Haven’t received the hard copy yet, but the online version of Melville House’s Summer Catalog is up, and, to be quite direct, kicks some international literary ass.
First off, there’s the new Banana Yoshimoto book The Lake, which is translated by Michael Emmerich. Here’s the line from the copy that sold me: “With its echoes of the infamous, real-life Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group that released poison gas in the Tokyo subway system), The Lake unfolds as the most powerful novel Banana Yoshimoto has written.
This catalog also marks the launch of the Neversink Library (which Michael Orthofer wrote about a couple weeks ago), which “champions books from around the world that have been overlooked, underappreciated, looked askance at, or foolishing ignored.” Word.
The first four titles in this series are:
The Train by Georges Simenon, translated from the French by Robert Baldick. You may know Simenon from the 40-or-so titles of his NYRB has published. Very interesting guy who wrote more than 200 novels . . . .
The Eternal Philistine by Odon Von Horvath, translated from the German by John G. Wagner. Not familiar with von Horvath, but a novel “about a young man who is a failed used car salesman,” and which is “highly stylized, and at times raucously funny” sounds intriguing.
After Midnight by Irmgard Keun, translated from the German by Anthea Bell. “A naive young girl finds her happy-go-lucky life impinged upon when the Fuhrer comes to town to make a speech.” OK.
The Late Lord Byron by Doris Langley Moore. Which is a biography of Byron. (I’ll pass on this one.)
There’s also the ever-expanding Melville International Crime series, which includes two of Andrey Kurkov’s “penguin” books: Penguin Lost and Death and the Penguin. I may be the only person in the world who isn’t charmed by these books (which I read a while back when Harvill brought them out). Probably one of my many faults . . .
Overall, this is pretty exciting and provides a few more titles to add to my growing list of titles I’d like to read (and that we’d like to review).
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
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. . .