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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You Say

  • Gilly: Just finished it, it is an astonishing book.
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  • Patrick O'Donnell: Irony abounds: when I clicked to take a quick look at this
  • Richard: That article is ridiculous. I can't even reply, except to sa
  • Andrija F.: And don't forget to add Elfriede Jelinek, my favorite among
  • Richard: If you search for this Chris Roberts, God being on Amazon (y
  • Seamus Duggan: READ MARILYNNE ROBINSON!!!!! No encouragement needed, althou

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

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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.


  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante September 16, 2014
    Few novelists have captured the rhythms and flow of life with the veracity of Elena Ferrante in her Neapolitan Novels. Following the friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo from childhood to old age, the tetralogy spans fifty years; over the course of that time, no emotion is too small, too dark, too banal to be recorded. No expense, so to speak, is […]
  • Trieste by Daša Drndić September 15, 2014
    As Drndić reiterates throughout the novel, “Behind every name there is a story.” And Haya Tedeschi’s story is draped in death. Born to a Jewish family that converted to Catholicism and tacitly supported the Fascists in Italy, Haya was a bystander to the Holocaust. She attended movies while Jews and partisans were transported to concentration camps; she pored […]
  • The Tree With No Name by Drago Jančar September 15, 2014
    At the opening of chapter 87—the first chapter found in The Tree with No Name—Janez Lipnik finds himself up a tree, shoeless, and lost in the Slovenian countryside. He makes his way to a house where he is taken in by a woman teacher who is waiting for her lover, a soldier. It becomes clear we are at the height of World War II. Soon after, we follow Lipnik […]
  • Kjell Askildsen, Selected Stories September 15, 2014
    Here, at the midpoint of his narrative, Bernhard, the affectless and purposeless protagonist of "The Unseen," experiences existential near-emancipation at dusk. This retreat toward obscurity in terse, direct language—thematic and stylistic markers of each work in the collection—comes immediately after Bernhard’s sister mentions her plans to enterta […]
  • Berlin Now by Peter Schneider September 15, 2014
    In his new book of essays, Berlin Now, Peter Schneider reveals himself as a gnarled Cold Warrior who has been stricken with many of the maladies common to his generation. With the specter of Communism exorcized, his new enemy is Islam. The book is a collection of short interlocking pieces introducing Anglophone readers to Berlin; it is not being published in […]
  • Paris by Marcos Giralt Torrente September 15, 2014
    In 1999, Marcos Giralt Torrente’s debut novel, Paris, was awarded the XVII Premio Herralde de Novela prize. Despite his success, it took fourteen years for Giralt’s work to appear in English, with the story collection The End of Love arriving in 2013. Now, this year sees the publication of two more books by Giralt: Paris, translated by Margaret Jull Costa, a […]
  • 10:04 by Ben Lerner September 15, 2014
    “It seemed that the [New Yorker] story—which was in part the result of my dealing with the reception of my novel—had been much more widely received than the novel itself,” says the narrator of Ben Lerner’s second novel, 10:04. Perhaps this narrator is Lerner himself—at one point he describes 10:04, within its own pages, as “neither fiction nor nonfiction but […]
  • Theories of Forgetting by Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    Lance Olsen’s Theories of Forgetting is a masterful work structured around Robert Smithson’s earthwork “The Spiral Jetty.” Olsen’s novel is comprised of three narrations, written each by a separate member of a family. The husband’s and wife’s texts progress in opposite directions across the book, with each page divided among these two inverted texts; though […]
  • An Interview with Lance Olsen September 15, 2014
    The most substantial may be that innovative fiction knows what it is, that someone like me could define it in any productive way, that innovative fiction might somehow be one thing, or somehow consistent through time and space. None of these is the case. That’s exactly what I find most exciting about writing it, reading it, thinking about it. Innovative fict […]
  • The Ants by Sawako Nakayasu September 15, 2014
    In The Ants, we receive a study of existence through ants. That is, there are ants everywhere, ants substituted in every segment of the landscape, yet their behavior seems to reveal something altogether human. Too human. The ants are crushed and disappointed. They are warm and many. They are involved in gang wars and live inside carrot cake. The unique quali […]

Strong Sales for A Naked Singularity

I think anyone who follows this blog with any regularity knows that A Naked Singularity, just released by the University of Chicago Press, began its trip from self-published book to local bestseller thanks to Scott Bryan Wilson’s TQC review.

Local bestseller? you say. Correct. I’ve now learned that the novel has debuted as the sixth bestselling title at Chicago independent bookstore The Book Table. And given that it takes sixth place behind soft-core pornography for suburban housewives and two prestige titles from large New York presses—i.e. titles it’ll be all-but-impossible to beat—I’m essentially calling this the number one slot. In any event, softcore porn and Yiyun Li—esteemed company indeed!—Sergio De La Pava must feel as though he’s made it.

That’s pretty impressive for a book that was an Xlibris title not too long ago. It wil be fun watching just how high this book can climb. And it’s an interesting illustration of how much a solid review and a stellar press can matter in this brave new age of ebooks and rampant experimentation with self-publishing. Having a good press behind you definitely does matter. Make no mistake, this book never would have reached the audience it’s reaching without the hard work of the very savvy people at U of C.

All that said, I suppose now is the fitting time to tell everyone that I’ve decided to make A Naked Singularity the Big Read for the summer. If you recall back to the Life A User’s Manual Read, Naked Singularity came very close to being the big read for that slot. I’ve long thought it would make a great title for this kind of a group read, and, given the book’s mounting success and this site’s involvement in it, now is the obvious time. The read will start in June. Schedule, etc to come soon.

You Might Also Like:

More from Conversational Reading:

  1. A Naked Singularity Returns At The Constant Conversation, Scott Bryan Wilson points to another satisfied reader of A Naked Singularity: . . . continue reading, and add your comments...
  2. Even More Naked Singularity I have been informed that A Naked Singularity is now beginning to attract an audience down under--you'll find a review on the blog Known Unknowns,...
  3. Recently Published: A Naked Singularity by Sergio de la Pava A couple weeks ago I got a query from the publisher of A Naked Singularity, who appears to be the wife of the book's...
  4. The Singularity Sue Lange is getting tired of The Singularity. Sort of. The funny thing about The Singularity, to me, is that its definition seems to have...
  5. On Correlating Sales and Quality Nina Siegal has gone through the Publishers Weekly bestseller list since 1900 (I didn't realize PW kept stats this long) and attempted to correlate sales...

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4 comments to Strong Sales for A Naked Singularity

  • Richard

    Before my backslide into Ford Madox Ford yesterday, I just want to note I predicted this a week or two ago. I think it’s a fantastic choice, and I look forward to participating!

  • Richard

    So I’m definitely thinking people didn’t notice you announced the big Summer read in this post–my bet is they saw the title, scanned the first two paragraphs, and got yelled at by their bosses at work for browsing the Internet during work hours. Either that, or there will be an explosion of replies this weekend!

    I’m psyched for this read, though–it looks like an awesome book. I read the first five pages when I picked it up the day it was in stores–and only the fact that I’m smack in the middle of both the new William Boyd and the Andres Neuman prevented me from going any further. Now I have to force myself to wait until June…

  • Neil Griffin

    I’m looking forward to it, too. I was pulling for this one last year, but luckily Perec was a great find.

  • Kyle

    Read this two years ago. Incredible book… except for it’s kind-of-lazy and all-over-the-place last 100 pages.

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