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.

Available now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and direct from this site:


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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Group Reads

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

Shop though these links = Support this site


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 […]

The New Deal for This Blog

Hey guys, it’s 2015. This blog first went online in 2004. In Internet time, that’s several geologic eras. In 2004, Google AdSense (and web advertising) barely existed, there was no Twitter or Facebook, Amazon was struggling for profitability (well, some things never change), and much of the mainstream press enjoyed stigmatizing this whole blog fad thing.

Anyway, point is, things are different now. The way the Internet exists has changed, and the way that I (and, I would guess, you) use the it is different. Also, I’m in a pretty different place in my life. I’ll spare you . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Must Have Been an Interesting Translation

From Oulipian Frédéric Forte’s Minute-Operas, translated by Daniel Levin Becker, Ian Monk, Michelle Noteboom, and Jean-Jacques Poucel (more info here)

Interview with Rodrigo Rey Rosa

I emerge from the frigid depths of the winter holidays to offer you this link to an interview I conducted with the Guatemalan author Rodrigo Rey Rosa. It is part of a stellar all-translation issue of The White Review put together by Daniel Medin.

I began reading Rey Rosa in late 2013 when Chris Andrews’s translation of The African Shore arrived in English. That book is fantastic, and soon I had read everything else of Rey Rosa’s I could get my hands on.

Q THE WHITE REVIEW — Jorge Luis Borges is a major influence of . . . continue reading, and add your comments

NPR Love The White Review & M&L

Some love for two of my favorite journals at NPR.

From The White Review, a fantastic quarterly arts journal in print and online, to Electric Literature, which is known for its features, masterful interviews, and brilliant design, there is much to discover. Then there’s a personal favorite, Music & Literature — the brave new kid on the block, highlighting exciting writers and musicians we might otherwise never come across. Each issue is a gem, and especially useful for those interested in breaking their parochial American reading habits and looking more globally.

“The support of curious and ambitious . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Dictionary of Untranslatables

This came out about a year ago, and I have a feeling I may have even linked to a review at The New Inquiry already, but, anyway, it’s worth another look.

This is an encyclopedic dictionary of close to 400 important philosophical, literary, and political terms and concepts that defy easy–or any–translation from one language and culture to another. Drawn from more than a dozen languages, terms such as Dasein (German), pravda (Russian), saudade (Portuguese), and stato (Italian) are thoroughly examined in all their cross-linguistic and cross-cultural complexities. Spanning the classical, medieval, early modern, modern, and contemporary . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Buy Some Verso Books

Verso ebooks are 90% (yes NINETY PERCENT) off until Jan 1. But a few. Like some Franco Moretti, or some ZIZEK, or this fascinating book about Anonymous, or Simon Critchley.

If you don’t eread, the print books are 50% off and free shipping worldwide.

So, wow, if you can’t find something to enjoy there you might be on the wrong blog.

Season’s Greetings

I’d just like to make a year-end plug to ask that if you value this site, the please contribute a little toward shoring up my bottom line. You can do this very easily at PayPal.

Basically, I’m asking because the way you make money online these days is by generating lots of clickbait, writing pandering headlines designed to go viral, and generally specializing in the sort of lowest-common-denominator content that is irrelevant to anyone’s life and leaves your head as soon as it has entered it. You certainly don’t do it by writing about obscure and esoteric . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Favorite Reads of 2014

Lila by Marilynne Robinson This isn’t my favorite Marilynne Robinson book by a long shot, but even not-the-best Marilynne Robinson is waaaayy ahead of most books out there.

Red or Dead by David Peace Very few books make me want to stand up and yell and start building shit. This is one of them.

The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol Not actually published yet (March 2015), I read this book while editing the translation. It is mostly awesome and makes me realize how badly the English language has missed Sergio Pitol.

Suspended Sentences . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Michael Hofmann on Richard Flanagan

The NYRB should really get this guy to review Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North has the scope of a big and ambitious novel. It was surely a difficult book to write, covering so much in terms of time, geography, cultures, destinies and outcomes: both an important but difficult piece of Australian history (brave, but also inglorious), and a fictional account, to boot, of the experience of Flanagan’s father, who, as one read in the press, died on the very day the book was completed. (It is said there is nothing of which . . . continue reading, and add your comments

Coetzee’s Short Stories

Just published by Text Publishing.

J.M. Coetzee swims strongly against the ebbing tide. Not only has Text Publishing brought out his new collection, it is an expensively produced hardback in pale blue with elegant gilt lettering. That is unusual enough, but more extraordinarily there are only three stories, none of them lengthy – the book totals 71 pages, with a large, generously laid-out typeface. All were written between 2000 and 2003, the most recent being a tale he read aloud at the ceremony when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.