OK, I know we’ve been a bit slow in posting in the “Why This Book Should Win the BTBA” series. (So far we’ve only covered 5 of the 25 longlisted fiction titles.) Not sure that anyone’s really waiting on this, but I thought I’d provide a bit of an explanation and explain what we’re up to.
As I mentioned at the start of each of these five posts, our goal with this series is to provide passionate, fun pieces from people who love the particular title in question. Rather than strive for some sort of “objective overview” of the longlist titles, I’d much rather run manic, overly exuberant write-ups that might inspire people to actually go out and read these books.
Going even further, it seems like fun (and good for readers eveywhere) if we emphasize the competition aspect of this prize. I want to see publishers and translators and whomever lobbying for the book that they think is the best. Reading international literature should be fun, as should arguing about which title deserves to win.
To that end, I’ve asked a bunch of people to write on these books. (My over-exuberance has its limit, and I know there’s only so many times people want to read a post in which I declare a book is “awesome” over and over again.) In fact, in some cases there are multiple people writing about the same title. Which I think is fine, and totally cool, since I’d love this to be as interactive and collaborative as possible, with as many voices as possible chiming in for the book they love.
We still have 28 business days before we announce the finalists in both fiction and poetry—plenty of time to cover the remaining 20 titles. That said, we still have a few titles we need people to write about . . . In particular, Cyclops by Ranko Marinkovic, Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk, Georg Letham by Ernst Weiss, and The Blindness of the Heart by Julia Franck.
So if you’ve already read one of these books and loved it send me a note. Especially excited to get booksellers to write in about titles they got enthused about this year.
There we are. And we’ll be back Monday with a number of BTBA posts, including ones on Albert Cossery, Adania Shibli, Jacques Chessex, Amelie Nothomb, and Abdelfattah Kilito.
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. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .