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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.

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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

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Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

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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 […]

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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