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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  • The new DostoevskyThe new Dostoevsky

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    The current issue of the Golden Handcuffs Review has my essay "The Eclipse; Or, The Vulva," which is part of a series of work... »
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    While I tend to lump blockbusters into an outlier category regardless of what language they were originally written in, I do... »
  • LRB on Robbe-GrilletLRB on Robbe-Grillet

    Nice that there are still places like the LRB that publish things like this: By the time he was elected to the Académie... »
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    This is the first review I've read of the new Murakami book. My feeling is that Nathaniel Rich, representing The Atlantic's... »
  • Bae Suah on SebaldBae Suah on Sebald

    Bae Suah is one of the more astonishing authors I've discovered lately. So when I saw that an essays of hers on Sebald had been... »
  • The Old School QCThe Old School QC

    Thanks to Michael Orthofer for this blast from the past. In his look back through the days of yore for various literary... »
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    The writing on this is horrifyingly bad, but there is some interesting information here about the things David Foster Wallace... »
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Group Reads

The Tunnel

Fall Read: The Tunnel by William H. Gass

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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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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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

  • Nostalgia June 15, 2014
    Few habits are as prone to affliction, or as vulnerable to an ordeal, as the bent of a peddler’s consciousness. Placeless, the peddler completes an untold number of transactions; there are ideas to conduct (through language, which can transact a mind) and feelings to certify (through tasks, repeated interminably). […]
  • Why Literary Periods Mattered by Ted Underwood June 15, 2014
    There are some writers who are, and likely always will be, inextricably linked to the “period” with which their work is associated, and in many cases helped to define. Surely Wordsworth and Keats will always be “Romantic” poets, while Faulkner and Woolf will remain modernists, as the term “modern” has been fully appropriated to describe the historical era be […]
  • Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz June 15, 2014
    August 1939. You sail to Buenos Aires on the Chombry as a cultural ambassador of Poland. Why say no to a little holiday on the government’s tab? Soon after arriving you sense that something isn’t right. You emerge from a welcome reception and your ears are “filled with newspaper cries: ‘Polonia, Polonia,’ most irksome indeed.” Before you’ve even had a chance […]
  • Accepting the Disaster by Joshua Mehigan June 15, 2014
    The first collections of most young poets, even the better ones, carry with them a hint of bravado. Flush with recognition, vindicated by the encouraging attentions of at least one editor and three blurbists, the poet strikes a triumphant pose and high-fives the Muse: “We did it, baby.” When Joshua Mehigan published his impressive first collection, The Optim […]
  • The Histories of Herodotus, translated by Tom Holland June 15, 2014
    Two of the greatest of Tom Holland's predecessors in translating Herodotus are Victorian scholar George Rawlinson and Aubrey de Selincourt; the former translated Herodotus in 1860, making an enormous hit (despite the fact that its detractors often referred to it as “dull and prolix"), while the latter's 1954 Herodotus was another enormous hit, […]
  • Bullfight by Yasushi Inoue June 15, 2014
    The premise of Yasushi Inoue's debut novella Bullfight, celebrated in Japan as a classic of postwar literature, is unassuming enough: an evening newspaper sponsors a tournament of the regional sport of bull-sumo. As practical and financial issues arise, the paper's young editor-in-chief, Tsugami, soon realizes he has taken on more than he can handl […]
  • Sworn Virgin by Elvira Dones June 15, 2014
    Sworn Virgin was made to be translated. Elvira Dones wrote this book not in her native language of Albanian but in Italian—a necessarily fraught and complicated decision. In an Italian-language interview with Pierre Lepori, Dones speaks about her choice of language: “Sworn Virgin was born in Italian . . . I’ve lived using Italian for nineteen years, it has s […]
  • On the Letters of David Markson June 15, 2014
    Knowing these narrators and how their lives paralleled David’s own, it’s difficult to deny his being a recluse. I certainly held that image of him, and nursed it, secretly cherishing it because it meant I was one of the few people with whom he corresponded, and with whom he would occasionally meet. Arranging our first meetings in person was something of a ni […]
  • Storm Still by Peter Handke June 15, 2014
    Storm Still (Immer Noch Sturm) does not necessarily represent new terrain for Handke. Originally published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2010 and now available for English-language readers thanks to Martin Chalmers’ fluent translation, the play chronicles the dissolution of the Svinec family, a family of Carinthian Slovenes—a quasi-fictionalized version of Handke’s […]
  • Red or Dead by David Peace June 15, 2014
    David Peace's novel Red or Dead is about British football, but it partakes in the traits of Homer's epic. This is a novel about the place of myth and heroes in modern society, about how the cyclical rhythms of athletic seasons reflect the cyclical patterns of life. It is a book about honor and fate, and one which bridges the profound, dreamlike ter […]

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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