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 […]

Michael Hofmann on Richard Flanagan

The NYRB should really get this guy to review Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North has the scope of a big and ambitious novel. It was surely a difficult book to write, covering so much in terms of time, geography, cultures, destinies and outcomes: both an important but difficult piece of Australian history (brave, but also inglorious), and a fictional account, to boot, of the experience of Flanagan’s father, who, as one read in the press, died on the very day the book was completed. (It is said there is nothing of which one . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Coetzee’s Short Stories

Just published by Text Publishing.

J.M. Coetzee swims strongly against the ebbing tide. Not only has Text Publishing brought out his new collection, it is an expensively produced hardback in pale blue with elegant gilt lettering. That is unusual enough, but more extraordinarily there are only three stories, none of them lengthy – the book totals 71 pages, with a large, generously laid-out typeface. All were written between 2000 and 2003, the most recent being a tale he read aloud at the ceremony when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The first Perec

In the TLS, Lauren Elkin reviews Portrait of a Man Known as Il Condottiere, aka Geroges Perec’s lost first novel.

In 1966, after the success of his first novel Les Choses: Une histoire des années soixante, which won him the Prix Renaudot as well as the critical respect he craved, Georges Perec was finally in a position to leave his small apartment of 35 square metres and move to a larger one. He carefully packed up his manuscripts into a box, including Le Condottiere, his previous “first novel”, which Gallimard bought in 1959 and then elected . . . continue reading, and add your comments

20 Books at 38

I’m surprised to learn Andres Newman is so young. Also, great overview of his books in English.

Andrés Neuman is unthreatened by borders. If writers are born in response to trauma, then Neuman, the writer, emerged when his family fled Argentina for Granada when he was fourteen, in 1991. Eight years later, his first novel, Bariloche, was awarded first runner up for the Herralde Prize. Roberto Bolaño immediately read it and set down the words that still grace the back covers of all Neuman’s books: “The literature of the twenty-first century would belong to Andrés Neuman and a . . . continue reading, and add your comments

The Future Modiano

The Complete Review has the details of the future Englishing of our most recent Nobel laureate.

And also, sales figures. For whatever reason, Modiano has proven one of the more commercially viable Laureates of the recent past:

One of his most famous works, Missing Person, which is published by David R. Godine, had sold just 2,031 copies before the prize was announced in October, and has since sold more than 13,600 copies. Yale University Press has sold more than 30,000 copies of Suspended Sentences, a collection of three novellas by Mr. Modiano that was published last month. . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38

Issue 38 right here. or TOC after the jump.

Continue reading Quarterly Conversationi Issue 38

On Kafka

Rivka Galchen on the new Kafka bio by Reiner Stach.

I have come to the conclusion that anyone who thinks about Kafka for long enough inevitably develops a few singular, unassimilable and slightly silly convictions. (The graph may be parabolic, with the highest incidence of convictions – and the legal resonance is invited – found among those who have spent the most time thinking and those who have spent next to no time thinking.) My own such amateur conviction is that the life of Franz Kafka reads like a truly great comedy. I mean this (of course) in . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Me on Modiano

My review of Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano.

The most focused of the book’s three diffuse novellas is “Afterimage.” Here, the narrator merely wants to “relate the little I know” about the photographer Francis Jansen, whom he befriended 30 years ago in the 1960s. Almost immediately we are confronted with an enormous question: Friends with Robert Capa and a Parisian street photographer for Magnum, Jansen suddenly leaves everything behind for a reclusive life in Mexico. In vignettes rarely more than a couple of pages long, the narrator pores over every moment of their relationship like a private . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Elena Ferrante Interviewed

At the NY TImes. I’m currently reading Book 1.

Q. You insist on anonymity and yet are developing a cult following, especially among women, first in Italy and now in the United States and beyond. How do you feel about the reception of your books in the United States in recent years, and your growing readership, especially after James Wood’s review in The New Yorker in January 2013?

A. I appreciated James Wood’s review very much. The critical attention that he dedicated to my books not only helped them find readers but in a way it also . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Infinite Fictions

Buy David Winters’s book.