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 . . .
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. . .
The Crimson Thread of Abandon is the first collection of short fiction available in English by the prolific Japanese writer and all-around avant-garde trickster Terayama Shūji, who died in 1983 at the age of 47. This collection would be important. . .