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.


  • A Legacy by Sybille Bedford March 15, 2015
    Sybille Bedford had the benefit—or bad fortune, however you see it—of being born into the German aristocracy in 1911. Her father was a retired lieutenant colonel and art collector from the agrarian south, from a Roman Catholic family in fiscal decline. Her mother came from a wealthy German-Jewish family from Hamburg. A widower from his first marriage, Bedfor […]
  • Reviving Antal Szerb March 15, 2015
    Antal Szerb’s lithe, lively, and wholly endearing fiction is peopled by male dreamers on spiritual journeys of self-discovery. Each one sets out on his respective mini-mission with good intentions but knows from the outset that there are only so many harsh truths he can withstand. In this respect, all Szerb’s protagonists seem to have heeded the advice of Gr […]
  • 39 Africans Walk into a Bar March 15, 2015
    New anthologies of African fiction seem to materialize virtually every year, if not more often in recent years. When presented with the physical fact of yet another new anthology of African fiction, the immediate question, one which I was asked when I pressed the warm, bound pages of the Africa39 anthology into the even warmer hands of a new acquaintance, wa […]
  • The Country Road by Regina Ullmann March 15, 2015
    This collection of short stories, her first to appear in English, counters material poverty with a fulfilling and deeply spiritual relationship with the natural world. Ullmann herself was no stranger to hardship. A depressive, she was plagued by personal and professional crises. Financial constraints forced her to send her illegitimate children to the countr […]
  • The Fall of Language in the Age of English by Minae Mizumura March 14, 2015
    The Fall of Language in the Age of English stirred up debate upon its publication in Japan in 2008, and it’s possible it will do so in the U.S. with its arrival in Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter's translation. In their introduction, Yoshihara and Winters Carpenter, point out that Japanese reviewers accused Mizumura of being a jingoist, an e […]
  • Another View: Tracing the Foreign in Literary Translation by Eduard Stoklosinski March 14, 2015
    Another View demonstrates exciting potential in translation study and praxis. It is especially significant in deconstructing assumptions about fluency and linguistic identity. The author makes some persuasive arguments for considering and even preferring non-native translation of texts, the most controversial of which is the possibility that linguistic compe […]
  • The Latest Five from Dalkey Archive’s “Library of Korea” Series March 14, 2015
    Despite South Korea having the kind of vibrant literary scene you'd expect from a country with one of the highest literacy rates in the world, we're still not exactly inundated with English translations of South Korean fiction. Given this dearth, Dalkey Archive Press's Library of Korean Literature series, twenty five titles published in collab […]
  • B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman March 14, 2015
    here’s a conspicuous history of books that simply should not work: Books like U & I by Nicholson Baker, a book-length exercise in “memory criticism,” where Baker traces Updike’s influence on his own writing life while studiously not actually re-reading any of Updike’s books. Or books like Out of Sheer Rage, Geoff Dyer’s book that procrastinates away from […]
  • The Valerie Miles Interview March 14, 2015
    The idea was to uncover the secret life of these texts, why do their creators consider them their best work? What’s the clandestine, the underground, the surreptitious meaning or attachment? Where’s the kernel, the seed from which a body of work grew, what the driving obsession? Is it something sentimental, something technical, maybe even something spiritual […]
  • On Being Blue by William H. Gass March 14, 2015
    Look up at the sky, or down into the ocean, and what color do you see? We see blue, but not Homer—he never once employs the term throughout The Iliad and The Odyssey, famously calling the sea "wine-dark" and the heavens "bronze." Neither did the Greek philosopher Xenophanes say blue—he described the rainbow as having only three colors. Th […]

Josipovici on Sebald

Terry pretty much says it all when he introduces this review of The Emigrants with:

It is customary now to quote Susan Sontag when praising W.G. Sebald, but perhaps the earliest and most prescient notice of Sebald’s promise came from Gabriel Josipovici, the British novelist, playwright, and critic.

And we can feel fortunate that critics of Josipovici’s caliber were around to take note of this author before he was a common commodity.

Interesting, too that Sontag is commonly blurbed in conjunction with Sebald since she’s also often blurbed in conjunction with Walser. Though in the latter case she has a little more claim in the matter–Susan Bernofsky once informed me that Sontag had caught wind of Walser in the ’80s, long before much of his stuff was in English, and certainly long before English-reading critics began to celebrate him.

And here’s a great a moment from the annals of book reviewing:

I have spent so long describing what is only a twenty-page story because it is not every day one is sent a masterpiece to review (I suppose one is lucky if it happens more than once or twice a lifetime). And this story is what it is because, like all good art, the form and the style bring into being what would otherwise have remained in darkness and silence for ever, so that a mere account of what the story was ‘about’ would not have begun to do it justice.

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  1. Self on Sebald The English Center of PEN has published some notes from a talk Will Self gave on W.G. Sebald, loosely based on the novel he (Self)...
  2. How Sebald Explains Modernity: J.J. Long’s W.G. Sebald In the introduction to his book on Sebald, W.G. Sebald, J.J. Long rather amorphously states that his intention is to discuss how Sebald’s works deal...
  3. Searching for Sebald One of the nice things about having this blog is that I get to see what you buy through my Amazon links. (Don’t worry, it’s...
  4. Sebald Guides From New Directions Just as I'm finishing up my first reading of Vertigo, New Directions has made available guides to The Emigrants and The Rings of Saturn. (via...
  5. Sebald's SIlkworms Some interesting thoughts on The Rings of Saturn over at Vertigo: Within a few sentences, however, Sebald makes a most remarkable turn by likening the...

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4 comments to Josipovici on Sebald

  • Jacob Silverman

    Sebald was also a big champion of Walser. New Directions’ edition of “The Tanners” includes a great intro by Sebald.

  • The story goes back further than that – Guy Davenport was writing both fiction and criticism about Walser in English (as well as drawing portraits of him) by at least 1977:

    http://ajourneyroundmyskull.blogspot.com/2008/01/robert-walser-drawings-by-guy-davenport.html

    Davenport was friends with Christopher Middleton, whose translation Jakob von Gunten came out in English in 1969, and he may have been publishing short stories well before then. And Mark Harman’s collection Robert Walser Rediscovered came out in 1985 – the Walser rediscovery in English has been going on for a long time.

  • Hey Dan: Thanks for the expansion on my remarks. I’m aware of Middleton’s early translations, as well as the Harman (both pointed out to me by Bernofsky). Davenport’s drawings are new to me.

    It’s true that Walser has been appreciated by a select few for a while now, though hes never had the kind of exposure in English he’s now getting.

  • [...] be Writing and the Body, adapted from four lectures on literature given by Gabriel Josipovici (no mean admirer of Sebald). To give you an idea, the first lecture starts with a story by Borges and moves on to an [...]

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