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 […]

1Q84 Cover Unveiled

1Q84

As you can see above, Knopf has unveiled the cover of Haruki Murakami’s forthcoming, massive novel, 1Q84. It’s quite a pretty cover. To mark the occasion, Knopf’s blog has an informative conversation with uber-designer Chip Kidd on how he built the cover . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84 Street Date

If you’re one of the Murakami people out there, Amazon now lists 1Q84 for Oct 25 (though sans cover). . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Early Murakami

For those without a whole lot of cash to pitch at some dealer on eBay, you may get your chance to read Pinball, 1973 sooner than you think.

Haruki Murakami’s major works have long been available in the United States, but the author has refused too allow distribution of his first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973, both of which are narrative precursors to A Wild Sheep Chase, well-known to readers in English. According to CNN Go,translations for the first two were released by the Japanese publisher Kodansha as English study aids. They went . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84: English-language Publication To Start in Sept 2011

Scooped up by Knopf, as expected. Interestingly, the article only mentions the first 3 volumes, and as we all now know there'll be more, but I'd doubt that the rest wouldn't go to Vintage/Knopf as well.

Also interestingly, English-language readers will have to buy this one in at least two separate volumes. Murakami-lovers will recall that, though The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle was similarly published in a serial format in Japan, U.S. readers got it all in one lump sum. Not this time:

Harvill Secker and Vintage are delighted to have acquired an ambitious trilogy from the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

More 1Q84 to Come

Didn’t realize there was a third volume in the works:

Shinchosha Publishing Co. put up posters Monday in 25 stations in the greater Tokyo area advertising a third volume in Haruki Murakami’s best-selling novel “1Q84.” Murakami is currently working on the story, aiming for a release next summer, sources said. Sales of the first and second volumes, which hit the market in late May, have sold more than 2.2 million copies in all. The ads, posted in stations including Tokyo and Yokohama, say, “We will continue receiving invaluable things from the story.”

Lengthy Review of Murakami’s 1Q84

Another review of 1Q84, rather substantial.

I can’t remember the last time a foreign-language book was covered as thoroughly in English upon publication as 1Q84. We’ve already seen The Guardian report on it, this long review, and Murakami discussing it in a recent interview.

From the most recent review:

To a certain extent, 1Q84 is the simple love story that Murakami suggests, centered on the image of the jazz standard “It’s Only a Paper Moon.” But, of course, the book includes an array of other themes, some handled better than others. Murakami’s word choices, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

More Information on Murakami’s 1Q84

Between the widespread use of the Internet and Murakami’s huge reputation in English-speaking countries, it seems like 1Q84 is the most-widely-covered-upon-publication non-English title ever. Well, whether or not, here’s more:

“1Q84″ begins with a female protagonist, Aomame, descending an emergency staircase to an alternative reality. Though oblivious at first of having accomplished this feat, she starts to notice tiny peculiarities such as an adjustment in police firearms. Observations at odds with her memory add up and Aomame becomes increasingly confused. Yet she is, for no particular reason, easy to relate with — a fact that becomes unsettling . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Murakami Interivew

Via the Literary Saloon I see a two part interview with Murakami dealing with his recent work, including his new novel, 1Q84.

Q: For the first time in one of your full-length novels, the narrative is given in the third-person. However, an intimacy close to that of a first-person narrative is maintained, and the young people in it are beautifully depicted. This made me realize once again that, even though you have been writing novels for the past 30 years, your work is still literature about early adulthood.

A: As they age, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

1Q84: It IS About Orwell

The Guardian reports that Haruki Murakami’s gigantic new novel, 1Q84, is rooted in George Orwell’s novel 1984:

Murakami has now admitted that he had “long wanted to write a near-past novel similar to George Orwell’s futuristic novel 1984″ and that this was one of the inspirations for the book. Another was the series of interviews with Aum victims which he conducted following the 1995 gas attacks, and published as Underground.

Underground takes the form of a series of interviews conducted in the wake of the gas attacks on Tokyo’s subway system in 1995. Therein, . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Murakami Book Covers from Around the World

That's the Israeli version of Kafka on the Shore. More here and here.