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).
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. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .