(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)
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. . .