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.
César Aira dishes up an imaginative parable on how identity shapes our sense of belonging with Dinner, his latest release in English. Aira’s narrator (who, appropriately, remains nameless) is a self-pitying, bitter man—in his late fifties, living again with. . .
Originally published in French in 2007, We’re Not Here to Disappear (On n’est pas là pour disparaître) won the Prix Wepler-Fondation La Poste and the Prix Pierre Simon Ethique et Réflexion. The work has been recently translated by Béatrice Mousli. . .
Even though the latest from Jean Echenoz is only a thin volume containing seven of what he calls “little literary objects,” it is packed with surprises. In these pieces, things happen below the surface, sometimes both literally and figuratively. As. . .
Who is this woman? This is the question that opens Xiao Bai’s French Concession, a novel of colonial-era Shanghai’s spies and revolutionaries, police and smugglers, who scoot between doorways, walk nonchalantly down avenues, smoke cigars in police bureaus, and lounge. . .
For the past 140 years, Anna Karenina has been loved by millions of readers all over the world. It’s easy to see why: the novel’s two main plots revolve around characters who are just trying to find happiness through love.. . .
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. . .