I’m proud to announce that we have two great events lined up for this fall’s iteration of our annual Reading the World Conversation Series, which all of you should fly into Rochester to attend.
A Conversation with Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
Tuesday, September 24th, 6:00pm
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library
Publishers Weekly had this to say about Where Tigers Are at Home, the Winner of the prestigious Prix Médicis: “Blas de Roblès simultaneously channels Umberto Eco, Indiana Jones, and Jorge Amado . . . what begins as a faux metabiography turns to picaresque adventure with erotic escapades, scams, and unexpected changes of fortune.”
Come here Open Letter Books director Chad W. Post talk with Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès about his novel, about Athanasius Kircher—the bizarre, almost always wrong 17th century philosopher at the center of the book—and about Blas de Roblès’s time teaching French literature and philosophy in Brazil, China, Italy, and Taiwan.
A Conversation with Simon Fruelund
Tuesday, October 1st, 6:00pm
Welles-Brown Room, Rush Rhees Library
Simon Fruelund, the former editor at Gyldendal, Denmark’s largest publishing house, has burst onto the international literary scene with the publication of two books in English translations this year—_Milk and Other Stories_ and Civil Twilight—both of which have received great critical praise. As Alan Cheuse of NPR stated, “Fruelund is a master of the short form, importing some designs from our own Raymond Carver, applying them to the interstices of the European everyday, and making them his own. The title story is a masterpiece in miniature.”
His translator, K.E. Semmel, recipient of a Danish Arts Council grant and inveterate St. Louis Cardinals fan, will discuss Fruelund’s work with him, touching on issues of translation and trends in Nordic literature as a whole.
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. . .