(Today is a day in which I list things . . . ) Hopefully most of you are aware of Reading the World, a unique collaborations between publishers and independent booksellers to promote literature in translations throughout the month of June.
This program came out of a series of discussions at BookExpo America five (?!) years ago, and has grown every year since thanks to its simplicity and elegance. Throughout the month of June, approx. 250 bookstores across the country display RTW titles complete with posters and brochures featuring the artwork of Czech artist Peter Sis. In the past, various bloggers, reviewers, radio hosts, and the like wrote and talked about many of these books, and the program in general, helping to create a certain buzz around RTW, which helped get these titles into the hands of readers.
I’ll be posting periodic updates over the next few months, especially once the artwork for 2008 is finalized, the new website is online, the Bookforum/RTW BEA party details are set, etc., but since we just finalized this list, I wanted to share it with everyone. This year the RTW list consists of 25 titles—20 from the 10 “core” publishers who have been part of the program from the start and 5 selected by a panel of independent booksellers.
So here they are in alpha order of publisher:
Yalo, Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Lebanon)
A Mind at Peace, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, translated from the Turkish by Erdag Goknar (Turkey)
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai, Wang Anyi, translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan (China)
COPPER CANYON PRESS
So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971-2005, Taha Muhammad Ali, translated from the Arabic by Gabriel Levin and Peter Cole (Lebanon)
DALKEY ARCHIVE PRESS
I’d Like, Amanda Michalopoulou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (Greece)
Knowledge of Hell, Antonio Lobo Antunes, translated from the Portuguese by Clifford Landers (Portugal)
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (Spain)
Celestial Harmonies, Peter Esterhazy, translated from the Hungarian by Judith Sollosv (Hungary)
The Days of Abandonment, Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy)
FARRAR, STRAUS, AND GIROUX
The Girl on the Fridge, Etgar Keret, translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston (Israel)
Beijing Coma, Ma Jian, translated from the Chinese by Flora Drew (China)
New European Poets, edited by Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer, translated from various by various (Europe)
Serve the People!, Yan Yan, translated from the Chinese by Julia Lovell (China)
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Peeling the Onion, Gunter Grass, translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim (Germany)
Woods and Chalices, Tomas Salamun, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry (Slovenia)
Mind’s Eye, Hakan Nesser, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Fire in the Blood, Irene Nemirovsky, translated from the French by Sandra Smith (France)
Nazi Literature in the Americas, Roberto Bolano, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (Chile)
The Assistant, Robert Walser, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (Switzerland)
NEW YORK REVIEW BOOKS
The Unforgiving Years, Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (France)
The Post-Office Girl, Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (Austria)
The King of Corsica, Michael Kleeberg, translated from the German by David Dollenmayer (Germany)
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak, Jean Hatzfeld, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (France)
Out Stealing Horses, Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born (Norway)
The Diving Pool, Yoko Ogowa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Japan)
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. . .