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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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.


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

Whither Soft Skull?

Where's Soft Skull headed now that Denise Oswald has taken over for Richard Nash? Over at The Quarterly Conversation I talk to her about the press's future, which, Oswald says, will definitely include translations.

PEN Honors Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo

With the recent English-language publication of books like Yu Hua’s Brothers and Wang Gang’s English, Western readers might perceive a thaw ongoing in China. After all, these books and others like them were originally published in China, and they offer a frank portrayal of some of the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution.

Make no mistake, however, not all Chinese writers are free to write and publish what they please.

That point was driven home on April 29, 2009 when the PEN American Center honored the Chinese poet and . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Dalkey Archive Becomes a Client Publisher of Norton

The Dalkey Archive Press has closed a deal to become a client publisher of WW Norton, which will distribute and sell Dalkey's books. This is similar to the arrangement that Norton already has in place with literary publishers New Directions and Verso.

Martin Riker, Associate Director of Dalkey, characterized the deal this way:

We remain an autonomous entity; we do our own editorial, production, design, and marketing/publicity. It will get our books into more stores and into more countries. We're all excited to be working with a place as wonderful as Norton, and to be in league with independent . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Complete Cosmicomics: Full Contents and Details On Seven Newly Translated Stories

(This story is also available at The Quarterly Conversation.)

Later this year, Penguin U.K. will publish a "complete Cosmicomics." The volume will bring together short stories by Italo Calvino which had previously been spread our across several volumes, or which were untranslated.

According to Rachel Love, Editorial Coordinator at Penguin Classics and Reference, the forthcoming book, titled The Complete Cosmicomics, will include:

The 12 stories that appear in Cosmicomics 7 newly translated by Martin McLaughlin (first time in English)  The 11 stories that comprise Time and the Hunter (published in the . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The “Complete” Cosmicomics: No U.S. Edition from Penguin

Last week I reported on a new volume of Italo Calvino's Cosmicomics, purporting to collect 7 stories previously untranslated. I noted that although a UK edition is imminent, there was no mention of a U.S. edition anywhere.

I've gotten in touch with one Rachel Love, an editorial coordinator with Penguin Classics and Reference in the UK, and she has confirmed that there is currently no U.S. edition of this book forthcoming from Penguin. The Wylie Agency has the rights, meaning that there probably will be a U.S. edition eventually, although who knows.

I'm still trying to track . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Reading and Publishing in Print’s Late Age: An Interview with Ted Striphas

Ted Striphas is an assistant professor of media and cultural studies and director of film and media at Indiana University. His book, The Late Age of Print, has just been published by Columbia University Press.

Scott Esposito: Your overarching argument is that books—their production, consumption, and dissemination—have been developing alongside capitalism, and in fact are very emblematic of capitalism. And just as we’re in what's known as "late capitalism" we're also in the "late age of print." Could you briefly explain what you mean by the late age of print?

Ted Striphas: “The late . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Graywolf to Publish Daniel Sada’s “Almost Never”

I've just heard from Graywolf that they've acquired the rights to Mexican novelist Daniel Sada's book Casi Nunca ("Almost Never"). The book is scheduled for U.S. publication in 2010 or 2011. You can read a review of Casi nunca at Letras Libres.

This is great news, as it marks the first English translation of a major contemporary Mexican author, a man often compared to the likes of Juan Rulfo and even Roberto Bolano.

Sada was among the authors selected for Dalkey's recent anthology, Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction, and I found Sada's contribution . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Interview: Fran Toolan of NetGalley

Advance review copies seem to be one aspect of the book business that has a lot to gain from the increasing digitization of publishing. After all, ARCs are meant to be disposable (all those "not for resale" warnings), and every publicist I've ever talked to has had the experience of shipping them out by the hundreds with little actual result.

So, when I discovered a new service that wants to make electronic galleys available to reviewers, journalists, librarians, and other people, I wanted to know more. To find out, I conducted this interview with Fran Toolan of NetGalley.

(for . . . continue reading, and add your comments

How to Publish in a Recession: Godine’s David R. Godine

David R. Godine: Looking around at the scene in Boston, and especially at what seems to be happening at Houghton/Harcourt, I would say the scene is gloomy. But I suspect much f the problem there derives from the pressures coming from the Irish owners, and not from the sales of books per se. I very much doubt that with a backlist as strong as Houghton's and Harcourt's', not to mention the excellence of their respective children's divisions, that some formula could not be worked out for their survival. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

How to Publish in a Recession: Coffee House Press’s Allan Kornblum

Allan Kornblum: Publishing is in a huge state of flux right now, but then again, it has continually changed since the days of the oral tradition. While the distant past may not be germane, we do have to go back to the middle years of the twentieth century. At that time, publishing was certainly a business, as it is today, but it was a business that had accepted a low rate of return on investment, in exchange for the thrill (and it is a thrill) of being part of the cultural life of the country, and indeed, the world. But in the 1980s and 1990s, bigger publishers began gobbling up smaller publishers, and then multinational corporations swallowed up the bigger publishers. Suddenly these houses needed to service the debt involved in buyouts, on top of the relatively modest six-to-eight percent return on investment that Bennett Cerf and Alfred Knopf had once been happy to receive. . . . continue reading, and add your comments