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

New Books
See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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  • 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
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  • 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
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  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
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  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
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Graywolf to Publish Daniel Sada’s “Almost Never”

DanielSada_CL
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 good enough to single out in my review:

The feel of “The Woman in the Red Coat” is similar to that of Daniel
Sada’s “The Ominous Phenomenon.” Here, and for virtually the only time
in the collection, we finally see Mexico’s poor close up, and although
these rurals are possibly illiterate, this story still feels the most
Bolañoian in the collection. As with so much of Bolaño, “The Ominous
Phenomenon” narrates a perfectly purposeless tale full of trivial peaks
and valleys that finally just up and quits before reaching any sort of
climax. It is also the anthology’s grittiest work, the one that feels
the most in the tradition of Rulfo’s peasants.

This is the story: A poor man has been stationed by a landowner on a
“ranch” in the middle of the desert, where there is little for him to
do other than eke out a life of subsistence. One day the landowner
deposits another man with him and charges them to “make bricks,” a job
that necessitates a painful trek over the sun-scorched earth to bring
back precious water for mud, water that should more properly be drunk
by two men who, it becomes clear, are abandoned in the desert. Why are
they making bricks? Will the boss even come back to inspect their
progress? Who knows? After negotiating some minor brushes with machismo
likely to occur between two such men in such a situation, Sada leaves
them, the bricks unmade, the daunting task of dragging back the water
still ahead, neither man any closer to any sort of answer, or even an
explanation.

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. Daniel Sada Interview Moleskine Literario points me to an interview with Daniel Sada, the Mexican novelist whose book Casi nunca previously caught my attention. Now I'm doubly interested...
  2. Someone Translate Daniel Sada After reading this review in Letras y Libres, I’m amazed that none of Daniel Sada’s novels are available in English. (Although, to Dalkey’s credit, a...
  3. How to Publish in a Recession: Chelsea Green’s Margo Baldwin Margo Baldwin: It needs to reinvent itself: get rid of returns and huge advances and all the waste inherent in the system. Amazon has perfected...
  4. How to Publish in a Recession: New Directions’ Declan Spring Declan Spring: I’d say pretty gloomy, but like many industries, publishing’s only starting to see the results of the economic collapse. What’s nerve-wracking is the...
  5. How to Publish in a Recession: Soft Skull/Counterpoint’s Richard Nash Richard Nash: There are several distinct things going on at once. The first is the macro-economic problem which is indeed giving cause for gloom as...

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2 comments to Graywolf to Publish Daniel Sada’s “Almost Never”

  • This is great news, as you said, Sada’s one of Mexico’s greatest contemporary authors. Often overlooked. People tend to mention those before, and those after (Rivera Garza, Volpi and his fellow Crack members, etcetera)forgetting his great ouvre.
    However, I wonder what you mean when you describe his work as Bolañoeian, as itg is something I’ve been reading a lot about in the US-translators circle. Better said, I know what you mean, as there’s a certain bolañesque aura that surrounds most of Bolaño’s work, which is great, and yet it seems to me that his extreme success in the US is being counterproductive to the rest of the continent’s literature (even if it has no need to be productive in the first place). The whole field is being divided between the leftovers of the Boom’s magical realism and the new Bolaño-like wave.
    I mean, commercially, it makes sense. It’s a great way to garner new readers, but in the long run it could end up biasing possible future readers.
    Nonetheless, it makes me happy to note the appearance of Aira, Roncagliolo, Cristina Rivera Garza, among others.
    Cristina Rivera Garza has, in my opinion, written one of the best novels about Mexico in Nadie me verá llorar (which I think’s available in english).

  • [...] exists in English. To my knowledge, no book of his has been translated, although Graywolf is in the process of doing Casi nunca (“Almost Never”). (Apparently it’s given translator Katherine Silver, [...]

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