By the final day of Frankfurt, it’s clear that most people are receiving bonus points just for making it to their meeting. I even heard about someone from Dalkey and from the Flemish Literary Fund both falling asleep for a second while talking . . .
The public being there was as disturbing as I imagined it would be, with browsers wandering through meetings, way, way too many people in line to get their bags searched, and kids of all ages treating the FBF like Comic Con and dressing up like their favorite characters.
My favorite meeting was with a Japanese agent who described the “messy” publishing scene in her country. Authors publish multiple books at almost the same time with multiple publishers, foreign rights departments are basically nonexistent, back in the day no one even had contracts, and aside from the JLPP and a Japan Foundation newsletter there’s no real info about Japanese literature making its way to the U.S. Having been on an editorial trip to Tokyo, I had a good sense of the general chaos, but when you speak about it aloud, it sounds that much more crazy . . .
Speaking of the JLPP, they produced one of the best set of materials we saw at the fair. Lithuania, Estonia, and the Catalans were right there as well. Once we get back to the States, I’ll post a lot more solid info about books, authors, foreign publishers. . . Right now, after 70 meetings and the secret Canongate party and after-party where I hung out with all the beautiful people, it’s a big enough challenge to just remember what we did yesterday . . . But seriously, check out John Freeman’s coverage. He blogged the shit out of this fair.
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. . .