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).
Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song, her fifth novel, is built much like the house about which its story orbits: Mailund, a stately white mansion set in the Norwegian countryside a few hours drive from Oslo. The house, nestled into the. . .
Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .
In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .
There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .
Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .
In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .
Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .
Founded in 1960 by such creative pioneers as George Perec, Raymond Queneau and Italo Calvino, the Oulipo, shorthand for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, came about in when a group of writers and mathematicians sought constraints to find new structures and. . .
There’s little to say about a series of prose poems that willfully refuse to identify pronoun antecedents. Or perhaps there are a million things. The poems in Morse, My Deaf Friend— the chapbook by Miloš Djurdjević published by Ugly Duckling. . .