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 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... »
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    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... »
  • A Million WindowsA Million Windows

    A nice review at Music & Literature of the latest book from Gerald Murnane, A Million Windows. For those of you who have been... »
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    Writer Pierre Ryckmans, aka Simon Leys, died earlier this week. So, perhaps the kind memorial messages that are appearing will... »
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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 […]

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Scott Esposito

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Scott Esposito, who edits The Quarterly Conversation.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

The Plains and A History of Books by Gerald Murnane

I read these in preparation for an essay I wrote on Murnane for the journal Music & Literature (in itself a favorite read). The short novel The Plains is the book many consider to be Murnane’s finest. For me, he’s all about making maps of memory out of words, and The Plains may . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Patrick Kurp

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Patrick Kurp, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is a review of Uncollected Poems by R.S. Thomas.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

David Yezzi: Birds of the Air (Carnegie Mellon University Press)

Just when you thought poetry was as moribund as Linear B, Yezzi reminds us of the virtues readers once expected of poems and poets: narrative, formal mastery, linguistic energy and wit. His blank-verse monologues are short stories in an age when that . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Daniel Medin

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Daniel Medin, who is Senior Editor of The Quarterly Conversation.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

1. Dodge Rose by Jack Cox (forthcoming, Dalkey Archive)

The most singular work of fiction written in English that I encountered this year. Difficult to summarize what it does in so little space, though in addition to being a Great Australian Novel–in less than 200 pages–Dodge Rose is a funny and profound take on the legal language of property and ownership. For a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Jacob Silverman

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Jacob Silverman, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is a review of Futility by William Gerhardie.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

1) “Bough Down” by Karen Green

The first book by artist Karen Green, who is the widow of David Foster Wallace, took me by surprise. Not because this book of prose poems and small collages is so finely written, but rather because Green manages to talk about what is on everyone’s mind — . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: John Domini

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from John Domini, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is a review of Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Ten, Anyway: reluctant but heartfelt, a list of a year’s good, obscure reading for The Quarterly Conversation

Lists are odious, brainless, even cruel—and also handy, irresistible, only natural. The depth and insight of actual criticism has always meant more to me than any Top Ten. I can’t deny, however, that even Walter Benjamin celebrated . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Geoff Wisner

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Geoff Wisner, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is a review of Forest of a Thousand Daemons by D.O. Fagunwa.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Early in 2013 I landed a new day job with an engineering company based in New Jersey. My two-hour megacommute gave me more time for reading, beginning with several books by Henry Petroski, the John McPhee of engineering. (In books like The Control of Nature, of course, John McPhee is . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Taylor Davis-Van Atta

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Taylor Davis-Van Atta, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is an essay on the fiction of Stig Sæterbakken.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

1. Seiobo There Below — László Krasznahorkai, translated from the Hungarian by Ottilie Mulzet

A novel in 17 episodes, Seiobo There Below explores our insatiable desire to be loved, to achieve transcendence through any means, and to glimpse, however fleetingly, the sacred—and why we continually fail in our attempts to attain . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Madeleine LaRue

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Madeleine LaRue, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is an essay on the fiction of Jáchym Topol.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Red Doc> by Anne Carson (Knopf)

I did practically nothing (or wanted to do practically nothing) between January and April but read Anne Carson. Red Doc>, the sequel to her much-loved Autobiography of Red, is one of her strangest, most enigmatic, and most haunting works. Even after dozens of re-readings, it . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Andrew Seal

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Andrew Seal, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is an essay on Franco Moretti.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

One novel I read this year could have given its title as a theme to nearly all my reading: Nadine Gordimer’s The Late Bourgeois World. This short novel, disquieted yet limpid, is Mrs. Dalloway set on the fringe of an anti-apartheid resistance cell, and like Woolf’s creation it balances a probing intelligence with a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Andrea Scrima

We are running down favorite reads of 2013 from Quarterly Conversation contributors. This list comes from Andrea Scrima, whose most recent contribution to The Quarterly Conversation is an essay on Seiobo There Below by Laszlo Krasznahorkai.

To read all entries in this series, click here.

Herta Müller, Niederungen (Nadirs)

As she attempts to make sense of the brutal reality around her, a child narrator escapes the claustrophobia of village life and its everyday cruelties to inhabit the lyrical dimensions of her own imagination. The poetic force of Nobel laureate Herta Müller’s language was already apparent in . . . continue reading, and add your comments