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.
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. . .