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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Naked Singularity

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Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

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Tale of Genji

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Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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

  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Idle Speculation About the BTBA 2014

Well, since I see that Michael Orthofer has begun speculating about the Best Translated Book Award for 2014, I guess I’ll jump in. Most of these I haven’t read yet, so this is really speculative, but it’s at least well-informed speculation. This list makes no pretense at comprehensiveness, so if I’ve left off your favorite author, book, press, etc, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

I will say that insofar as I’m aware of the contenders for 2014, I don’t see any obvious frontrunners. That wasn’t exactly the case last year, where Seiobo There Below was pretty clearly the odds-on favorite from the beginning.

Trieste by Dasa Drndic (January 14, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

I’ve been hearing remarkable things. Seems like the sort of title that will at least hit the longlist.

The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim (January 28, Penguin Books)

Assuming there are no eligibility issues here (and that Penguin manages to get all the judges a copy), I see this as a definite longlist contender.

Severina by Rodrigo Rey Rosa (February 25, Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Not sure about this one. I love me some Rey Rosa, but I thought The African Shore was far superior.

The Restless Supermarket by Ivan Vladislavic (April 1, And Other Stories)

In my opinion Vladislavic is always a contender.

Oops, not translated.

Letters from a Seducer by Hilda Hilst (February 4, Nightboat) and With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst (April 8, Melville House)

Hilst’s reputation seems to be climbing really fast around these parts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her hit the longlist.

Sidewalks by Valeria Luiselli (May 13, Coffee House Press)

This one comes with an amazing rave from Enrique Vila-Matas, and Luiselli has been an author of interest for a while.

Oops, not fiction.

My Struggle Book 3 by Karl Ove Knausgaard (May 27, Archipelago Books)

You can’t discount Knausgaard, and this is a pretty good book, but there does seem to be a little Knausgaard-fatigue among the BTBA jury.

Zama by Antonio Di Benedetto (June 10, NYRB Classics)

I believe this is the first-ever translation of Zama. If it’s eligible, I can’t imagine it wouldn’t hit the longlist, and, quite possibly, the shortlist.

La Grande by Juan Jose Saer (June 17, Open Letter Books)

Saer’s a singular talent, and this is one of his major opuses. Definite shortlist potential.

Works by Edouard Levé (July 1, Dalkey Archive Press)

For some reason Michael Orthofer thinks there are eligibility issues with this book (?). Can’t imagine it would miss the longlist, unless we have a very conceptual-literature-unfriendly jury.

The Last Lover by Can Xue (July 29, Yale University Press Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Can Xue is spoken of highly by people I thinking highly of, so surely this book must be a contender.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami (August 12, Knopf)

Not sure about this one. Murakami is Murakami, but his recent books have been very, very weak. Though the BTBA did longlist a rather mediocre Javier Marías novel for 2013, so maybe the name alone will propel him.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante (September 2, Europa Editions)

Ferrante was one of the big discoveries for the BTBA judges this year, and I know the next novel in her series is a book of much interest.

Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente (???, Hispabooks)

Giralt is a serious talent, and this is supposed to be a major novel of his. Though it does raise some eyebrows that this book has (supposedly) a July release date but still isn’t available on Amazon, nor with much information at the publisher’s website.

A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño (September 16, New Directions)

Well, it’s Bolaño, but this is supposed to be his weakest book.

The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck (November 11, New Directions)

Don’t know much about this one, but Erpenbeck is a talent, and she did hit the longlist a few years back.

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  1. Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Longlist It’s always interesting (at least to me) to compare the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize to that of the Best Translated Book Award,...
  2. Leg over Leg One of the cool things about the Best Translated Book Award is that it brings my (and others’) attention to books like Leg over Leg....
  3. New Editions of Gertrude Stein Yale University Press is publishing new editions of Gertrude Stein’s novel Ida and poem Stanzas in Meditation. Publishers Weekly: In the two new Yale University...
  4. Hate The National Book Award Longlist? Out of the major awards, the NBA doesn’t actually have that bad a track record, although, yeah, it is more than a little screwy that...
  5. Cyclops Reviewed in TNR Cyclops by Ranko Marinković, the Yugoslavian response to Ulysses, and a book that made the 2011 BTBA longlist, though, alas, not the shortlist. Reviewed here....

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