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.
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. . .