The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

A group read of the book that either "engenders awe and despair" or "[goads] the reader with obscenity and bigotry," or both. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Naked Singularity

Summer Read: A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Life Perec

Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Last Samurai

Fall Read: The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt

A group read of one of the '00s most-lauded postmodern novels. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

Tale of Genji

The Summer of Genji

Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

Your Face Tomorrow

Your Face This Spring

A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

New Books
Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Recently Released: The Man in the Wooden Hat

Received a copy of The Man in the Wooden Hat a while back, and not it’s been published in the U.S. Looks fairly interesting, though I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to it. But the review coverage is generally favorable.

The Guardian:

What Gardam is particularly good at – and what made Old Filth so compelling – is creating for her characters façades of complete conventionality, which are then chipped away to reveal strange internal workings.

Jonathan Yardley:

Probably it will astonish American readers to learn . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recently Received: Don Juan by Peter Handke and Translation Is a Love Affair by Jacques Poulin

Peter Handke is an author I’ve long meant to read. His novel Don Juan: His Own Version is forthcoming from FSG in February and recently arrived at my doorstep. I also managed to snag a copy of his novel Across at the SF Public Library’s gigantic used book sale, which (the book) I’ve been told is one of his best.

As to Don Juan, the Complete Review has reviewed it:

Don Juan neatly plays with that inherent contradiction of fiction: its absolutism — a complete and exclusive world rendered in mere . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Salt Smugglers by Gérard de Nerval

We'll be publishing a review of The Salt Smugglers by 19th-century Frenchman Gérard de Nerval in the winter issue of The Quarterly Conversation. The book looks extremely interesting, and I'm planning on reading it as soon as I've taken care of a couple others. It was originally written as a series of feuilleton, and Archipelago has published this book in two-column, newspaper format.

Nerval was an immensely interesting writer, winning adherents such as Proust, Breton, and Umberto Eco (the latter of which called his novel Sylvie a masterpiece). I've seen . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne

I don't usually cover this kind of book here, but Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne seems like it would have some appeal for the audience of this site, as Byrne is generally more interesting than the average author of this kind of book.

Here's a description of the book from Byrne's website:

Bicycle Diaries chronicles David’s observations and insights — what he is seeing, whom he is meeting, what he is thinking about — as he pedals through and engages with some of the world’s major cities. In places . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Subversive Scribe by Suzanne Jill Levine

In my opinion, Suzanne Jill Levine must be a goddess of translation. I base this mainly on the fact that she's responsible for the Engligh-language editions of some of my favorite Latin American authors: Manuel Puig, Adolfo Bioy Casares, and Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

She's also written a good deal about translation, and now Dalkey is re-issuing one Levine's books on translation, The Subversive Scribe. Basically, it's a series of essays built around some of Levine's greatest translations (e.g., Three Trapped Tigers, Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), where she discusses specific choices she made and gives close readings . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri

I’m looking forward to reading The Immortals by Amit Chaudhuri, just published here by Knopf and released earlier this year in Britain. It seems to be a dual family saga novel set in the 1970s and ’80s, and it got a ton of great press in the UK.

Here’s an excerpt from the book at Knopf’s website.

I’ve found some press Stateside (surely there will be more). First is this interview with the Boston Globe:

Q. This novel has been compared to Thomas Mann’s “Buddenbrooks.’’ . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: New Stories From The South, Edited By Madison Smartt Bell

Interesting anthology form Algonquin out next Tuesday: New Stories from the South 2009, edited by Madison Smartt Bell.

From the publisher’s website:

In the twenty-fourth volume of this distinguished anthology, Madison Smartt Bell chooses twenty-one distinctive pieces of short fiction to tell the story of the South as it is now. This is a South that is still recognizable but no longer predictable. As he says, “to the traditional black and white recipe (ever a tricky and volatile mixture) have been added new shades and strains from Asia and Central and South . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Antho of New Russian Fiction

A few weeks ago I discussed The Wall in My Head and Best European Fiction 2010. Now, yet another anthology of literature-in-translation: Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia. (Is it just me, or are there way more of these things on the market lately?).

The list of contributors on this antho looks very impressive–a lot of young writers that seem to be on the leading edge of Russian lit–as does the translators Tin House has pulled in here. I'm hoping to read this one soon and register some thoughts.

And . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Forthcoming: Driftless by David Rhodes

Driftless is publishing next week in paperback. It is the first book in 30 years from American author David Rhodes. From the publisher’s website:

When David Rhodes’ first three novels were published in the mid-seventies, he was acclaimed as “one of the best eyes in recent fiction” (John Gardner), and compared favorably to Sherwood Anderson. In 1976, a motorcycle accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, and unpublished for the subsequent three decades.

With Driftless, Rhodes returns to the midwestern landscape he knows so well, offering a fascinating and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Recently Published: Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin

Beauty Salon by Mario Bellatin was published on July 1 from City Lights books.

I mentioned the author and book last week here.

An excerpt from the book can be read here in the NYT.

Everything seemed to be going well in the two aquariums that still had life in them until one day fungus appeared on some angelfish that had survived from the early, better days. At first there were only some small clouds growing on their backs. Fish look strange in such conditions. Their color becomes blurred by a . . . continue reading, and add your comments