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.

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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
    For Jenny Erpenbeck, no life is lived in an indisputable straight line. Which is why, in her new novel (new in English, though published in 2012 as Aller Tage Abend) she approaches the narrative as a series of potential emotional earthquakes, some which take place, some which might have taken place, all of which reveal something of how political turbulence p […]
  • 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 […]

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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