14 September 16 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This is a new, hopefully weekly, feature highlighting a different book from our catalog in each post. Even though this book is pretty recent (official pub date just a few weeks ago August), I plan on going deep into our backlist in the near future.



Gesell Dome by Guillermo Saccomanno, translated from the Spanish by Andrea G. Labinger

Original Language: Spanish

Author’s Home Country: Argentina

Original Date of Publication: 2013

Awards Won: The 2013 Dashiell Hammett Award! (There are multiple Hammett awards. This is the one for works written in Spanish in comparision to the one for English. In 2013, Angel Baby by Richard Lange won the English version of the prize.) It’s worth noting that this is the second time Saccomanno won the Hammett Award. He also won in 2008 for a novel called 77.

Also, Andrea Labinger won a PEN Heim Award for her translation.

Other Interesting Biographical Details: Saccomanno lives in Villa Gesell, the resort town where the novel is set. Additionally, before becoming a literary writer, he wrote comic books. Some of these appear to be ongoing (at least according to what I’m gleaning from his Spanish Wikipedia entry) including Leopoldo.



Description of the Book: Like True Detective through the lenses of William Faulkner and John Dos Passos, Gesell Dome is a mosaic of misery, a page-turner that will keep you enthralled until its shocking conclusion.

This incisive, unflinching exposé of the inequities of contemporary life weaves its way through dozens of sordid storylines and characters, including an elementary school abuse scandal, a dark Nazi past, corrupt politicians, and shady real-estate moguls. An exquisitely crafted novel by Argentina’s foremost noir writer, Gesell Dome reveals the seedy underbelly of a popular resort town tensely awaiting the return of tourist season.

A Non-Jacket Copy Description: This is about Villa Gesell, a small resort town run by four corrupt assholes, and filled with violence, adultery, drug deals, and tons of other crimes that no one ever attempts to solve or rectify in any way whatsoever.

Praise from Famous People: We’re not the best at getting blurbs, but I did tell Ed Brubaker (who wrote an episode of HBO’s Westworld, which looks totally sick) about this book at BEA and he said something to the effect of “fuck yeah, I’d love to read that.” Which counts.

Praise from Booksellers: ““The first two pages of Gesell Dome, the first novel from Argentine author Guillermo Saccomanno to be translated into English, are enough to seduce any reader and a testament to the vitality of international fiction. Dark, daring and epic in scope, Gesell Dome is a damning verdict of contemporary life and human nature. The novel reveals the corrupt underbelly of a resort town when the tourists leave. Abounding with shady characters, all seemingly competing for worst resident on earth, Gesell Dome becomes a chorus of corruption and greed, of savagery and ruthlessness. It’s both vicious and unforgettable. Think Louis-Ferdinand Céline on vacation in South America.”—Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore

Audience: This book will appeal to anyone who likes neo-noir novels, books that are violent, or portraits of small, corrupt towns. That’s not to say it isn’t literary—the mosaic-like form that it employs allows Saccomanno to create fascinating juxtapositions, to paint a picture of a uncontrollably violent world, and to introduce hundreds of compelling characters.

Another “X Meets Y” Formulation: Like CSI meets Julio Cortázar. Or like “The Part about the Crimes” from 2666 as told in a tabloid.

Publicity: Well, the book just came out, so there haven’t been a ton of reviews yet. (But hopefully there will be in the near future.) That said, Saccomanno was profiled in Publishers Weekly as one of the fall Writers to Watch

Saccomanno, who has been living in Villa Gesell for most of the past 30 years, began work on the book in 2005. While writing he had the sense, he says, “that the town itself was dictating the story to me.” He adds, “Tolstoy supposedly said, ‘Describe your village and you will be universal.’ That idea was the driving force behind this novel. Violence, addiction, domestic violence, sexual abuse, blackmail, corruption, the lives that unfold in this atmosphere, all called out to me.”

PW also gave it a starred review, stating:

Never was there a cityscape as immersive, or a populace as rife with iniquity, as in Argentinian writer Saccomanno’s noirish Gesell Dome, his first novel to be translated into English. [. . .] Like Twin Peaks reimagined by Roberto Bolaño, Gesell Dome is a teeming microcosm in which voices combine into a rich, engrossing symphony of human depravity.

Sample Paragraphs:

If you’re a local and your parents come for the long weekend, you’ll have to put up with your wife’s constipated expression. And if your in-laws come, try to keep your plastic smile from becoming facial paralysis. Because, tell me, who can put up with their parents or in-laws in the house for three days straight. And let’s not even talk about your sister-in-law and her boyfriend. And you know there’s a kind of vibe between you and that little slut. So you’ve gotta proceed with extreme caution. Then there are the kids. If they’re not glued to the TV all day long, you’ve got them on top of you, bitching that they’re bored. Forget about a quickie with your wife. After lunch, when you’re logy and feel like taking a nap, along comes the witch, telling you to take the family out for a ride. And you’ve gotta get them all into the car and take them for a spin. Head toward the beach, they ask you. Till they wear you out, and even though you know you could get trapped in the sand, you let them have their way and look for a road down to the beach through the dunes. For a while you feel like it was worth it to indulge them, driving along the shore. That half-adventurous, half-romantic feeling. Until it’s time to turn around and go back, and you realize that the car is starting to get stuck. Everybody out. Get out and push. Hand me a shovel. There’s no shovel, asshole. There’s gotta be one. Take out the mat and put it under the wheels. Help me dig. And the tide coming in. The tide. Call the Auto Club. It’s got no charge, stupid. You forgot to charge the cell phone. I’m cold, Dad. Me too, Dad. Get into the car. I told you, idiot, I told you we’d get stuck on the beach. Now it’s raining buckets.

And the tide. The tide. The tide.

Longer Excerpts: The first long excerpt I posted from the this book—which I did in a fit of excitement when I finished proofing it—is online here.

As part of our catalog, you can also read section from the beginning “here.“http://www.openletterbooks.org/pages/gesell-dome-excerpt

The novel was also excerpted in both Jewish Fiction and Lit Hub.

Personal Pitch: When I first read Andrea’s sample—the one that got her the PEN Heim Award—I was most intrigued by the structure. It’s a bit ADD, jumping from thread to thread, character to character—which is something that appeals to me personally for a few different reasons. This sort of fragmented structure eliminates a lot of the slow build, scene setting crap that I don’t care for in most contemporary fiction. In Gesell Dome, each fragment thrusts you right into a new life or situation. For example, I randomly opened a copy of the book and got this opening line, “Mable, the teller at Banco Provincia, wife of Mario Pertuzzi of Electromar, wasn’t pregnant when she and Daniel became lovers.” That’s all you need about Mabel before launching into her story. No pages of setting, no attempt to create her character through objective signifiers and objects—just a simple statement and you’re off.

Recently, like yesterday, I decided that for the time being, I was only going to read books that I knew I wasn’t going to fully understand on the first go. Thinks like Sokolov’s Between Dog & Wolf, Can Xue’s Frontier (well, reread in that case), or maybe Alan Moore’s Jerusalem. I realized that the only joy I’ve been getting out of books recently (like with Fresan’s The Invented Part, Blas de Robles’s Island of Point Nemo, and Pola Oloixarac’s Savage Theories) is the fun of trying to figure shit out. I’ve written—and lectured—about this a billion times, about the way the brain processes declarative, concrete statements versus what happens when you’re forced to puzzle things out, but for a while, I feel like I lost my way as a reader and was seeking pleasure in the straightforward, in the books that were written to be simply pleasurable. Which is dumb, since the idea of reading the new Foer book doesn’t sound pleasurable at all. It sounds like consuming shit in order to generate new mini-rants. That’s not the way to live.

Gesell Dome isn’t “incomprehensible” like Finnegans Wake, but there is a strain on the reader to, first of all, remember who the fuck all these characters are and how they’re related, but then to also see the overall pattern. This is a book that doesn’t have a single plot, but a multitude, some of which cross, others that run parallel, all of which help create a verbal tapestry depicting a town awash in misery and desperation. And we all know that misery is much more interesting to read about than joy and happiness. Regardless, the reading experience of having to piece things together is so gratifying and fun.

Finally, this is a novel of voices, which is another reason I like to read—to hear distinct ways of saying things. I mean this on a truly ground floor, sentence by sentence, level. Obviously, hearing different viewpoints from all over the world is valuable and interesting and mind-expanding, but I really like hearing how individuals express themselves. Verbal patterns, particular word choices and tics, etc. And Gessel Dome has a lot of that. These characters relate their own private sadnesses in their own peculiar way, and as a reader, you can just let it wash over you—like the sounds of the sea that are a constant throughout the book, rising and falling, tide in, tide out—hearing from myriad viewpoints one after another, some funny, all a bit damaged, and every one unique. That polyvocality is what truly won me over in terms of this book.

Buy it: Obviously, you can get this from your local bookshop or online retailer, but you can also buy it directly from us directly by clicking here. Or you can always subscribe to Open Letter—the best way to receive some of the most varied and interesting voices of international literature, delivered right to your door each and every month.

Next week I’ll be back with a different Open Letter title—a deep cut from the backlist . . .

13 September 16 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This fall, two Open Letter authors will be on tour: Josefine Klougart (whose tour we announced a few weeks ago) will be going cross-country starting next week to promote One of Us Is Sleeping. And then, just as her tour is wrapping up, Bae Suah will be arriving in San Francisco (along with her translator, Man Booker Prize winning Deborah Smith) to visit a few different cities and talk about A Greater Music.



Both Suah and Deborah will be doing events at this year’s American Literary Translators Conference, but since those aren’t open to the public, I haven’t listed them below. For any and everyone else, you can see Suah and Deborah in action at these events:

Thursday, October 6th, 7:00 pm
Literary Death Match
Shadow Ultra Lounge (341 13th St., Oakland, CA 94612)

Friday, October 7th, 7:30 pm
Green Apple Books on the Park (506 Clement St., San Francisco, CA 94118)

Monday, October 10th, 7:30 pm
Powell’s Books on Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214)

Tuesday, October 11th, 7:00 pm
Elliott Bay Book Company (1521 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122)

Wednesday, October 12th, 7:00 pm
Volumes Bookcafe (1474 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, IL 60622)

Thursday, October 13th, 7:00 pm
Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX 77005)

Friday, October 14th, 7:00 pm
Crow Collection of Asian Art (2010 Flora St., Dallas, TX 75201)

Hopefully you can catch her at one or more of those events!

12 September 16 | N. J. Furl | Comments

In this week’s podcast, tom and Chad preview some forthcoming books they’re excited about. Having done no solid research, Chad’s contributions are questionable at best, especially when he talks about Panthers in the Hole in relation to the COUNTRY of Angola instead of the prison that goes by the same name.

Nevertheless, they have a number of books to whet your appetite, such as one from Arno Schmidt, and the new Krasznahorkai.

This week’s music is the new single by Dan Deacon, Change Your Life (You Can Do It).

Also, just a reminder, since we changed our podcast feed, you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe to the correct feed in iTunes at that link, or right here:
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As always, feel free to send any and all comments or questions to: threepercentpodcast@gmail.com.

And if you like the podcast, tell a friend and rate us or leave a review on iTunes!



9 September 16 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

A few years ago, Open Letter approached and joined up with a handful of foreign publishers to bring together what we’ve named the Open Letter After Dark series.

Sounds kind of sexy, doesn’t it?

This series—which is an ebook only series—was put together with the intent to do something a little more to connect foreign publishers with translators, particularly those just starting out, and to give an extra boost to the number of books being brought into publication. It was also put together as a platform to give students working with the press a chance to get more hands-on in the production side of things: to work with translators and authors, use software to put the ebooks together themselves, gather the necessary catalog information . . . And, of course, it creates a little loophole for that wee, pesky issue of how many books we’re able to publish a year.

As is the case with many other small, non-profit presses, Open Letter Books has limited resources, capping the number of titles they can published (in a fiscally responsible manner) in a given year. For us, we’re limited to 10 new books a year. Because of these limits, we and many other presses are making tough decisions on an almost daily basis, of which books to pass on, which books to mull over, and which books, ultimately, to publish. However, with ebooks removing many of the constraints tied to print-publishing, we can increase the number of books we are able to introduce to the world of literature in translation.

But this series has a greater purpose in mind than just saving a few pennies in production costs. The beauty of ebooks is that once the book has been translated, edited, and proofed, it’s good to go on sale almost immediately, and to the delight of readers everywhere. Another benefit is that, within the After Dark series model, the foreign publishers, agents, and authors, even, are able to use this fully-treated translation to shop the book around to other publishers. Once a print publisher is found for the respective book, its time as an After Dark ebook comes to a close—but its life as a print book has found its beginning.

To kick off our After Dark series (which has been in a slow, soft-open for the last year now, and two of the three inaugural titles have been available for purchase for a bit already), we have three brilliant titles from three University of Rochester MA in Literary Translation Studies graduates. These titles were not only the three respective translators’ thesis projects, but also three books that we absolutely wanted to have in this series, for all their quirks, humor, thought-invoking and paranoia-inducing qualities. These are books you will want to read and reread, and books that, we hope, will continue to change and challenge the way each reader digests and understands literature.

Inaugural Titles – Open Letter After Dark




The Land of Fear by Isaac Rosa, translated from the Spanish by Robert Rinck



Beat Space by Tommaso Pincio, translated from the Italian by Acacia O’Connor



Medical Autobiography by Damián Tabarovsky, translated from the Spanish by Emily Davis.

*

All of these books will be priced at $4.99—so affordable!—and available through all ebook platforms. All three are absolutely worthy of having the Open Letter colophon on their spine (or screen), so if you’re a fan of what we do, you should definitely check these out.

And be on the look out for a couple more Isaac Rosa titles in the near future. One of Spain’s hottest young authors, his works are meandering, high-minded, and, at times, really unnerving. (The robbery scene in Land of Fear still sticks with me, years after first reading it. What would you do if someone was in your room while you pretended to sleep?)

We’ll put up individual posts about each of these titles over the next few weeks, but for now, we wanted to at least introduce everyone to the core concept.

8 September 16 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Natalya Tausanovitch on Twenty-One Cardinals by Jocelyne Saucier, published by Coach House Books.

Natalya was a student of Chad’s last school year, and is in her final year of studies at the university. This summer, she did an internship with the press and helped out with the myriad things we make them do for us (the worst is probably getting out of the car to check whether or not the Jimmy Johns doors have opened yet), including getting in touch with people about our upcoming 2nd Annual Celebration of Open Letter & Rochester. Natalya is a trooper, and a big help. Here’s the beginning of her review:

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 Cardinal family, and left me wishing I could stay for more. With its elegiac prose and sensitively developed characters, the novel is an original, emotionally potent, and heartbreakingly real exploration of the forces that bind and break families.

In addition to Saucier’s nuanced portrayal of a unique family dynamic, the inventiveness of her various characters and settings kept me constantly intrigued. The Cardinals are a fierce and feral clan of twenty-one siblings who grew up together in Norco, a now desolate and poverty-stricken mining town in Quebec. Norco was built on the short-lived prosperity of a zinc mine discovered by their obsessive and elusive prospector father; in the original, instigating tragedy of the family, he would never see an ounce of the wealth that came from his discovery, an event that would spiral into the family’s demise. As a consequence of this underlying anger, the siblings grew up united in a war against anyone outside their exclusive, isolated family: for most of their childhoods, it was Cardinals against the rest of the world. They despised the outsiders that profited from the mine and ridiculed any sign of weakness within their own ranks.


For the rest of the review, go here.

1 September 16 | Chad W. Post | Comments

Running a little bit late with the BTBA announcments for this year, but over the next week, expect to see the official page updated and an updated to the translation database. In the meantime, this post will give publishers, translators, and interested readers all the necessary information about who’s on the committee this year, and how to submit titles.

In terms of dates, this is subject to change, but currently we’re planning on announcing the longlists for fiction and poetry on Tuesday, March 28th, the finalists on Tuesday, April 18th, and the winners on Tuesday, May 9th.


Description

The Best Translated Book Award was founded in 2007 (making this its tenth iteration) to draw attention to the best works of translated literature that came out the following year. The award’s emphasis is on the quality of the book and translation, with the argument that you can’t have a great work of literature without both of these aspects working at a very high level.

Starting with the 2009 award (all years given are for the year in which the winners are announced; the books are from the year previous), works of fiction and poetry were awarded separately. And beginning with the 2011 award, each winning author and translator received a $5,000 cash prize thanks to the Amazon Literary Partnership program. Thanks to this program, we have given out $100,000 in prizes to international authors and their translators.


Eligibility

Any work of translation published in English for the first time ever between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2016 is eligible for the award. A book that existed in English in a previous translation is not eligible, unless more than half of its content is new. (For example, a new collection of poems of which one-third appeared in an early translation would be eligible, but a novel with an extra ten pages added that were previously censored would not.) Books published in the UK are eligible if they are distributed in the U.S. through normal means. Self-published ebooks in translation are eligible if they have an ISBN are available for purchase through more than one outlet.


Submission Process

To ensure that their books are given full consideration, publishers should send a copy to each of the judges in the appropriate category. Please write “BTBA 2017” on the front of the package. There are nine fiction judges and five poetry, but Open Letter’s offices are included as well for record-keeping purposes. There is no submission fee. Although e-versions are acceptable, they are not encouraged. Every book that’s submitted will be reviewed in full by at least one judge. Unlike past years, all of the 2017 judges are based in the U.S. to save publishers on shipping costs.

Click here for mailing labels for the fiction judges (and here for one with email addresses included).

Click here for mailing labels for the poetry judges (and here for one with email addresses included).


Poetry Judges

This year’s poetry committee:


Jarrod Annis is a writer and bookseller living in Brooklyn, NY. He works as manager and small press buyer at Greenlight Bookstore, and previously served as an associate editor at Ugly Duckling Presse. His work has appeared in Coldfront, Greetings, and Poems By Sunday.

Katrine Øgaard Jensen is an editor at the Council for European Studies at Columbia University and a translator from the Danish. She previously served as blog editor at Asymptote and Words Without Borders, and as editor in chief of the Columbia Journal.

Tess Lewis is a writer and translator from French and German and serves as an Advisory Editor for the Hudson Review. Her translations have won a number of awards including the 2015 ACFNY Translation Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Becka Mara McKay directs the Creative Writing MFA at Florida Atlantic University. Publications include poetry: A Meteorologist in the Promised Land (Shearsman, 2010) and Happiness Is the New Bedtime (Slash Pine Press, 2016) and three translations of Israeli fiction: Laundry (Autumn Hill, 2008), Blue Has No South (Clockroot, 2010), and Lunar Savings Time (Clockroot, 2011).

Emma Ramadan is a translator of fiction and poetry from the French, including Anne Garréta’s Sphinx (Deep Vellum) and Anne Parian’s Monospace (La Presse). She lives in Providence, RI where she is the co-owner of Riffraff, a bookstore and bar. She also recently received an NEA Translation Fellowship.


Fiction Judges

This year’s fiction committee:

Trevor Berrett is the creator and editor of The Mookse and the Gripes, where he and others review world literature and film. He can be found on Twitter @mookse.

Monica Carter is a freelance critic whose nonfiction has appeared in publications including Black Clock, World Literature Today, and Foreword Reviews. She curates Salonica World Lit, which is a virtual journal dedicated to international literature and culture.

Rachel S. Cordasco has a Ph.D. in Literary Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has taught courses in American and British literature, and Composition. She recently launched a site devoted to speculative fiction in translation.

Jennifer Croft is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN and National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation. She has been a MacDowell Colony Fellow and holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is a Founding Editor of the Buenos Aires Review.

Lori Feathers is an Assistant Managing Editor at Asymptote, a freelance book critic and member of the National Book Critics Circle. Her recent reviews can be found at The Rumpus, Words Without Borders, World Literature Today, Full Stop, Three Percent, Rain Taxi and on Twitter @LoriFeathers.

Jeremy Garber is the events coordinator for Powell’s Books and also a freelance reviewer.

Mark Haber is the manager of Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas. He is also a freelance book critic whose recent reviews can be found at Music & Literature and The Rumpus. His book of short stories, Deathbed Conversions, is currently getting translated into Spanish by Argonáutica books in Mexico.

George Henson is a translator of contemporary Latin American and Spanish prose, a contributing editor for World Literature Today and Asymptote, and a lecturer at the University of Oklahoma.

Steph Opitz is the books reviewer for Marie Claire magazine. She also works with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), Kirkus Reviews, the Brooklyn Book Festival, and the Twin Cities Book Festival.


There you go! Starting next week, the blog will pick up again with more reviews, previews of forthcoming books, BTBA posts, and general articles—including one about where I’ve been all summer—to go along with the podcasts and information about Open Letter author tours. Summer’s over, apparently.

24 August 16 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a piece by Jeremy Garber on Josefine Klougart’s One of Us Is Sleeping, out from Open Letter last month.

What can be said about a book like this? It’s one of those books that can make you feel like you’re reading it for the first time in the middle of winter, so you could justify the feeling of wanting to burrow into piles of blankets with your emotions and just think about things for a while, uninterrupted, and experience this feeling Klougart creates of demanding and forcing some distance between her narrator and the reader, yet simultaneously urging, yearning for, a closeness and unity. The phrase “all the feels” is something this novel makes tangible on a very deep level.

Jeremy’s brief review brings back all those feels, and it’s thrilling to see that others were affected in similar ways, or that others picked up on the same or similar things. Gah. This book, you guys, this book.

Here’s a peek at Jeremy’s take on it:

The first of Josefine Klougart’s award-winning novels to be translated into english, One of Us Is Sleeping (Én af os sover) is a dolorous, yet beautifully composed work of failed love, loss, and lament. The star of Klougart’s book is her gorgeous, evocative imagery and emotional acuity. With grief aplenty—mourning the fated end of a romantic relationship, as well as her ill mother—the Danish author’s sorrowful narrator is ever-conflicted, trying as she does to move beyond what’s been, despite being eternally bound to it.


For the full review, go here.

23 August 16 | Hailey Dezort | Comments

Summer is on its way out and August is coming to an end, which means, for me, back to school (aka papers and not always reading for fun). With some time left, however, I plan on finishing off and enjoying a few books from my ever growing ‘To Read’ stack. A book that should be on everyone’s end of summer reading list is One of Us is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart. For one, August is Women in Translation month, so what better way to celebrate? Also, Lit Hub cited Klougart as one of the 13 translated women you should be reading. Publisher’s Weekly has even called One of Us Is Sleeping “a beguiling conjuring of consciousness.” With all this buzz and excitement, to celebrate Klougart’s English-language debut, we are sending her on a fall tour. Check out the dates below!



Monday, September 19th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Maria Marqvard Jensen
Scandinavia House (58 Park Ave, New York, NY)

Wednesday, September 21st, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart and Sarah Gerard
Community Bookstore (143 7th Ave, Brooklyn, NY)

Friday, September 23rd, 6:00 pm
Read Local Event with Josefine Klougart
Nox Cocktail Lounge (302 N. Goodman, Rochester, NY)

Saturday, September 24th, 3:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Susan Harris
57th Street Books (1301 E 57th St, Chicago, IL)

Monday, September 26th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Brazos Bookstore (2421 Bissonnet Street, Houston, TX)

Tuesday, September 27th, 7:00 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Deep Vellum (3000 Commerce St, Dallas, TX)

Thursday, September 29, 7:30 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Powell’s Books (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR)

Monday, October 3, 4:30-6:30 pm
Talk and Reading with the Department of Scandinavian
201 Moses Hall University of California (Berkeley, CA)

Tuesday, October 4, 7:30 pm
Reading and Conversation with Josefine Klougart
Green Apple Books on the Park (506 Clement St., San Francisco, CA)

22 July 16 | Kaija Straumanis | Comments

The latest addition to our Reviews section is a by Emma Ramadan on Virginie Despentes’s Bye Bye Blondie, published by The Feminist Press.

In addition to being a translator from the French (you may recognize her name from Anne F. Garréta’s Sphinx), Emma is one of two co-founders (along with Tom Roberge) of the brand-new and forthcoming Riffraff bookstore and bar, which will be located in Providence, RI.

Here’s the beginning of Emma’s review:

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 of a trashy popular novel. The writing is straightforward, not overly literary, and yet by the end you realize all of Despentes’s complex feminist points have not only been made, but have found their way into your mind, have changed something about the way you think. This is her genius.

Despentes doesn’t merely explore what it’s like to be a woman in the world. Some of her books are about what it’s like to be anyone in a world that keeps people unequal, whether they be men or women, rich or poor. They’re about how everyone is affected, and affected negatively, by our society’s status quo. Bye Bye Blondie is one of these books.

Published by the Feminist Press earlier this month and translated from the French by Siân Reynolds, Bye Bye Blondie is a story about Gloria and Gloria’s rage. At first we are made to think Gloria’s outbursts are immature, the enactment of “the crazy girlfriend,” costing her relationships with lovers, friends, and family. We learn Gloria was previously placed in a psychiatric hospital by her parents because of these outbursts. And yet as the book goes on, we realize Gloria’s rage is incredibly right and true. It’s the only sane course of action for anyone who sees the world for what it is.


For the rest of the review, go here.

15 July 16 | Chad W. Post | Comments

After an extended hiatus, Chad and Tom are back to discuss a slew of things that happened over the past couple months. These include Book Marks, what’s going to happen to B&N, and Tim Parks’s article on The Vegetarian. They also talk about some books they’ve read recently—including Zero K, which neither of them liked—before ending with a major announcement from Tom.

It’s worth mentioned that Alex Shephard wrote a couple of the articles discussed on this podcast, including one on Book Marks and one on B&N.

Also worth noting that there’s a glaring lack of sports talk in this podcast. A

Here are the books discussed this week:

I Love Dick by Chris Krause

The Motel Life by Willy Vlautin

Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías

The Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera

The Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblés

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ All-Time Greatest Hits by Mark Binelli

Zero K by Don DeLillo

Also, just a reminder, since we changed our podcast feed, you may need to unsubscribe and resubscribe to the correct feed in iTunes at that link, or right here:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/three-percent-podcast/id434696686

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And, as always, feel free to send any and all comments or questions to: threepercentpodcast@gmail.com. Also, if you like the podcast, tell a friend and rate us or leave a review on iTunes.



Radio: Wireless Poem in Thirteen Messages
Radio: Wireless Poem in Thirteen Messages by Kyn Taniya
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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. . .

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The Subsidiary
The Subsidiary by Matías Celedón
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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. . .

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Thus Bad Begins
Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías
Reviewed by Kristel Thornell

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. . .

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Death by Water
Death by Water by Kenzaburo Oe
Reviewed by Will Eells

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. . .

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Twenty-One Cardinals
Twenty-One Cardinals by Jocelyne Saucier
Reviewed by Natalya Tausanovitch

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. . .

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One of Us Is Sleeping
One of Us Is Sleeping by Josefine Klougart
Reviewed by Jeremy Garber

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. . .

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Bye Bye Blondie
Bye Bye Blondie by Virginie Despentes
Reviewed by Emma Ramadan

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. . .

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La Superba
La Superba by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer
Reviewed by Anna Alden

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. . .

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Intervenir/Intervene
Intervenir/Intervene by Dolores Dorantes; Rodrigo Flores Sánchez
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

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!. . .

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All Days Are Night
All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

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. . .

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