Quantcast
Tablet & Pen. I read this anthology cover to cover, and in fact I did most of that reading in 8-hour bouts of extreme concentration while on a transatlantic flight. Any book that can induce that kind of concentration in that kind of circumstance is doing something incredibly right." />

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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit LasVegas.ShowTickets.com

You Say

  • Max: Henry, it seems a little odd to say that Proust and Kafka an
  • Mike: I agree with much of this discussion, though I'm not sure wh
  • S: This outpouring has been pretty wide-spread indeed. To be ho
  • Will: Salman rushdie is a microscopic crapule on the asshole of th
  • Henry: I think the fireworks may come from the fact that these auth
  • Paul: Vanessa Place's 'La Medusa' seems like an American authored
  • Lance: I agree with you about the state of American fiction and I b

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.


  • A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski March 9, 2014
    A man enters a house and asks to buy some beans, but we aren’t given his question, only the response: humble surprise from the narrator and an invitation inside. This modesty, though it remains at the core of the narrator throughout, is quickly overwhelmed when his questions, his welcoming explanations, flow into an effort to tell his whole life story, from […]
  • The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson, edited by Marta Werner and Jen Bervin March 9, 2014
    The Gorgeous Nothings, the dedicated work of visual artist Jen Bervin and author Marta Werner, presents in large format the first full-color publication of all fifty-two of Emily Dickinson’s envelope writings. As such, it opens up an aspect of her craft that suggests she was, in the so-called late ecstatic period of her career, experimenting with creating te […]
  • The Mehlis Report by Rabee Jaber March 9, 2014
    The Mehlis Report follows the architect Saman Yarid on his daily perambulations around Lebanon's capital, where his memories of the city's past and his observations of the high-rises that have emerged from the ruins of the nation's civil war dominate the faint plot. But the book transcends Beirut: Jaber writes about what is left behind when pe […]
  • The Fiddler of Driskill Hill by David Middleton March 9, 2014
    Middleton’s sensibility as poet and man is thoroughly Christian, Southern (or rather, Louisianan), and traditional, but he’s no unreconstructed romantic Rebel reliving the Civil War. His manner is meditative and elegiac, not rancorous or redneck. In a rare useful blurb on the back of the book, the North Carolina poet and novelist Fred Chappell describes Midd […]
  • The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell March 9, 2014
    After The Kindly Ones, the nine hundred-page long Goncourt Prize-winning “autobiography” of a Nazi, fans of the Franco-American writer Jonathan Littell may heave an inward sigh of relief at the sight of The Fata Morgana Books. A slim collection of “studies” (as some of these stories were called in their original French incarnations), The Fata Morgana Books n […]
  • Novelty: A History of the New by Michael North March 9, 2014
    There is no better way to ensure the early demise of a form or a style than to proclaim its newness; fewer epithets are as old as “new.” A well-known work by Italian artist Maurizio Nannucci reads, “All art has been contemporary”—we may wish to amend it, for present purposes, and have it read, “All art has been new.” Yet surely this is something of a truism. […]
  • A Life Among Invented Characters: A Tribute to Mavis Gallant March 9, 2014
    Two things immediately come to mind when remembering Mavis Gallant: her unique sense of humor—stories always told with a wry half-smile—and her near-comical stonewalling when confronted with leading questions about her craft in interviews and with audiences. The first time I was in her simple three-room apartment on rue Jean Ferrandi, a mere three blocks fro […]
  • The Guy Davenport Reader March 9, 2014
    Poet-critic. Think of that word, made of two—what a beaux construction. The first is wild, hair mussed, looking at a bird in a tree—yet the follower is practical, urbane, and seemingly obeisant to word counts. Together they bleach out the fusspot academic and appeal to logos—Davenport once said that he was “not writing for scholars or critics, but for people […]
  • [SIC] by Davis Schneiderman March 9, 2014
    In 2011 Andrew Gallix, in the Guardian, wrote a piece on unread difficult books, and mentioned “an anthology of blank books [edited by Michael Gibbs] entitled All Or Nothing,” and we can consider Blank as continuing that line. Kenneth Goldsmith’s prefatory essay “Why Conceptual Writing? Why Now?” in Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (201 […]
  • The Ben Marcus Interview March 9, 2014
    I do tend to generate a lot of pages when I’m drafting something, and I cut as I go. I make strange noises out of my face, on the page, and they are for the most part not worth keeping. Some of the stories don’t take shape until I overwrite and pursue every cursed dead-end I can think of, which clarifies everything I don’t want the story to become. But I don […]

Favorite Reads of 2010: Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, edited by Reza Aslan

All my favorite reads of 2010 collected here.

When was the last time you read an anthology cover to cover? What about a 700-page one? For me the last–and the first–was Tablet & Pen. I read this anthology cover to cover, and in fact I did most of that reading in 8-hour bouts of extreme concentration while on a transatlantic flight. Any book that can induce that kind of concentration in that kind of circumstance is doing something incredibly right.

Tablet & Pen is essentially a one-stop guide to 20th-century Middle Eastern literature (with the Middle East being broadly conceived). The readability comes from the fact that a solid 90% of this anthology is simply great literature, as well as the fact that editor Reza Aslan did a wonderful job laying it all out and adding in enough scaffolding to make it all cohere into a comprehensible whole.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Favorite Reads of 2010: The Literary Conference by Cesar Aira If I could be King for one year, what I'd do is call together 10 or 15 of the best Spanish-language translators I could find,...
  2. Favorite Reads of 2010: The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz The Golden Age really, really surprised me. I selected this book for my translated literature book club at local indie bookstore The Booksmith, pretty much...
  3. Let's All Go Read The Blind Owl One of the novels excerpted in Tablet & Pen is the novel The Blind Owl (widely described at the greatest Persian novel of the 20th...
  4. Favorite Reads of 2010: The Culture Industry by Theodor Adorno This is essentially Adorno's book-length definition and dissection of the culture industry—how capitalistic society creates and sells popular entertainment and lifestyles to pretty much every...
  5. The New York Times Quotes Me Anonymously In an otherwise unremarkable article in The New York Times about literature in translation I find myself quoted: . . . continue reading, and add...

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

4 comments to Favorite Reads of 2010: Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East, edited by Reza Aslan

  • What do you think of Adam Kirsch’s review (also in TNR) of this book? http://www.tabletmag.com/arts-and-culture/books/52402/bordering-on-malicious/

    Some of the comments following it are hair-raising, not least the nutjob who thinks that the most popular male name for male babies in the UK is Mohammed.

  • That’s an interesting point of view, although Kirsch might have done a little more research, as Aslan has addressed some of these points a number of times already (and at greater length and depth than in his intro to the book, which Kirsch does quote).

    I don’t want to speak for Aslan, but he has been very vocal that there is no such thing as “the Muslim world” and that the terms makes no sense, so it’s a little strange to see Kirsch call this an antho of “the Muslim world.” Similarly, I’ve heard him explain his take on the term “Middle East” and why he extended this antho to North Africa, Turkey, and the subcontinent.

    The question about Hebrew writers is a little thornier. For what it’s worth, I happened to see Aslan address this question at an event, where he essentially said that Hebrew writing in the 20th century was so different from the writing in T & P that it would have taken away from the cohesiveness of the book. (He also noted that the book does include works from Israelis writing in other languages.)

    I think his point on the Hebrew writers is contestable (really? no one at all that would have fit in?), and, yes, some of the pieces in T & P struck me as a little off-base (as do some of the things I read in classics of the Western world). It’s probably true that this book had an occasional editorial slant, but, c’mon, it is a 700-page book. It’s not like you come away from it feeling that any one viewpoint has been over-represented.

  • [...] book, Tablet & Pen, is pretty impressive. It was one of my favorite reads of 2010. More from Conversational Reading:The Black Perspective on Black History Month Cigarettes are [...]

  • Serge

    If Aslan’s premise for the volume was the homogeneity of the writers from North Africa, the Middle East and West Asia — as those, rather than a diverse patchwork, they were of a single colour, and Hebrew writing of another — then the racism of his undertaking really is quite breathtaking. Aslan’s Middle East is one with no room for diversity. That is a shame.

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>