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

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.

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Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

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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.

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A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Interviews from Conversational Reading

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

  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

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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