July 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
We’re the best publisher in Dallas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Not only has he brought great authors like Sergio Pitol and Anne Garreta to English-language readers, he offers Dallas an unmatched energy and enthusiasm for building a true literary community.”
For those who are curious, we are not in fact the only publisher in Dallas, and I don’t know if there has ever been a Best Publisher category in the Best of Big D listings, but the fact that D Magazine would include this category, or us, at all speaks volumes to how far we’ve come in the past two years to increasing the awareness of the literary arts in Dallas, and embracing our city’s rich literary history (see for example this amazing D Magazine piece from last month’s issue written by Ben Fountain about Willard Spiegelman and the 100th anniversary of the Southwest Review, published out of SMU!). Thank you to our friends at D Magazine for recognizing what we’re trying to do—simultaneously publishing great literature and building a more vibrant literary community in Dallas, North Texas, and beyond!!
And check back soon for potential huge news about new office/event space for Deep Vellum…and don’t forget, we can’t publish these books or host events without your support, please consider subscribing or making a tax-deductible donation to support our mission today. THANK YOU AS ALWAYS FOR READING!!!!!
July 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
Mark Haber, writer, Best Translated Book Award judge, and bookseller at Houston’s Brazos Bookstore, has interviewed Dallas’s own George Henson about translating Sergio Pitol. Read the full interview at Brazos’s website:
Henson remembers the first time he was exposed to Hispanic literature in translation. It was in 1983 at a panel discussing Carlos Fuentes. Henson heard one of Fuentes’ translators, Margaret Sayers Peden, speak. “I thought, Oh, this woman translates. I’ve read Carlos Fuentes in Spanish and this woman translates him into English. And I remember specifically going and buying a book, one of Carlos Fuentes’ novels that Margaret Sayers Peden had translated.”
Now, Henson is a popular translator himself, most recently known for translating Mexican author Pitol for Deep Vellum, the independent literary publisher based in Dallas (where Henson also lives). Before I’d ever read Pitol—before he’d even had a book translated into English—my Spanish-speaking friends had told me about this writer, a recipient of both the Juan Rulfo Prize and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize. They raved about his coveted place in Mexican letters, his brilliance and originality. Thus, there was already a sense of anticipation, even an expectation, when I finally held THE ART OF FLIGHT in my hands this past March. I expected to like the book, but I didn’t expect to find a library of authors contained inside a single novel, one that combines travelogue, essay, memoir, and literature effortlessly—in other words, I didn’t expect to love Pitol. Reading him feels like sitting beside your favorite uncle, the one who has traveled the world and read everything, yet wears his intelligence loosely and comfortably. Now, with THE JOURNEY, Pitol’s newest book translated into English, the author looms even larger.
THE JOURNEY, the second book in Pitol’s Trilogy of Memory, is forthcoming on August 18th. We’ll be sending review & subscriber copies out this week. It’s the first time one of our books has been delayed, but bear with me, it’s not easy publishing this many books as a one-man show (and we’re still ahead of schedule for all of our fall season of amazing books!). Enjoy an excerpt from THE JOURNEY from our friends at the Houston-based Literal Magazine as you wait for your copy to arrive:
Faced with centuries of cruelty and an unrelenting history, against the robotic nature of contemporary life the only thing they have left is their soul. And in the Russian’s soul, I include his energy, his identification with nature and eccentricity. The achievement of being oneself without relying too much on someone else and sailing along as long as possible, going with the flow.The eccentric’s cares are different from those of others—his gestures tend toward differentiation, toward autonomy insofar as possible from a tediously herdlike setting. His real world lies within. From the times of the incipient Rus’, a millennium ago, the inhabitants of this infinite land have been led by a strong hand and endured punishments of extreme violence, by Asian invaders as well as their own: Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Nicholas I, Stalin; and from among the glebe, among the suffering flock, arises, I don’t know if by trickle or torrent, the eccentric, the fool, the jester, the seer, the idiot, the good-for-nothing, the one with one foot in the madhouse, the delirious, the one who is the despair of his superiors. There is a secret communicating vessel between the simpleton who rings the church bells and the sublime painter, who in a chapel of the same church gives life to a majestic Virgin greater than all the icons contained in that holy place. The eccentric lends levity to the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present; in doing so, he breathes new life into it. In some novels, all the characters are eccentrics, and not only they, but the authors themselves. Laurence Sterne, Nikolai Gogol, the Irishmen Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien are exemplars of eccentricity, like each and every one of the characters in their books and thus the stories of those books.
And the introduction to THE JOURNEY was written by none other than Álvaro Enrigue, author of the Herralde Prize-winning Sudden Death (coming soon from Riverhead). Enrigue used to be the editor of Letras Libres, one of, if not THE, most important literary review outlets in Mexico and the entire Spanish-speaking world (check out Enrigue’s original review of The Journey after it was published in Mexico, from 2001). From Enrigue’s brilliant introduction to THE JOURNEY, called “Sergio Pitol, Russian Boy,” which I think helps contextualize the entire Trilogy of Memory for the English-language reader in an important way (and which you can read in full in Spanish at Letras Libres):
The Journey is at once a lesson in subtlety and in destruction. It is a book that, in order to rescue one tradition, dynamites another. It is a volume about how a writer constructs. About freedom and its lack; that final, indomitable freedom which is letting go, allow- ing things to come out: narrating. This is why the book does not function, like almost all the others, as a progressive sequence of stories, ideas, and images, but rather like a hall of mirrors, in which a series of narratives reflect on each other: eschatological tales; a body of essays on the humiliations suffered by Russian writers who chose to pay the price for speaking their mind; a collection of documentary vignettes in which the reader watches live the Soviet generation that was becoming emancipated, fertilized by the sacrifice of those authors and the autobiographical framework of the writer who chose not to comply with any parameters to become who he wanted to be: a Russian boy.
Remind yourself why you love Sergio Pitol so much, like in the young Mexican novelist Daniel Saldaña Paris‘s “Sergio Pitol: Mexico’s Total Writer,” which was published in English translation by the Literary Hub (and Saldaña Paris’s debut novel, Among Strange Victims, is forthcoming from Coffee House next year!):
Pitol is one of those authors whom one never leaves. There is always a corner of his work that can be read under a new lens. It is not for nothing, it seems to me, that he is held as a clear example of a “writer’s writer” in recent Latin American narrative. The fact that authors such as Enrique Vila-Matas and Mario Bellatin have turned him into a character in their own fiction only confirms what any reader senses upon reading him: that Pitol is unfathomable; it could almost be said that he is a literature entire of himself.
Or remind yourself that Pitol is one of the major influences on so many of the greatest Spanish-language authors of our time, like Enrique Vila-Matas, who says in his introduction to THE ART OF FLIGHT:
In these anecdotes of rainy days past lies the silhouette of his Cervantesesque life, since, as he says, “Everything is all things.” Reading him, one has the impression of being in the presence of the best writer in the Spanish language of our time. And to whomever asks about his style, I will say that it consists in fleeing anyone who is so dreadful as to be full of certainty. His style is to say everything, but to not solve the mystery. His style is to distort what he sees. His style consists in traveling and losing countries and losing one or two pairs of eyeglasses in them, losing all of them, losing eyeglasses and losing countries and rainy days, losing everything: having nothing and being Mexican and at the same time always being a foreigner.
Sergio Pitol’s stories, essays and novels do not only travel through his many places of residence. His writing – the way he constructs sentences, inflects Spanish, twists meanings and stresses particular words – reflects the multiplicity of languages he has read and embraced –and perhaps, too, the many men he has been. Reading him is like reading through the layers of many languages at once.
It isn’t easy to explain the reason why Pitol’s imagination takes hold of his readers. Perhaps it is the way he’s able to delicately tap into the most disturbing layers of reality and turn our conception of what is normal inside out. Perhaps it’s because he’s always telling a deeper, sadder, more disquieting story while pretending to narrate another. Or perhaps it is merely that strange gift which very few possess: a voice that reverberates beyond the margins of his books.
August 18th, get yourself a copy of Pitol’s THE JOURNEY (from your local indie bookstore, or preorder from Brazos Bookstore) and enjoy one of the world’s greatest, most influential, and most fun to read authors take you on a trip from Prague to Moscow to Leningrad to Tbilisi and to the depths of your imagination. Enjoy, amigos.
July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
With the publication of Sergio Pitol‘s The Journey on August 11th we will wrap up our inaugural Spring 2015 season, and as we look ahead to our impending Fall 2015-2016 season, which will expand our literary horizons, literally and physically, with 6 authors from 6 countries; 4 continents; 2 women authors, 4 men; award-winning, life-changing books all:
- September: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo) – Tram 83 (translated from the French by Roland Glasser)
- October – Leila S. Chudori (Indonesia) – Home (translated from the Bahasa Indonesian by car)
- November – Ricardo Piglia (Argentina) – Target in the Night (translated from the Spanish by Sergio Waisman)
- January – Jón Gnarr (Iceland) – The Pirate (translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith)
- February – Lina Meruane (Chile) – Seeing Red (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell)
- March – Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (Netherlands) – La Superba (translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison)
And because we publishers work years ahead of schedule, today I am uploading all of the information for our Spring 2016 season into our distributor Consortium Book Sales‘s backend system. Here’s a sneak peek of Spring 2016, featuring 6 authors from 6 different countries on 5 (!) continents; 3 women, 3 men; 1 member of Oulipo (Audin!); 100% amazing:
- April – Michèle Audin (France) – One Hundred Twenty-One Days (translated from the French by Christiana Hills)
- April – Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine) – Voroshilovgrad (translated from the Ukrainian by Reilly Costigan-Humes & Isaac Wheeler)
- May – Fouad Laroui (Morocco) – The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers (translated from the French by Emma Ramadan)
- June – Carmen Boullosa (Mexico) – Before (translated from the Spanish by Peter Bush)
- July – Jung Young Moon (South Korea) – Vaseline Buddha (translated from the Korean by Jung Yewon)
- August – Noemi Jaffe (Brazil) – What are the Blind Men Dreaming? (translated from the Portuguese by Julia Sanches & from the Serbo-Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac)
If you are interested in more information on any of these books, please feel free to write me (will at deep vellum dot org) to request a review copy, a reading copy, a pat on the back, it’s not easy to run a publishing house putting out 10-15 books a year with a full-time staff of approximately two (shoutout to Anna Zylicz, our amazing book designer & typesetter, based in Italy!). To support Deep Vellum and our mission to enriching our literary culture and deepening cultural understanding through translation and translated literature, please consider a subscription (5 or 10 books) or making a tax-deductible donation. More information available, as always, on our website & social media (especially Twitter), which is in the process of a massive, professional redesign by Justin Childress of Switch Creative.
Thank you for reading this and for reading books and for caring!
July 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
Sphinx continues to blow away everybody who reads it!
Reviews of Anne Garréta‘s remarkable debut in English, Sphinx, have recently come in from Bookforum (“ingenious translation…Garréta finds endless shades of in between and out of bounds, her characters taking shapes no other text before—or since—has imagined.“), BOMB Magazine (“For Garréta, it just may be possible then that the body occupies the space of language as powerfully as its capacity to produce it.“—available in the newest print edition onsale now!), and Lambda Literary (“Sphinx is an important contribution to queer literature—fascinating, intelligent, and very welcome.”)!!
Emma Ramadan recently read from her translation of Sphinx and discussed the novel alongside author Sarah Gerard and translator/author Ian Dreiblatt on July 1 at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. Audio from that event is available online now, listen and marvel in the ridiculous beauty of this book and its impact on us all:
Today is the release date for Harper Lee’s “follow-up” to To Kill a Mockingbird: Go Set a Watchman. Do the right thing and buy this book from your local independent bookstore. For us Dallasites, that means heading down to The Wild Detectives to get your copy, and plus it’s Bastille Day, so join us with The Wild Detectives selling books and hanging out at Bastille on Bishop tonight (we’ll also be stuffing ourselves with crêpes as we play pétanque!). So head down to the Bishop Arts District to get your fill of the best French cultural celebration in Texas, and get your copy of Sphinx (that is, if you don’t already have yours, and Dallas, if you don’t already have yours, best to get yours!!!!), and Go Set a Watchman too.
Congratulations to maestro Ricardo Piglia on winning the Formentor Prize! The Formentor Prize was originally founded in the ’60s, named after a town on the Spanish island of Mallorca famous for its literary gatherings, and was awarded then to Borges, Gombrowicz, Beckett, Bellow, and others, before dissolving in 1967 under pressure from Franco’s dictatorship. It was resurrected in 2011 to award an author for a lifetime’s achievement in literature with a cash purse of 50,000 euros (!). The winners since the prize’s resurrection in 2011 have been, in order, a laundry list of the greatest authors in the Spanish language: Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Javier Marias, Enrique Vila-Matas, and, now, Ricardo Piglia (information on the prize taken from Wikipedia). In typical American fashion, there was not a single literary media outlet that covered this year’s Formentor Prize, but the Spanish press has it covered, check out the articles in El País and El Mundo. (Maybe if our literary press opened their eyes to the rest of the world just the tiniest, I mean the tiniest, bit, then there’d be more interest from American readers in authors who are recognized with these types of lifetime achievement or huge novel prizes in other countries…it’s like the Patrick Modiano situation, nobody knows who he is until he wins the Nobel, even though he’s won zillions of foreign prizes for years and years & is quite well known internationally; it’s not the American reader’s fault they don’t know about these authors & prizes, it’s the “gatekeepers” keeping the gates closed to the rest of the world. Deep Vellum, Open Letter, Archipelago, New Vessel, and our other translation-publishing peers, seek to blow those doors wide open! Ask yourself who’s publishing what you read, and why they’ve withheld the good stuff from you for so, so long!)It is an honor and a privilege to publish Piglia‘s Romulo Gallegos Prize-winning novel Target in the Night in November in Sergio Waisman‘s transcendent translation, reintroducing the work of Argentina’s greatest living writer, one of the all-time greats, one of the canonical writers of all Spanish language literature, in a book that will blow your mind in its precision, its beauty, its power. Target in the Night is a must-read for all fans of Latin American literature, from Borges & Arlt & Bioy Casares to Bolaño & Vila-Matas to Pynchon & DeLillo & Chandler. I’m reading his Artificial Respiration right now, originally published by Duke University Press in 1994, and if you haven’t read this book, drop everything and get on it (and then check out Assumed Name, those stories are unbelievable, and his Homage to Roberto Arlt should be required reading for all translated literature lovers). It’ll get you so stoked for the release of Target in the Night, too. And in the meantime, read an excerpt from Target in the Night in Literal Magazine here:
During a break in the music, a car was heard driving up at full speed from behind the hill. Everyone saw Durán driving Old Man Belladona’s convertible coupe with both sisters beside him in the narrow front seat. Redheaded and beautiful, they looked as if they hadn’t gotten enough sleep. While Durán parked the car and helped the young ladies out, the Inspector stopped, turned around to look at them, and said something softly to Saldías. The Scribe shook his head. It was strange to see the sisters together except in extraordinary situations. And it was extraordinary to see them there at all because they were the only women at the race (except for the country women selling empanadas).
Durán and the twins found a place near the starting line. The young women each sat on a small, canvas folding chair. Tony stood behind them and greeted people he knew, and joined in making fun of the out-of-towners who had crowded together at the other end of the track. His thick, black hair, slicked back, shone with some kind of cream or oil that kept it in place. The sisters were all smiles, dressed alike, with flowery sundresses and white ribbons in their hair. Needless to say, had they not been the descendants of the town owner, they wouldn’t have been able to move about with so much ease among all the men there. They, the men, looked at the Belladona sisters out of the corner of their eyes with a combination of respect and longing. Durán was the one who’d return the looks, smiling, and the men from the countryside would turn around and walk away. The two sisters also immediately started betting, taking money out of a diminutive, leather purse that each carried around their shoulder. Sofía bet a lot of money on the town’s dapple grey, while Ada put together a stack of five-hundred and one-thousand bills and played it all on the sorrel from Luján. It was always like that, one against the other, like two cats in a bag fighting to get out.
It’s 100 degrees in Dallas, finally, we’re off to edit in the A/C. Until soon, amigos.
July 6, 2015 § 3 Comments
Summer is reading season! And leaving the damp impressions of your sweaty little fingerprints on the delicate pages of a book…ah, that’s what summer is all about.
In honor of the 4th of July celebrations over the weekend, our friends at The Literary Hub compiled an interesting list of nearly 50 foreign authors’ three favorite quintessential American novels, including three Deep Vellum authors’ recommendations: Mikhail Shishkin (Bradbury, Salinger, Vonnegut), Carmen Boullosa (Twain, Faulkner, McCullers), and Alisa Ganieva (Franklin, Twain, Fitzgerald). Click here for the full list of author recommendations (a seriously amazing list of authors recommending a seriously amazing list of books!).
TRANSLATORS! Especially Texan translators, a note from our friends down in Houston: Gulf Coast’s 2015 Prize in Translation is now open:
Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts is now accepting entries for the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2015, the contest is open to prose (fiction and nonfiction) in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published.
This year’s contest will be judged by the poet, novelist, translator, critic, and scholar, Ammiel Alcalay. His books include A Little History (2013), from the warring factions, 2nd edition (2012), “neither wit nor gold” (from then) (2011), Islanders (2010), Scrapmetal (2007), Memories of Our Future: Selected Essays, 1982-1999 (1999), and After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (1993). He is founder and general editor, under the auspices of the Center for the Humanities and the PhD program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative.
The Gulf Coast Prize in Translation was founded by the Editors in 2014. Kristin Dykstra won for her translations of Marcelo Morales. Yvette Siegert and Derick Mattern were given Honorable Mentions for their translations of Ana Gorría and Haydar Ergülen. Jen Hofer, social justice interpreter, urban cyclist, and founder of the language-collective Antena, was the inaugural judge.
Submissions are accepted online, through postal mail, and full guidelines can be found online here.
Long, complex sentences, resistance to straightforward answers, and a keen intellectualism visible in topical and stylistic choices make this an esoteric reading choice . . .
The end of this essay exemplifies one of those points in Pitol’s work where the reader isn’t quite sure what the author thinks the future of novels is, or what he even thinks of today’s novel. Because he never wrestles anything head-on he makes the reader do due diligence.
That’s one of the qualities that will make readers return to one or more pieces—to figure out what they missed the first few times or to enjoy those things again.
Anne Garréta‘s remarkable Sphinx landed on the bestseller list at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn this week alongside some remarkable company (and three other women writers, our kind of bookstore)!
Also, we received our first Kirkus Review for Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s debut, Tram 83, forthcoming September 15 in Roland Glasser‘s translation:
Stylistically quirky and unorthodox fiction from Africa . . . Tram 83 is the locus of those driven by ambition, desire, greed, or pleasure—and in this underworld we meet quite a cast of characters.
Fiston & Roland will be touring the US September 20-October 10 with the generous support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, including stops at the Brooklyn Book Festival; a week in the Northeast; a week in Texas (Houston, Austin, Dallas); and a week in California, with stops in Los Angeles, culminating in a reading at Litquake in San Francisco!
For further reading on Fiston and the literary history of the Congo, both Republic of Congo (or Congo-Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa), from where Fiston hails (he’s originally from Lubumbashi, DRC), check out Siddhartha Mitter‘s 2013 New Yorker article, “Terror Across the River: Letter from a Congo Literary Festival“:
One afternoon during the festival, Bissila told some of this story from a stage in the gardens of the Palais des Congrès, where a makeshift restaurant dispensed cold drinks against the sweltering heat. Beside him were two young writers from across the river in the D.R.C., Papy Maurice Mbwiti A Bwanga and Fiston Nasser Mwanza. Their conversation was titled “New Congolese Voices,” but the panelists repudiated this designation, and so did some young Congolese writers in the audience—including several who had come over from Kinshasa—who grumbled that these three, having achieved a foothold in Europe, were now among the anointed and no longer new. Still, all three shared experiences that the crowd could identify with, and when they read from their works—brash, angry, sardonic, hilarious texts about daily life in the face of power and its perversions—each earned a lusty, knowing round of applause.
Update on Intern Eilidh: Intern Eilidh is doing a good job. She works hard and still likes YA books. I told her to start a blog and to start reviewing YA books. So if you have books you want reviewed by soon-to-be-no-longer-an-intern Eilidh, let me know and I’ll put you in touch!
June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Hello world, meet Eilidh, Deep Vellum’s first-ever intern!
Eilidh will be a senior at the University of Arkansas this fall (shoutout to Nightbird Books, the best/only indie bookstore in Fayetteville!). She’s helping us out this summer as we get ready to launch our second list of books (!), move offices (we’re gonna miss you, Common Desk), and figure out how to get Deep Vellum books in as many readers’ hands as humanly possible. But let’s let Eilidh (pronounced Ay-lith) introduce herself!
Hey everyone, I’m Eilidh Strecker the new intern at Deep Vellum Publishing! I am currently studying at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but home for the summer before my senior year. I am a book enthusiast with aspirations of my own to work in the daunting field of publishing one day.
My majors at the UofA are English Literature and French, which contrary to popular belief, do not equal “unemployment” upon graduation. My interest in both literature and language are brought together by the vision of Deep Vellum, which focuses on bringing some amazing literature enjoyed by other countries to the English language. I have recently returned from a semester in Grenoble, France where I was more than forced to appreciate the value of translation and how directly it pertains to daily life. As I found, the ability to understand, empathize, and relate to other cultures on a real and personal level is a vital part of having a well-developed worldview. So much of this knowledge can be conveyed through the literature produced by other countries and it’s a real disadvantage to English speakers and readers everywhere, that not enough of this literature is being translated.
A little more about me: I am from the Dallas area – a nearby suburb – and until college, lived my entire life in the same home. There is certainly something to be said for this kind of continuity, something I will forever thank my fantastic parents for as I have maintained childhood friends from elementary school and before, but it made me all the more excited to expand my horizons after high school. I have always known that I wanted to go into literature in some way. For a while I wanted to be a high school teacher due to my incredible luck to have had some of the most wonderful English teachers, which played a large role in my choice to become an English major in college. However, I also wanted to contribute to the world of literature in some way, other than rereading and re-teaching texts that have already been produced. Between my teachers telling me to read read read (it doesn’t matter what, just read!) and the selection available for my age at the time, I took my first steps into the world of Young Adult literature. All through high school I read tons of YA literature, which combined with my growing love of my English classes, pushed me toward my current aspirations to get involved with YA publishing/editing. Eventually, I would love to get into the Young Adult literature arena, as I see it as a growing field in need of some new ideas. Though now, having begun my internship here at Deep Vellum, I have morphed my original plan slightly to include exploring the YA literature produced by other countries, something I hadn’t considered before.
I came to find Deep Vellum Publishing while researching summer publishing internships in Dallas. Amazingly (yet unsurprisingly), Dallas has a huge lack of publishing opportunities both for people seeking employment in the editing/publishing field as well as potential writers who would have the chance to publish their own work given more of a platform on which to publish locally. Due to this, Deep Vellum is an island of sorts in an ocean of the non-publishing world of Dallas, Texas. I feel incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to intern here for the summer and whether I got the job because of my persistent emails and badgering, or simply having great timing, I intend to make the most of this rare opportunity. I am more than eager and enthusiastic to see what the summer holds and I hope to contribute to a company, I think has nothing but awesome possibilities ahead.
June 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
Alisa Ganieva is in the USA!
Alisa Ganieva has arrived in the US! TONIGHT she is reading in NYC at the awesomely amazing bookstore BOOK CULTURE on the Upper West Side (W. 112th St.), and then discussing her work with Ronald Meyer (Harriman Institute of Slavic Studies at Columbia University). The event is co-sponsored by Read Russia.
Alisa will also be reading in Iowa City at Prairie Lights Bookstore on June 25th w/ Kiki Petrosino & Karim Alrawi.
Ganieva is in the US to teach a class at the University of Iowa‘s International Writing Program, of which she is a 2012 alumna:
Reviews of Ganieva’s The Mountain and the Wall are starting to roll in, and they’re exemplary:
An excellent story about the rise of Islam, the fate of the republics in post-Soviet Russia and the traditions of a people little known in the West.
I have to be honest and admit straight away that I’d never even heard of Dagestan until I read this book, so I come to write this review more tentatively than I might usually. In a way, though, that’s quite appropriate; because it seems to me that Ganieva’s novel is very much concerned with hearsay and the limits of knowledge.
We also have two incredibly amazing events coming up to celebrate the brilliance that is Anne Garréta‘s SPHINX with the book’s translator, Emma Ramadan:
- June 23rd – A Celebration of Sphinx w/ translator Emma Ramadan, Oulipo member Daniel Levin Becker, and writer/critic Scott Esposito at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco, CA at 7:30pm. Event info here.
- July 1 – A Celebration of Sphinx w/ translator Emma Ramadan, Sarah Gerard (author of Binary Star, pub. by Two Dollar Radio), and Ian Dreiblatt (poet, Russian translator, good dude) at Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York at 7pm. Event info here.
The wave of rave reviews for Sphinx keeps growing:
Ramadan is not simply walking along underneath Garréta’s tightrope, looking up, and parroting her every movement. This is not a separate, unconnected tightrope—the two of them are intimately and inextricably connected.
I loved the book; it was a fully immersive reading experience.
Reading Anne Garréta’s Sphinx – or any work by a member of the Oulipo, I imagine – is like unraveling a puzzle.
June 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Greetings from Antwerp!!
Without further ado, I bring to you a short synopsis of Deep Vellum’s Fall 2015/2016 list, which is available for preorder at your favorite local indie bookshops, Amazon, or for those in the trade, with your Consortium distribution orders. Also, new website coming soon with direct web-order, expanded book and author information pages, and more.
This is an incredible list of books: we are currently preparing the catalog for this fall list, but in the meantime I have full manuscripts of all of them for those in the trade interested in reviews or desk copies (just ask). Galleys and advance copies will be printed this summer. In the meantime, prepare for awesomeness, subscribe or donate today to be recognized in the backs of these amazing books and to help make them happen!
Two friends, one a budding writer home from Europe, the other an ambitious racketeer, meet in the only nightclub, the Tram 83, in a war-torn city-state in se- cession, surrounded by profit-seekers of all languages and nationalities. Tram 83 plunges the reader into the modern African gold rush as cynical as it is comic and colorfully exotic, using jazz rhythms to weave a tale of human relationships in a world that has become a global village.
An epic saga of “families and friends entangled in the cruel snare of history” (Time magazine), Home combines political repression and exile with a spicy mixture of love, family, and food, alternating between Paris and Jakarta in the time be- tween Suharto’s 1965 rise to power and downfall in 1998, further illuminating Indonesia’s tragic twentieth-century history popularized by the Oscar-nominated documentary The Act of Killing.
A passionate political and psychological thriller set in a remote Argentinean Pampas town, Target in the Night is an intense and tragic family history reminiscent of King Lear, in which the madness of the detective is integral to solving crimes. Target in the Night, a masterpiece, won every major literary prize in the Spanish language in 2011.
The second book in a trilogy chronicling the troubled childhood of international sensation Jón Gnarr, The Pirate revisits his teenage years with sincere compassion and great humor: bullied relentlessly, young Jón receives rebellious inner strength through the Sex Pistols and Prince Kropotkin—punk rock and anarchy offer the promise of a better and more exciting life.
This powerful, profound autobiographical novel describes a young Chilean writer recently relocated to New York for doctoral work who suffers a stroke, leaving her blind and increasingly dependent on those closest to her. Fiction and autobiography intertwine in an intense, visceral, and caustic novel about the relationship between the body, illness, science, and human relationships.
A joy to read, profoundly funny, touching, and profound, La Superba, winner of the most prestigious Dutch literary prize, is a Rabelaisian, stylistic tour-de-force. Migration, legal and illegal, is at the center of this novel about a writer who becomes trapped in his walk on the wild side in mysterious and exotic Genoa, Italy—the labyrinthine, timeless port city nicknamed “La Superba.”
May 22, 2015 § 1 Comment
Can you believe May is almost over?
The month started magically, with my piece in Lit Hub listing 5 Great Contemporary Mexican Writers that ran on Cinco de Mayo (there’s a marketing term for that kind of targeted publication, I’m sure of it). Later in the month, things stayed awesome over at the Lit Hub when they ran a profile of Sergio Pitol, “Sergio Pitol: Mexico’s Total Writer,” written by young Mexican author Daniel Saldaña Paris, whose debut novel is coming out from Coffee House next year. The profile, which originally ran in the Mexican literary journal Frente, was awesome, and translated by Pitol translator & Dallasite (and newly hooded PhD) George Henson:
Pitol is one of those authors whom one never leaves. There is always a corner of his work that can be read under a new lens. It is not for nothing, it seems to me, that he is held as a clear example of a “writer’s writer” in recent Latin American narrative. The fact that authors such as Enrique Vila-Matas and Mario Bellatin have turned him into a character in their own fiction only confirms what any reader senses upon reading him: that Pitol is unfathomable; it could almost be said that he is a literature entire of himself.
I was also in New York the second week of the month for our distributor Consortium’s sales conference, and it also happened to be during the PEN World Voices Festival, which was great. I don’t know if the highlight of the week was meeting up with Jill Schoolman of Archipelago Books after her massively successful event with Knausgaard with Ben Lerner at PowerHouse Arena & getting to bask in the presence of Knausgaard, or if it was going to the “Who We Talk About When We Talk About Translation: The Bloggers” event (recap here) at Albertine and nearly everyone on the panel gave a shoutout to Sphinx, or if it was just hanging out with all of our fellow Consortium publishers like Open Letter, New Vessel, Hispabooks, Talonbooks, Biblioasis, Feminist Press, Akashic, etc. So many good people. Actually, I know what the best part was. It was going to the bookstores of New York for the first time since Deep Vellum’s books started coming out in December, and every single bookstore is stocking our books. And not just stocking them, but putting them out on the new & recommended tables. Selling the hell out of the books. And considering Manhattan alone has more bookstores selling our books than in the entire state of Texas, this almost made me weep for joy. Walking into every store—The Strand, McNally Jackson, Three Lives, Spoonbill & Sugartown, Posman’s in Chelsea Market, Albertine, Book Book, WORD, Community Bookstore (who even have a Deep Vellum shelf!!)—and they all had Deep Vellum books, that’s breathtaking. It means this isn’t all in my head! It’s real! These books are real. And booksellers and readers get what I’m doing . And are buying the books. And loving the books. That is an incredible feeling. It recharged my batteries for the return to Dallas, where the very next day I had someone ask me in person if Deep Vellum books were available anywhere other than from me directly since they assumed Deep Vellum is a “self-publisher.” It’s an education process running Deep Vellum in Dallas, sure, and I needed that New York trip more than I thought I did. A nice reminder of what book culture can be. Something to strive toward. Thank you to all the booksellers, and not just in NYC. Good lord, I can’t even begin to tell you all how much I appreciate you. Thanks for making it happen in a real way.
Hey, speaking of Dallas though, and being awesome, today Mikhail Shishkin’s Calligraphy Lesson was reviewed in the Dallas Observer!
But the artfulness of this translation helps it to surmount Shishkin’s own claim that languages cannot communicate with each other. And he makes no claim that communication within a single language is any easier, saying that, “Even speaking Russian, there is no understanding one another.” Though the stories in Calligraphy Lesson are steeped in Russian history and have a distinctly Russian tone, many of the philosophical quandaries they engage extend beyond language and borders — they are universal problems, and this translation boldly and successfully takes them on.
I can’t lie, it was my wildest dream to see works of literature from Mexico, Russia, and every corner of the world reviewed in the Dallas Observer when I moved to Dallas, but I cannot thank enough the staff of the Observer for actually making it happen, especially Jennifer Smart and Caroline North. Eternal gratitude, y’all.
New, exciting, and upcoming events!
So I’m skipping Book Expo America next week (which means I’m missing the New Directions party, which has been the best reason to go NYC for BEA these last three years for me, like when I met the recently crowned Man Booker International Prize winning Laszlo Krasznahorkai in 2012), instead I’m going to Antwerp for a Flemish Publishers’ Trip. I’ll be hitting up the Netherlands next weekend ahead of the publishers’ trip to visit with some of our authors and translators, so if you’re reading this and will be in/around the Netherlands next weekend or want to come hang out, join me next Sunday for a couple of amazing events with two of our Fall 2015 authors:
- May 31, 4:30pm in The Hague: Leila S. Chudori (Home will be published in October) at the Tong Tong Festival w/ Martijn Eickhoff (NIOD) interviews Aboeprijadi Santoso (IPT1965) discussing the 50 years since the 1965 tragedy and what it means to the today’s Indonesian generation in the Tong Tong Theatre
- May 31, 9:00pm in Leiden: Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (La Superba will be published in March 2016) at the Leiden Olympus arts festival w/ Huub van der Lubbe, Maaike Ouboter, Nico Dijkshoorn, Gustaaf Peek, Onno Blom at the Leiden Castle (Burchtplein)
A couple more exciting events just confirmed for the month of June in NYC & SF:
- Alisa Ganieva (of Dagestan, Russia, whose debut novel The Mountain and the Wall comes out June 30th, subscriber copies shipping in early June) with Ronald Meyer of Columbia’s Harriman Institute on June 18th at Book Culture on W. 112th St. in the Upper West Side of New York City at 7pm. Event info here.
- Sphinx translator Emma Ramadan along with Oulipo member Daniel Levin Becker (who recently published a translation of fellow Oulipian Frédéric Forte’s Minute-Operas with Burning Deck) in conversation led by Scott Esposito at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco on June 23rd at 7:30pm. Event info here.
Tomorrow, B O D Y Magazine’s Saturday Reading will feature an excerpt from Ganieva’s The Mountain and the Wall, the first-ever novel in English from Russia’s southern Caucasus, Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan. To prepare for Alisa’s awesomeness, you can also read this interview with Alisa Ganieva in Russia Beyond the Headlines, translated from an article that originally ran in Russian in Rossiyskaya Gazeta about Alisa’s second novel, Bride and Groom, which was just published in Russia:
A.G.: Moscow mythologizes the Dagestanis, and the people of the Caucasus in general. Many inhabitants of the European part of Russia don’t know that Dagestan is part of their country. People used to ask me, “How come you speak Russian?” or “What’s the currency there?”
Reminder that Deep Vellum now has its own 501c3 and you can make a tax-deductible donation to support our mission here. Subscribe or donate by June 1 to receive your name listed in the credits at the back of book #7 going to print: Sergio Pitol’s The Journey, the second book in his Trilogy of Memory, translated by George Henson, with an incredible introduction by Álvaro Enrigue.
So much more to come, y’all. About time I do a formal announcement of our Fall 2015/2016 list, eh?! Books too amazing to ignore. That’ll be next.
May 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
We’ve published our fifth book!!!
In a milestone for Deep Vellum, Mikhail Shishkin‘s Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories was officially published on Tuesday, bringing full circle the entire experience that got me into publishing in the first place: it’s Deep Vellum’s first Russian book (with a second on the way next month by Alisa Ganieva); and I met the author while apprenticing with Open Letter Books in the summer of 2012 when he came to Book Expo America, where Russia was the guest of honor—that friendship, and that apprenticeship, is what led directly to this book being published, and so I cannot thank enough Mikhail, Chad of Open Letter, and all the translators who worked on this project, including Sylvia Maizell, whom I was fortunate enough to meet at BEA 2014, but who sadly passed away just this past fall. Her translation of “The Bell Tower of San Marcos” is beautiful, and a fitting last translation to be published—I only wish I could have published this book in time for her to see her work in print. Rest in peace, dear Sylvia, thank you for all the beauty you brought to this world.
Shishkin wrote a moving, powerful essay last week on the 70th anniversary of WWII Victory Day in Russia, “How We Lost the War,” which we were able to place in the New York Times, and which ran in all editions of the paper across the world on Saturday, and was the featured op-ed on the NYT website Friday & Saturday. Here’s a brief excerpt of this essay that I highly recommend all Russia-watchers and Russian literature lovers (like me) to read:
Today, though, Victory Day has nothing to do with the people’s victory or my father’s victory. It is not a day of peace and remembrance for the victims. It is a day for rattling swords, a day of zinc coffins, a day of aggression, a day of great hypocrisy and great baseness.
LOS ANGELENOS: joining Carmen Boullosa in Los Angeles this weekend along with our newest author, Eduardo Rabasa, at the fourth LéaLA Spanish language literary festival at the LA Convention Center. Information on all of Carmen & Eduardo’s events during LéaLA can be found on our Events/Calendar page!
And while we’re discussing him, meet Eduardo Rabasa, our newest author, and true friend of Deep Vellum as well as an inspiration in everything I do: together with his brother Diego and some friends, Eduardo founded the Sexto Piso publishing house in 2002. Sexto Piso is undoubtedly one of the biggest inspirations to everything I do at Deep Vellum: like us, they started as a translation-focused publishing house, publishing the world’s greatest authors in Spanish. They’ve since expanded to include Spanish-original books as well, and have published our own Carmen Boullosa alongside Kafka, Claudio Magris, Vila-Matas, and more. And in 2014, Rabasa published his own debut novel, the remarkable La suma de los ceros (The Zero-Sum Game), which led to Rabasa being included on the awesome México20 list of the 20 greatest authors in Mexico under 40 years old (selected by Juan Villoro, Guadalupe Nettel, and Cristina Rivera Garza, through the Hay Festival, who’ve done similar lists like Africa39, Bogota39, and Beirut39), alongside a name you may recognize (Valeria Luiselli) and some names you’ll get to know very soon (like Daniel Saldaña Paris, forthcoming from Coffee House).
I got to know Eduardo personally in Frankfurt last year, over the course of those several days I learned a bit about what makes him tick, and where I learned he had just published his debut novel. Of course I wanted to publish it without reading a word, because he’s a friend, and of such fantastic literary taste (evident by the work he does as Editorial Director for Sexto Piso). Time goes on and I finally got a copy of his novel, La suma de los seros along with a brilliant sample translation from Christina MacSweeney (who also translated Valeria Luiselli’s work), and so I sent an offer over to publish this great debut novel while Eduardo and his agent—Laurence Laluyaux—were still in London, and I’m happy that they agreed to bring Eduardo into the Deep Vellum family!
We’ll publish Eduardo’s debut novel La suma de los ceros in fall 2016 or so. So what’s the book about, you may ask? Imagine a Switfian satire of our contemporary consumer society and the cult of the individual that takes place in a microcosm that could be any neighborhood in Latin America, with characters trying to escape from a seemingly inescapable destiny. This text is a critique of power in all its forms, including those that are disguised as democracy. Laced with dark humor and chilling realism, La suma de los ceros examines the sophistry and rationalizations that mask the actual tragic situation that, for all the choices we are offered, we have little power over our destinies. Okay so that’s publisher/agent marketing speak (but are you excited?! I’m excited!) Here’s the actual plot rundown from the agent’s site:
Villa Miserias is a suburb of a suburb where everyone knows their place and nothing ever changes. Every two years, elections are held for the presidency of the residents’ committee, and every two years there are no surprises. But the balance begins to shift with the arrival of Selon Perdumes and his theory of Quietism in Motion. With his alabaster smile, he uncovers the deepest secrets of the unwary residents, and transforms their fantasies in reality with the help of the loans he offers them. Growing rich from money-lending, Perdumes gradually becomes the spectral power behind the community. But when Max Michels, sunk in an obsessive relationship with the beautiful, black-eyed Nelly, and, struggling to silence the multiple dissenting voices in his head, decides to run for president without Perdumes’ permission, the battle lines are drawn.
Get to know more about Eduardo the writer (the myth, the legend) in this interview from the México20 blog:
What led you to write?
Although I did not know it at that time, I now realize that it was a need to try to understand (or maybe even resolve) certain themes and emotions that were quite stuck, hoping that writing would serve to unlock them. There is a Miguel Morey phrase that I like: “Writing as an extension of thought,” and I think that was, and still is, what interests me most about writing: to dedicate that time, on my own, to try to explore through writing things that actually one does not know they are there.
With the signing of Eduardo, Deep Vellum now publishes three distinct generations of Mexican literature, and we’re just getting started. Welcome to the Deep Vellum family, Eduardo, you handsome devil, here’s to the start of a long and beautiful friendship!!
Sphinx came out three weeks ago already (!) and is still blazing trails as much as it did when it was first published in France in 1986. Just this week, Anne Garréta’s brilliant debut novel and Emma Ramadan’s superb translation have been recognized in Flavorwire’s “17 Pathbreaking Non-Binary and Gender Fluid Novels” and with a glowing review by Michael Orthofer at the Complete Review.
Our sixth book is at the printers now and will hit the streets next month: Alisa Ganieva‘s The Mountain and the Wall in Carol Apollonio‘s translation, with an introduction by Ronald Meyer of the Harriman Institute at Columbia. Check out how beautiful this layout turned out to be, can’t wait to get this in your hands:
Book #7 is the follow-up to The Art of Flight by Sergio Pitol, the second in his “Trilogy of Memory,” translated again by George Henson: The Journey, with a superb, illuminative introduction by Álvaro Enrigue (who used to edit Letras Libres, one of the greatest literary reviews in the entire Spanish language world, before becoming a stellar, award-winning author in his own right—his Herralde Prize-winning Sudden Death is coming from Riverhead next spring). We should have The Journey to print next week, review copies in your hands in about a month’s time. But I’ll have PDFs for y’all soon, I promise. Cover of The Journey is cool:
Speaking of the first person pronoun, Deep Vellum is in full-on expansion mode. Looking to move into a larger office & get some help to join up this summer. Ideally our new office will still be in Deep Ellum (our namesake neighborhood), but also looking for a landlord willing to offer free or reduced rent to a nonprofit that’s committed to this neighborhood and city for the long haul—and if that landlord has space in Old East Dallas, Lakewood, Oak Cliff, Oak Lawn, we’ll go where we and our mission are understood. We’re fighting the good fight, but we need help. I’ve been doing this alone for far too long. Join up, help out, I need real help, boots on the ground, help in the office, getting systems in place, mailings out, emails sent, website & social media updated, marketing done, reading tours planned, grant applications written, donors cultivated, an intern program initiated and managed…If any of this sounds like something you have experience in and want to help, write me, I need it, I need it now. We’re five books in, and we still have so much more to do. Our mission is grand, our ambition to do something grander. Let’s do it together. Get involved as a volunteer, subscriber, donor, sponsor, benefactor, friend, advocate. Write me. Let’s get to work.
Since the last post, Deep Vellum received confirmation of our own 501c3 from the IRS. We are tremendously grateful to The Writer’s Garret for their generous help in providing our fiscal sponsorship the last two years, working tirelessly to get Deep Vellum launched, believing in our mission from day one. And now begins the next stage of our relationship, which will involve planning events and translation workshops together (with a dream of getting translation taught in a creative writing format in Dallas schools).
Now that we have our own 501c3, every donation made directly to Deep Vellum is fully tax deductible. The “Donate” button in the upper right hand corner of our website is now made directly to Deep Vellum. Checks and cash can be gifted to us and will be fully tax deductible (and I’ll even send you a sweet letter to confirm it for your records). And now that we have this 501c3 status we can apply for foundation and government grants, entering us into the conversation among our peer literary arts organizations nationwide. It is my dream now to see Deep Vellum become the Graywolf, the Archipelago, of Dallas—a robust, vibrant, diverse, forward thinking literary arts nonprofit publishing great books and putting on unique events and educational workshops. Together we make this happen. Be a literary hero. Donate to Deep Vellum today.