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).
“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .
With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .
In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .
You are not ashamed of what you do, but of what they see you do. Without realizing it, life can be an accumulation of secrets that permeates every last minute of our routine . . .
The narrative history of. . .
Literature in translation often comes with a certain pedigree. In this little corner of the world, with so few books making it into this comforting nook, it is often those of the highest quality that cross through, and attention is. . .
Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means. . .
I must admit upfront that I went into reading Saadat Hasan Manto’s Bombay Stories almost entirely blind. I have not read Salman Rushdie. I have read, perhaps, two short stories by Jhumpa Lahiri. I might shamefully add that I really. . .
Throughout his work The Gray Notebook, Josep Pla mentions many different authors, some of whom have inspired him to pick up a pen. One of them is Marcel Proust. Even though Pla normally prefers nonfiction, he lauds the French novelist. . .
On that September 11th I had a conversation with a professor friend who was teaching a creative writing class that evening. He questioned, “What can I possibly teach when all of this has happened?” While the dismay and grief were. . .
In a story of two emotionally distant people, Japanese author Takashi Hiraide expertly evokes powerful feelings of love, loss, and friendship in his novel The Guest Cat. The life of the unnamed narrator and his wife, both writers, is calm. . .