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 . . .
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. . .