We’re having some
catastrophic minor computer issues preventing us from being able to upload the new Three Percent podcast, but as soon as the website computer stops restarting every three seconds and every three seconds and every three seconds, you’ll be able to hear an hour of Tom and I chatting up the 2013 books that we’re most looking forward to. (We covered approx. 18 books in this podcast and only talked about women’s soccer for a bit . . . It’s definitely one of our best shows.)
This is a really solid list, and includes some books that didn’t appear on the preview at The Millions, or Scott Esposito’s “Interesting New Books” list. Here are a handfrul from the WNOR list that I’m curious about:
Georges Perec (trans. Daniel Levin Becker), La Boutique Obscure (Melville House). Will answer the burning question: did Perec’s dreams operate under constraints?
Arnon Grunberg (trans. Sam Garrett), Tirza (Open Letter). The latest novel by Grunberg, who has also published fiction under the pseudonym Marek van der Jagt, to be translated into English is perhaps his darkest yet.
Jacob Slauerhoff (trans. Paul Vincent), The Forbidden Kingdom (Pushkin). The early 20th century Dutch classic, included on the list of “1001 Novels You Must Read Before You Die,” finally available in English.
Severo Sarduy (trans. Mark Fried), Firefly (Archipelago). A richly lyrical coming of age tale of a boy with a head too big and a sense of direction too poor to do anything but get him into trouble in pre-Castro Cuba.
Nathalie Sarraute (trans. Barbara Wright), Childhood (Univ. of Chicago). A reprint of Sarraute’s memoir, with a new forward by Alice Kaplan.
Jean-Marie Blas de Robles (trans. Mike Mitchell), Where Tigers Are At Home (Other Press). A massive tale of intrigue spanning centuries, with 17th century scholar and man of dubious science Athanasius Kircher at its heart. Winner of the Prix Medicis.
Carlos Rojas (trans. Edith Grossman), The Ingenious Gentleman and Poet Federico Garcia Lorca Ascends to Hell (Yale). A fantastical tale about the death and afterlife of poet Garcia Lorca, translated by Edith Grossman.
Luis Chitarroni (trans. Rhett McNeil), The No Variations (Dalkey Archive). A classic of Latin American metafiction compared to the work of David Markson and Cesar Aira.
Elfriede Jelinek (trans. Damion Searls), Her Not All Her (Sylph Editions). Jelinek takes on Robert Walser in this play about the writer’s life and work.
Stig Dagerman (trans. Steven Hartman), To Kill a Child (Godine). A collection of stories by one of the most famous forgotten Swedish writers.
Jorge Luis Borges (trans. Katherine Silver), Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature (New Directions). A previously untranslated collection of Borges’ lectures on English literature.
Imre Kertesz (trans. Tim Wilkinson), Dossier K (Melville House). A self-interview that blends memoir and fiction written by the oddly neglected Nobel laureate.
Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Campo (trans. Levine & Campbell), Where There’s Love, There’s Hate (Melville House). Husband and wife team and collaborators with Borges brought back into print.
Ror Wolf (trans. Jennifer Marquart), Two or Three Years Later: Forty-Nine Digressions (Open Letter). An “anti-book” of short stories by a writer who mines a similar vein as two Roberts: Walser and Pinget.
Curzio Malaparte, Coup D’Etat (Enigma Books). Subtitled “The Technique of Revolution,” this is a translation of the book that earned Malaparte a jail sentence in Mussolini’s Italy. Malaparte’s novel The Skin will be reprinted by NYRB Classics this spring.
Marguerite Duras (trans. Ali & Murphy), L’Amour (Open Letter). A previously untranslated novel by Marguerite Duras.
Almantas Samalavicius, The Dedalus Book of Lithuanian Literature (Dedalus). A century-spanning collection of Lithuanian literature, reflecting the culture’s changing political and artistic position.
So many good books . . .
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. . .