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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  • The new DostoevskyThe new Dostoevsky

    Been a while since I read Crime and Punishment. Sounds interesting. Several earlier translations tended to smooth over... »
  • Golden HandcuffsGolden Handcuffs

    The current issue of the Golden Handcuffs Review has my essay "The Eclipse; Or, The Vulva," which is part of a series of work... »
  • The Translation Is HotThe Translation Is Hot

    While I tend to lump blockbusters into an outlier category regardless of what language they were originally written in, I do... »
  • LRB on Robbe-GrilletLRB on Robbe-Grillet

    Nice that there are still places like the LRB that publish things like this: By the time he was elected to the Académie... »
  • The Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageThe Atlantic on Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

    This is the first review I've read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic's... »
  • Bae Suah on SebaldBae Suah on Sebald

    Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I've discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been... »
  • The Old School QCThe Old School QC

    Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary... »
  • Wallace MarginaliaWallace Marginalia

    The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace... »
  • All Hail AugustusAll Hail Augustus

    Daniel Mendelsohn's introduction to the NYRB Classics' reissue of Augustus is now available online as part of the Aug 14 issue... »
  • Anybody?Anybody?

    I don't expect The New York Times to have mastered the minutia of every single topic on earth, but it would be nice if the... »

You Say

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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.


  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

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