The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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The 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.


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  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
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  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
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  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
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  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
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It Just Keeps Going

A Naked Singularity is now doing well in the UK. Overall a pretty interesting article, although it’s lame to pigeonhole the book as a blistering attack on the US criminal justice system.

In 2013 University of Chicago published De la Pava’s follow-up, the fragmentary and experimental Personae, much of which is made up of the imaginative writings of a character who has died alone, aged 111, in his Manhattan flat. Last year publisher Christopher MacLehose (who introduced the English-speaking world to Stieg Larsson) also brought out a British edition of A Naked Singularity following a tip from a retired editor who read about it on Twitter – and not before several well-known London publishing houses had turned it down. Then, this February, A Naked Singularity made the shortlist of the Folio prize, the newly launched £40,000 literary award for English-language fiction (the eventual winner was George Saunders, for his short stories, but the judges singled out De la Pava for praise; also shortlisted was Eimear McBride, another first-time writer who struggled for years to find a publisher, and who has since won the £30,000 Baileys prize).

The son of Colombian immigrants to the US, De la Pava grew up in New Jersey speaking Spanish (a Spanish translation of A Naked Singularity is shortly to appear). His father drove a cab, among other jobs, his mother worked in offices. They sent him to a Catholic high school from where he went to a state university and law school.

He is full of gratitude to MacLehose (“an outsize figure literally and figuratively – that’s an individual who has devoted his life to literature”). But success has not removed the taste of failure, and De la Pava is not alone in feeling unnerved. The Folio prize judges called his novel a “messy masterpiece”– it is not only full of insight into judicial processes, but philosophy, science (the naked singularity of the title comes from particle physics), acerbic commentary on mass media, the life of Puerto Rican boxer Wilfred Benitez, Latino family life – still a rarity in English-language fiction – and pages of absorbing dialogue. His fictional world is a big, funny, information-packed place, yet initially no one wanted to know.

And here’s a little treat for the De La Pava fans:

But for a long time De la Pava didn’t see it as his role to try to communicate this perspective beyond the circle of his colleagues. More recently, inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, he has chosen to speak out. His next novel, which he aims to finish this year, is about prisons. Writing A Naked Singularity, the tension between his artistic and social aims was “terrifying and thrilling. How didactic can you get while still hopefully having it function as a work of art? I think I was keenly aware of that tension the whole time. It’s there on every page.”

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