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
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .