The Coming Lispector Tidal Wave

I have the feeling that years of hard work and dedication are about to pay off in a very, very big way, as we approach the publication of Clarice Lispector’s Complete Stories. See the front page review in The New York Times (the first time a Brazilian’s been so honored, so I’m told) and gushing praise in The New Republic. And that’s just the start.

(As an incidental note, I’m hoping to add my voice to the mix in September, if my priorities will allow it.)

This is really the story of many people working selflessly for a common goal, along them some remarkable translators, a legendary publisher and her staff, and, most of all, the impassioned Benjamin Moser, who got the resurgence of Lispector off the ground with his biography, Why This World, and kept things going with a re-translation of what many consider her masterpiece, and then spearheaded re-translations of four more essential Lispectors. And now this, the years-long work of translator Katrina Dodson (with Moser again providing must help and guidance).

And the wonderful thing is that few authors would be so worthy of this treatment. Lispector is genuinely original, and her work is so genuinely weird and against-the-grain that she would need champions to get her right in translation and make people pay attention.

For your reading pleasure, we have three pieces on Lispector at The Quarterly Conversation: The Lispector Roundtable (featuring Barbara Epler and Benjamin Moser, among others); an essay on The Hour of the Star, and Colm Tóibín’s introduction to said book.

Here’s a little piece of Clarice’s infinity.


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I am so excited for this book that I can hardly express it. My first Lispector was “The Passion According to G.H.” when it was released a few years back under the Moser tidal wave. What an experience! I then read “The Hour of the Star” and “Agua Viva” on successive nights. I urged a dear friend of mine who lives many miles away, and who shares with me a real passion for literature in translation, to read “G.H.” She promptly went out and bought a copy and read it in one night. The next day she wrote me that it is “quite possibly the most disturbing, mind-altering book I have ever read,” and she said with a real sense of awe and terror. We’ve traded e-mails about Lispector since then. I’ve re-read “G.H.” and “Agua Viva” twice each since…I think my friend considers “G.H.” one of the most powerful reading experiences she’s had, but also seems almost averse to reading more of her work–in the best possible way (if that makes any sense). At any rate, I’m glad to see you continuing to post about her work (here and through the QC)…up with Lispector! She, along Krasznahorkai, Bernhard, and Hrabal, has become one of my very favorite authors.

Definitely a groundswell, similar to that bringing Krasznahorkai to readers a couple of years back. Still, I do wonder how widespread the phenomenon is outside the usual literature in translation aficionados…


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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