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

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Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

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


  • [[there.]] by Lance Olsen December 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen is the author of two recent works, [[there.]] and Theories of Forgetting (FC2). The second presents three narratives in a clearly fictional mode while the first offers day-to-day thoughts on living in another country. We rightly suspect that any artist’s memoir or diary ought to be viewed as written with a prospective public in mind, no matter ho […]
  • Noir and Nihilism in True Detective December 15, 2014
    "It’s just one story. The oldest. . . . Light versus dark." Spanning 8 episodes between January and March of 2014, HBO’s runaway hit True Detective challenged the status quo of contemporary crime drama. The show has been widely celebrated for its philosophy, complexity, and visual aesthetic. Co-starring actors Matthew McConaughey as Rustin "Ru […]
  • The Colonel’s World December 15, 2014
    Mahmoud Dowlatabadi (born 1940) is considered by many the living Iranian novelist, a perennial Nobel Prize candidate. Dowlatabadi wrote The Colonel some thirty years ago, because in his own words he had been “afflicted.” The subject forced him to sit at the desk and write nonstop for two years. “Writing The Colonel I felt a strong sense of indignation and pa […]
  • Mr Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn by Alessandro Baricco December 15, 2014
    Alessandro Baricco’s well-crafted, elegant prose seems as though it should create the impression of distance, or of abstraction; instead, the reader of Mr. Gwyn and Three Times at Dawn becomes wholly implicated and immersed, drawn into a dreamy and idiosyncratic world that blurs the division between reader, character and writer. As readers, we expect that th […]
  • The Walls of Delhi by Uday Prakash December 15, 2014
    "The paan shop leads to the opening of a tunnel, full of the creatures of the city, and the tears and spit of a fakir." In a single opening line, Uday Prakash sets the scene for the politically incisive, yet intimately human stories of The Walls of Delhi (translated brilliantly from the Hindi by Jason Grunebaum). Lest the fakir suggest otherwise, t […]
  • The Man Between: Michael Henry Heim and a Life in Translation December 15, 2014
    In a speech reprinted in the book, Heim makes a self-deprecating joke about whether the life of a translator is worth reading: “What does a translator do? He sits and translates!” The Man Between serves as a book-length retort by laying bare all the things Heim did: these include persuading the academy that translation is a scholarly (in addition to a creati […]
  • The Prabda Yoon Interview December 15, 2014
    Yes, I think people are not comfortable anymore to write in this straightforward, traditional way, especially the younger, more progressive writers. So it’s interesting—you have social commentary, and you also get a little bit of structural experiment. You have themes that are very, very Thai. I’m actually very interested to see what new writers will come up […]
  • The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck December 15, 2014
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  • In the Heart of the Heart of the Country by William H. Gass December 15, 2014
    Once, at a writers symposium, William Howard Gass remarked that to substitute the page for the world is a form of revenge for the recognition that "you are, in terms of the so-called world, an impotent nobody." There is inarguably no contemporary writer of American stock in whose work one might locate a more ambitious war of attrition between innov […]
  • Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli December 15, 2014
    Luiselli’s first novel, Faces in the Crowd, translated into fluid English by Christina MacSweeney, is the perfect illustration of this attitude toward fiction writing. Narrated in short sections spanning multiple storylines and the better part of one hundred years, it uses "[d]eep excavations" to expose the empty spaces in two lives, those of a you […]

Kazuo Ishiguro: Don’t Call Noctures a Novel

Nocturnes-ishiguro Round these parts, it's big news when Kazuo Ishiguro has a new book out. Nocturnes doesn't hit the States till fall, but the UK is already ramping up. The Guardian has a profile of the author, wherein we learn:

After five novels, Nocturnes is Ishiguro's first collection of short
stories. Although linked by the pathos of their nostalgic aesthetic,
they read as five discrete short stories, but he seems uncomfortable
about describing them as such, referring to Nocturnes instead as a
"story book".

"Well I'm not quite sure what you're supposed to
call it," he admits. "I've been resisting calling it a collection of
short stories because sometimes novelists do publish collections of
short stories, and they're basically a rag bag of stories they've had
sitting around for the last 30 years. Whereas this book I actually sat
down and wrote from start to finish.

"I don't know what proper
short story writers would think of this, but I've gone about this in
the way a novelist would. I don't claim to be a short story writer, and
I have no idea if I'm doing it properly; I'm just writing this almost
like a novelist. It sounds very pretentious, but you know some music
forms, like sonatas, you get five what seem like totally separate
pieces of music but they go together."

It does seem to be an odd form for Ishiguro, and I'm eager to see if he makes it work. From start to finish, he seems to be one of the few authors to emerge from the 1980s that is still getting noticably better.

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  1. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro I had the pleasure of reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go over the weekend. This is simply an incredible novel. The book’s been out...
  2. Ishiguro Podcast Kazuo Ishiguro discusses Never Let Me Go with the Guardian’s Book Club. Podcast here. ...
  3. Summer 2008 Call for Submissions We are now taking submissions for the Summer 2008 issue of The Quarterly Conversation. This includes book reviews, essays, interviews, and whatever else you think...
  4. Best American Short Stories 2006 The incomparable Dan Wickett provides some info on an author and a journal that you should be reading. First the author: Benjamin Percy: Benjamin has...
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1 comment to Kazuo Ishiguro: Don’t Call Noctures a Novel

  • I’m in a very small camp–maybe all by myself?–of readers who were disappointed by Never Let Me Go (and, in fact, by much of When We Were Orphans as well–but Ishiguro remains one of those authors I want to read the first day I can.
    So like a lot impatient fans will do, I’m sure, I ordered it from the UK. The age of the delayed U.S. publication really should be over by now.

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