Jurado
Thursday, May 27th @ 7:00pm
Melville House Books (145 Plymouth St, at Pearl St)
Book Launch Party
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. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .