I met Peter Zilahy at the Canongate party referenced in this article . . . He may well have thought I was some sort of stalker—his flowing locks are pretty remarkable though, and make it easy to pick him out of a crowd.
I first encountered his work in the (now defunct?) pages of Orient Express, which was edited and published by Fiona Sampson. His writing is quite inventive and remarkable, and it’s exciting to know that Last Window Giraffe will be out in February.
Anyway, he covered the bookfair for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and if you can read German, I’m sure you’ll find this interesting. Reading between the lines of the almost completely incompetent Google Translation, it seems that his main focus is on the business side of things . . . which is only fitting, since Frankfurt is the nerve center of creating book buzz and big advances.
At the book fair is not about what is the best book, but what sells best. The European culture has long decided that it is not just a book, this would contradict the spirit of Frankfurt. (Google Translation, which is why the last sentence is a bit wonky.)
As a university-supported, nonprofit press, our perspective is a bit different, as we hunt down the best books that are out there, paying less attention to the sales potential than to the quality of the book itself. And being open to books from around the globe, we were able to find literally hundreds of outstanding sounding titles to look into.
One of the most interesting comments in this vein came from Petra Hardt of Suhrkamp. We were talking about two authors—Ralf Rothmann and Andreas Maier. She said that if we wanted to sell more than 1,000 copies, we should go with Rothmann; less than 1,000, Maier. Probably not the best business sense, but this made Maier sound more attractive . . .
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. . .