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
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?),. . .
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. . .