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

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 […]

Murakami Interivew

Via the Literary Saloon I see a two part interview with Murakami dealing with his recent work, including his new novel, 1Q84.

Q: For the first time in one of your full-length novels, the narrative is given in the third-person. However, an intimacy close to that of a first-person narrative is maintained, and the young people in it are beautifully depicted. This made me realize once again that, even though you have been writing novels for the past 30 years, your work is still literature about early adulthood.

A: As they age, authors usually write well about the generation they’re in. I’m more interested in young people who are living in the present day and continuing to mature. I don’t mingle with people in their 20s and I know little about mobile phone novels or anime works. But I think these factors have little to do with the art of creating an “actual” story.

When I was 30 years old, I could only write well about my 30-year-old self. But I managed to write about a 15-year-old boy in “Kafka on the Shore” and a 19-year-old girl in “After Dark” as if writing about myself. In this work, I wanted to start the story by describing the feelings of 10-year-old Aomame. In particular, I wanted to delve deeper into how women feel or think in this work.

Since I was writing this story day after day over a long period of time, I came to feel like I was living together with the characters in the story and came to understand more clearly what kind of people they were. I would revise my writing over and over again to fine-tune it. Changing one descriptive word or a line of sentence can sometimes bring a certain character to life.

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  1. Proust Translator Interivew Chad Post offers up an interview with the translator of Proust’s "new" book, one of the 25 nominated for the Best Translated Book of 2008...
  2. Murakami Book Covers from Around the World That's the Israeli version of Kafka on the Shore. More here and here. ...
  3. Murakami in NYRB Well, now that Haruki Murakami is on the verge of publishing a new book, the New York Review of Books discusses his last one. There’s...
  4. Murakami Interview Good stuff. His new volume of short stories is holding up, at least so far as I’ve read in it. As dreamy and introverted as...
  5. Marc Estrin Interivew Those who are subscribers to the literary journal turnrow can read my interview with novelist Marc Estrin in the current issue. Those who aren’t can...

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2 comments to Murakami Interivew

  • Marc

    I just finished 1Q84 (I keep wanting to write IQ84–is that Freudian?), and it’s not even as good as the uneven navel-gazing of “Kafka on the Shore.” It was trumpeted in the Japanese press the way books are hardly ever trumpeted, partly because of the shroud of silence Murakami (or his publicists?) lowered over the whole enterprise beforehand. There’s an industry of Murakami exegesis here in Japan, with people writing books (whole books, not just articles!) about the hidden meaning in his novels. Obviously, his novels invite this kind of speculation, since (esp. recently) there’s never much explanation of what’s going on in them, which of course is part of the problem. It’s all well and good to be cryptic, but cryptic isn’t a substitute for substance, and when all the questions that are posed endlessly by the characters are answered with more questions, and imaginary beings, and portals to other worlds, and none of it ever comes together with the satisfying click of the last chapters of “A Wild Sheep Chase” (for example), then you (the reader) are put in the position of having just read over 1000 pages of (granted) mellifluously written Japanese prose … for nothing. In the end, for me, Murakami’s technical facility with words doesn’t make up for the lack of ideas in his recent novels. And it’s sad, because he used to be so good.
    I won’t discuss the story, since I’m sure some of you will want to read the novel when it’s translated.
    On the other hand, I’m halfway through his translation of Chandler’s “Long Goodbye,” and it’s fantastic. He really has taken Japanese translation to another level. I got his translation of “The Great Gatsby” the other day, and am looking forward to it.

  • rose

    I’m not confident in Murakami’s ability to lay down his authorial voice and “adultness” to truly capture a ten-year-old’s thinking and world view. You have to be both egoless and masterful for that, to not come from a place of reflection and nostalgia. See Kelman’s “Kieron Smith, Boy” for the best attempt at honest childhood rendered.

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