4 January 11 | Chad W. Post

So, in addition to the interesting books I found in going through Dalkey’s catalog, I also came across a couple of odd listings that I thought I’d share in hopes that someone out there can explain this to me . . .

One of the reasons I go through all catalogs is to add all the new titles to our Translation Database. (Which is a pain in the ass, but does give me the opportunity to keep up with what books are coming out from all the other publishers out there.) Anyway, when I hit Herve Le Tellier’s The Sextine Chapel, my database alerted me to the fact that this was a “duplicate entry.” This isn’t all that unusual. Publishers occasionally have to delay titles, and sometimes end up relisting them in the next catalog. So no big deal.

BUT, in double-checking the info on The Sextine Chapel, the price has jumped from $12.95 (which is what it was listed at when it had a April 2010 pub date) to $34.95. (!!) Almost a 300% increase . . .

Adding to the weirdness is a listing on the same page for Herve Le Tellier’s A Thousand Pearls (for a Thousand Pennies), which is also due out in July 2011 and is retailing for $39.95.

It’s not like either of these are long books or special editions. According to all the available info, these are plain old paperbacks, that are 104 pages and 200 pages respectively. So, what’s going on here?

Speculation Point #1: This is the same price point Dalkey uses for its “Scholarly Series,” for which academics pay a $XX subvention (around $5,000) to have the books published by Dalkey. (See here for all the info.) These titles are done in very short runs (100 copies or so) and sold almost exclusively to university libraries.

So, are these translations part of the Scholarly Series? Is translator Ian Monk subsidizing these? That seems awfully weird, since they are “delightful and daring entertainments” that seem as geared towards the general public as anything else in Dalkey’s catalog.

And to add to the mystery, yesterday I also came across the Publishers Weekly review of Herve Le Tellier’s Enough about Love, which is translated from the French by Adriana Hunter and coming out from Other Press next month. This book lists for a reasonable $14.95 (it’s 240 pages), and sounds pretty entertaining. (From the Other Press copy: “Love at first sight is still possible for those into their forties and long-married. But when you have already mapped out a life path, a passionate affair can come at a high price. For our four characters, their lives are unexpectedly turned upside down by the deliciously inconvenient arrival of love. “)

Speculation Point #2: At $34.95 and $39.95, the two Le Tellier books from Dalkey will not be available in any bookstore in America. (Except maybe one or two truly Dalkey-devoted ones, but, well, you know what I mean.) Readers interested in Le Tellier will most likely just buy Enough about Love, which is great for Other Press, less so for the two Dalkey titles.

Speculation Point #3: The ebook versions of the Dalkey titles are listed for $14.95. Is Dalkey trying to promote a primarily ebook future for translations? Seems weird, since Dalkey isn’t the most wired of publishers.

Does anyone know what’s going on here? I’m mainly interested in this from a publishing decision perspective, since it seems to run counter to all that Dalkey has, and does, stand for of providing access to international works of literature.

But I’m also interested because it seems like there’s some sort of intriguing story to be told. This switch from a $12.95 to (the unsellable) $34.95 feels like some sort of punishment or retaliation or something. But where is this punishment directed? At Ian Monk? Le Tellier? The agent/French publisher? And what will this accomplish?

I’m totally confused and intrigued, and plan on speculating wildly (in my own head) if I don’t get the full story . . . If anyone has any leads, please e-mail (chad.post [at] rochester [dot] edu) or post them in the comments section below.

Comments are disabled for this article.
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
Reviewed by Kaija Straumanis

Hello and greetings in the 2017 holiday season!

For those of you still looking for something to gift a friend or family member this winter season, or if you’re on the lookout for something to gift in the. . .

Read More >

The Size of the World
The Size of the World by Branko Anđić
Reviewed by Jaimie Lau

Three generations of men—a storyteller, his father and his son—encompass this book’s world. . . . it is a world of historical confusion, illusion, and hope of three generations of Belgraders.

The first and last sentences of the first. . .

Read More >

Island of Point Nemo
Island of Point Nemo by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Reviewed by Katherine Rucker

The Island of Point Nemo is a novel tour by plane, train, automobile, blimp, horse, and submarine through a world that I can only hope is what Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès’s psyche looks like, giant squids and all.

What. . .

Read More >

The Truce
The Truce by Mario Benedetti
Reviewed by Adrianne Aron

Mario Benedetti (1920-2009), Uruguay’s most beloved writer, was a man who loved to bend the rules. He gave his haikus as many syllables as fit his mood, and wrote a play divided into sections instead of acts. In his country,. . .

Read More >

I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World
I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World by Kim Kyung Ju
Reviewed by Jacob Rogers

Kim Kyung Ju’s I Am a Season That Does Not Exist in the World, translated from the Korean by Jake Levine, is a wonderful absurdist poetry collection. It’s a mix of verse and prose poems, or even poems in the. . .

Read More >

Kingdom Cons
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera
Reviewed by Sarah Booker

Yuri Herrera is overwhelming in the way that he sucks readers into his worlds, transporting them to a borderland that is at once mythical in its construction and powerfully recognizable as a reflection of its modern-day counterpart. Kingdom Cons, originally. . .

Read More >

The Invented Part
The Invented Part by Rodrigo Fresán
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Imagine reading a work that suddenly and very accurately calls out you, the reader, for not providing your full attention to the act of reading. Imagine how embarrassing it is when you, the reader, believe that you are engrossed in. . .

Read More >

A Simple Story: The Last Malambo
A Simple Story: The Last Malambo by Leila Guerriero
Reviewed by Emilee Brecht

Leila Guerriero’s A Simple Story: The Last Malambo chronicles the unique ferocity of a national dance competition in Argentina. The dance, called the malambo, pushes the physical and mental limits of male competitors striving to become champions of not only. . .

Read More >

The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof
The Little Buddhist Monk & The Proof by Cesar Aira
Reviewed by Will Eells

Aira continues to surprise and delight in his latest release from New Directions, which collects two novellas: the first, The Little Buddhist Monk, a fairly recent work from 2005, and The Proof, an earlier work from 1989. There are a. . .

Read More >

Agnes by Peter Stamm
Reviewed by Dorian Stuber

The narrator of Peter Stamm’s first novel, Agnes, originally published in 1998 and now available in the U.S. in an able translation by Michael Hofmann, is a young Swiss writer who has come to Chicago to research a book on. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >