A relatively young press, Autumn Hill Books is one of those impressive indie presses that gets nowhere near the attention it deserves.
Autumn Hill Books is a nonprofit based in Iowa and is closely linked to the writing programs at the University of Iowa, especially the International Writing Program. (Which is no surprise, since AHB’s founder, Russell Valentino is an Associate Professor of Russian, Cinema and Comparative Literature, at the University of Iowa.)
The mission of the press is noble: “Autumn Hill Books is an Iowa non-profit corporation whose emphasis is on making fine translations of primarily contemporary literature from around the world more widely available in English.”
I just received three of their recent publications in the mail: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh by Slobodan Novak, translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth; The Death of the Little Match Girl by Zoran Feric, translated from the Croatian by Tomislav Kuzmanovic; and Anima Mundi by Susanna Tamaro, translated from the Italian by Cinzia Sartini Blum and Russell Scott Valentino. Each of these books looks really interesting and are representative of the unique, exciting fiction coming out from indie presses these days.
Feric’s The Death of the Little Match Girl is the one that I’d like to read first, due in part to Michael Orthofer’s review and this bit from the description:
It is a world unto itself loaded with creepy settings, biazarre exchanges, and dark, sardonic humor. The novel ends up being not so much a murder mystery as a bizarre, uncomfortable fusion of detective story, crime novel, political thriller, and raw, grotesque fiction. In short—Balkan krimic.
Overall, this is one of those presses that more people should know about, and their forthcoming title Laundry by Suzane Adam sounds intriguing.
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. . .