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.

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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

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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.


  • 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 […]

Interesting New Books — 2013

Note: publishers change their schedules a lot. Release dates can and will change.

January


Awakening to the Great Sleep War by Gert Jonke

Release date: January 3
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

One of the loveliest riddles of Austrian literature is finally available in English translation: Gert Jonke’s 1982 novel, Awakening to the Great Sleep War, is an expedition through a world in constant nervous motion, where reality is rapidly fraying—flags refuse to stick to their poles, lids sidle off of their pots, tram tracks shake their stops away like fleas, and books abandon libraries in droves. Our cicerone on this journey through the possible (and impossible) is an “acoustical decorator” by the name of Burgmüller—a poetical gentleman, the lover of three women, able to communicate with birds, and at least as philosophically minded as his author: “Everything has suddenly become so transparent that one can’t see through anything anymore.” This enormously comic—and equally melancholic—tale is perhaps Jonke’s masterwork.


A Hunt for Optimism by Viktor Shklovsky

Release date: January 3
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Begun in 1929 under the title “New Prose,” and drastically revised after Vladimir Mayakovsky’s sudden death, A Hunt for Optimism (1931) circles obsessively around a single scene of interrogation in which a writer is subjected to a show trial for his unorthodoxy. Using multiple perspectives, fragments, and aphorisms, and bearing the vulnerability of both the Russian Jewry and the anti-Bolshevik intelligentsia—who had unwittingly become the “enemies of the people”—Hunt satirizes Soviet censorship and the ineptitude of Soviet leaders with acerbic panache. Despite criticism at the time that it lacked unity and was too “variegated” to be called a purely “Shklovskian book,” Hunt is stylistically unpredictable, experimentally bold, and unapologetically ironic—making it one of the finest books in Shklovsky’s body of work.


Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia by Jose Manuel Prieto

Release date: January 8
Publisher: Grove

In Encyclopedia of a Life in Russia, José Manuel Prieto has beautifully crafted a kaleidoscopic portrait of modern life in Russia through alphabetical encyclopedic entries. Poetic, humorous, truth-seeking, and fanciful, Prieto melds literature, philosophy, and pop culture into a story of two misfits caught between old traditions and modern consumerism.

Thelonius Monk (not his real name) travels to Russia and meets Linda Evangelista (not her real name) in Saint Petersburg. They journey to Yalta, where he promises that he will make her red hair famous in the fashion magazines. In fact, he’s drafting a novel about her—his notes for the novel comprise this Encyclopedia. Thelonious and Linda think of themselves as avatars of consumer culture, navigating the border between art and commerce during the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991. Unwittingly they parody Russian fascination with America and its fixation on beauty and celebrity. Their conversations combine advertisement copy and art criticism, their personalities are both bohemian and commercial, and their aspirations revolve around frivolity and enchantment.


Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra

Release date: January 8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Alejandro Zambra’s Ways of Going Home begins with an earthquake, seen through the eyes of an unnamed nine-year-old boy who lives in an undistinguished middleclass housing development in a suburb of Santiago, Chile. When the neighbors camp out overnight, the protagonist gets his first glimpse of Claudia, an older girl who asks him to spy on her uncle Raúl.

In the second section, the protagonist is the writer of the story begun in the first section. His father is a man of few words who claims to be apolitical but who quietly sympathized—to what degree, the author isn’t sure—with the Pinochet regime. His reflections on the progress of the novel and on his own life—which is strikingly similar to the life of his novel’s protagonist—expose the raw suture of fiction and reality. Ways of Going Home switches between author and character, past and present, reflecting with melancholy and rage on the history of a nation and on a generation born too late—the generation which, as the author-narrator puts it, learned to read and write while their parents became accomplices or victims. It is the most personal novel to date from Zambra, the most important Chilean author since Roberto Bolaño.


Tenth of December by George Saunders

Release date: January 8
Publisher: Random House

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.

In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.


Adam in Eden by Carlos Fuentes

Release date: January 15
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

““Fuentes does not cease to amaze. This latest work is an uproariously comic novel that deals head on with many of the gravest issues of 21st-century Mexico . . . The reader marvels throughout that the author of this fiercely perspicacious and laugh-out-loud funny novel is in his eighties: Fuentes’s familiar wit and breadth of experience are here in spades, but he also packs a high-velocity edginess worthy of a writer a third his age.”” (Library Journal, starred review )


Tuner of Silences by Mia Couto

Release date: January 15
Publisher: Biblioasis

Mwanito’s been living in a big-game park for eight years. The only people he knows are his father, his brother, an uncle, and a servant. He’s been told that the rest of the world is dead, that all roads are sad, that they wait for an apology from God. In the place his father calls Jezoosalem, Mwanito has been told that crying and praying are the same thing. Both, it seems, are forbidden.

The eighth novel by The New York Times-acclaimed Mia Couto, The Tuner of Silences is the story of Mwanito’s struggle to reconstruct a family history that his father is unable to discuss. With the young woman’s arrival in Jezoosalem, however, the silence of the past quickly breaks down, and both his father’s story and the world are heard once more.

The Tuner of Silences was heralded as one of the most important books to be published in France in 2011 and remains a shocking portrait of the intergenerational legacies of war. Now available for the first time in English.


The Elevan by Pierre Michon

Release date: January 15
Publisher: Archipelago Books

He was not tall, unobtrusive, but he held your attention by his feverish silence, his dark cheer, his alternately arrogant and oblique manner—grim, you would call it. At least that was true seeing him later in life. None of that appears on the Würzburg ceilings in the portrait Tiepolo left of him, when the model was twenty years old: he is there, so they say, and you can go see him there, perched among a hundred princes, a hundred constables, and ushers . . .

Corentin, a young man of humble origins, rises up in Parisian society, becoming a famous painter who is called upon to decorate the homes of Louis XIV’s mistresses. Yet his masterpiece is “The Eleven,” a revolutionary representation of the eleven members of the Committee of Public Safety during the Reign of Terror.


Harlem by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Release date: January 15
Publisher: Seagull Books

W. E. B. Du Bois has described the African American at the end of the nineteenth century as “two souls in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.” In the United States today, the hyphen between these two souls—African and American, African-American—is still being negotiated.

In Harlem, Spivak engages with thirty-four photographs by photographer Alice Attie as she attempts teleopoiesis, a reaching toward the distant other through the empathetic power of the imagination. In the hands of Spivak, teleopoiesis is a kind of identity politics in which one disrupts identity as a result of migration or exile. For the last two decades, Spivak notes, Harlem has been the focus of major economic development. As the old Harlem disappears into a present that simultaneously demands and rejects a cultural essence, Spivak dwells in Attie’s images, trying to navigate some middle ground between the rock of social history and the hard place of a seamless culture.


The End of Oulipo? by Scott Esposito and Lauren Elkin

Release date: January 16
Publisher: Zero Books

The Oulipo, founded in 1960s, is a group of writers and mathematicians which seeks to create literature using constrained experimental writing techniques such as palindromes, lipograms and snowballs. A lipogram is writing that excludes one or more letters. A snowball is a poem in which each line is a single word, and each successive word is one letter longer.

The Oulipo group celebrated its fiftieth birthday in 2010, and as it enters its sixth decade, its members, fans and critics are all wondering: where can it go from here? In two long essays Scott Esposito and Lauren Elkin consider Oulipo’s strengths, weaknesses, and impact on today’s experimental literature.


A Singular Modernity: Essay on the Ontology of the Present by Fredric Jameson

Release date: January 16
Publisher: Verso

The concepts of modernity and modernism are amongst the most controversial and vigorously debated in contemporary philosophy and cultural theory. In this new intervention, Fredric Jameson—perhaps the most influential and persuasive theorist of postmodernity—excavates and explores these notions in a fresh and illuminating manner.

The extraordinary revival of discussions of modernity, as well as of new theories of artistic modernism, demands attention in its own right. It seems clear that the (provisional) disappearance of alternatives to capitalism plays its part in the universal attempt to revive ‘modernity’ as a social ideal. Yet the paradoxes of the concept illustrate its legitimate history and suggest some rules for avoiding its misuse as well.

In this major new interpretation of the problematic, Jameson concludes that both concepts are tainted, but nonetheless yield clues as to the nature of the phenomena they purported to theorize. His judicious and vigilant probing of both terms—which can probably not be banished at this late date—helps us clarify our present political and artistic situations.


Exodus by lars Iyer

Release date: January 29
Publisher: Melville House

Lars and W., the two preposterous philosophical anti-heroes of Spurious and Dogma—called “Uproarious” by the New York Times Book Review—return and face a political, intellectual, and economic landscape in a state of total ruination.

With philosophy professors being moved to badminton departments and gin in short supply—although not short enough—the two hapless intellectuals embark on a relentless mission. Well, several relentless missions. For one, they must help gear a guerilla philosophy movement—conducted outside the academy, perhaps under bridges—that will save the study of philosophy after the long, miserable decades of intellectual desert known as the early 21st-century.

For another, they must save themselves, perhaps by learning to play badminton after all. Gin isn’t free, you know.


The Polyglots by William Gerhardie

Release date: January 29
Publisher: Melville House

A classic comedic masterpiece that will be embraced by a new generation of readers — both of serious fiction and of comedic ficton — The Polyglots initially published in 1925, and was celebrated by Anthony Powell as “a classic.”

It is the story of an eccentric Belgian family living in the Far East after World War I and the Russian Revolution. The tale is recounted by the family’s young English relative, Captain Georges Hamlet Alexander Diabologh, who visits during a military mission. Bursting with bizarre characters — from depressives to sex maniacs — Gerhardie delivers a remarkably absurd world where comedy and tragedy are never far apart.


The Fall of the Stone City by Ismail Kadare

Release date: January 29
Publisher: Grove

It is 1943, and the Second World War is ravaging Europe. Mussolini decides to pull out of his alliance with the Nazis, and withdraws the Italian troops occupying Albania. Soon after, Nazi forces invade Albania from occupied Greece. The first settlement in their path is the ancient stone city of Gjirokastër, an Albanian stronghold since the fourteenth century. The townsfolk have no choice but to surrender to the Nazis, but are confused when they see that one of the town’s residents, a certain Dr. Gurameto, seems to be showing the invading Nazi Colonel great hospitality. That evening, strains of Schubert from the doctor’s gramophone waft out into the cobbled streets of the city, and the sounds of a dinner party are heard. The sudden disappearance of the Nazis the next morning leaves the town wondering if they might have dreamt the events of the previous night. But as Albania moves into a period of occupation by the Nazis, and then is taken over by the communists, Dr. Gurameto is forced to answer for what happened on the evening of the Nazi’s invasion, and finally explain the events of that long, strange night.


Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau

Release date: January 31
Publisher: New Directions

Exercises in Style — Queneau’s experimental masterpiece and a hallmark book of the Oulipo literary group — retells this unexceptional tale ninety-nine times, employing the sonnet and the alexandrine, onomatopoeia and Cockney. An “Abusive” chapter heartily deplores the events; “Opera English” lends them grandeur. Queneau once said that of all his books, this was the one he most wished to see translated. He offered Barbara Wright his “heartiest congratulations,” adding: “I have always thought that nothing is untranslatable.Here is new proof.”

To celebrate the 65th anniversary of the 1947 French publication of Exercises de Style, New Directions has asked several writers to contribute new exercises as a tribute. Tantalizing examples include Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk,” Harry Mathew’s “Phonetic Eros,” and Frederic Tuten’s “Beatnik” exercises. This edition also retains Barbara Wright’s original introduction and reminiscence of working on this book — a translation that in 2008 was ranked first on the Author’s Society’s list of “The 50 Outstanding Translations of the Last 50 Years.”

February


Pniniad: Vladimir Nabokov and Marc Szeftel by Galya Diment

Release date: February 1
Publisher: University of Washington Press

In this wry, judiciously balanced, and thoroughly engaging book, Galya Diment explores the complicated and fascinating relationship between Vladimir Nabokov and his Cornell colleague Marc Szeftel who, in the estimate of many, served as the prototype for the gentle protagonist of the novel Pnin. She offers astute comments on NabokovÕs fictional process in creating Timogey Pnin and addresses hotly debated questions and long-standing riddles in Pnin and its history.


Percival Everett by Virgil Russell by Percival Everett

Release date: February 5
Publisher: Graywolf Press

A story inside a story inside a story. A man visits his aging father in a nursing home, where his father writes the novel he imagines his son would write. Or is it the novel that the son imagines his father would imagine, if he were to imagine the kind of novel the son would write?

Let’s simplify: a woman seeks an apprenticeship with a painter, claiming to be his long-lost daughter. A contractor-for-hire named Murphy can’t distinguish between the two brothers who employ him. And in Murphy’s troubled dreams, Nat Turner imagines the life of William Styron. These narratives twist together with anecdotes from the nursing home, each building on the other until they crest in a wild, outlandish excursion of the inmates led by the father. Anchoring these shifting plotlines is a running commentary between father and son that sheds doubt on the truthfulness of each story. Because, after all, what narrator can we ever trust?

Not only is Percival Everett by Virgil Russell a powerful, compassionate meditation on old age and its humiliations, it is an ingenious culmination of Everett’s recurring preoccupations. All of his prior work, his metaphysical and philosophical inquiries, his investigations into the nature of narrative, have led to this masterful book. Percival Everett has never been more cunning, more brilliant and subversive, than he is in this, his most important and elusive novel to date.


How Literature Saved My Life by David Shields

Release date: February 5
Publisher: Knopf

Blending confessional criticism and anthropological autobiography, Shields explores the power of literature (from Blaise Pascal’s Pensées to Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Renata Adler’s Speedboat to Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past) to make life survivable, maybe even endurable. Shields evokes his deeply divided personality (his “ridiculous” ambivalence), his character flaws, his woes, his serious despairs. Books are his life, but when they come to feel unlifelike and archaic, he revels in a new kind of art that is based heavily on quotation and consciousness and self-consciousness–perfect, since so much of what ails him is acute self-consciousness. And he shares with us a final irony: he wants “literature to assuage human loneliness, but nothing can assuage human loneliness. Literature doesn’t lie about this–which is what makes it essential.”


Petroleum Venus: a novel (New Russian Writing) by Alexander Snegirev

Release date: February 5
Publisher: Glas

This is the tragicomic story of a successful young architect, Fyodor, the reluctant single father of an adolescent son with Down syndrome. The son is a terrible embarrassment to Fyodor, who relies on his own parents to take care of him. Fyodor has fraught relationship with them as well. But then a fatal car crash and the accidental discovery of a mystical painting, “Petroleum Venus,” force this self-involved father to ultimately embrace his troubled son, his parents’ moral values, and the real things in life.

Petroleum Venus won the Debut Prize, was shortlisted for the National Bestseller Prize, nominated for the Russian Booker, and sat on the www.ozon.ru bestseller list for a year.


Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles by Ron Currie Jr

Release date: February 7
Publisher: Viking

The protagonist of Ron Currie, Jr.’s new novel has a problem­—or rather, several of them. He’s a writer whose latest book was destroyed in a fire. He’s mourning the death of his father, and has been in love with the same woman since grade school, a woman whose beauty and allure is matched only by her talent for eluding him. Worst of all, he’s not even his own man, but rather an amalgam of fact and fiction from Ron Currie’s own life. When Currie the character exiles himself to a small Caribbean island to write a new book about the woman he loves, he eventually decides to fake his death, which turns out to be the best career move he’s ever made. But fame and fortune come with a price, and Currie learns that in a time of twenty-four-hour news cycles, reality TV, and celebrity Twitter feeds, the one thing the world will not forgive is having been told a deeply satisfying lie.

What kind of distinction could, or should, be drawn between Currie the author and Currie the character? Or between the book you hold in your hands and the novel embedded in it? Whatever the answers, Currie, an inventive writer always eager to test the boundaries of storytelling in provocative ways, has essential things to impart along the way about heartbreak, reality, grief, deceit, human frailty, and blinding love.


Elegy for Kosovo by Ismail Kadare

Release date: February 5
Publisher: Arcade Publishing

June 28, 1389: Six hundred years before Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic called for the repression of the Albanian majority in Kosovo, there took place, on the Field of the Blackbirds, a battle shrouded in legend. A coalition of Serbs, Albanian Catholics, Bosnians, and Romanians confronted and were defeated by the invading Ottoman army of the Sultan Murad. This battle established the Muslim foothold in Europe and became the centerpiece of Serbian nationalist ideology, justifying the campaign of ethnic cleansing of Albanian Kosovars that the world witnessed with horror at the end of the past century.

In this eloquent and timely reflection on war, memory, and the destiny of two peoples, Ismail Kadare explores in fiction the legend and the consequences of that defeat. Elegy for Kosovo is a heartfelt yet clear-eyed lament for a land riven by hatreds as old as the Homeric epics and as young as the latest news broadcast.


Requiem for a Lost Empire by Andreï Makine

Release date: February 8
Publisher: Arcade Publishing

In this remarkable novel, which spans eighty years of the twentieth century, Andreï Makine describes, beautifully but unsparingly, the almost uninterrupted succession of violence, misery, and horror that has been visited on the Russian people since the October Revolution of 1917. For those quick to forget, or too young to remember, he paints a graphic portrait of those years in a three-generational novel that is as moving as it is revealing.

A young Russian army doctor is sent to distant shores to bind the wounds of those in Africa, the Near East, and South America that are pawns in the global political chess game during the Cold War. Recruited by an intelligence agent, he experiences the bloody reality of revolution on the ground. The book casts its eye back toward his grandfather Nikolai, a Red cavalry soldier fighting the Whites in 1920, and his father, whose story of World War II is invoked with a passion and force that bear comparison to the best writing on the subject.

From the battlefields of the 1920s to the harsh African heat and dust of the desert in the 1980s, from the orphanage where the narrator spent his youth to the art galleries and chic salons of the glittering new West, Requiem for a Lost Empire has all the sweep and depth, all the beauty and insight of the great Russian novels. It is, as the eminent French critic Edmonde Charles-Roux noted, “an astonishing novel, one that will surely stand the test of time.”


Europa: A Novel by Tim Parks

Release date: February 8
Publisher: Arcade Publishing

At the midpoint of his life, Jerry Marlow finds himself on a bus taking him from Milan to Strasbourg. Sitting slightly off-center on the long back seat, he takes stock of the wreckage strewn behind him—a failed marriage, a daughter going astray, and an affair that has left him both numb and licking every wound, self-inflicted or otherwise. Even Marlow’s teaching job at the university in Milan is jeopardized by new Italian laws restricting foreigners. And ahead? What lies in wait around the next bend? There are times when the most appalling premonitions seem all too plausible, yet the pull of hope cannot be resisted.

Fueled by Marlow’s scalpel-sharp commentary—double-edged and unsparing—Europa is a decidedly adult road novel with a rich international gallery of characters, and offers an explosive, sometimes hilarious portrait of a man patching together his life on a continent whose rhetoric of unity is less convincing—and far less exciting—than its bizarre polyglot passions and ancient conflicts. Bristling with ferocious wordplay, mordant comedy, and a vision of the sexes as honest as it is incorrect, Europa is Tim Parks’s finest novel to date.


The Colonies by Tomasz Rozycki

Release date: February 12
Publisher: Zephyr Press

Tomasz Rózycki’s sixth book seems like nothing if not an attempt to grapple with Elizabeth Bishop’s question, “Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?” But for Rózycki questions of travel and foreignness are never separate from those of history—personal history, political and national history, the history of things and places and trauma.


Paprika by Yasutaka Tsutsui

Release date: February 12
Publisher: Vintage

Widely acknowledged as Yasutaka Tsutsui’s masterpiece, Paprika unites his surreal, quirky imagination with a mind-bending narrative about a psychiatric institute that has developed the technology to invade people’s dreams.

When prototype models of a dream-invading device go missing at the Institute for Psychiatric Research, it transpires that someone is using them to drive people insane. Threatened both personally and professionally, brilliant psychotherapist Atsuko Chiba has to journey into the world of fantasy to fight her mysterious opponents. As she delves ever deeper into the imagination, the borderline between dream and reality becomes increasingly blurred, and nightmares begin to leak into the everyday realm. The scene is set for a final showdown between the dream detective and her enemies, with the subconscious as their battleground, and the future of the waking world at stake.


That Smell and Notes from Prison by Sonallah Ibrahim

Release date: February 13
Publisher: New Directions

That Smell is Sonallah Ibrahim’s modernist masterpiece and one of the most influential novels written in Arabic since WWII. Composed after a five-year term in prison, the semi-autobiographical story follows a recently released political prisoner as he wanders through Cairo, adrift in his native city. Living under house arrest, he tries to write of his tortuous experience, but instead smokes, spies on the neighbors, visits old lovers, and marvels at Egypt’s new consumer culture. Published in 1966, That Smell was immediately banned and the print-run confiscated. The original, uncensored version did not appear in Egypt for another twenty years.

For this edition, translator Robyn Creswell has also included an annotated selection of the author’s Notes from Prison, Ibrahim’s prison diaries—a personal archive comprising hundreds of handwritten notes copied onto Bafra-brand cigarette papers and smuggled out of jail. These stark, intense writings shed unexpected light on the sources and motives of Ibrahim’s groundbreaking novel. Also included in this edition is Ibrahim’s celebrated essay about the writing and reception of That Smell.


konkretion by Marion May Campbell

Release date: February 18
Publisher: UWA Publishing

By turns funny and moving, this story stages a dialogue around the romance of the Baader-Meinhof Gang’s revolutionary aspirations. Ex-commo Monique Piquet (aka Monica Picket) meets up in Paris with her former student, Angel Beigesang, who has just published konkretion – a dramatic re-imagining of Ulrike Meinhof and Gudrun Ensslin of the Red Army Faction. Like an old birdie in a familiar stomping ground, Monique bobbles through revolutionary and repressive Paris, recalling her earlier radicalism and its influence on Angel’s dangerous identification with revolutionaries. This exquisite book offers a fascinating look at the 1970s Baader-Meinhof Gang and follows Meinhof’s tripwire leap into illegality: her flight underground, crimes committed in the name of ‘armed struggle,’ and her incarceration. The book explores the use and power of language, politics, and romancing the law, and is an entertaining dialogue between two women.


La Boutique Obscure: 124 Dreams by Georges Perec

Release date: February 19
Publisher: Melville House

The beguiling, never-before-translated dream diary of Georges Perec. In La Boutique Obscure Perec once again revolutionized literary form, creating the world’s first “nocturnal autobiography.” From 1968 until 1972 — the period when he wrote his most well-known works — the beloved French stylist recorded his dreams. But as you might expect, his approach was far from orthodox.

Avoiding the hazy psychoanalysis of most dream journals, he challenged himself to translate his visions and subconscious churnings directly into prose. In laying down the nonsensical leaps of the imagination, he finds new ways 
to express the texture and ambiguity of dreams — those qualities that prove 
so elusive. Beyond capturing a universal experience for the first time and being a fine document of literary invention, La Boutique Obscure contains the seeds of some of Perec’s most famous books. It is also an intimate portrait of one of the great innovators of modern literature.


Tirza by Arnon Grunberg

Release date: February 19
Publisher: Open Letter

Jörgen Hofmeester once had it all: a beautiful wife, a nice house with a garden in an upperclass neighborhood in Amsterdam, a respectable job as an editor, two lovely daughters named Ibi and Tirza, and a large amount of money in a Swiss bank account. But during the preparations for Tirza’s graduation party, we come to know what he has lost. His wife has left him; Ibi is starting a bed and breakfast in France, an idea which he opposed; the director of the publishing house has fired him; and his savings have vanished in the wake of 9/11.

But Hofmeester still has Tirza, until she introduces him to her new boyfriend, Choukri—who bears a disturbing resemblance to Mohammed Atta—and they announce their plan to spend several months in Africa. A heartrending and masterful story of a man seeking redemption, Tirza marks a high point in Grunberg’s still-developing oeuvre.


The Poems, Short Fiction, and Criticism of Samuel Beckett by Samuel Beckett

Release date: February 19
Publisher: Grove



Ten White Geese: A Novel by Gerbrand Bakker

Release date: February 26
Publisher: Penguin

A woman rents a remote farm in rural Wales. She says her name is Emilie. An Emily Dickinson scholar, she has fled Amsterdam, having just confessed to an affair. On the farm she finds ten geese. One by one they disappear. Who is this woman? Will her husband manage to find her? The young man who stays the night: why won’t he leave? And the vanishing geese?

Set against a stark and pristine landscape, and with a seductive blend of solace and menace, this novel of stealth intrigue summons from a woman’s silent longing fugitive moments of profound beauty and compassion.


Mundo Cruel: Stories by Luis Negron

Release date: February 26
Publisher: Seven Stories Press

Luis Negrón’s debut collection reveals the intimate world of a small community in Puerto Rico joined together by its transgressive sexuality. The writing straddles the shifting line between pure, unadorned storytelling and satire, exploring the sometimes hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking nature of survival in a decidedly cruel world.


Come Along with Me: Classic Short Stories and an Unfinished Novel by Shirley Jackson

Release date: February 26
Publisher: Penguin Classics

At last, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” enters Penguin Classics, sixty-five years after it shocked America audiences and elicited the most responses of any piece in New Yorker history. In her gothic visions of small-town America, Jackson, the author of such masterworks as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, turns an ordinary world into a supernatural nightmare. This eclectic collection goes beyond her horror writing, revealing the full spectrum of her literary genius. In addition to Come Along with Me, Jackson’s unfinished novel about the quirky inner life of a lonely widow, it features sixteen short stories and three lectures she delivered during her last years.


Kafka Translated: How Translators have Shaped our Reading of Kafka by Michelle Woods

Release date: February 28
Publisher: Continuum

Kafka Translated is the first book-length publication to look at the issue of translation and Kafka’s work. What effect do these translations have on how we read Kafka? Are our interpretations of Kafka influenced by the translators’ interpretations? In what ways has Kafka been ‘translated’ into Anglo-American culture by popular culture and by academics? Woods focuses on issues central to the burgeoning field of Translation Studies: the notion of cultural untranslatability; the centrality of female translators in literary history; and the under-representation of the influence of the translator as interpreter of literary texts. The book specifically focuses on the role of two of Kafka’s first translators, Milena Jesenská and Willa Muir, both women, and how this might allow us to reassess reading Kafka. From here Woods opens up the whole process of translation and re-examines accepted and prevailing interpretations of Kafka’s work.

March


Speech Begins After Death by Michel Foucault

Release date: March 1
Publisher: Univ Of Minnesota Press

In 1968, Michel Foucault agreed to a series of interviews with critic Claude Bonnefoy, which were to be published in book form. Bonnefoy wanted a dialogue with Foucault about his relationship to writing rather than about the content of his books. The project was abandoned, but a transcript of the initial interview survived and is now being published for the first time in English. In this brief and lively exchange, Foucault reflects on how he approached the written word throughout his life, from his school days to his discovery of the pleasure of writing.

Wide ranging, characteristically insightful, and unexpectedly autobiographical, the discussion is revelatory of Foucault’s intellectual development, his aims as a writer, his clinical methodology (“let’s say I’m a diagnostician”), and his interest in other authors, including Raymond Roussel and Antonin Artaud. Foucault discloses, in ways he never had previously, details about his home life, his family history, and the profound sense of obligation he feels to the act of writing. In his Introduction, Philippe Artières investigates Foucault’s engagement in various forms of oral discourse—lectures, speeches, debates, press conferences, and interviews—and their place in his work. Speech Begins after Death shows Foucault adopting a new language, an innovative autobiographical communication that is neither conversation nor monologue, and is one of his most personal statements about his life and writing.


Red Doc> by Anne Carson

Release date: March 5
Publisher: Knopf

Some years ago I wrote a book about a boy named Geryon who was red and had wings and fell in love with Herakles. Recently I began to wonder what happened to them in later life. Red Doc> continues their adventures in a very different style and with changed names. To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing.


The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte

Release date: March 5
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Returning to the form in which he began, Sam Lipsyte, author of the New York Times bestseller The Ask, offers up The Fun Parts, a book of bold, hilarious, and deeply felt fiction. A boy eats his way to self-discovery while another must battle the reality-brandishing monster preying on his fantasy realm. Meanwhile, an aerobics instructor, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, makes the most shocking leap imaginable to save her soul. These are just a few of the stories, some first published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, or Playboy, that unfold in Lipsyte’s richly imagined world.
Other tales feature a grizzled and possibly deranged male birth doula, a doomsday hustler about to face the multi-universal truth of “the real-ass jumbo,” and a tawdry glimpse of the northern New Jersey high school shot-putting circuit, circa 1986. Combining both the tragicomic dazzle of his beloved novels and the compressed vitality of his classic debut collection, The Fun Parts is Lipsyte at his best—an exploration of new voices and vistas from a writer Time magazine has said “everyone should read.”


Letters of William Gaddis

Release date: March 7
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Now recognized as one of the giants of postwar American fiction, William Gaddis (1922–98) shunned the spotlight during his life, which makes this collection of his letters a revelation. Beginning in 1930 when Gaddis was at boarding-school and ending in September 1998, a few months before his death, these letters function as a kind of autobiography, and are all the more valuable because Gaddis was not an autobiographical writer. Here we see him forging his first novel The Recognitions (1955) while living in Mexico, fighting in a revolution in Costa Rica, and working in Spain, France, and North Africa. Over the next twenty years he struggles to find time to write the National Book Award-winning J R (1975) amid the complications of work and family; deals with divorce and disillusionment before reviving his career with Carpenter’s Gothic (1985); then teaches himself enough about the law to indite A Frolic of His Own (1994), which earned him another NBA. Returning to a topic he first wrote about in the 1940s, he finishes his last novel Agapē Agape as he lay dying.


Haunted Houses by Lynne Tillman

Release date: March 12
Publisher: Red Lemonade

In uncompromising and fresh prose, Tillman tells the story of three very contemporary girls. Grace, Emily and Jane collide with friends, family, and culture under dark and comic circumstances, presented in uncanny, disturbing, and sometimes shocking terms. In Haunted Houses, Tillman wries of the past within the present, and of the inescapability of private memory and public history. A caustic account of how America makes and unmakes a young woman.


They Dragged Them through the Streets by Hilary Plum

Release date: March 12
Publisher: Fiction Collective 2

A veteran of the US war in Iraq commits suicide, and his brother joins with four friends in search of ways to protest the war. Together they undertake a series of small-scale bombings until an explosion claims one of their own. This grave and elegant novel is an elegy for these two deaths and the war itself.

They Dragged Them Through the Streets is a bold meditation on idealism, anger, and the American home front’s experience of today’s wars. This is an innovative work in the great tradition of war literature and a singular chronicle of one generation’s conflicts.


Middle C by William H. Gass

Release date: March 12
Publisher: Knopf

A literary event–the long-awaited novel, almost two decades in work, by one of the most revered American writers of our time, author of the universally acclaimed The Tunnel (“The most beautiful, most complex, most disturbing novel to be published in my lifetime.” –Michael Silverblatt, Los Angeles Times; “An extraordinary achievement”–Michael Dirda, The Washington Post); Omensetter’s Luck (“The most important work of fiction by an American in this literary generation” –Richard Gilman, The New Republic); Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife; and In The Heart of the Heart of the Country (“These stories scrape the nerve and pierce the heart. They also replenish the language.” –Eliot Fremont-Smith, The New York Times).

Middle C tells the story of this journey–an investigation into the nature of human identity and the ways in which each of us is several selves, and whether any one self is more genuine than another.It begins in Graz, Austria, in 1938. Joseph Skizzen’s father, pretending to be Jewish, leaves his country for England with his wife and two children to avoid any connection with the Nazis, whom he foresees will soon take over his homeland. In London with his family for the duration of the war, he disappears under mysterious circumstances. The family is relocated to a small town in Ohio where Joseph Skizzen grows up, becomes a decent amateur piano player, in part to cope with the abandonment of his father, and creates as well a fantasy self–a professor with a fantasy goal: to establish the Inhumanity Museum. Skizzen has trained himself to accept guilt for crimes against humanity and protects himself with the creation of a secret self that is able to remain sinless.


Wm & H’ry by J.C. Hallman

Release date: March 15
Publisher: University Of Iowa Press

“J. C. Hallman, with wit and wisdom, maps the now flashing, now somber streams of thought coursing through the correspondence of the James brothers, two of the undisputed geniuses in American letters. . . . In Hallman’s able hands, Wm and H’ry come dazzlingly alive as well-seasoned guides through the depths and shoals of the writing life and of everyday living.”—Eric G. Wilson, author, My Business Is to Create: Blake’s Infinite Writing and Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck: Why We Can’t Look Away


The End of San Francisco by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Release date: March 19
Publisher: City Lights

The End of San Francisco breaks apart the conventions of memoir to reveal the passions and perils of a life that refuses to conform to the rules of straight or gay normalcy. A budding queer activist escapes to San Francisco, in search of a world more politically charged, sexually saturated, and ethically consistent—this is the person who evolves into Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, infamous radical queer troublemaker, organizer and agitator, community builder, and anti-assimilationist commentator. Here is the tender, provocative, and exuberant story of the formation of one of the contemporary queer movement’s most savvy and outrageous writers and spokespersons.

Using an unrestrained associative style to move kaleidoscopically between past, present, and future, Sycamore conjures the untidy push and pull of memory, exposing the tensions between idealism and critical engagement, trauma and self-actualization, inspiration and loss. Part memoir, part social history, and part elegy, The End of San Francisco explores and explodes the dream of a radical queer community and the mythical city that was supposed to nurture it.


Speedboat by Renata Adler

Release date: March 19
Publisher: NYRB Classics

It has been over 35 years since Renata Adler’s Speedboat charged through the literary establishment, blasting genre walls and pointing the way for a newly liberated method of writing. This unclassifiable work is simultaneously novel, memoir, commonplace book, confession, and critique. It is the story of every man and woman cursed with too much consciousness and too little comprehension and it is the story of Jen Fein, a journalist negotiating the fraught landscape of contemporary urban America; her voice is cuttingly perceptive, darkly funny, and always fiercely intelligent as she breaks narrative convention to send dispatches back from the world as she finds it. This new edition of Speedboat will include an interview between Renata Adler and Guy Trebay discussing the genesis and composition of the book.


Pitch Dark by Renata Adler

Release date: March 19
Publisher: NYRB Classics

Pitch Dark, Renata Adler’s follow up to her prize winning book Speedboat, is a book of questions. It is also a book of false starts, red herrings, misunderstandings, and all-too-fleeting revelations. Kate Ennis is poised at a critical moment in her affair with a married lover, and moments (conversations, things unsaid, misunderstandings) of that relationship reverberate throughout the novel, following Kate from her house in rural Connecticut and her New York City brownstone apartment, to a small island off the coast of Washington, and to an utterly dark road in a remote corner of Ireland. Told in Adler’s celebrated fragmented style, and constructed from the bare bones language of everyday life, Pitch Dark transcends its parts to come to the kind of wisdom achievable only after a relentless quest.


Distant Lands: An Anthology of Poets Who Don’t Exist by Agnieszka Kuciak

Release date: March 19
Publisher: White Pines Press

“Mystical, mischievous, and musical, Kuciak enchants me with the scope of her imagination, her whimsical flirtations with identity, theology, and the very nature of human existence. I am delighted by her lyrical flare, her wit, and her remarkable ability to be both one and many poets, or one poet with twenty one voices.”—Nin Andrews

This faux anthology of twenty-one invented poets belongs in the company of world literature’s distinguished fabulists—Fernando Pessoa and Italo Calvino—in blurring the boundary between the textual and actual worlds.


Birth Certificate: The Story of Danilo Kis by Mark Thompson

Release date: March 19
Publisher: Cornell University Press

A subtle analysis of a rich and varied body of writing, Birth Certificate is also a careful and sensitive telling of a life that experienced some of the last century’s greatest cruelties. Kis’s father was a Hungarian Jew, his mother a Montenegrin of Orthodox faith. The father disappeared into the Holocaust and the son-cosmopolitan, anticommunist, and passionately opposed to the myth-drenched nationalisms of his native lands-grew up chafing against the hypocrisies of Titoism. His writing broke with the epic mode, pioneered modernist techniques in his language, fulminated against literary kitsch, and sketched out a literary heritage “with no Sun as its Center and Tyrant.” Joyce and Borges were influences on his writing, which nevertheless is stunningly original. The best known of his works are Garden, Ashes; The Encyclopedia of the Dead; Hourglass; The Anatomy Lesson; and A Tomb for Boris Davidovich.

Over the course of nearly two decades, Mark Thompson studied Kis’s papers and interviewed his family members, friends, and admirers. His intimate understanding of the writer’s life and his sure grasp of the region’s history inform his revelatory readings of Kis’s individual works.More than an appreciation of an important literary and cultural figure, this book is also a compelling guide to the destructive policies which would, shortly after Kis’s death, generate the worst violence in Europe since World War II. Thompson’s book pays tribute to Kis’s experimentalism by being itself experimental in form. It is patterned as a series of commentaries on a short autobiographical text that Kis called “Birth Certificate.” This unusual structure adds to the interest and intrigue of the book, and is appropriate for treating so autobiographical a writer who believed that literary meaning is always deeply shaped by other texts.


The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon

Release date: March 19
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Aleksandar Hemon’s lives begin in Sarajevo, a small, blissful city where a young boy’s life is consumed with street soccer with his casually multiethnic group of friends, resentment of his younger sister, and trips abroad with his engineer-cum-beekeeper father. Here, a young man’s life is about poking at the pretensions of the city’s elders with American music, bad poetry, and slightly better journalism. And then Chicago: watching war break out in Sarajevo and the city come under siege, with no way to return home; the Hemons fleeing Sarajevo with the family dog, leaving behind all else they had ever known; and Hemon himself starting a new life, his own family, in this new city.
And yet this is not really a memoir. Like Hemon’s fiction, The Book of My Lives defies convention and expectation. It is a love song to two different cities; it is a heartbreaking paean to the bonds of family; it is a stirring exhortation to go out and play soccer—and not for the exercise. It is a book driven by passion but built on fierce intelligence, devastating experience, and sharp insight. And like the best narratives, it is a book that will leave you a different reader—a different person, with a new way of looking at the world—when you’ve finished. For fans of Hemon’s fiction, The Book of My Lives is simply indispensable; for the uninitiated, it is the perfect introduction to one of the great writers of our time.


The Enchanted Wanderer: and Other Stories by Nikolai Leskov

Release date: March 26
Publisher: Knopf

The award-winning translators of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, and Gogol now bring us a Russian writer ripe for rediscovery, whose earthy and exuberant stories, famous in his own country, have never before been adequately translated into English. Leskov was Chekhov’s favorite writer and was greatly admired by Tolstoy and Maxim Gorky. His short stories—innovative in form, richly playful in language, now tragic, now satirical, now wildly comic in subject matter—exploded the prevailing traditions of nineteenth-century Russian fiction and paved the way for such famous literary successors as Mikhail Bulgakov. These seventeen stories are visionary and fantastic, and yet always grounded in reality, peopled by outsized characters that include serfs, princes, military officers, Gypsy girls, wayward monks, horse dealers, nomadic Tartars, and, above all, the ubiquitous figure of the garrulous, enthralling, not entirely trustworthy storyteller.

In stories long considered classics, Leskov takes the speech patterns of oral storytelling and spins them in new and startlingly modern ways, presenting seemingly artless yarns that are in fact highly sophisticated. It is the great gift of this new translation that it allows us to hear the many vibrant voices of Leskov’s singular art.


African Lives: An Anthology of Memoirs and Autobiographies edited by Geoff Wisner

Release date: March 31
Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers

The anthology presents selections from the work of many of Africas finest writers and most significant personalities from across the continent and spanning several centuries. Enhancing the material, Geoff Wisner s introduction and biographical notes provide important context for the selections and also highlight the challenges that African memoirs pose to the preconceptions of Western readers. The result is a book that is both an absorbing read and a valuable resource for courses on Africa.

April


Time on My Hands: A Novel by Giorgio Vasta

Release date: April 2
Publisher: Faber & Faber

When does a game stop being a game? And what would cause a young boy to commit an act of savage violence? The year is 1978, and a chilling drama is unfolding in Rome. Members of a leftist terrorist group known as the Red Brigades have kidnapped the former Italian prime minister, Aldo Moro, and are holding him in a secret prison, while broadcasting their demands to the public.

Far from Rome, in Palermo, Sicily, a trio of eleven-year-old schoolboys are following Moro’s abduction with intense interest. To their minds, the terrorists are warriors, striking a blow at the stifling conformity and propriety of everyday Italian life. Just like the Red Brigades, the boys give themselves code names: Nimbus, Radius, and Flight. They shave their heads, develop a secret language, and begin a life of escalating crime in worshipful imitation of their heroes. But when Moro’s body is discovered in the trunk of a car, riddled with bullets, and as the stakes of the friends’ games grow higher, Nimbus, the most innocent of the three, must decide just how far he is willing to go.


Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation For Me To Think by Alexander Vvedensky

Release date: April 2
Publisher: NYRB Poets

Alexander Vvedensky, co-founder with the poet Daniil Kharms of OBERIU, a small avant-garde collective in late-1920s Soviet Leningrad, is the least known of major Russian twentieth-century poets. He stands apart like a dark star in a constellation that includes Mandelstam, Akhmatova, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva, Mayakovsky, and Khlebnikov. Younger than these poets by a decade, Vvedensky came of age under the Soviet system, when the language used to describe reality appeared to have lost all literal meaning. He saw his task to be “the poetic critique of reason” and claimed “time, death, and God” as his main themes. His poetry is suffused with a philosophical lyricism that recalls the ending of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. It can also get quite hilarious: the author had a day job as a children’s writer. After incarceration from 1931 to 1933 for “literary sabotage,” Vvedensky kept his poetry private, sharing it only with Kharms and others in their tiny underground circle of writers and philosophers. When war broke out in 1941, the authorities rearrested the pair as potential subversives: Kharms died in a prison asylum and Vvedensky in a prison transport. Both were only thirty-seven years old. Their manuscripts were published during the collapse of the Soviet Union, half a century after the deaths of the authors; An Invitation for Me to Think is Vvedensky’s first collection to appear in English.


Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer


The illuminating letters of the National Book Award winning poet Robert Bly and the Nobel Prize winning poet Tomas TranströmerRelease date: April 2
Publisher: Graywolf

One day in spring 1964, the young American poet Robert Bly left his rural farmhouse and drove 150 miles to the University of Minnesota library in Minneapolis to obtain the latest book by the young Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer. When Bly returned home that evening with a copy of Tranströmer’s The Half-Finished Heaven, he found a letter waiting for him from its author. With this remarkable coincidence as its beginning, what followed was a vibrant correspondence between two poets who would become essential contributors to global literature. Airmail collects more than 290 letters, written from 1964 until 1990, when Tranströmer suffered a stroke that has left him partially paralyzed and diminished his capacity to write.

Across their correspondence, the two poets are profoundly engaged with each other and with the larger world: the Vietnam War, European and American elections, and the struggles of affording a life as a writer. Airmail also illuminates the work of translation as Bly began to render Tranströmer’s poetry into English and Tranströmer began to translate Bly’s poetry into Swedish. Their collaboration quickly turned into a friendship that has lasted fifty years. Insightful, brilliant, and often funny, Airmail provides a rare portrait of two artists who have become integral to each other’s particular genius. This publication marks the first time letters by Bly and Tranströmer have been made available in the United States.

Harvard Square: A Novel by André Aciman

Release date: April 8
Publisher: W.W. Norton

It’s the fall of 1977, and amid the lovely, leafy streets of Cambridge a young Harvard graduate student, a Jew from Egypt, longs more than anything to become an assimilated American and a professor of literature. He spends his days in a pleasant blur of seventeenth-century fiction, but when he meets a brash, charismatic Arab cab driver in a Harvard Square café, everything changes.

Nicknamed Kalashnikov—Kalaj for short—for his machine-gun vitriol, the cab driver roars into the student’s life with his denunciations of the American obsession with “all things jumbo and ersatz”—Twinkies, monster television sets, all-you-can-eat buffets—and his outrageous declarations on love and the art of seduction. The student finds it hard to resist his new friend’s magnetism, and before long he begins to neglect his studies and live a double life: one in the rarified world of Harvard, the other as an exile with Kalaj on the streets of Cambridge. Together they carouse the bars and cafés around Harvard Square, trade intimate accounts of their love affairs, argue about the American dream, and skinny-dip in Walden Pond. But as final exams loom and Kalaj has his license revoked and is threatened with deportation, the student faces the decision of his life: whether to cling to his dream of New World assimilation or risk it all to defend his Old World friend. Harvard Square is a sexually charged and deeply American novel of identity and aspiration at odds. It is also an unforgettable, moving portrait of an unlikely friendship from one of the finest stylists of our time.

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control by Medea Benjamin and Barbara Ehrenreich

Release date: April 9
Publisher: Verso

Drone Warfare is the first comprehensive analysis of one of the fastest growing—and most secretive—fronts in global war: the rise of robot warfare. In 2000, the Pentagon had fewer than fifty aerial drones; ten years later, it had nearly 7,500. Drones are already a $5 billion business in the US alone; the US Air Force now trains more drone “pilots” than bomber and fighter pilots combined.

Medea Benjamin provides the first extensive analysis of who is producing the drones, where they are being used, who pilots these unmanned planes, and what are the legal and moral implications. In vivid, readable style, the book also looks at what activists, lawyers, and scientists across the globe are doing to ground these weapons. Benjamin argues that the assassinations we are carrying out from the air will come back to haunt us when others start doing the same thing—to us.

The Abolition of Species by Dietmar Dath

Release date: April 15
Publisher: Seagull Books

One of Germany’s most celebrated contemporary writers, Dath has distinguished himself through works that deftly combine popular culture—particularly music—with left-wing politics and the fantastic. The Abolition of Species embodies the best of what Dath is known for and will cement his reputation among English readers excited to discover one of the freshest voices in contemporary literature.

Italo Calvino: Letters, 1941-1985

Release date: April 21
Publisher: Princeton University Press

This is the first collection in English of the extraordinary letters of one of the great writers of the twentieth century. Italy’s most important postwar novelist, Italo Calvino (1923-1985) achieved worldwide fame with such books as Cosmicomics, Invisible Cities, and If on a winter’s night a traveler. But he was also an influential literary critic, an important literary editor, and a masterful letter writer whose correspondents included Umberto Eco, Primo Levi, Gore Vidal, Leonardo Sciascia, Natalia Ginzburg, Michelangelo Antonioni, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Luciano Berio. This book includes a generous selection of about 650 letters, written between World War II and the end of Calvino’s life. Selected and introduced by Michael Wood, the letters are expertly rendered into English and annotated by well-known Calvino translator Martin McLaughlin.

The letters are filled with insights about Calvino’s writing and that of others; about Italian, American, English, and French literature; about literary criticism and literature in general; and about culture and politics. The book also provides a kind of autobiography, documenting Calvino’s Communism and his resignation from the party in 1957, his eye-opening trip to the United States in 1959-60, his move to Paris (where he lived from 1967 to 1980), and his trip to his birthplace in Cuba (where he met Che Guevara). Some lengthy letters amount almost to critical essays, while one is an appropriately brief defense of brevity, and there is an even shorter, reassuring note to his parents written on a scrap of paper while he and his brother were in hiding during the antifascist Resistance.

The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee

Release date: April 23
Publisher:

After crossing oceans, a man and a boy arrive in a new land. Here they are each assigned a name and an age, and held in a camp in the desert while they learn Spanish, the language of their new country. As Simon and David they make their way to the relocation centre in the city of Novilla, where officialdom treats them politely but not necessarily helpfully. Simon finds a job in a grain wharf. The work is unfamiliar and backbreaking, but he soon warms to his stevedore comrades, who during breaks conduct philosophical dialogues on the dignity of labour, and generally take him to their hearts.

Now he must set about his task of locating the boy’s mother. Though like everyone else who arrives in this new country he seems to be washed clean of all traces of memory, he is convinced he will know her when he sees her. And indeed, while walking with the boy in the countryside Simon catches sight of a woman he is certain is the mother, and persuades her to assume the role. David’s new mother comes to realise that he is an exceptional child, a bright, dreamy boy with highly unusual ideas about the world. But the school authorities detect a rebellious streak in him and insist he be sent to a special school far away. His mother refuses to yield him up, and it is Simon who must drive the car as the trio flees across the mountains. The Childhood of Jesus is a profound, beautiful and continually surprising novel from a very great writer.


The Skin by Curzio Malaparte

Release date: April 23
Publisher: NYRB Classics

“It is a shameful thing to win a war.” The reliably unorthodox Curzio Malaparte’s own service as an Italian liaison officer with the Allies during the invasion of Italy was the basis for this searing and surreal novel, in which the contradictions inherent in any attempt to simultaneously conquer and liberate a people beset the triumphant but ingenuous American forces as they make their way up the peninsula. Malaparte’s account begins in occupied Naples, where veterans of the disbanded and humiliated Italian army beg for work, and ceremonial dinners for high Allied officers or important politicians feature the last remaining sea creatures in the city’s famous aquarium. He leads the American Fifth Army along the Via Appia Antica into Rome, where the celebrations of a vast, joy-maddened crowd are only temporarily interrupted when one well-wisher slips beneath the tread of a Sherman tank. As the Allied advance continues north to Florence and Milan, the civil war intensifies, provoking in the author equal abhorrence for killing fellow Italians and for the “heroes of tomorrow,” those who will come out of hiding to shout “Long live liberty” as soon as the Germans are chased away.

Like Céline, another anarchic satirist and disillusioned veteran of two world wars, Malaparte paints his compatriots as in a fun-house mirror that yet speaks the truth, creating terrifying, grotesque, and often darkly comic scenes that will not soon be forgotten. Unlike the French writer however, he does so in the characteristically sophisticated, lush, yet unsentimental prose that was as responsible for his fame as was his surprising political trajectory. The Skin was condemned by the Roman Catholic Church, and placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.


A Burnt Child: A Novel by Stig Dagerman

Release date: April 24
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Set in a working-class neighborhood in Stockholm, the story revolves around a young man named Bengt who falls into deep, private turmoil with the unexpected death of his mother. As he struggles to cope with her loss, his despair slowly transforms to rage when he discovers his father had a mistress. But as Bengt swears revenge on behalf of his mother’s memory, he also finds himself drawn into a fevered and conflicted relationship with this woman—a turn that causes him to question his previous faith in morality, virtue, and fidelity.

Written in a taut and beautifully naturalistic tone, Dagerman illuminates the rich atmospheres of Bengt’s life, both internal and eternal: from his heartache and fury to the moody streets of Stockholm and the Hitchcockian shadows of tension and threat in the woods and waters of Sweden’s remote islands. A Burnt Child remains Dagerman’s most widely read novel, both in Sweden and worldwide, and is one of the crowning works of his short but celebrated career.

A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser

Release date: April 25
Publisher: New Directions

A Little Ramble: In the Spirit of Robert Walser is a project initiated by the gallerist Donald Young, who saw in Walser an exemplary figure through whom connections between art and literature could be discussed anew. He invited a group of artists to respond to Walser’s writing. A Little Ramble is a result of that collaboration.

The artists have chosen stories by Robert Walser as well as excerpts from Walks with Robert Walser, conversations with the writer recorded by his guardian Carl Seelig. Much of this material appears in English for the first time.Accompanying these pieces are over fifty color artworks created specifically for this project, a preface by Donald Young, and an afterword by Lynne Cooke.

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Release date: April 30
Publisher: Knopf

Nora Eldridge, a thirty-seven-year-old elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who long ago abandoned her ambition to be a successful artist, has become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and tidy neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Then into her classroom walks Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale. He and his parents–dashing Skandar, a Lebanese scholar and professor at the École Normale Supérleure; and Sirena, an effortlessly glamorous Italian artist–have come to Boston for Skandar to take up a fellowship at Harvard. When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies who call him a “terrorist,” Nora is drawn into the complex world of the Shahid family: she finds herself falling in love with them, separately and together. Nora’s happiness explodes her boundaries, until Sirena’s careless ambition leads to a shattering betrayal. Told with urgency, intimacy, and piercing emotion, this story of obsession and artistic fulfillment explores the thrill–and the devastating cost–of giving in to one’s passions.

May


Zigzag Through the Bitter-orange Trees by Ersi Sotiropoulos

Release date: May 1
Publisher: Interlink

Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees was first published in Greece, where it was acclaimed as “the best novel of the decade” and became the first novel to win both the Greek State Prize for Literature and the prestigious Book Critics’ Award.

Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees weaves together the stories of four disparate young people in modern Greece: Lia, dying in the hospital from a mysterious virus; her brother Sid, the disaffected wanderer, her only remaining connection to the outside world; Lia’s nurse Sotiris, an unstable blend of cowardice and desire; and the twelve-year-old rebel Nina, who dreams to break away from the humdrum life around her. Their four unforgettable voices mingle in a poignant black comedy of isolation and yearning, illusion and vengeance and the hunger for connection. With disarming power, Sotiropoulos portrays the conflicted world of the young — passionate and cynical, beautiful and grotesque.


Istemi by Alexei Nikitin

Release date: May 1
Publisher: Peter Owen

The eponymous hero, part of a brood of bored science students, helps concoct a strategy game set in different eras where each “ruler” of his territory competes in Orwellian permanent war. But the KGB uncovers highly plausible and suspicious military plans and a long penance for each “combatant” ensues. All too late, Istemi is the first to realize the mysterious and disturbingly prophetic nature of a seemingly innocent invention. He is powerless as events long foretold for each unfold, including a hellish tour of duty in Afghanistan, incarceration in an asylum, and mindless bureaucratic drudgery—but what fate awaits Istemi as communist absurdist reality turns into postcapitalism nightmare?


Hypothermia by Alvaro Enrigue

Release date: May 2
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Shocking, erudite, and affecting, these twenty-odd short stories, “micro-novels,” and vignettes span a vast territory, from Mexico City to Washington, D.C. to the late nineteenth-century Adriatic to the blood-soaked foothills of California’s gold-rush country, introducing an array of bewildering characters: a professor of Latin American literature who survives a tornado and, possibly, an orgy; an electrician confronting the hardest wiring job of his career; a hapless garbage man who dreams of life as a pirate; and a prodigiously talented Polish baritone waging musical war against his church. Hypothermia explores the perilous limits of love, language, and personality, the brutal gravity of cultural misunderstandings, and the coldly smirking will to self-destruction hiding within our irredeemably carnal lives.


La Vida Doble by Arturo Fontaine

Release date: May 6
Publisher: Yale University Press

Set in the darkest years of the Pinochet dictatorship, La Vida Doble is the story of Lorena, a leftist militant who arrives at a merciless turning point when every choice she confronts is impossible. Captured by agents of the Chilean repression, withstanding brutal torture to save her comrades, she must now either forsake the allegiances of motherhood or betray the political ideals to which she is deeply committed.

Arturo Fontaine’s Lorena is a study in contradictions—mother and combatant, intellectual and lover, idealist and traitor—and he places her within a historical context that confounds her dilemmas. Though she has few viable options, she is no mere victim, and Fontaine disallows any comfortable high moral ground. His novel is among the most subtle explorations of human violence ever written.


My Struggle Book 2 by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Release date: May 7
Publisher: Archipelago Books

Having left his first wife, Karl Ove Knausgaard moves to Stockholm, Sweden, where he leads a solitary existence. He strikes up a deep friendship with another exiled Norwegian, a Nietzschean intellectual and boxing fanatic named Geir. He also tracks down Linda, whom he met at a writers’ workshop a few years earlier and who fascinated him deeply. Book Two is at heart a love story—the story of Karl Ove falling in love with his wife. But the novel also tells other stories: of becoming a father, of the turbulence of family life, of outrageously unsuccessful attempts at a family vacation, of the emotional strain of birthday parties for children, and of the daily frustrations, rhythms, and distractions of Stockholm keeping him from (and filling) his novel.


Wrecked by Charlotte Roche

Release date: May 7
Publisher: Grove

“It’s easier to give a blow job than to make coffee.” That’s what Elizabeth Kiehl, mother of seven-year-old Liza thinks to herself, after a particularly lengthy and inventive bout of sex with her husband Georg—recounted in detail over the book’s first twenty pages. Elizabeth goes to great efforts to pleasure her husband in the bedroom, and also is an extremely thoughtful and caring mother to her daughter. But the perfect mother and wife act she puts on hides a painful past and a tragic rift in her psyche, which she is working through in weekly sessions with her therapist. Sex is the other tool that she uses to relax herself. Elizabeth and Georg watch porn together, and even go off on joint trips to a local brothel for threesomes with prostitutes while their daughter is at school. But is their relationship unhealthy, even tragic, or just a very modern marriage?


Where There’s Love, There’s Hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo

Release date: May 14
Publisher: Melville House


Solip by Ken Baumann

Release date: May 14
Publisher: Tyrant Books

Confession time: Ken Baumann’s debut Solip isn’t a novel. Think of how it feels to watch an engrossing film; now imagine becoming that film, your vision little more than a flickering image, your body just a burst of white vinyl. Baumann’s non-novel, a vast detonation of language, not only captures that feeling, but also challenges you not to be held in its thrall. Indebted to Samuel Beckett and Gaspar Noé, Solip asks the reader to give up all human prejudice and surrender to life’s new texture, the flesh become word: a code all Baumann’s own, which bludgeons language as much as it opens prose fiction up to the highest horizon. Solip is a world for those who already dwell in the sentence, an anarchic hell that sounds something like heaven, by one of America’s most promising young writers.


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Release date: May 14
Publisher: Knopf

From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a powerful new novel–her first in seven years: a story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home. As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. Ifemelu–beautiful, self-assured–departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze–the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor–had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion–for their homeland and for each other–they will face the toughest decisions of their lives. Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.


Nymphs by Giorgio Agamben

Release date: May 15
Publisher: Seagull Books

In 1900, Dutch art historians André Jolles and Aby Warburg constructed an experimental dialogue in which Jolles supposed he had fallen in love with the figure of a young woman in a painting: “A fantastic figure—shall I call her a servant girl, or rather a classical nymph?…what is the meaning of it all?…Who is the nymph? Where does she come from?” Warburg’s response: “in essence she is an elemental spirit, a pagan goddess in exile,” serves as the touchstone for this wide-ranging and theoretical exploration of female representation in iconography.

In Nymphs, the newest translation of Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben’s work, the author notes that academic research has lingered on the “pagan goddess,” while the concept of “elemental spirit,” ignored by scholars, is vital to the history of iconography. Tracing the genealogy of this idea, Agamben goes on to examine subjects as diverse as the aesthetic theories of choreographer Domineco da Piacenza, Friedrich Theodor Vischer’s essay on the “symbol,” Walter Benjamin’s concept of the dialectic image, and the bizarre discoveries of photographer Nathan Lerner in 1972. From these investigations, there emerges a startlingly original exploration of the ideas of time and the image.


Literary Miniatures by Florence Noiville

Release date: May 22
Publisher: Seagull Books

Selected from the pages of Le Monde, the interviews conducted by Florence Noiville are unequaled in literary journalism. In Literary Miniatures, Noiville captures the words and views of some of the best known writers of the twentieth century, engaging luminaries like Saul Bellow, Nadine Gordimer, Aharon Appelfeld, and A. S. Byatt in revealing dialogue. In this collection, Noiville converses with Don DeLillo, reasons with Adolfo Bioy Casares, passes the time with Milan Kundera, and gently interrogates John Le Carré.


Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature by Jorge Luis Borges

Release date: May 23
Publisher: New Directions

Writing for Harper’s Magazine, Edgardo Krebs describes Professor Borges:“A compilation of the twenty-five lectures Borges gave in 1966 at the University of Buenos Aires, where he taught English literature. Starting with the Vikings’ kennings and Beowulf and ending with Stevenson and Oscar Wilde, the book traverses a landscape of ‘precursors,’cross-cultural borrowings, and genres of expression, all connected by Borges into a vast interpretive web. This is the most surprising and useful of Borges’s works to have appeared posthumously.”

Borges takes us on a startling, idiosyncratic, fresh, and highly opinionated tour of English literature, weaving together countless cultural traditions of the last three thousand years. Borges’s lectures — delivered extempore by a man of extraordinary erudition — bring the canon to remarkably vivid life. Now translated into English for the first time, these lectures are accompanied by extensive and informative notes by the Borges scholars Martín Arias and Martín Hadis.


The Unknown University by Roberto Bolano

Release date: May 24
Publisher: New Directions

Perhaps surprisingly to some of his fiction fans, Roberto Bolaño touted poetry as the superior art form, able to approach an infinity in which “you become infinitely small without disappearing.” When asked, “What makes you believe you’re a better poet than a novelist?” Bolaño replied, “The poetry makes me blush less.” The sum of his life’s work in his preferred medium, The Unknown University is a showcase of Bolaño’s gift for freely crossing genres, with poems written in prose, stories in verse, and flashes of writing that can hardly be categorized. “Poetry,” he believed, “is braver than anyone.”


In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means edited by Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky

Release date: May 28
Publisher: Columbia University Press

The most comprehensive collection of perspectives on translation to date, this anthology features essays by some of the world’s most skillful writers and translators, including Haruki Murakami, Alice Kaplan, Peter Cole, Eliot Weinberger, Forrest Gander, Clare Cavanagh, David Bellos, and José Manuel Prieto. Discussing the process and possibilities of their art, they cast translation as a fine balance between scholarly and creative expression. The volume provides students and professionals with much-needed guidance on technique and style, while affirming for all readers the cultural, political, and aesthetic relevance of translation.

June


I Live I See: Selected Poems by Vsevolod Nekrasov

Release date: June 1
Publisher: Ugly Duckling Presse

Nekrasov’s poetry, which is often characterized as minimalist, uses repetition and paranomasia to deconstruct and recontextualize his linguistic environment—he targets everything from stock Soviet political mottos to clichés people mutter to one another in everyday situations. For example, by juxtaposing phrases the average Soviet citizen would have taken for granted with arbitrary-seeming homophones, Nekrasov calls official Soviet language to task for the numbness and thoughtlessness it promotes. When not overtly political, his poems examine this same tension between “outward speech” and “inward speech,” that is, between the language we use when talking to others and talking to ourselves.


The Bourgeois by Franco Moretti

Release date: June 4
Publisher: Verso

“The bourgeois … Not so long ago, this notion seemed indispensable to social analysis; these days, one might go years without hearing it mentioned. Capitalism is more powerful than ever, but its human embodiment seems to have vanished. ‘I am a member of the bourgeois class, feel myself to be such, and have been brought up on its opinions and ideals,’ wrote Max Weber, in 1895. Who could repeat these words today? Bourgeois ‘opinions and ideals’—what are they?”

Thus begins Franco Moretti’s study of the bourgeois in modern European literature—a major new analysis of the once-dominant culture and its literary decline and fall. Moretti’s gallery of individual portraits is entwined with the analysis of specific keywords—“useful” and “earnest,” “efficiency,” “influence,” “comfort,” “roba”—and of the formal mutations of the medium of prose. From the “working master” of the opening chapter, through the seriousness of nineteenth-century novels, the conservative hegemony of Victorian Britain, the “national malformations” of the Southern and Eastern periphery, and the radical self-critique of Ibsen’s twelve-play cycle, the book charts the vicissitudes of bourgeois culture, exploring the causes for its historical weakness, and for its current irrelevance.


Distant Reading by Franco Moretti

Release date: June 4
Publisher: Verso

How does a literary historian end up thinking in terms of z-scores, principal component analysis, and clustering coefficient?

In the ten essays collected in this volume, Franco Moretti reconstructs the intellectual trajectory of his philosophy of ‘distant reading’. From the evolutionary model of ‘Modern European Literature’, through the geo-cultural dominant of ‘Conjectures on World Literature’ and ‘Planet Hollywood’ to the quantitative findings of ‘Style, inc.’ and the abstract patterns of ‘Network Theory, Plot Analysis’, the book follows two decades of critical explorations that have come to define – well beyond the wildest expectations of its author – a growing field of unorthodox literary studies.


The Unrest-Cure and Other Stories by Saki and Edward Gorey

Release date: June 4
Publisher: NYRB Classics

The whimsical, macabre tales of British writer H. H. Munro—better known as Saki—deftly, mercilessly, and hilariously skewer the banality and hypocrisy of polite upper-class English society between the end of Queen Victoria’s reign and the beginning of World War I. Their heroes are clever, amoral children and other enfants terribles who marshal their considerable wit and imagination against the cruelty or fatuousness, bad faith or simple tedium of a decorous and doomed world.

This selection of Saki’s most polished dark gems comes paired with illustrations by the peerless Edward Gorey, whose fine-lined pen-and-ink drawings evoke, in all their fragile elegance and creeping menace, Saki’s Edwardian drawing rooms and garden parties, along with their population of overly delicate ladies and their mischief-making charges, spectral guests and sardonic house pets, flustered authority figures, and all manner of delightfully preposterous imposters.


24/7: Terminal Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary

Release date: June 4
Publisher: Verso

24/7 explores some of the ruinous consequences of the expanding, nonstop processes of twenty-first-century capitalism. The marketplace now operates twenty-four hours of every day and demands our constant activity, eroding forms of community, political expression, and the fabric of everyday life. Jonathan Crary examines the way this interminable non-time blurs any separation between an intensified, ubiquitous consumerism and the strategies of control and surveillance. He argues that human sleep and dreaming provide exemplary, if elusive, models for other thresholds at which society might defend or protect itself.


The No Variations by Luis Chitarroni

Release date: June 4
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

A cryptic, self-negating series of notes for an unfinished work of fiction, this astonishing book is made up of ideas for characters and plot points, anecdotes and tales, literary references both real and invented, and populated by an array of fictional authors and their respective literary cliques, all of whom sport multiple pseudonyms, publish their own literary journals, and produce their own ideas for books, characters, poems . . . A dizzying look at the ugly backrooms of literature, where aesthetic ambitions are forever under siege by petty squabbles, long-nurtured grudges, envied or undeserved prizes, bankrupt publishers, and self-important critics, The No Variations is a serious game,or perhaps a frivolous tragedy, with the author and his menagerie of invented peers fighting to keep their feelings of futility at bay. A literary cousin to David Markson and César Aira, The No Variations is one of the great “novels” of contemporary Latin American literature.


The Devil’s Workshop by Jachym Topol

Release date: June 6
Publisher: Portobello Books

@proustitute @literalab @The_Millions THE DEVIL’S WORKSHOP by Jachym Topol (6/2013) shd be on all lists @PortobelloBooks @ScottEsposito — CWT at AUP

‘The devil had his workshop in Belarus. That’s where the deepest graves are. But no one knows about it.’ A young man grows up in a town with a sinister history. The concentration camp may have been liberated years ago, but its walls still cast their long shadows and some of the inhabitants are quite determined to not to allow anyone to forget.When the camp is marked for demolition, one of the survivors begins a campaign to preserve it, quickly attracting donations from wealthy benefactors, a cult-like following of young travellers, and a steady stream of tourists buying souvenir t-shirts.But before long, the authorities impose a brutal crack-down, leaving only an ‘official’ memorial and three young collaborators whose commitment to the act of remembering will drive them ever closer to the evils they hoped to escape.Bold, brilliant and blackly comic, The Devil’s Workshop paints a deeply troubling portrait of a country dealing with its ghosts and asks: at what point do we consign the past to history?


Kafka: The Years of Insight by Reiner Stach

Release date: June 9
Publisher: Princeton University Press

This volume of Reiner Stach’s acclaimed and definitive biography of Franz Kafka tells the story of the final years of the writer’s life, from 1916 to 1924–a period during which the world Kafka had known came to an end. Stach’s riveting narrative, which reflects the latest findings about Kafka’s life and works, draws readers in with a nearly cinematic power, zooming in for extreme close-ups of Kafka’s personal life, then pulling back for panoramic shots of a wider world scarred by World War I, disease, and inflation.

In these years, Kafka was spared military service at the front, yet his work as a civil servant brought him into chilling proximity with its grim realities. He was witness to unspeakable misery, lost the financial security he had been counting on to lead the life of a writer, and remained captive for years in his hometown of Prague. The outbreak of tuberculosis and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire constituted a double shock for Kafka, and made him agonizingly aware of his increasing rootlessness. He began to pose broader existential questions, and his writing grew terser and more reflective, from the parable-like Country Doctor stories and A Hunger Artist to The Castle.

A door seemed to open in the form of a passionate relationship with the Czech journalist Milena Jesenská. But the romance was unfulfilled and Kafka, an incurably ill German Jew with a Czech passport, continued to suffer. However, his predicament only sharpened his perceptiveness, and the final period of his life became the years of insight.


Cannonball by Joseph McElroy

Release date: June 11
Publisher: Dzanc

The Iraq War, two platform divers, a California family, and within that family an intimacy that open the larger stories more deeply still. Cannonball continues in Joseph McElroy’s tradition of intricately woven story lines.


Ancient History by Joseph McElroy

Release date: June 11
Publisher: Dzanc

An uninvited guest, entering the empty New York apartment of a man known to intimates as “Dom,” proceeds to write for his absent host a curious confession. Its close accounts of friendship since boyhood with two men surely unknown to Dom and certainly to each other is interleaved with the story of Dom himself.

Ancient History is one of the only novels by Joseph McElroy to not have been re-issued in paperback, coming out alongside his new novel after a year-long re-introduction of his work to readers via eBooks.


Seiobo by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Release date: June 13
Publisher: New Directions

Seiobo — a Japanese goddess — has a peach tree in her garden that blossoms once every three thousand years: its fruit brings immortality. In Seiobo There Below, we see her returning again and again to mortal realms, searching for a glimpse of perfection. Beauty, in Krasznahorkai’s new novel, reflects, however fleetingly, the sacred — even if we are mostly unable to bear it. Seiobo shows us an ancient Buddha being restored; Perugino managing his workshop; a Japanese Noh actor rehearsing; a fanatic of Baroque music lecturing a handful of old villagers; tourists intruding into the rituals of Japan’s most sacred shrine; a heron hunting.… Over these scenes and more — structured by the Fibonacci sequence — Seiobo hovers, watching it all.


Death Tourism: Disaster Sites as Recreational Landscape by Brigitte Sion

Release date: June 15
Publisher: Seagull Books

Auschwitz. Hiroshima. Cambodia’s killing fields. The World Trade Center. The mass graves of Rwanda. These places of violent death have become part of the recreational landscape of tourism, an industry that is otherwise dedicated to pleasure and escape. In dark places like concentration camps, prisons, battlegrounds, and the sites of natural disasters, how are memory and trauma mediated by thanotourism, or tourism of death?

In Death Tourism, Brigitte Sion brings together essays by some of the most trenchant voices in the field to look at the tensions created by the juxtaposition of human remains and food stands, political agendas and educational programs, economic development and architectural ambition. How does a state redefine its national identity after catastrophic trauma? And what is the role of this kind of tourism in defining their new identity? A timely volume on an irresistible subject, this inquiry exposes the intersection of leisure with the inhumane, giving insight into how people respectfully share a public space that is both free and sacred, compelling and tragic.


A Brief History of Yes by Micheline Aharonian Marcom

Release date: June 18
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press

Micheline Marcom describes her newest novel, A Brief History of Yes—her first since 2008’s scathing and erotic The Mirror in the Well—as a “literary fado,” referring to a style of Portuguese music that, akin to the American blues, is often melancholic and soulful, and encapsulates the feeling of what the Portuguese call saudade—meaning, loosely, yearning and nostalgia for something or someone irrepreably lost. A Brief History of Yes tells the story of the break-up between a Portuguese woman named Maria and an unnamed American man: it is a collage-like, fragmentary novel whose form captures the workings of attraction and grief, proving once again that American letters has no better poet of love and loss than Micheline Aharonian Marcom.


Happy Talk by Richard Melo

Release date: June 18
Publisher: Red Lemonade

Gun-slinging American student nurses and boozy New York–playwrights-turned-educational-filmmakers find themselves stuck in the Haiti of 1955 as part of a government plan to pump up tourism and turn the Magic Island into the next Hawaii. The story follows the travels of Culprit Clutch, who appears mostly through rumor and innuendo, and his strange encounters with a plane-hopping British spy, Haitian street magicians, and a Scandinavian zombie. Josie, Culprit’s ghostly paramour with a morphine habit, may or may not have voodoo spirits flowing through her, but the power-mad doctor channeling Baron Samedi is sure as hell bent on Culprit’s destruction. The novel’s cascading epilogues include a legendary car race down the length of Mexico; street theatre in Golden Gate Park, circa 1968; a Skylab mutiny; origins of the musical comedy Godspell; and cameos by the Nation of Islam and early followers of Jim Jones.


Two or Three Years Later by Ror Wolf

Release date: June 28
Publisher: Open Letter Books

Working in the traditions of Robert Walser, Robert Pinget, and Laurence Sterne, Ror Wolf creates strangely entertaining and condensed stories that call into question the very nature of what makes a story a story. Almost an anti-book, Two or Three Years Later: Forty-Nine Digressions takes as its basis the small, diurnal details of life, transforming these oft-overlooked ordinary experiences of nondescript people in small German villages into artistic meditations on ambiguity, repetition, and narrative. Incredibly funny and playful, Two or Three Years Later is unlike anything you’ve ever read-from German or any other language. These stories of men observing other men, of men who may or may not have been wearing a hat on a particular Monday (or was it Tuesday?), are delightful word-puzzles that are both intriguing and enjoyable.

July


Into Disaster: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1941 by Maurice Blanchot

Release date: July 1
Publisher: Fordham University Press

The German Occupation of France put an end to Maurice Blanchot’s career as a political journalist. In April 1941 he began to publish a weekly column of literary criticism in the Journal des Débats, which became the source for his first critical work, Faux pas (1943). As well as providing a unique perspective on cultural life during the Occupation, these pieces offer crucial insights into the mind and art of a writer who was to become one of the most influential figures on the French literary scene in the second half of the twentieth century.

As well as laying the basis for the career of one France’s most original writers and thinkers, these articles also offer a reminder that Blanchot’s political awareness remains undimmed, through clear if sometimes coded acts of criticism or defiance of the prevailing order.


Zibaldone by Giacomo Leopardi

Release date: July 9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

This book is 2,600 pages.


The Art of Intimacy: The Space Between by Stacey D’Erasmo

Release date: July 9
Publisher: Graywolf

“What is the nature of intimacy, of what happens in the space between us? And how do we, as writers, catch or reflect it on the page?” Stacey D’Erasmo’s insightful and illuminating study examines the craft and the contradictions of creating relationships not only between two lovers but also between friends, family members, acquaintances, and enemies in fiction. She argues for a more honest, more complex portrait of the true nature of the connections and missed connections among characters and, fascinatingly, between the writer and the reader. D’Erasmo takes us deep into the structure and grammar of these intimacies as they have been portrayed by such writers as Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, and William Maxwell, and also by visual artists and filmmakers. She asks whether writing about intimacy is like staring straight into the sun, but it is her own brilliance that dazzles in this piercing and original book.


L’amour by Marguerite Duras

Release date: July 11
Publisher: Open Letter Press

A man—the traveler—arrives in the seaside town of S. Thala with the intent to abandon his present, and instead finds himself abruptly reintroduced to his past. Through his subsequent interactions with “her,” the woman to whom he was briefly engaged as a young man over twenty years ago, and “him,” the man who walks and keeps watch over “her,” the traveler is soon drawn back in and acclimated to the strange timelessness and company that is S. Thala.

Written in a stark and cinematic narrative style, this sequel to Duras’s 1964 novel The Ravishing of Lol Stein is a curious, yet haunting representation of the human memory: what we choose to recall, what we choose to forget, and how reliable we ultimately decide ourselves to be.


Flight of Brothers by Jonathan Baumbach

Release date: July 16
Publisher: Dzanc

A staple in the literary scene for over forty years, Jonathan Baumbach’s latest collection, Flight of Brothers, is a wonderful addition to his oeuvre. The stories within are filled with the longings and lingerings, sex and deprivation, humor and heartache as well as the New York nuances that have driven Baumbach’s fiction from the start.


The Traymore Rooms: A Novel in Five Parts by Norm Sibum

Release date: July 16
Publisher: Biblioasis

A place: the Traymore Rooms, downtown Montreal, an old walk-up. Those who live there and drink at the nearby café form the heart of Traymorean society. Their number includes: Eggy, red-faced, West Virginian, a veteran of Korea; Eleanor R (not Eleanor Roosevelt); Dubois, French Canadian, optimist; Moonface, waitress-cum-Latin-scholar and sexpot inexpert; and, most recently, our hero Calhoun. A draft dodger and poetical type.

For a time all is life-as-usual: Calhoun argues with Eggy and Dubois, eats Eleanor’s cobblers, gossips of Moonface, muses on Virgil and the current President. With the arrival of a newcomer to Traymore, however, Calhoun’s thoughts grow fixated and dark. He comes to believe in the reality of evil. This woman breaks no laws and she inflicts no physical harm—yet for the citizens of Traymore, ex-pats and philosophers all, her presence becomes a vortex that draws them closer to the America they dread. Intelligent and frighteningly absurd, with a voice as nimble as Gass’s and satire that pierces like Wallace’s, The Traymore Rooms is a sustained howl against libertarianism under George W. Bush.

August


Desperate Clarity: Chronicles of Intellectual Life, 1942 by Maurice Blanchot

Release date: August 1
Publisher: Fordham University Press

These articles gradually outline a practical project that both looks back to the radical artistic doctrines of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and anticipates the most original developments in the postwar era, among writers such as Robbe-Grillet, Butor, Sarraute, and Duras, not to mention Blanchot himself. In addition, Blanchot is receptive in his weekly column to the extraordinarily wide range of original writing and thinking that was produced during the dark years of occupation, in areas such as psychology, anthropology, ancient history, linguistics, and philosophy. A highly original doctrine of writing can be seen to develop in which, thanks to the desperate clarity with which Blanchot’s mind accepts and advances into what he sees as absolute and irrevocable disaster, thought is carefully and systematically deflected away from any sort of nihilism, thanks to a new relationship between reason with its unitary subject and the otherness to which imagination offers access.


The Infatuations by Javier Marias

Release date: August 13
Publisher: Knopf



His Wife Leaves Him by Steven Dixon

Release date: August 17
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Stephen Dixon, one of America’s great literary treasures, has completed his first novel in five years — His Wife Leaves Him, a long, intimate exploration of the interior life of a husband who has lost his wife. His Wife Leaves Him is as achingly simple as its title: A man, Martin, thinks about the loss of his wife, Gwen. In Dixon’s hands, however, this straightforward premise becomes a work of such complexity that it no longer appears to be words on pages so much as life itself. Dixon, like all great writers, captures consciousness. Stories matter here, and the writer understands how people tell them and why they go on retelling them, for stories, finally, may be all that Martin has of Gwen. Reminders of their shared past, some painful, some hilarious, others blissful and sensual, appear and reappear in the present. Stories made from memories merge with dreams of an impossible future they’ll never get to share. Memories and details grow fuzzy, get corrected, and then wriggle away, out of reach again. Martin holds all these stories dear. They leaven grief so that he may again experience some joy. Story by story then, he accounts for himself, good and bad, moments of grace, occasions for disappointment, promises and arguments. From these things are their lives made. In His Wife Leaves Him, Stephen Dixon has achieved nothing short of the resurrection of a life through words. When asked to describe his latest work, the author said that “it’s about a bunch of nouns: love, guilt, sickness, death, remorse, loss, family, matrimony, sex, children, parenting, aging, mistakes, incidents, minutiae, birth, music, writing, jobs, affairs, memory, remembering, reminiscences, forgetting, repression, dreams, reverie, nightmares, meeting, dating, conceiving, imagining, delaying, loving.” His Wife Leaves Him is Dixon’s most important and ambitious novel, his tenderest and funniest writing to date, and the stylistic and thematic summation of his writing life.


A Schoolboy’s Diary and Other Stories by Robert Walser

Release date: August 20
Publisher: NYRB Classics

This new collection of more than seventy stories by the iconic modern writer Robert Walser, includes stories that have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, n+1 online, Vice, and elsewhere. Also included is the complete “Fritz Kocher’s Essays,” the “collected works,” so to speak, of a boy who died young, consisting entirely of classroom writing assignments on themes such as “Music,” “Christmas,” and “The Fatherland.” As the opening title sequence of Walser’s first book, this was a brilliant way to frame and introduce his unique voice, oscillating wildly as it does between naïveté (the ludicrous teacher wearing “high boots, as though just returning from the Battle of Austerlitz”), faux-naïveté, and faux-faux-naïveté (“Factories and the areas around them do not look nice. I don’t understand how anyone can be around such unclean things. All the poor people work in the factories, maybe to punish them for being so poor”).

September


Hawthorn & Child by Keith Ridgway

Release date: September 23
Publisher: New Directions

A book that redefines our ideas of what a novel can do, Hawthorn & Child breaks every mold. Hilarious and cunning, genuinely eerie and yet peculiarly moving, Hawthorn & Child tosses away our fantasies of resolution in favor of the magic of suspended belief.

Hawthorn and Child are mid-ranking London detectives tasked with finding significance in scattered facts. They are comic ghosts – one white and gay, one black and straight – turning up repeatedly and ineffectively to haunt the scene of some catastrophe or another, appearing and disappearing along with a ghost car, a crime boss, a pickpocket, a dead race-car driver, and a pack of wolves. Mysteries are everywhere, but the biggest of all is our mysterious – and hopeless – compulsion to solve them. In Hawthorn & Child, the trippiest novel New Directions has published in years, the only certainty is that we’ve all misunderstood everything.


High Tide by Inga Abele

Release date: September 26
Publisher: Open Letter Books

Told more or less in reverse chronological order, High Tide is the story of Ieva, her dead lover, her imprisoned husband, and the way their youthful decisions dramatically impacted the rest of their lives. Taking place over three decades, High Tide functions as a sort of psychological mystery, with the full scope of Ieva’s personal situation—and the relationship between the three main characters—only becoming clear at the end of the novel.

October


Personae by Sergio De La Pava

Release date: October 11
Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Sergio De La Pava’s A Naked Singularity was one of the most highly praised debut novels in decades. The Wall Street Journal called it “a propulsive, mind-bending experience,” and named it one of the ten best books of the year. The Toronto Star did the same, calling it “a great American novel: large, ambitious, and full of talk.” In Slate, Paul Ford proclaimed,“It’s a fine thing for an author to bring forth something so unapologetically maximalist.” This book is nothing like that one. Just look at it: A Naked Singularity was a brick of a book, 678 pages, and this one’s slim–lean and focused. A Naked Singularity locked us into the unforgettable voice of its protagonist, Casi, while Personae shimmers and shifts among different perspectives, locations, and narrative techniques.

But sharp readers will quickly see that the two books are the work of the same hand. The sheer energy of De La Pava’s sentences, his eye for absurd humor, his commitment to the idea of justice–all will be familiar here as they carry us from the tale of an obsessive, damaged psychic detective consumed by a murder case, into a Sartrean drama that raises questions (and jokes) about responsibility, fate, death, and more. And when De La Pava eventually returns us to the investigation, this time seen from the other side, the lives and deaths bound up in it feel all the more real, and moving, even as solid answers slip away into mist.

November


The Bill: For Palma Vecchio, at Venice by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

Release date: November 15
Publisher: Sylph Editions

In The Bill, László Krasznahorkai’s madly lucid voice pours forth in a single, vertiginous, eleven-page sentence addressing Palma Vecchio, a sixteenth-century Venetian painter. Peering out from the pages are Vecchio’s voluptuous, bare-breasted blondes, a succession of models transformed on the canvas into portraits of apprehensive sexuality. Alongside these women, the writer that Susan Sontag called “the Hungarian master of apocalypse” interrogates Vecchio’s gift: Why does he do it? How does he do it? And why are these models so afraid of him even though he, unlike most of his contemporaries, never touches them? The text engages with the art, asking questions only the paintings can answer.


Shantytown by César Aira

Release date: November 20
Publisher: New Directions

Maxi, a middle-class, directionless ox of a young man who helps the trash pickers of Buenos Aires’s shantytown, attracts the attention of a corrupt, trigger-happy policeman who will use anyone — including two innocent teenage girls — to break a drug ring that he believes is operating within the slum. A strange new drug, a brightly lit carousel of a slum, the kindness of strangers, gunplay… no matter how serious the subject matter, and despite Aira’s “fascination with urban violence and the sinister underside of Latin American politics” (The Millions), Shantytown, like all of Aira’s mesmerizing work, is filled with wonder and mad invention.