With only one book left to cover, we’re reaching the end of the “25 Days of the BTBA” series, which means that the announcement of the finalists is right around the corner. Literally.
Next Tuesday, April 10th, fiction panelists Jeff Waxman will be here in Rochester for a special Reading the World Conversation Series event, during which he’ll reveal the BTBA finalists in poetry and fiction.
Before he unveils the shortlists (which will also be posted here as soon as he reads them off), we’ll talk about the evolution of the award, the role of the BTBA in general book culture landscape, how the panel came to make its decisions, and so on. Seeing that Jeff works at the University of Chicago Press and 57th St. Books, he has a unique perspective on literary awards and promoting international literature.
Following our talk and the unveiling of the finalists, we’ll read a few pages from a few of my favorite titles on the list. (We don’t have enough time to read from all of them—anyone want to camp out in the Welles-Brown room?—but we want to at least highlight a few of the books in a special way.)
(NOTE: Cover images on this were chosen randomly by Nate for design purposes only. Read nothing into this. And having the list in front of me, I can only reiterate—read nothing into this poster.)
Also, this means that over the three weeks building up to the celebration of the two winners—which will take place on Friday, May 4th at 6pm at McNally Jackson Books during the PEN World Voices Festival—we will be highlighting all of the poetry finalists and running short excerpts from the ten fiction finalists. Which means you have almost one more month of BTBA stuff to look forward to . . .
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
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. . .