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

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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 […]

Six Questions for Katherine Silver on The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira

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Katherine Silver is one of the most talented, interesting, and dedicated translators working from Spanish today. She recently translated Cesar Aira’s novel(la) The Miracle Cures of Dr. Aira, her second Aira translation (it joins The Literary Conference) though definitely not her last (read on).

I asked her six questions about the particular challenges of translating Aira, her own interpretations of his oeuvre-in-progress, her discovery of Aira, and what lies ahead for Aira-fans in the English language. In addition to Aira, Silver has translated Almost Never by Daniel Sada (with two more Sada novels . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Six Questions for Margaret B. Carson on Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds

Without a doubt, one of the most interesting new books I read last year was My Two Worlds by Sergio Chejfec. The book raises quite legitimate comparisons to authors like Sebald and Walser, and its brief 100 pages are made expansive by intricate, precise prose. The book concerns the reflections made by its unnamed narrator over the course of a short walk through a park in some unnamed Brazilian city. What is perhaps most striking about this walk is the haze of thought that Chejfec creates within it. Reading, we sense some sort of meaning . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Nine Questions for Natasha Wimmer on The Third Reich by Roberto Bolaño

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The Third Reich was unpublished at the time of Bolaño’s death, but there are indications that he meant it to be published one day: he had begun typing it up, as he did with earlier unpublished novels that were eventually published in his lifetime. The book follows the transformation of one Udo Berger, a German tourist in Spain’s Costa Brava as he plays a board game called The Third Reich. Wimmer corresponded with me on the actual board game that inspired The Third Reich, reading fast for pleasure vs reading slow for translation, the role of creativity in the process of translation, and readings and misreadings of Roberto Bolaño. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Six Questions for Rosalie Knecht on Cesar Aira’s Seamstress and the Wind

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By now, readers of this blog (and I would hope readers in general) need no introduction to Cesar Aira, one of the most exciting authors to be making his way into English. Over the past couple of years, New Directions has done amazing work with Aira, publishing novel after novel. I think they’re beginning to make some headway in developing the kind of audience that this writer deserves. They have just published The Seamstress and the Wind . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Seven Questions for Ottilie Mulzet on Animalinside

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Perhaps no other author has grown in my estimation over the past 12 months as much as László Krasznahorkai. An author known for his challenging grammar and long, complex sentences, he has previously published two novels in English translation, both by New Directions–War and War and The Melancholy of Resistance. Animalinside, his third book in English, has taken a circuitous route, first being published in Paris as part of Sylph Editions’ Cahiers series . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Seven Questions for Lynne Tillman

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I’m no specialist on the relative reputations of contemporary U.S. authors, but I would classify Lynne Tillman as “greatly underappreciated.” Over a long and fruitful career she has worked in numerous genres to numerous ends, the one underlying quality seeming to be, simply, quality. Her latest book, a collection of short fiction called Someday This Will Be Funny, has just been published by Red Lemonade . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Seven Questions for Translator Tim Mohr

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I don’t say things like this a whole lot, but I feel relatively safe in saying that if Tim Mohr wasn’t translating, our image of contemporary German literature would be quite different. His first two translations were two of the most notable and noted books to emerge into English from Germany in the ‘00s: Guantanamo by Dorothea Dieckmann and Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. He followed up those two with two novels for Europa Editions by Alina Bronsky, who has quickly built a name for herself as a writer to be reckoned with in English. Prior to coming on the translation scene in 2004 with Guantanamo, Mohr worked as an editor with Playboy . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Five Questions with Marius Kociejowski, Author of The Pigeon Wars of Damascus

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This is an interview by editor Eric Ormsby an editor with the press Biblioasis: The Pigeon Wars of Damascus by Marius Kociejowski. I’m presenting it here for two reasons: first, having published the work of author Ray Smith (have a look at Century), Horacio Castellanos Moya, and others, as well as having an international fiction series edited by Stephen Henighan, the press has distinguished itself in my mind for quality literature. The second reason is that the book in question, The Pigeon Wars of Damascus, is a work that fits into the genre of “atypical travel literature,” and as such might resonate with the readers of this site who have enjoyed authors like Jean Rolin, W.G. Sebald, etc. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Seven Questions for Translator Jan Steyn on Edouard Leve’s Suicide

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Without a doubt, one of the best things I’ve read this year is a small book called Suicide. It was written by the contemporary French writer Edouard Levé, who, ten days after delivering the manuscript, in fact did commit suicide, but the book is not so much a suicide note or explanation as it is an exactingly wrought object. It was only on a second reading that I was able to truly appreciate how precise the prose is, and how enigmatically this small book opens up to envelop you as a reader. If the suicide on the face of this book leads you to assume that only one interpretation of this book is impossible, everything in the book stands to refute it. After reading Suicide, it’s clear to me that Levé was a major talent. Already, Dalkey will follow up Suicide with a second Levé book, Autoportrait, to be translated by Lorin Stein and published in early 2012, and I expect Levé’s final two books will not be long in following. I interviewed Suicide’s translator, Jan Steyn, for more about this intriguing book and its author . . . . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Four Questions for Kate Briggs on Roland Barthes’ Preparation of the Novel

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Last December Columbia University Press published a posthumous work by Roland Barthes titled The Preparation of the Novel. The book consists of lectures for a series of courses on the writing of a novel, lectures which were among the last Barthes delivered before his sudden death in 1980. At the time of the lectures many speculated that they were a run-up to a project many had long hoped Barthes would take on: the writing of his own novel, provisionally titled “Vita Nova.” Although Barthes never did write a novel, the lectures provide both an idea of how Barthes might have approached this unique task, as well as his typically profound thoughts on numerous aspects of the novel. I interviewed the book’s translator, Kate Briggs, on this capacious text. The Times Literary Supplement praised Briggs’ translation, saying in part “Kate Briggs’s wonderful translation finally makes available in English a most unusual book by one of the most significant literary figures of the twentieth century.” . . . continue reading, and add your comments