Texas, Texas, Texas (+ Argentina & Indonesia)

October 2, 2014 § 1 Comment

Hello from ebola-stricken Dallas!

Yes, we are safe, yes, we are sound, yes, we are happy to be heading to Europe for the next two weeks while the grips of hysteria strike the city…well, things aren’t so bad. The Cowboys are playing good football (for the first time in years), so the hysterical masses’ fears have been dampened somewhat…

The Texas Book Festival schedule has been announced! Come see Carmen Boullosa talk at 4:15pm in Capitol Extension Room 2.016 with Broadus Spivey, Jesse Sublett, and Cynthia Leal Massey. Their topic: “TELLING THE TEXAS STORY: TRUTH AND FICTION IN LONE STAR HISTORY.” This is going to be good…damn good.

Boullosa Texas Book Festival LineupIn other amazing news, we’ve confirmed another reading for Carmen in Dallas, this one for the International Day of the Spanish Language celebration the night of October 21 at the Mexican Consulate, presented by The Mexico Institute. Check out Deep Vellum’s EVENTS CALENDAR for up-to-date information on readings by all of our amazing authors all over the world!!

In more amazing good news for Carmen, the first review of Texas: The Great Theft is in this month’s D Magazine (for those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, pick up a copy, it’s the “Medical Miracles” cover), written very thoughtfully by Zac Crain. “Boullosa deals with serious issues (mostly the racism on the U.S. side, but does so with humor, using a sugar cube rather than a stick to get her point across. It’s historical fiction, but it feels like current events.” Thank you Zac & to all the staff of D Magazine for being so supportive of Deep Vellum’s launch and books, I love the work they do and that they let me shamelessly borrow their operational motto: “Making Dallas even better.”

Texas Review (D Magazine October 2014)

And as a buried update here under this review, I am holding in my hands (in between typing) the printed proof copy of Texas from McNaughton & Gunn, the printers we are using to print this book AND IT LOOKS AMAZING. We are submitting the order today, and will have copies in time for Carmen’s readings in Texas and New York at the end of the month. Subscribers and pre-orders will get their books by the end of the month. Thank you for your patience, we couldn’t do it without you!!


In other great news, we are announcing, just in time for Frankfurt, the signing of two new books (and hopefully a third, keep your fingers crossed…) by a couple of AMAZING authors. The first, legendary Argentine author Ricardo Piglia‘s Target in the Night (translated by Sergio Waisman).

Anagrama edition cover for Target in the Night

Anagrama edition cover for Target in the Night

Target in the Night is one of the most powerful novels you will ever read, and justifiably received every honor a single novel can win in the Spanish language world after it was published by Anagrama in 2010: it won the Romulo Gallegos Prize, the National Critics’ Prize, and the newspaper El País selected it as the best novel written in Spanish from anywhere in the world that year. Target in the Night is a psychological and political thriller that opens up new dimensions in what the novel can do and say as a form. The plot description from the website of Schavelzon & Associates, the wonderful agents we worked with to sign this groundbreaking novel:

“A passionate thriller in which the madness of the detective, a retired police captain, is integral to his solving mysteries. An intense and tragic family history, with echoes of King Lear, set in a small town in the Argentinean Pampas. The return of Emilio Renzi, one of the greatest characters in recent Argentinean literature, who in his maturity recalls, with a certain skeptical nostalgia, his past adventures. A profound reflection on power and justice. An exceptional novel.”

Seriously, this is an AMAZING book in an AMAZING translation, and Piglia is a VERY important author in Latin American literature who has had a couple of his books published in English already by Granta (Money to Burn), Duke University Press (Artificial Respiration), and Latin American Review Press (Assumed Name). This is the first book by Piglia to appear in English since 2000, and we could not be more proud to publish it. We would love to continue this remarkable author’s novels for years to come, and keep your fingers crossed that he wins the Cervantes Prize in April…we will publish Target in the Night in November 2015.

The second novel we signed is Homecoming, an unparalleled epic historical novel spanning Indonesia’s last fifty years written by Leila S. Chudori, one of the most powerful storytellers and important journalists in Indonesia today (translated by John H. McGlynn—one of the founders of the Lontar Foundation, which promotes Indonesian literature & culture, in part by translating and publishing English translations of Indonesian literature).

Indonesian cover for Homecoming

Indonesian cover for Homecoming

From the Pontas Agency’s website page about the book:

Homecoming is both a family saga and a story of exile and homecoming, set against the background of historical events in Paris and Indonesia. These events include two dark and violent periods of Indonesia’s history: the 1965 communist purge that marked the rise of the longest-serving Indonesian president Soeharto, and his fall in 1998.
The novel has been described by The Jakarta Globe as “an epic, an ambitious slab of fiction crammed with a rich and diverse cast of characters whose lives have been swept along by Indonesia’s dramatic and at times extremely tragic contemporary history.(…) A wonderful exercise in humanism. It is first and foremost a story about love, passion as well as a sensual — almost primordial — attachment to the land. (…) Chudori balances the grand and bloody national narrative with an intimate and deeply-felt evocation of how the drama and violence of those years and indeed of the subsequent Reformasi period was played out family by family, individual by individual. On a certain level, Homecoming is also an extended love letter to Indonesia, an evocation of a mood, a state of mind and a place.

If you watched and were moved by Joshua Oppenheimer’s incredible documentary The Act of Killing last year, or have been following the election of the populist (and first non-military) President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo (whom I love and have been following because he’s a metalhead like me!), this novel will help illuminate a remarkable and tragic history from a very beautiful and moving story, told through vignettes spanning Jakarta to Paris and everywhere in between. Leila spent six years researching this novel, including numerous interviews with the owners of Restaurant Indonesia in Paris, which became a home-away-from home for those exiled after the anti-Communist purge in 1965 (whose players in that mass murder, still alive and celebrated as national heroes in Indonesia today, were the central characters in The Act of Killing). We acquired this breathtaking novel from the Pontas Agency (who also represent Fiston Mwanza Mujila!), and we will publish Homecoming in October 2015, just in time for Indonesia’s turn as Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair next year!!


More information to come on both of these books in coming days, I’ll try to write out their stories of how I found out about them and acquired them (many readers of this blog enjoy such stories, and I rather like telling them, it gives credit to the nebulous web of amazing people who put publishers like me in contact with amazing books!).

I am flying off to the Netherlands tomorrow to visit with Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer, we are getting together in central Leiden this weekend to talk about the translation and marketing of his Libris Literaatuur Prijs-winning novel La Superba, which we are publishing in Michele Hutchison‘s translation in February or March 2016. If you are in Holland, Pfeijffer is in the country to read at the Geen Daden Maar Worden Festival this Saturday night in Rotterdam, check it out (Ilja reads at 23:00, but get to there early [by 22:20] to hear Philip Huff read too! I met him in Amsterdam this summer and he is a bright, rising star in Dutch literature [and a totally sweet dude to boot]). I get to Frankfurt Monday afternoon. The madness begins Tuesday morning. I can’t wait to see you all there!!!!

North Texas Giving Day 2014: Donate to Deep Vellum

September 18, 2014 § 1 Comment

For this year’s North Texas Giving Day,

please consider donating to Deep Vellum.

North Texas Giving Day 2014

North Texas Giving Day, now in its sixth year, has become one of the leading fundraising opportunities for our area’s nonprofits every year. This year, Deep Vellum will be participating in North Texas Giving Day through our fiscal sponsor, The Writer’s Garret.

Making a tax-deductible donation to Deep Vellum via

The Writer’s Garret on North Texas Giving Day is easy:

  1. Click this link (or the picture above) to The Writer’s Garret’s page for North Texas Giving Day
  2. Write in “Deep Vellum” in the memo/info field
  3. Email deepvellum[at]gmail[dot]com & let us know you donated (this ensures your donation goes to Deep Vellum for accounting purposes)
  4. Voila! Your donation will be recorded as part of our fundraising efforts, and every donation over $25 qualifies Deep Vellum and The Writer’s Garret for additional funds from matching donors and foundations, making a huge impact simultaneously for two of the best literary organizations in North Texas!
  5. NOTE: All donations received at $1,000 and above will qualify you for Deep Vellum’s elite donor group, the Liga del Siglo. Liga del Siglo members receive special benefits, including the first five Deep Vellum titles, customized bookplates in their books, invitations to special events with Deep Vellum authors and translators, and more. If you have questions about the Liga del Siglo, please feel free to ask.

For more information on this special fundraising opportunity, here are some important North Texas Giving Day FAQs from their website:

Who can donate?
Anyone with a credit card and access to the internet.

What is a “unique donor”?
For the purposes of awarding prizes, a unique donor is one individual or corporation/business. Multiple donations from one donor to the same nonprofit will count as one gift.  Organizations cannot donate to themselves.

What forms of donations are accepted?
MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express donations received through NorthTexasGivingDay.org website on Giving Day will be multiplied on a prorated basis. No donations via check, cash or stock will be accepted.  Donor-advised fundholders at Communities Foundation of Texas, The Dallas Foundation and Community Foundation of North Texas may recommend grants from their funds.

Are gifts tax-deductible?
All donations are tax deductible and irrevocable and will be for the unrestricted use of your chosen charity.

Is there a minimum gift?
There is no minimum gift, however, to qualify for bonus funds there is a minimum donation of $25. All donations up to $50,000 will receive bonus funds. For donations $50,000 or more, only the first $50,000 will quality for bonus funds.

Can my company match my Giving Day gift?
Yes!  Make your gift, complete your company’s matching form and follow your company’s matching procedures as usual.  When your company sends their matching gift to Communities Foundation of Texas, we will send a check to the nonprofits you supported.  NOTE:  Corporate matching gifts are NOT eligible for Giving Day bonus funds and prizes.
Donations for North Texas Giving Day will be accepted through their website between 6am and midnight on September 18, 2014 only. At all other times, donations to Deep Vellum can be made through following the Paypal link at the top right-hand corner of our website or by writing a check made out to The Writer’s Garret with Deep Vellum on the memo line and mailing it to the address on our Contact page.

One of the reasons I established Deep Vellum as a nonprofit in Dallas is because of this city’s remarkable nonprofit community (in all sectors, from arts to health to education). Generous local donors and foundations in North Texas support the vitality of the nonprofit sector like few other cities in the world. North Texas Giving Day is one of the most visible and outstanding examples of our local spirit of support—in just five years, North Texas Giving Day has pumped more than $60 million into the North Texas community. In 2013, more than 75,000 gifts, totaling $25.2 million, benefited more than 1,350 nonprofits. This year over 1,600 nonprofits are participating!

As a nonprofit publishing house with a mission to enrich the North Texas community through publishing translated literature, promoting translation, and hosting regular literary events and workshops, Deep Vellum is sustained by the support of generous donors like you. Every little bit helps, and every donation at $25 and above will be amplified by over $2 million in bonus funds and prizes. And every donation, no matter how big or small, is 100% tax-deductible.

I encourage you, please donate to Deep Vellum as part of this year’s North Texas Giving Day.

If you are interested in supporting additional literary and literacy organizations in Dallas that help further Deep Vellum’s mission one way or another, I encourage you to support the following organizations:

  1. The Writer’s Garret (even beyond their work as our fiscal sponsor, The Writer’s Garret are one of the longest-lasting and most impactful literary organizations in all of North Texas for writing workshops, readings, and children’s literary education)
  2. WordSpace (partners on many events with Deep Vellum, a wonderful resource for diverse literary events)
  3. Friends of the Dallas Public Library (advocating for a more engaged, enriched, and active public library for Dallas)
  4. LIFT (Literacy Instruction for Texas) (providing unparalleled, impressive adult literacy education in a city with a 25% adult illiteracy rate, with outstanding results)
  5. Big D Reads (uniting the city by reading a book together & hosting a month of events around the book)

Thank you for your support of the literary arts in North Texas, your donations, subscriptions, purchases, clicks, views, blog posts, tweets, and word of mouth support means the world to us, we cannot do it without you, and together we will build the more awesome world we all want to see. Thank you.

Carmen Boullosa’s Texas Book Tour

September 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Carmen Boullosa’s Texas book tour is announced, featuring her appearance at this year’s Texas Book Festival!

Texas Cover

In conjunction with last night’s announcement of the Texas Book Festival’s lineup of authors, Deep Vellum is proud to announce that Carmen Boullosa is coming to Texas for a week at the end of October for a series of talks and readings across the state to promote the release of Texas: The Great Theft, culminating in her appearance at the Texas Book Festival. You don’t want to miss this, dates below:

Wed. Oct. 22 – The Wild Detectives – Dallas, TX – 7pm

Thu. Oct. 23 – The Twig Book Shop – San Antonio, TX – 7pm

Fri. Oct. 24 – Brazos Bookstore – Houston, TX – 7pm

Sat. Oct. 25 – Texas Book Festival – Austin, TX – TBA

The full, incredible lineup of authors at this year’s Texas Book Festival is finally up! If you’ve never been to Austin for the Texas Book Festival, this is the year to go. Not only is the lineup amazing, but it is truly one of the most inspiring and rewarding literary festivals you will ever experience. The readings are held in the halls and chambers of the awe-inspiring Texas Capitol building in downtown Austin, with tents of vendors, music, food, signings, and more stretching blocks upon blocks as the streets are shut down for pedestrian traffic only.

I don’t know how my friend Steph Opitz books this amazing festival (275 authors! 40,000 attendees! Streets shutdown! Readings in the Texas Capitol!), but bless her for it. From last night’s press release:

Nationally renowned authors coming to this year’s Festival include Martin Amis, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Norman Lear, Lidia Bastianich, Ziggy Marley, James Ellroy, Katherine Applegate, Nicholas D. Kristof, John Dean, Valerie Plame Wilson, and Héctor Tobar.

Headlining authors also include Charles Blow, Emily St. John Mandel, Michael Ruhlman, Douglas Brinkley, Richard Linklater, Francisco Goldman, Meg Wolitzer, Jacqueline Woodson, and Sarah Bird. The entire list of authors is available online at http://www.texasbookfestival.org/authors.

“This year is bigger than ever, with more authors, more titles, and more sessions. It wasn’t that we intentionally set out to make it bigger, it’s that there were so many fantastic submissions we fell in love with this year that we had to make more room,” says Steph Opitz, Festival literary director.

In addition to the amazing headlining authors mentioned above, and Carmen Boullosa, of course, authors of particular interest to Deep Vellum fans at the festival include (alphabetically): Forrest Gander (whose new book is coming out from New Directions this fall), Rolando Hinojosa-Smith (winner of last year’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award from the NBCC, and he’s published by Houston’s amazing Arte Publico), Valeria Luiselli (Mexican writer who lives in NYC, whose Faces in the Crowd, published by Coffee House, is the revelation of the year), Greil fuckin’ Marcus (!), Eimear McBride (whose mindblowing 2013 Goldsmiths Prize-winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing was just published in the US by Coffee House), Kseniya Melnik (whom I’ve never heard of, but clicked on her name because she’s Russian, found out she was born in Magadan [!] and now lives in El Paso!!), Walter Mosley (!), Josh Ostergaard (a good dude who works at the inimitable Graywolf Press and whose new novel, The Devil’s Snake Curve, is awesome because it is 1) about baseball; and 2) it is published by Coffee House!), Ilan Stevens (since he’s one of the founders of the cool Restless Books), Merritt Tierce (representing Dallas[!!!!] and her new novel, Love Me Back), and David Yow (he of The Jesus Lizard and cat books fame, published by my friends at Akashic Books!).

See you in Austin in October!

Gnarr in Austin; Mwanza Mujila Shortlisted

August 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

It’s been a damn good week for Deep Vellum and our authors!

First off, do not forget to subscribe or donate to Deep Vellum by September 1 to receive recognition for your support inside the first book we publish, Carmen Boullosa’s TEXAS: THE GREAT THEFT, which is going to press in a week or two!! Subscriptions will still be available after September 1, but your support will be noted in the second book we print (Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight) and in books thereafter for the duration of your subscription.

If you live in Texas and especially if you will be in Austin this Labor Day weekend, Jón Gnarr will be performing at the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival at the Paramount Theatre on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, performing a different set every night:

Jón Gnarr will be taking part in many different shows at Out of Bounds. He is the monologist in our stool Pigeon, will be a storyteller on Kevin Allison’s RISK! podcast live recording, and will be performing a 20-minute stand-up routine followed by a Q&A in the big Sunday Headlining show.

Gnarr did tell Vice Magazine he was moving to Texas after his mayorship in Reykjavik was complete (which it now is), so this will be his first apperance on Texan soil ever, and will prep him for his upcoming move to Houston (for a writing residency at Rice University, Jan-Apr 2015). Gnarr landed in Austin tonight, and as you can see, he is already adjusting quite nicely to life in Texas:


The irony of this photo is apparent in the title of Gnarr’s first literary book we are publishing next year, a memoir-novel about his childhood as an outcast, entitled The Indian:

The future scares me. Everyone’s headed somewhere together and I’m not invited. I’ll go alone, somewhere else. I don’t know where. I never know anything; I’m unable to do anything. No one cares about me at all. I’m all alone in the world.

I’m an Indian.

Wait til you read this book, it’s so touching, warm, funny, humane, you’re going to want Gnarr to be your new best friend and you’re going to admire the fortitude that allowed him to grow from a troubled and outcast little boy into the hilarious, engaging, world-changing man he is today . . . always the outsider, always against the bullies. But the cowboy getup looks good on him, eh?!

In more great author news, Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s debut novel, Tram 83, was just released in France by Editions Métailié to widespread acclaim, and was just shortlisted for the prestigious Le Monde Literraire Prize. Le Monde’s praise for the novel is below, for those of you who read French (or have a Google Translate gander of it briefly, because I can’t read French either!), but all you basically need to know is that last line reads: “one of the most exciting discoveries of the fall publishing season.” The prize will be awarded on September 11, and here’s hoping Fiston takes the prize home!!

C’est à Lubumbashi, ville Far West de l’ex-Zaïre (aujourd’hui République démocratique du Congo), que Lucien, apprenti écrivain, et Requiem, copain d’enfance et loubard dessalé, se retrouvent un beau jour. Le Tram 83, l’un des « bars à traînées les plus achalandés », devient leur repaire. « Musiciens par inadvertance ou prostituées du troisième âge (…), boulangers autodidactes ou marabouts ou mercenaires se réclamant de Bob Denard (…) » : la « Ville-Pays » s’y rue, en quête d’un bonheur bon marché. Les cadres des concessions minières et autres « touristes à but lucratif » s’y précipitent aussi. Il y a du Jérôme Bosch dans ce huis clos citadin, frénétique, flamboyant. Mais un Jérôme Bosch insolent, globe-trotter, qui aurait lu Gabriel Garcia Marquez et Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Vivant en Autriche, le jeune Fiston Mwanza Mujila, né au Katanga en 1981, signe là son premier roman : l’une des plus enthousiasmantes découvertes de la rentrée.

Tram 83 is scheduled to be published by Deep Vellum in September 2015, and I am already certain it will be one of the most exciting discoveries in all American season next year, which will be thanks, in no small part, to the brilliant efforts of translator Roland Glasser, whom we’ve just signed on to provide translation for this breathtaking debut novel!! We cannot wait to share it with you and the world, I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything with such vivacity in my life.

In more good news for Deep Vellum, publisher/founder/the guy writing this blog post, Will Evans, was recently named one of the “100 Dallas Creatives” by the Dallas Observer (our indie weekly newspaper in town). This is a huge honor, and means a ton to me to be included on this list with so many friends (Brandon Castillo, Nicole Stewart, Thea Temple, and Karen X. Minzer) and so many of the artists and creatives who make Dallas such a tremendously special place to live, work, and thrive. The Dallas Observer’s introduction to the (extensive!) interview with me is below (my favorite part is they call me “Intrepid Publisher”[!]):

The hyper-connected world we live in makes art and music from the far reaches of the globe easily accessible to everyone, but “for some reason, literature is the only art form that is constantly being made to defend the right to be disseminated and experienced outside of its original culture,” observes Will Evans. And he aims to do something about that.

Of course there is a barrier to entry that doesn’t exist in visual art or music – and that’s language. Evans, who recently launched a small publishing house in Dallas he’s calling Deep Vellum Publishing, is about to start doing his part to cross that barrier. This year Deep Vellum, which is functioning as a non-profit, will publish five original works in translation and he’s already turning heads in the international publishing world.

We pride ourselves in Dallas on our burgeoning arts scene but as Evans sees it, we’re missing a crucial segment of the art world by turning our back on the literary scene. So if you ask him well, why Dallas? There’s your answer. The organizations and resources exist, the Writer’s Garret and Wordspace, for example, we’re just failing to capitalize and discuss what’s already happening in our community.

“There’s no reason not to have more of the type of local literary community that people could identify similarly to Minneapolis–a very similar city (far from the coasts, tons of big business) that is internationally recognized for its dynamic arts scene, including a huge literary arts community,” says Evans of Dallas.

We couldn’t agree more and while Evans is dreaming really big, he’s already influencing the conversation. And he hasn’t even published his first book.

And last but not least, the newest issue of D Magazine hit newsstands yesterday (and subscribers’ mailboxes today), featuring a beautiful two-page spread interview/feature on me and Deep Vellum. Thank you to Peter Simek for the great interview and for all the editorial staff at D Magazine for being gracious enough to include me in their wonderful magazine (I’m a subscriber, you should subscribe too!) and for being such huge supporters of me and Deep Vellum ever since I step foot in the Big D just over a year ago (D Academy class of 2013-2014 forever!). Pick up a copy of the magazine today!

D Magazine Front-Row (1 of 2) (September 2014)D Magazine Front-Row (2 of 2) (September 2014)

That’s all for now. Off to pack for a weekend in Austin with the legend Jón Gnarr himself to talk about life, love, the pursuit of happiness, and every kind of marketing idea we can think for a three-year building Gnarr’s literary reputation in the English language (we are publishing Gnarr’s literary memoir trilogy over the next three years: The Indian in 2015; The Pirate in 2016; and The Outcast in 2017!). For the all-out Gnarr coverage, think Wu-Tang Clan after the release of Enter the 36 Chambers. I’m the RZA. Gnarr is Method Man. It’ll all make sense in time.

AND DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE TO DEEP VELLUM BY SEPTEMBER 1 TO RECEIVE RECOGNITION IN THE FIRST PRINTED BOOK WE PUBLISH, CARMEN BOULLOSA’S TEXAS: THE GREAT THEFT (which is going to the printers in the next two weeks…)!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Subscribe. Donate (tax-deductible, of course). Join the Deep Vellum family. To continue the Wu-Tang metaphor above, you could be the GZA to my RZA. Or you could be Raekwon. Or Ghostface Killah. Or Inspectah Deck. We all have roles to play in building this community, we form together like Voltron and are indestructible together. I need your help, we need your help, the world needs your help. Be a superhero. Donate, subscribe, volunteer to Deep Vellum today. Thank you for your consideration.

ALISA GANIEVA: Welcome to the Deep Vellum Family!!

August 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Continuing our string of book signings & announcements, welcome Alisa Ganieva to the Deep Vellum family!

Ganieva Photo

Alisa Ganieva is the first debut author we have signed at Deep Vellum (a debut debut, we’ll never forget our first!); I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to publish her debut novel The Russian Wall next summer in Carol Apollonio’s translation. Ganieva is an author who will dazzle you with her storytelling prowess as she expands our understanding of Russia’s complex multiethnic composition.

Ganieva was  born in Makhachkala, Dagestan, the capital city of the predominantly-Muslim province in the mountainous and restive Caucasus region of south Russia, next to Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. Soccer fans might know of the city of Makhachkala from the FC Anzhi soccer team (which made a big splash on the international soccer stage when the team was bought by billionaire Suleyman Kerimov, who spent a ton of money to get star player Samuel Eto’o and rockstar coach/manager Guus Hiddink), but I don’t know how many American readers are familiar with the ethnic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of Russia’s Caucasus region. Ganieva is your window into a new world, a fascinating glimpse of what daily life is like in Dagestan today, with its people trying to live and love as authoritarian politics from Moscow collide with fundamentalist Islamic separatist movements, as her literary Russian narrative voice is interspersed with conversations in Avar and other Turkic languages of Dagestan. And interestingly, this will be the first novel to ever talk about real life in Dagestan ever published in English. The only other work of literature from Dagestan ever published in English, “My Dagestan,” is by Rasul Gamzatov, the most famous Avar poet of the Soviet era, and a People’s Artist of the USSR, published in English around 1970. This is the first novel ever from Dagestan to be published in English. That is a huge deal.

An unbelievable writer with infinite talent, Ganieva studied at the legendary Gorky Literature Institute in Moscow, and was a resident in the 2012 International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Ganieva caused a huge controversy and gained legendary status in Russia when her long story “Salam, Dalgat!” was awarded the Debut Prize in 2009 (the same prize was awarded to Deep Vellum author Mikhail Shishkin in 1993 for his first-ever published work, “Calligraphy Lesson,” the title story in his collection we are publishing next year). The story of Ganieva winning the Debut Prize and the controversy is recounted in a Washington Post story about Ganieva from 2012:

Raised in a nonreligious household in Dagestan, a mountainous republic in Russia’s North Caucasus region, Alisa Ganieva has aimed to write in clear-eyed fashion about her homeland, a region that has been racked by violence fueled by criminal and clan elements and an Islamic insurgency. Her long story “Salam, Dalgat!” aims a merciless lens on a Dagestani town roiling with drug gangs, Islamic fundamentalists, water-supply breakdowns, burning garbage cans, abusive police officers and women fawning over Gucci knockoffs.

She used a male pseudonym — Gulla Khirachev — for the story, published first in a Dagestani newspaper, then in a literary journal. The pseudonym was a device reflecting the “male-dominated world of today’s Dagestan,” she says. She also wanted the story to be judged on its own merits, rather than in the context of her reputation as a literary critic and editor. (She works at the literary supplement published by Nezavisimaya Gazeta, a daily). The world learned her real identity when she collected the Debut Prize for “Salam, Dalgat!” in 2009.

The exceptionally gritty portrait of Dagestan in “Salam, Dalgat!” earned Ganieva death threats. “They accused me of betraying my society,” she says calmly in slightly halting English, explaining that Dagestani literature has long favored facile romanticism—texts “about snowy mountains and eagles in the sky.”

You can read a long excerpt from Ganieva’s Debut Prize-winning story “Salam, Dalgat!” in Squaring the Circle: Short Stories by Winners of the Debut Prize, compiled by Olga Slavnikova, published by Glas New Russian Writing in 2010.

For those curious about how I found out about Ganieva, it’s one of those beautiful publishing industry stories where recommendations came from multiple sources, and my passion for Russian literature (and ability to read Russian) came in handy… « Read the rest of this entry »

Translation Awards (AKA: Love for Translators)

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Translators of all nations: CONGRATULATIONS!

The last few weeks have seen a treasure trove of translation grants, prizes, and fellowships announced from PEN and the NEA . . . Where to begin?! « Read the rest of this entry »

Minneapolis Love: Ideas for Literary Advocacy in Dallas

August 15, 2014 § 1 Comment

You’ll hear me talk a lot about how I want nothing more than for Dallas to be more like Minneapolis, and so I went up to Minneapolis for four days earlier this week for an array of work meetings, with a distributor (I don’t think I can announce our arrangement yet, but if you know books, you already know who it is…) and the “big three” indie nonprofit presses (Graywolf, Coffee House, and Milkweed) to talk about best practices, development, marketing, and fundraising strategies. After four days in the Dallas-ish half of the Twin Cities, I seriously can’t get enough of Minneapolis and am feeling mega-inspired to start planning some programs to get people here excited about books in AND out of bookstores and readings…taking literature to the streets!

So you may ask yourself: “Why Minneapolis?!” The answer, my friend, is simple. Minneapolis, like Dallas, is about one zillion miles away from New York and LA, even further in the minds of the residents of those fair cities, especially in NYC’s book world. Like Dallas, Minneapolis is a huge regional hub for business, transportation, etc. and like Dallas it has a number of massive corporations based in the city. Unlike Dallas, Minneapolis has a massive bedrock of small and mid-size arts organizations upon which the strength of their arts community is based. And their strength is not just me talking from inexperience. Dr. Zannie Voss of SMU’s National Center for Art Research (which is incredible, btw, an invaluable resource for the city of Dallas BASED IN DALLAS!!!!!) presented to my Leadership Arts Institute class last year that basically Minneapolis has the most vibrant and robust arts community outside of New York based on any metric you use, but that’s per capita, of course, there are about as many people in metro NYC as in all Minnesota. But still, that’s in all arts disciplines: theater, music, visual & performing arts, and, most notably, literature. Dallas has some fantastic big arts institutions, but much, much less of the midsize and small arts organizations you need to keep the entire arts pyramid healthy and strong (a concept Dr. Foss discussed that I loved, it’s like the food pyramid, but for ARTS!).

So Minneapolis, aside from having one of the most well-respected theater communities in the country (not my particular field of expertise, but it is a fact!), also has the most incredible literary community in the US outside of New York. There are numerous independent publishers, magazines, bookstores, literary centers, and even book distributors all based in the city of Minneapolis (some used to be in St. Paul, but it seems like all are in Minneapolis now). I am most interested in the nonprofit literary organizations out of all of these, and there are legion: three of the best independent presses in the entire country are based in Minneapolis, and they are all nonprofits (like Deep Vellum, these are Graywolf Press, Coffee House Press, and Milkweed Editions); there’s also a literary review magazine called Rain Taxi that is also a nonprofit; and there is the Open Book/Loft Literary Center, indisputably the greatest literary center in the entire country, that hosts events and office space and is a one-stop shop for anything literary in the Twin Cities (and basically, I want to create one of those in Dallas). The one thing all of these organizations have in common is that they considered indispensable players in the local arts community, and they receive massive support from the network of arts funders in the Twin Cities, from government to foundations to corporations to individuals. And it is my goal to build a network of support for the literary arts like Minneapolis’ in Dallas. If I can be Graywolf, Coffee House, Milkweed, and Rain Taxi rolled into one (not that that’s possible, but at least for now…), then I can help change the mindset and discussion locally to have the literary arts considered as valuable in north Texas as they are in the Twin Cities.

Because one thing we lack in our arts community, in general, in Dallas, are any literary organizations that are considered a part of “The Arts” (using quotes to mean, those organizations that receive donations, grants, and support from that wide array of sources). We have a couple fantastic literary organizations (WordSpace, The Writer’s Garret) a few literary-sympathetic organizations (like the Dallas Institute of Humanities), and then Arts & Letters Live, a reading & literary discussion series based at the Dallas Museum of Art. That’s about it. As a nonprofit publisher, I’m looking for funding from the same mix of funding sources as the largest arts organizations in the city, but unlike them, most of the funding sources exclude literary organizations from applying, keeping open their applications only to visual and performing arts organizations. By excluding literary organizations from applying for the same type of funding that goes towards art museums, theaters, and musical spaces in the city, as an entire city we are saying that literature is not art, that it is not an important part of our arts community. But the fact is that literary arts an invaluable part of the arts community in any city. When corporations are looking to relocate to Dallas, they don’t only look to the health of our most prominent arts institutions, they look to the health of the entire sector, a fact that has led some huge relocations to turn elsewhere, we have a strong tip of the pyramid but are lacking a robust strata of small and midsize arts organizations, and we have a gaping void in the literary arts sector in Dallas and Texas in general.

One of the most important parts of Deep Vellum’s mission is to promote a more vibrant book culture in this city and beyond, and part of what I am doing to try to change the book culture locally is to advocate for literature and books to be included in the larger arts discussion. This means approaching arts funders (city & state government arts councils; foundations; and corporate & individual donors) to ask them to reassess their approach to arts funding to include more literary arts funding & to consider serving on the boards of smaller arts organizations. I don’t believe this lack of literary arts in Dallas is due to any negative ideas towards literature as part of the arts, but it may be something that has simply never occurred locally before. And if I can hope to ever do one thing as a resident of Dallas, it is to get more Dallas residents to think about books, literature, creative writing, translation–all those literary arts that have been neglected here for far too long. And hopefully that will lead more writers to live here, more readings to take place, more poetry events, more literary festivals, more publishing houses starting up, more literary centers popping up…it takes a village, so they say, and I know I’m not alone in loving literature here, and I feel the calling to get more people here to express their love for literature any way they can, whether it’s participating in a creative writing workshop, attending a reading, volunteering at an event, or donating to a literary organization whose mission they believe in. That is going to take a lot of work, and I can’t do it alone.

And all I’m trying to do is change the discussion…because I want Deep Vellum to last for decades, just like those literary nonprofits in Minneapolis I mentioned above (all have been established there for twenty years or more, employ dozens and dozens of people, and have substantial annual budgets, and an incredible array of recognition in the form of awards, front pages of the NY Times Book Review, Nobel Prizes, etc…). And I don’t want to be the only literary publisher here much longer. It gets lonely at times. You find yourself writing long blog posts on Friday afternoons…but I can’t stop thinking about the reading Rain Taxi held for Charles Baxter at 2am inside the underground James Turrell Sky Pesher at the Walker Art Center in 2012…I want to host mind-altering readings like that in Dallas!!!!!!!!!!!!

The trip was incredible. Fruitful. Fun. A reminder of how awesome everybody in indie publishing is. It’s so great to get out and meet the people who run the presses who serve as my inspiration for Deep Vellum. When I set up my business model, I looked to those three publishers as models for what I want to be. Of course, as a startup publisher, and in Dallas, I have a long road ahead of me, but it was so inspiring that everybody took the time out of their busy days to meet with me, chat, give advice, introduce me to everybody in their offices from the top to the bottom…I’ll never forget that experience. And plus it’s so cool to see these people where they work (and a real highlight was seeing the actual old letterpress in Coffee House’s office they used to print broadsides, posters, chapbooks, and other things…a nice physical reminder of the beauty and history of publishing and what it means to call yourself a “press”).

But here are some pictures from lovely Minneapolis:


Found some Dallas love at the distributor-to-be-named-later’s offices!


With Eric Lorberer of Rain Taxi at the Walker Art Center before the Internet Cat Video Festival


Open Book in downtown Minneapolis w/ Milkweed Editions’ sign outside


The write kind of bike rack outside of Open Book


The Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge at the Walker Art Center, a piece by Siah Armajani, featuring a John Ashbery poem that traverses the pedestrian bridge over 1 million lanes of traffic


With Steve Woodward, Associate Editor at Graywolf

Preorder Now, Receive All the Love

August 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Our big August preorder push is underway!

Preorder a 5- or 10-book subscription to Deep Vellum books before September 1 to receive recognition inside Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft, which will be published in October!

Texas CoverCalligraphy Lesson CoverArt of Flight CoverSphinx CoverThe Indian Cover

Subscribe for 10 books for only $100 (including shipping for US customers!) or 5 books for $60!

Preorders being accepted for US customers through Deep Vellum’s Square Marketplace page.Square CCsPreorders for international customers available through Paypal on the Orders/Subscription page.

Let’s (Google+) Hangout!

Also join me for a Google+ Hangout chat with the lynchpin of Dallas’ literary scene, Joe Milazzo, tomorrow at 4pm CST, hosted by The Writer’s Garret. Links below, and the Facebook event page is here:

Join us at 4:00 PM this Thursday on Google Plus and YouTube for our latest Writers Studio Chat with local publisher Will Evans of Deep Vellum Publishing!

Google Plus: tinyurl.com/q9cm9tv
YouTube: http://youtu.be/0RX1g2hcsWc

Submit your questions for Will through the above Google Plus or e-mail gen@writersgarret.org.

And though it seems like just yesterday I was leaving Frankfurt, I bought my plane ticket this morning to come over for my third Frankfurt Book Fair. I feel like a seasoned veteran by now, though one of my first meetings is with Petra Hardt, Suhrkamp’s legendary Foreign Rights Director (from whom I bought the rights to Alisa Ganieva’s The Russian Wall, an announcement coming on that this week!), and this is her 35th Frankfurt Book Fair. I still have so, so much to learn. I can’t wait to haunt Wacker’s Kaffee and sip my morning espresso in the company of international publishing luminaries Sarah McLachlan (House of Anansi) or Eva Cossee (Uitgeverij Cossee) . . . the world is a big, beautiful book waiting to be read, my friends.

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer: Welcome to the Deep Vellum Family!

July 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

ILJA LEONARD PFEIJFFER, welcome to the Deep Vellum family!

La Superba Cover

We are proud to announce we have signed LA SUPERBA, the newest award-winning novel by one of the most inventive and exciting authors in the world today, Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer.  Published in 2013 by De Arbeiderspers, and awarded the Libris Literatuur Prijs last month (the most prestigious Dutch literary prize), La Superba is the most emblematic novel of modern Europe, an irresistible combination of migrant novel, perverse travel guide, and postmodern ode to the imagination that lovingly describes the labyrinthine and magical city that Pfeijffer calls home: Genoa, Italy, the city known as “La Superba” (“The Superb City”) for its beauty and rich history.

From the Dutch Foundation for Literature’s information page on La Superba, this is what got me so stoked to publish this book, and it’s here to get you properly hyped before I get together some other marketing copy for this brilliant novel:

This novel is set in Genoa, the labyrinthine port city (nicknamed ‘the Superb’) where the author has been living for the past five years. Migration is the central theme of this autobiographical story about a writer who becomes trapped in his walk on the wild side.

‘Emigrating is like writing a new novel, without yet knowing the plot, the ending, nor even the characters that will turn out to be crucial to the progress of the story,’ says Ilja Leonardo Pfeijffer, the self-confident ‘Italophile’ who addresses us in La Superba. In a long letter home he reports on his life as an explorer in Genoa and contrasts his fate with that of the dirt poor migrant workers from Africa who can barely keep their heads above water.La Superba is more than a touching story about fortune seekers who fall through the cracks. The novel starts with the discovery, by the narrator, of a woman’s leg on the street. That leg will pop up repeatedly in his search for ‘the most beautiful girl in Genoa’, a quest that brings him into contact with the prostitutes, locals and outsiders of the port’s rougher districts and seaman’s bars. This is a pocket edition of Dante’s Inferno, written by an author who admits that he likes to exaggerate: ‘Let’s call it an exercise in style. But the fact that I exaggerate doesn’t mean what I say is untrue.’

Eventually the main character becomes hopelessly lost in his own fantasies, leaving his readers with the feeling they have been hallucinating while roaming through a metropolis. The destination was irrelevant; it was the journey that mattered. And anyone in danger of losing the thread could cling to the style of their guide, to those dynamic sentences full of depravity and high contemplation that Pfeijffer has produced in such quantities since his award-winning debut novel Rupert: A Confession (2002).

For those curious about how I came to sign La Superba: I found out about this amazing novel at the Frankfurt Book Fair last October while meeting with Victor Schiferli of the Dutch Foundation for Literature, an awesome cultural organization that promotes Dutch literature to publishers like me from all over the world, connecting Dutch authors to publishers and translators. A synopsis of the novel was included in the “Books from Holland: Fall 2013” catalog that the Foundation published for Frankfurt, and Victor and I talked about the novel. I should also add, the Dutch Foundation for Literature sponsored my recent trip to Amsterdam for two days of meetings with publishers, authors, and translators (all of which I promise I will write about soon, because it was preceded by the German Editors Trip, and that was amazing too!). One of the meetings the Foundation set up for me in Amsterdam was with a group of literary translators (who’ve published with all of my favorite publishing houses, like Harvill Secker, Pushkin Press, Archipelago Books, Open Letter, etc.) including Michele Hutchinson, who translated Pfeijffer’s debut novel from 2002, Rupert: A Confession, which Open Letter Books published in 2009. Michele also translated the sample of La Superba that Victor sent to me after Frankfurt, which I really liked. The book sounded cool, the sample was fun to read, and the author already had a book in English. All good signs. I added the book to my “Want to Publish” list (this is a real list I keep, with male and female author lists, trying to sign one-for-one). But I wasn’t looking to sign anything right after Frankfurt, I was more keen on getting the first list of titles prepped for Fall 2014. But then I signed a new distribution deal (more information coming on that soon…), and as part of graduating to the big leagues, I needed to expand my publishing timeline horizon and look for books to round out the Deep Vellum lists for spring, summer, and fall 2015 because the distributor needs information on each publishing “season” (Spring is March-August, Fall is September-February) about a year in advance. And I just wasn’t working on that kind of timeline. So I needed new titles, and fast. Fortunately, right about the same time I was confirming my Dutch Editor’s Trip (it was just me!) details, the Libris Literatuur Prijs winner was announced (and the prize jury wrote an amazing essay on their choice, it’s worth Google Translating), and it was La Superba! You’re probably asking yourself how I knew this prize had been awarded. And the answer is simple, because all the international prize information I know of is due to one man, Michael Orthofer, and his amazing Literary Saloon (the news/blog section of his incredible review website, Complete Review). Orthofer publishes the most international literary publishing news of anybody, and he’s an indispensable resource for knowing what is going on in the world, who’s publishing what, who’s winning what prizes, what the latest publishing gossip out of Japan or Nigeria or even the UK is, etc. Check out his website, and also his reviews, because his website is often the only resource to publish reviews of so many works in translation, he is an avid supporter of world literature, and he also loves Dutch and German literature (seriously, check out this list of Dutch literature under review there, most of these books have never been translated!). And so I was reading the Literary Saloon one morning (because I read it daily, seriously), and saw the news that La Superba had won the Libris Prijs!  At first I was scared I wouldn’t be able to afford to buy the rights to La Superba after it won the prize. But after meeting Michele and hearing her fellow translators’ unanimous recommendation that if I were to publish one Dutch book based on the trip, it should be La Superba, I was sold. Seriously, for six translators of every age, gender, and literary taste to recommend the same book doesn’t happen. They don’t have to be so nice, even though it makes me want to publish translations by each of them in turn, it doesn’t happen like that in the fierce underworld of literary translators…but back to La Superba. After meeting Michele and hearing the praise, I asked Michele for her translation of Rupert: A Confession, which I then read on the flight from Amsterdam back to Dallas. It’s a fast read, and so hilarious, so witty, so good, I knew I had to do it. I got back to Dallas and the first thing I did after the July 4th holiday (America!) was to draft an offer for La Superba. Michele put me in touch with the publisher of La Superba, Peter Nijssen of De Arbeiderspers, and I sent him the offer. Yesterday morning I awoke to the good news that my offer had been accepted by De Arbeiderspers and by Ilja himself. I was so ecstatic I think I yelped while laying in bed and scared my cat. The rest is, and will be, history. This will be one of the most fun books to read in 2015, and will come to mark a moment in European literary history, because this novel is as important as it is fun. The rare double whammy!

But seriously, I could have saved myself all the time typing that and just said that after seeing the photo of Ilja in the Books from Holland issue, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Eat your heart out, Knausgaard, I have the newest literary heartthrob! Hey Archipelago, let’s do some readings with Knausgaard and Pfeijffer together and watch the ladies melt and the men squirm awkwardly before their manly might (or swoon too, I’m not judging).

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer

La Superba will be published by Deep Vellum in Michele Hutchinson’s translation sometime in fall 2015. Probably October. Maybe November. In the meantime, read Rupert: A Confession and get ready to take a whirlwind tour through the winding alleyways of Genoa next fall when Ilja comes to the States and things get awesome. Check back to the blog soon, I’ll have the Dutch & German editors trip recaps, plus a post welcoming the third new member of the Deep Vellum family, Alisa Ganieva, a 28-year old literary sensation from Dagestan with a brilliant novel about life in Russia’s Muslim Caucasus region. Could she be the future of Russian literature? The answer is yes. And we are publishing her debut novel, The Russian Wall (orig. Праздничная гора, published by AST in Russia, Suhrkamp in Germany, Gallimard in France, La Nuova Frontera in Italy…). You won’t want to miss this one. She is going to be a star, just like Fiston Mwanza Mujila. All of your new favorite authors from all over the world in one publishing family.

John Darnielle Reading 10/5! OffWorld Discussion 7/24!

July 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Deep Vellum & WordSpace are proud to present legendary singer/songwriter JOHN DARNIELLE reading from his debut novel, WOLF IN WHITE VAN, at The Wild Detectives on Sunday, October 5 at 7pm!!!!!

WIWV - John Darnielle
Darnielle’s publisher, FSG, announced today the full tour itinerary for WOLF IN WHITE VAN, and it’s impressive. He’s basically doing a book tour like he would a band tour. Hitting so many cities. I love it. The novel drops September 16. Get it at your local bookstore. Or your online indie outlet of choice (*cough*Powell’s*cough*). Or request your local library to buy a copy.

Darnielle himself posted the tour announcement on The Mountain Goats website, though he does make note he’s leaving the guitar at home on this tour and focusing on the book, the reading, and being his normal literary self (he subscribes to Open Letter! He loves translated literature! He’s my ideal reader!):

Dear anybody whose question “will there be a book tour?” I have seemed to ignore, please know that I was not ignoring you, but that there was a plan to tell people about the tour I’ll be doing for Wolf In White Van. I am constitutionally predisposed to call this plan a dark and evil plan, but honestly I don’t see how going places and reading from my book can really be thought of as dark and evil, though I will do my best.

I’m putting this up here on Mountain Goats Dot Com because it seems probable that a number of people who like our music will also be interested in the book, but for purposes of clarity be advised that I am leaving my guitar at home for this one and will play no songs on this tour, though I can’t promise that Mr. Hodgman and I won’t do an a capella chorus or two of “Sing a Song About Love”, or possibly “We Bite.”

See you out there!

Full reading information is below. Sign up to attend on the Facebook event page, and preorder the book online or, better yet, buy a copy at The Wild Detectives!

10/5 – Dallas, TX
The Wild Detectives
314 W 8th Street
Dallas, TX 75208
Presented by WordSpace and Deep Vellum
7:00 pm

And speaking of Wordspace, don’t forget that I’m hosting a discussion on July 24 at the Wild Detectives on the amazing DEFINITELY MAYBE by Boris & Arkady Strugatsky (recently re-released by Melville House in their amazing Neversink Library) as part of WordSpace’s resurrected OffWorld Reading Series, where they delve into what makes sci-fi so damn interesting. I’ll be discussing Soviet sci-fi in particular. The Wild Detectives have plenty of copies of the book in stock, grab one, read it quick (it’s a slim 140 pages), laugh your ass off (it’s a hilarious book, and weird, but mostly hilarious), and then re-read it and join us on July 24 for a night of book talkin’ & sci-fi slingin’. See you there!

OffWorld Strugatsky 7-24-14