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.

For low prices on Las Vegas shows visit

You Say

  • DCNahm: I meant to comment on this when you posted it, but the week
  • Sudha Shastri: I have read _Midnight's Children_ several times but only jus
  • P.T. Smith: Was Ring of Saturn nearly everyone's first Sebald? I was ass
  • l: Saturn's Moons, W.G. Sebald - A Handbook, edited by Jo Catli
  • Will: Moby-Dick all the way. Maybe Beckett's Trilogy.
  • Bruno: Plays and poems are clearly the most workable choices. One c
  • S.: Don't you feel like there's too many worthy books out there

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

Shop though these links = Support this site

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.

  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • 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
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • 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
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

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.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  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....

Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.

3 comments to Idle Speculation About the BTBA 2014

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>