The End of Oulipo?

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Lady Chatterley’s Brother

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Translate This Book!

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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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