This week’s Read This Next title is Filip Florian’s The Days of the King, translated from the Romanian by Alistair Ian Blyth and coming out on August 16th from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Florian’s first translated title—Little Fingers—got a lot of great attention (Michael Orthofer gave it a solid B and here’s a review from fellow BTBA judge Annie Janush), and we’re excited to be able to preview his new novel.
Contemporary Romanian Writers has a nice page on Florian and his work, and includes this entertaining self-portrait:
These days, I swear I wouldn’t know what to say about myself. At forty, it has become clear to me that I’m never going to be a football player, I’m beginning to lose hope that I’ll ever have long hair, I wake up increasingly early in the morning, I eat unbelievably few cherries (which I once cherished), I smoke unbelievably many cigarettes (which I once despised), truth seems to me quite questionable and the weather forecasts leave me cold. Fortunately, though not as strongly as I used to, I still believe that one day I’m going to catch a twenty-kilo sheatfish.
You can also hear Florian’s presentation on the “War at the Novel” panel at PEN World Voices 2009 by clicking here.
Anyway, here’s the official HMH jacket copy for The Days of the King:
Joseph Strauss (a dentist and bachelor, client of the Eleven Titties brothel and of Der Große Bär beer cellar) leaves Prussia in the spring of 1866 and follows a captain of dragoons to Bucharest, where the officer is to ascend the throne as prince of the United Principalities of Romania. War is imminent in central Europe, but the company of a special tomcat, a guardian angel of sorts, helps him to overcome all dangers.
In Bucharest, Joseph will meet and fall in love with an attractive nanny, while the prince distances himself from the dentist, seeking to erase all stains from his past, particularly his involvement with a beautiful blind prostitute. But unbeknownst to him, she has given birth to a baby boy with a suspiciously aristocratic nose . . .
Nations are invented and dissolved overnight, kingdoms are for sale, Bucharest grows from a muddy pigsty into an elegant capital city, and love turns everything upside down in The Days of the King.
Check out the extended preview by clicking here. And later this week we’ll have an interview, full length review, etc.
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. . .
Last year, NYRB Classics introduced English-language readers to Catalan writer Josep Pla with Peter Bush’s translation of The Gray Notebook. In that book, Pla wrote about life in Spain during an influenza outbreak soon after World War I, when. . .
“Your bile is stagnant, you see sorrow in everything, you are drenched in melancholy,” my friend the doctor said.
bq. “Isn’t melancholy something from previous centuries? Isn’t some vaccine against it yet, hasn’t medicine taken care of it yet?” I. . .
What to make of Vano and Niko, the English translation of Erlom Akhvlediani’s work of the same name, as well as the two other short books that comprise a sort of trilogy? Quick searches will inform the curious reader that. . .
The opening of Jón Gnarr’s novel/memoir The Indian is a playful bit of extravagant ego, telling the traditional story of creation, where the “Let there be light!” moment is also the moment of his birth on January 2nd, 1967. Then. . .
Mahasweta Devi is not only one of the most prolific Bengali authors, but she’s also an important activist. In fact, for Devi, the two seem to go together. As you can probably tell from the titles, she writes about women. . .
The prolific Spanish author Benito Pérez Galdós wrote his short novel, Tristana, during the closing years of the nineteenth century, a time when very few options were available to women of limited financial means who did not want a husband.. . .
Pedro Zarraluki’s The History of Silence (trans. Nick Caistor and Lorenza García) begins with the narrator and his wife, Irene, setting out to write a book about silence, itself called The History of Silence: “This is the story of how. . .