Open Letter Books has been awarded a $20,000 grant from Amazon.com to support the publication and promotion of The Wall in My Head: Words and Images from the Fall of the Iron Curtain, an anthology of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry marking the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. In addition to supporting the publication of this book, the grant supports the Wall in My Head blog (http://thewallinmyhead.com), a website featuring excerpts from the book, historical images, and new essays about life in Eastern Europe before and after the collapse of Communism.
This anthology was conceived by the editors of Words Without Borders (http://www.wordswithoutborders.org)—an online magazine specializing in international literature—and the publication of Wall on November 9th will correspond with a special issue of Words Without Borders that is also dedicated to the fall of the Berlin Wall and sponsored by Amazon.com.
The Wall in My Head includes work from more than thirty contributors and almost as many translators, as well as over seventy photographs and images of historic documents. The written pieces date from both before and after the fall of the Wall, and highlights include seminal excerpts from the work of Milan Kundera, Peter Schneider, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Vladimir Sorokin, and Victor Pelevin, as well as new work from Peter Esterhazy, Andrzej Stasiuk, Dorota Maslowska, Uwe Tellkamp, and Dan Sociu.
"Our goal with Open Letter Books," according to director Chad W. Post, "is to increase the access American readers have to the best works and ideas from cultures around the world, and The Wall in My Head is a perfect example of how we achieve this. It's especially gratifying that Amazon.com is interested in helping us to achieve this goal. Their support will definitely help us strengthen our efforts and reach a larger audience than we otherwise might have."
Founded in 2007 at the University of Rochester, Open Letter publishes between ten and twelve titles each year, all in translation. Some of its authors include Dubravka Ugresic, Jan Kjaerstad, Marguerite Duras, and Jorge Volpi. In addition, it runs Three Percent (http://www.rochester.edu/threepercent), an online blog and review site dedicated to spreading the word about international literature. Open Letter also works closely with University of Rochester students, as part of the University's programs in Literary Translation Studies.
In addition to Open Letter, Amazon.com has awarded grants over the past six months to a diverse range of not-for-profit author and publisher groups, including 826 Seattle, Children's Book Week, Poets & Writers, Seattle Arts and Lectures, Richard Hugo House, Artist Trust, Hedgebrook, Copper Canyon Press, National Novel Writing Month, Clarion West, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. A number of the recipients—such as Pen America, Words Without Borders, and the Center for the Art of Translation—are, like Open Letter, dedicated to bringing more international writers to the attention of English language readers.
The official publication date for The Wall in My Head is November 9, 2009. More information about this and other Open Letter titles can be found at the press's website (http://www.openletterbooks.org).