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.
- 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.
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.
April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
TEXAS: THE GREAT THEFT IS ON THE PEN TRANSLATION PRIZE SHORTLIST!!!!!
Congratulations to Carmen Boullosa & Samantha Schnee, an author/translator dream team the likes of which are hard to find in any corner of the planet—it is an honor to have published this book, and it’s all thanks to these two amazingly creative women it’s all possible. Thank you Carmen, and thank you Samantha, for believing in me as I got Deep Vellum started, for your patience, for your wisdom, for your talents. It’s a true honor to be on this shortlist, alongside publishing friends & idols Two Lines Press (with TWO books on the shortlist: Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from the Danish by Denise Newman & Self-Portrait in Green by Maria NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump); New York Review Books (Catalan legend Josep Pla‘s The Gray Notebook, translated by Peter Bush), and FSG (Andrei Bitov‘s The Symmetry Teacher, translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon). Also, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation shortlist is amazing, check it out (and I highly recommend from that list Kim Hyesoon‘s Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream, translated by Don Mee Choi, published by Action Books).
Check out the full list of shortlisted PEN prizes, including Dallas’ own MERRITT TIERCE shortlisted for the amazingly prestigious PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction! And thank you to our very own Dallas Morning News for covering the prize shortlist announcement and mentioning Deep Vellum. We love y’all (and thanks for being among the first to review Texas: The Great Theft and among the first to profile Deep Vellum when we were starting up! THANK YOU!!!!).
Texas is the book that Deep Vellum was always meant to publish. I alway said when brainstorming the idea for Deep Vellum that the two books I needed to publish were a book about Texas from the Mexican perspective and a German book about Dirk Nowitzki (which I’m working on, and attended the North American premiere of the German documentary Nowitzki: The Perfect Shot at the Dallas International Film Festival earlier this week to spend more time with the author of a forthcoming German biography of Dirk that I hope to publish simultaneously with its German release…)—I’ve published the book about Texas, and it’s remarkable the attention it is so deservingly receiving. Thank you all who have read it, shared it, debated it—that’s what this is all about. Books do not live in a bubble unto themselves, they are living, breathing things, and it is the reader who brings them to life, and every time you share it with a friend, review it online, mention it to someone looking for something to read: you are the embodiment of all that is good in the world of books.
If you are a 5-book subscriber to Deep Vellum, renew your subscription NOW to ensure your name is included among the list of subscribers at the back of our sixth (!) book (just like it has been in the first five), about to go to print, the debut novel by the Russian Alisa Ganieva: The Mountain and the Wall, translated by my graduate school mentor Carol Apollonio, with an introduction by Ronald Meyer of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute that contextualizes this unique novel of the Caucasus within the entire span of Russian literature. And check out this beautiful revised cover we’ll be sending to print:
In Sphinx news, Anne Garréta’s long-awaited English-language debut will be officially published on Tueday, April 21. Many bookstores out in the field already have copies on their shelves, and if your favorite doesn’t have it yet, ask them to order it for you! And if they ask why they should stock it, tell them it’s the first book ever by a woman member of the Oulipo (insane fact), and it’s also a perfect book, and you can send them to the stellar reviews that are rolling in that agree with me, including Typographical Era’s 5-typewriter review of Sphinx:
…a shockingly intimate portrait of the complexities of desire, what it’s like to truly lose yourself in another person, and the hidden costs of finally conquering the object of your ultimate affections.
(I must add that I feel like Typographical Era‘s 5-typewriter review rating is like the literary equivalent of The Source Magazine’s famous 5-mic rating system, and I feel like this, our first 5-typewriter review, is the equivalent of when The Source famously gave Nas’ Illmatic 5-mics at a time when both the magazine and the now-legendary rapper were both starting up and searching for a type of crossover appeal and legitimacy that the review then provided to both. Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but Sphinx is a perfect book!)
The porous membranes of Sphinx let it be a novel of openness, as if a living being, letting you in and out, affected and changed each time you begin or cease reading.
Deep Vellum is also a proud partner of Literary Hub, the newest literary venture started up by the fine folks from Grove and a bunch of their best friends (aka: every amazing publisher and bookstore you could ever imagine, we are in some seriously incredible company). This is a cool concept, and so far the writing (updated daily!) has been great: in the near future it’ll feature excerpts from upcoming books, exclusive interviews, all sorts of media content, and great essays by people way smarter than me about things I am interested in, like Alexander Chee’s “From Potter to Tartt to Ferrante: How We Came to Love the Multi-Volume Novel.” You’ll also get some fairly-regular updates from yours truly about the literary community in north Texas, as I’ve joined up on the personal side as the Dallas Literary Correspondent. Sign up for their daily emails, and get into it!
And if you’re looking for a non-Deep Vellum book to read while you wait for Mikhail Shishkin’s Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories to appear in your life, may I recommend Georgi Gospodinov’s The Physics of Sorrow just published by Open Letter Books?! This Bulgarian masterpiece will change your life. And if you don’t believe me, check out this incredible profile of Gospodinov in the New Yorker that came out today. Enjoy, and thank me later.
April 8, 2015 § Leave a comment
AWP 2015 is upon us!
Greetings from Minneapolis, where I’ve come to serenade the assembled #AWP15 masses with the siren song of translation. If you’re in town, join me at Table #1527, which Deep Vellum is sharing with the always-rad Anomalous Press which are run by Erica, who is also running the American Literary Translators Association these days, which was, as some Dallasites may know, founded at UT-Dallas once upon a time, and was based at that university in the fair city I call home until right around the point I moved to town. Funny how life works. Also, Anomalous is publishing books that are primarily translation-minded (with a couple translations!!), but so far in English, but what’s cool about that is that Anomalous publishes the types of books I wish more American writers would write. And also because they’re publishing Dallas’ very own A. Kendra Greene‘s Anatomy of a Museum about the Reykjavik Phallalogical Museum (and featuring a blurb from our very own Jón Gnarr!); and sometime in the next year they’ll publish our own marketing director/dear dear friend Scott Esposito‘s Transgender Triptych (and not to mention a new book from Duke professor/insanely amazing poet Nathaniel Mackey!). Good books, good people. It’s our first AWP, but I’m so happy to share it with such a forward-thinking press just outside of the normal circle of indie publishers I run with, and that is what it is all about: new friends, new readers, new writers, new translators, expanding the circle ever-outward, towards ever-more awesome heights.
- Friday is Deep Vellum’s big day at AWP: join us at our table (#1527) at 3pm for Jón Gnarr & his translator (and poet in his own right!) Lytton Smith signing copies of The Indian!!!
- Join Deep Vellum as we partner with Anomalous Press and some of our other indie publishing friends for our off-site event Friday night at Gamut Gallery, only two blocks from the convention center. There will be lots of free food, drinks on-hand, and Jón Gnarr & Lytton Smith will be there to read & sign & blow your everlovin’ minds.
And in Dallas this week!!! Don’t forget while I’m gone that LITERARY DEATH MATCH is coming to town for the first time in five years!! This one features Ben Fountain, Merritt Tierce, Tim Rogers, Will Clarke, J. Suzanne Frank, Alice Laussade, and Joaquin Zihuatanejo all reading, bantering, being the best, and it’s all going down at the beautiful, amazing, impeccably-well-programmed Texas Theatre. Tickets are $8 in advance (including fees! $8 flat!) and $10 at the door, and
The 2014 VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) count is up, and with it a call to action for every reader, writer, editor, publisher, human being on what we can all do to change the game when it comes to the massive gender disparity in every corner of the literary world. If you take away one thing from the VIDA count, take away this handout of Things You Can Do Right Now to Advance Women’s Writing—it is a must-read:.
When I’m back from Minneapolis, you’ll catch me at the Dallas International Film Festival, which has really outdone itself in its programming this year. Two translation-related movies that I absolutely won’t miss are screening at the festival: NOWITZKI: The Perfect Shot, a German documentary on one of the all-time great basketball players, the Dallas Mavericks‘ greatest franchise player, the Big German, 2011 NBA Champion, #7 all-time leading scorer in the NBA (and climbing), Dirk Nowitzki; and The Look of Silence, the follow-up documentary to the mind-blowing and seminal The Act of Killing by director Joshua Oppenheimer, this one follows the victims of the “anti-Communist” purges that led to the massacre of over a million Indonesians around the time of Suharto’s rise to power in 1965—and this fall we are publishing a book that complements Oppenheimer’s documentaries, Home by Leila S. Chudori, translated from the Indonesian by John H. McGlynn, that follows those who fled into exile to flee these purges and those who stayed behind from 1965-1998 (when Suharto was ousted from power), and we’ve asked Joshua Oppenheimer to provide an introduction to the book, and he’s reading the text now.
And next week you can catch Deep Vellum on Wednesday night hanging out with PEN Texas as they present the great Ecuadorian poet Santiago Vizcaíno & his translator Alexis Levitin reading & in discussion at The Wild Detectives. The event starts at 7:30pm and is free.
From Minneapolis to Dallas, the road goes on forever, and the party never ends.
March 31, 2015 § Leave a comment
Hello from a Megabus hurtling up I-35 from Austin to Dallas!
Yesterday I hopped on a Megabus with a rolling suitcase packed full of books for Jón Gnarr’s talk with Dr. Dominic Boyer (Rice University) at Austin’s Nerd Nite at the North Door. The talk was called: “The Comedy of Politics and the Politics of Comedy” and it was awesome. The crowd of 120ish nerdy souls learned about stiob as a form of satire from Dr. Boyer, setting up Gnarr’s talk on the creation and execution of the Best Party idea. It was so so so so so so fun. Thank you to everyone who came, you’re all an inspiration, and an extra special thanks to those who came and bought copies of The Indian even though it has nothing to do with Gnarr’s term as mayor or Björk or any of the other things people are obsessed about with Iceland. Good times!
Review copies of Anne Garréta’s much-anticipated, long-awaited English-language debut, Sphinx, are out in the world in Emma Ramadan’s ingenious translation! Subscriber copies will be mailed out tomorrow so that our beloved subscribers receive their copies roughly two weeks ahead of the book’s publication date (April 14th).
- An excerpt of Sphinx is now running at 3:AM Magazine!!!!!!!
- The first review of Sphinx is in courtesy of P.T. Smith over at The Mookse & The Gripes:
Sphinx is a novel of dancing — A*** is a dancer, the narrator becomes a DJ — and itself dances the way a boxer does. Garréta lands her smattering of punches, fiercely, precisely, covering the body of the reader: intellectual hooks in philosophy, aesthetic jabs in prose, emotional haymakers in the rises and falls of love. She moves carefully, quickly, tuned to the pace of the dance of the fight. In one of the most gorgeous, devastating scenes, the narrator utters an enigmatic sentence to herself, which many novelists would leave, simply content that it suggests meaning, but Garréta’s narrator admits that though it satisfies, it is utterly enigmatic. The next move, the type that makes Sphinx the tight masterpiece that it is, is when the events that follow blow away the mist that obscures clear sight of the utterance, so it becomes portent. Mysterious and obscure to physical and emotionally wrought is the shift that Sphinx makes again and again to the very end, until the difference is no longer definable, all in the growth and preservation of love, even when that love can only continue in memory.
Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight continues to profoundly impact any and all who read it, like Maud Newton, who “will savor it as a daily devotional” and Rosie Clarke’s in-depth review at the always-remarkable Music & Literature Magazine:
As Pitol weaves together memories, dreams, literary criticism, brief histories of twentieth-century Mexico, and odes to writers he regards as exemplary,The Art of Flight circumnavigates neat categorization. In trying to situate this book both culturally and historically, Roberto Bolaño’s The Savage Detectivesmakes for an obvious if imperfect comparison, alongside Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-part quasi-fictional bildungsroman My Struggle, Ben Lerner’s mesh of fiction and autobiography in Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04, and, with Pitol’s fixation on place, even Hemingway’s memoir-cum-love letter to Paris A Moveable Feast. But despite attempts to locate the book among these, it resists comparison; The Art of Flight has none of the obsessive, Proustian detail of Knausgaard, or the metafiction of Lerner. It resists the light-heartedness of Bolaño’s depictions of youth and escapades, and the moroseness of Hemingway. Instead, it resembles a cloudy gemstone: at once glimmering and opaque, layered and precise.
Our March madness is about to turn into April/May madness: in the next two months we’ll publish three books: Garréta’s Sphinx, Gnarr’s The Indian, and Shishkin’s Calligraphy Lesson. 2015: the year of Deep Vellum continues.
P.S. Among the Final Four college basketball teams left in the NCAA tournament, it just so happens that my graduate school alma mater, Duke, is facing off against Chad Post of Open Letter’s alma mater Michigan State. And Garréta has been a professor at Duke for some time now. That’s your literary sports fun fact for the day…Go Duke!
March 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s The Art of Flight release day!!!!
Oh, you mean there’s some other kind of holiday today too?! May I suggest one way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year that doesn’t involve reinforcing alcoholic stereotypes: you can pick up a work of Irish literature. I mean written in Irish, not in
the language of the oppressor English. Here’s a suggestion, a new work in translation from the Irish written by Máirtín Ó Cadhain published by Yale University Press (details borrowed from Chad at Open Letter/Three Percent‘s March translation preview post):
The Dirty Dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, translated from the Irish by Alan Titley (Yale University Press)
Interesting Facts: 1) Ó Cadhain is considered to be the master of modern Irish prose writing, but has never been translated into English; 2) Dalkey is publishing another book of his, The Key later this year; and last, but most interesting, 3) from the press release, “Yale University Press will publish another translation of this novel, Graveyard Clay: Creé na Cille, translated by Liam Mac Con Iomaire and Tim Robinson, also as part of the Margellos World Republic of Letters series, in a special annotate edition in 2016.”
But I probably will always remember March 17th as the anniversary of the first day that a book by Sergio Pitol was available to the world in our own Dallasite George Henson‘s translation. Shocking, no?! Well, thankfully we did something about the problem, and you can join in the celebration of Sergio Pitol‘s life and work tomorrow on his 82nd birthday here in Dallas at The Wild Detectives:
Typographical Era published a review of The Art of Flight today that highlights this masterwork, this lesson in literature, from one of the world’s greatest writers and stylists:
Yes! Go ahead and call the Art of Flight unclassifiable if you want, call it a historicaltraveldiaryessaybiography if you must, label it whatever or however you want to, but what it really is, pardon the alliteration, is a love letter to literature lovers everywhere. Even the most voracious of readers and most learned of scholars are bound to come up against some unfamiliar names within the pages of this book, but it doesn’t matter how familiar you are with the subjects or subject matter being discussed. Pitol—and let’s give credit where credit is due—translator George Henson have a rich command over language, one that keeps you enthralled through it all. You’re never spoken down to, you’re never handheld or held back by endless footnotes, and you’re never meant to feel ashamed for any literary shortcomings you might possess. Instead, The Art of Flight reads like a long overdue celebration for a timeless art form that is constantly changing, constantly reinventing itself through the years, but rest assured, will never die.
And in more amazing news for Carmen Boullosa & Samantha Schnee, following hot on the heels of their 2014 Typographical Era Translation Award win, the PEN Literary Awards longlists were announced today, and Texas: The Great Theft has been listed for the PEN Translation Award! What an amazing honor for this remarkable author/translator team. And the best part is to be recognized among such illustrious company. The full longlist for the PEN Translation Award (but copy & pasted from Three Percent’s rundown because they link to the publisher’s page for each book):
For a book-length translation of prose into English published in 2014.
Judges: Heather Cleary, Lucas Klein, Tess Lewis, and Allison Markin Powell
Trans-Atlantyk by Witold Gombrowicz, translated from the Polish by Danuta Borchardt (Yale/Margellos)
The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla, translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush (New York Review Books)
The Symmetry Teacher by Andrei Bitov, translated from the Russian by Polly Gannon (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
The Master of Confessions by Thierry Cruvellier, translated from the French by Alex Gilly (Ecco)
The Man Who Loved Dogs by Leonardo Padura, translated from the Spanish by Anna Kushner (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
I Ching translated from the Chinese by John Minford (Viking Books)
Baboon by Naja Marie Aidt, translated from the Danish by Denise Newman (Two Lines Press)
Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, translated from the Spanish by Samantha Schness (Deep Vellum Publishing)
Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye, translated from the French by Jordan Stump (Two Lines Press)
The Woman Who Borrowed Memories by Tove Jansson, translated from the Swedish by Thomas Teal & Silvester Mazzarella (New York Review Books)
In more translation news, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation list is INSANE. If you’re the kind of writer or poet looking for some new voices, some new places to explore how to construct the human language in a fundamentally new and amazing way, check out any of these books. ESPECIALLY Kim Hyesoon, she is too amazing, had the pleasure of meeting her in Seoul in December, and her books, published by Action Books, are incredible! (Again the copy & paste is from Three Percent for their links to the publisher’s page for each book:)
The $3,000 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English published in the previous calendar year and is judged by a single translator of poetry appointed by the PEN Translation Committee.
Judge: Ana Božičević
Sorrowtoothpaste Mirrorcream by Kim Hyesoon, translated from the Korean by Don Mee Choi (Action Books)
Love Poems by Bertolt Brecht, translated from the German by David Constantine & Tom Kuhn (Liveright)
I Am the Beggar of the World by Eliza Griswold, translated from the Pashto by the author (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Selected Poems by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (W. W. Norton & Company)
Where Are the Trees Going? by Venus Khoury-Ghata, translated from the Arabic by Marilyn Hacker (Northwestern University Press)
Breathturn into Timestead by Paul Celan, translated from the German by Pierre Joris (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Guantanamo by Frank Smith, translated from the French by Vanessa Place (Les Figues Press)
Skin by Tone Škrjanec, translated from the Slovenian by Matthew Rohrer and Ana Pepelnik (Tavern Books)
Diana’s Tree by Alejandra Pizarnik, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert (Ugly Duckling Presse)
Autoepitaph by Reinaldo Arenas, translated from the Spanish by Kelly Washbourne (University Press of Florida)
Another awesome fact, something that like…never happens. Valeria Luiselli‘s sensational essay collection Sidewalks, translated by Christina MacSweeney, and published by our inspiration/forever bros Coffee House, is nominated for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): For a book of essays published in 2014 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature. Valeria is the best. Congratulations to her, and to Christina, and to Coffee House (who have more than one nomination! Amazing work y’all!)
And in the sweetest news, we aren’t the only Dallasites and Texans with a PEN Award nomination today! Congratulations to our dear friend & supporter Merritt Tierce, whose Love Me Back is like a punch in the gut of awesomeness! From the Dallas Morning News: “Texas writers inscribed on PEN longlist:”
The longlist for the 2015 PEN Literary Awards has plenty of names that Dallas readers will recognize.
S.C. Gwynne, a former Dallas Morning News writer, is nominated in biography (a $5,000 award) for Rebel Yell.
And Texas: The Great Theft, by Carmen Boullsa, has been nominated for the $3,000 Pen Translation Prize. That novel, translated by Samantha Schnee, was published by Dallas’ Deep Vellum Publishing. (You can read a profile of founder Will Evans here.)
Congratulations to all the PEN Award nominees, but of course most especially our dearest author/translator team: Carmen Boullosa & Samantha Schnee! Without them, we would not be here. Without them, we would all be the poorer for it. Thank you forever, Carmen & Sam.
March 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
The release date for The Art of Flight, our second book, is one week from today!
To celebrate we’re throwing a party March 18th at The Wild Detectives. Translator George Henson will read from his transcendent translation and I (Will Evans) will lead a discussion w/ George & Dr. Ignacio Ruiz-Perez of UT-Arlington, who studied under and worked closely with Pitol at the University of Veracruz in Xalapa. We will discuss his life and work and celebrate his 82nd birthday that same day!!!!!!!!! As Pitol writes at the closing of The Art of Flight: “But we must think that if it is true that we are living in cruel times, it is also true that we are in a time of wonders.” Amen, maestro.
And just today one of our favorite booksellers in the whole world, Mark Haber of Brazos Bookstore in Houston, wrote the very first review of The Art of Flight in English, and he’s speechless with the beauty of the book and Pitol’s wholly unique style:
I don’t have a lot to say about THE ART OF FLIGHT because my exuberance and passion for its existence leaves me somewhat speechless. I don’t have a lot to say because I have too much to say. Sometimes zeal foils language, and this is one such case.
…—if you are one who does not believe in the transportive and life-affirming nature of literature, than this book is not for you.
That being said, this book is for everyone else.
You’ve got to get your hands on a copy of The Art of Flight to see what the fuss is about. To see why and how every Spanish-language author of the last fifty years has been influenced by Pitol’s work, from Enrique Vila-Matas (ESPECIALLY if you’re a fan of Vila-Matas!! And Vila-Matas provided the introduction for this book) to Valeria Luiselli (whose piece in Granta on Pitol as a “Great Untranslated Writer” helped spark me to publish this book in the first place) to Juan Villoro to Álvaro Enrigue (who provides the breathtaking introduction for the second book we’ll publish by Pitol, The Journey, that will help you contextualize just what it is you’re holding in your hands, because it’s like nothing you’ve ever read before in a book, it is more than a book, it is a trapdoor into an alternate artistic universe) and the list could go on…Pitol used The Art of Flight as the first book in a so-called “Trilogy of Memory” to explore the very boundaries of literature itself, breaking down every wall between genres to create an entirely new form of novel with himself as the central character. Yes it is nonfiction. Yes it is fiction. Yes it is memoir. Yes it is novel. Yes it is everything. It is literature embodied in a way that we have never read before. Ask your local indie bookstore to order a copy for you today, or order directly from us, or join us at the Wild Detectives on March 18th and buy all the books in stock, because the Wild Detectives is now reporting their sales to the New York Times bestseller lists, and let’s make Pitol a bestseller to really punk the system.
Speaking of punking the system, while he was in town last week for his first-ever English-language book reading (world class) courtesy of Lytton Smith‘s marvelous translation (actually while he was cooped up in his hotel room at the Belmont Hotel [who generously donated a room to Gnarr for two nights during his stay in town, go stay there, they are the best!!] during a freak early March snow & ice storm shut down the city last Wednesday night), Jón Gnarr signed a massive stack of copies of The Indian, and because we love our subscribers so so much for investing in Deep Vellum’s future, we’re sending every subscriber a signed copy of The Indian as their next subscription title six weeks ahead of the book’s publication date (May 5)!! This means we’ve switched up the third & fourth books we’ll send to subscribers, copies of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx will go out to subscribers in late March or early April, 2-3 weeks ahead of its publication date (April 14).
And speaking more of punking the system, D Magazine arts editor and one of our finest writers of urban policy & planning, Peter Simek, came out to the Gnarr reading at Turner House and felt inspired (it’s hard not to after hearing Gnarr talk), and wrote a blog post the next morning about our own Dallas political situation (focused on the ill-advised Trinity Tollroad proposal, which I am wholeheartedly against; I’m also in favor of tearing down 345 & reconnecting downtown & Deep Ellum by replacing the elevated freeway with a system of boulevards that would restich the urban fabric of our city that was torn asunder 50 years ago…but enough about that, back to Gnarr). Simek opens his piece with this, check out the rest here: “Poll: If the Trinity Toll Road Is Built, Will You Leave Dallas?”
Last night I was lucky enough to hear Jon Gnarr speak at the Turner House in Oak Cliff. Gnarr is worthy of his own post. In the wake of Iceland’s particularly awful financial meltdown in 2009, Gnarr — a former punk rock musician, Icelandic comedian, radio personality, and self-proclaimed anarchist — launched a campaign for mayor of Reykjavík as a joke. Then, he won. Then, he took his job seriously. Then, he changed the politics of his home country forever. As he spoke, I thought of our own political situation in this city and couldn’t help but wonder if such a situationalist-ish approach to rethinking Dallas politics is overdue.
And the piece closes with this powerful sentiment. Get involved. Punk the system:
I sympathize with this sentiment. But if I’m honest with myself, I know I’m not going to leave Dallas if the Toll Road gets built. I identify too much with Jon Gnarr; when it feels like there is no way to beat the system, that’s exactly when you know it is time to start punking the system. But I do think the day the earth movers start clawing into the Trinity Floodway prepping for the flow of concrete will be an extremely depressing day. I hope we don’t find out what that day feels like.
For those who live in New York and know how leer en español, McNally Jackson‘s Spanish Book Lab led by good friend & good due Javier Molea has chosen as their April book to read the Chilean sensation Lina Meruane‘s remarkable novel Sangre en el ojo, which we will publish in UT-Dallas alumna Megan McDowell‘s English translation in February 2016. So if you live in NYC, head down to McNally Jackson at 7pm on Friday, April 3rd to discuss this harrowing psychological & autobiographical novel about a woman who suffers a stroke/aneurysm that leaves her blind for a month. See why Bolaño described Meruane as one of the young Chilean authors destined for greatness. she has a quality of writing completely unique and powerful, as El País describes, “A novel where not only the blood pouring from the eyes is palpitating; so is the quality of the literature,” and as Álvaro Enrigue wrote in a review of the novel, “Meruane’s writing is acid, so corrosive that sometimes sentences dissolve before meeting the end that they deserved.” Want to read this yet?! Me too!! I’m willing to bet Lina will be there herself on April 3rd, as she lives in NYC & teaches at NYU. And you like sneak peeks, yeah? Here’s a sneak peek of the book’s cover, you’re the first in the world to see it (well, aside from the designer & me & Lina & Megan & Consortium’s design catalog team…), which reflects the working translation title Seeing Red:
Speaking of Fall 2015-2015 titles, LA SUPERBA, our March 2016 book, today won one of the coolest prizes I’ve ever heard about: De Inktaap, in the Netherlands. The winner of the De Inktaap prize is selected by 1,250 15-18 year old high school students in the Netherlands, Flanders, Curaçao, and Suriname out of four titles: the three winners of the Netherlands’ biggest book prizes: the Gouden Boekenuil, the AKO Literatuurpijs, and the Libris Literatuur Prijs; plus a title selected from the Caribbean published in Dutch. I can’t even imagine the audacity of someone asking 1,250 US high school students to read the big three literary prize-winners plus a foreign book and to pick the winner. In fact, I CAN IMAGINE IT. Why don’t we have prizes like this?!
And the best part is the student comments in this article, they’re like the best blurbs I could ever hope to acquire from reviewers and booksellers, but these are high schoolers! You know high schoolers tell it like it is, they can’t be tainted, they’re so far outside the publishing insular world, so you know these are all gold!!!! (translations courtesy of Google Translate):
- “Pfeijffer forces the reader to reflect. While reading, you do not only adjust the world, but also constantly question yourself.”
- “Pfeijffer takes us us to the dark alleys of the labyrinth, the corridors of the palace of mirrors and knows how to get us in the mood perfectly.”
- “Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer lets illusion and disillusion ingeniously overlap.”
- “However, that is what the author wants you to believe, the top layer. If you are brave enough to peel off that layer, you discover a work that is more complex than you ever thought possible.“
- “La Superba was witty, grotesque, perverse, imaginative and deeply human.”
- “Pfeijffer has our unconditional readers that we are rewarded for our trouble. He gives us a book that concerns us after the pages. For quid pro quo. So we raise our glass of gin and tonic to Genoa. La Superba!
In fact De Inktaap is probably the second coolest literary prize I’ve ever heard of, after another prize La Superba won last year: the Tzum Prize, for the “most beautiful sentence written this year in Dutch” (and Pfeijffer is the only author to win this amazing prize twice):
Het was het witte uur na het middagmaal, de blanke pagina waarop hooguit iets met potlood wordt gekriebeld in geheimschrift, iets om onmiddellijk weer uit te gummen zodra de rolluiken omhoog worden getrokken en het leven opnieuw zwart op wit een aanvang neemt met bonnetjes, bestellingen en bezwaarschriften.
Translator Michele Hutchison is hard at work trying to bring this most beautiful of Dutch sentences into English, but the whole damn book is so beautiful and hilarious and amazing I can’t wait to share with the world the rapacious wit and deep stylistic brilliance of Pfeijffer. In the meantime, read Rupert: A Confession, Pfeijffer’s only other book in English so far, published by Open Letter back in 2009 in Michele’s translation as well. And as long as we’re doing sneak previews, here’s the sneak preview of the cover for La Superba:
Deep Vellum’s book designer, Anna Zylicz, has outdone herself this fall. Our spring 2015 catalog showcased one ridiculously amazing style of book design and created a Deep Vellum aesthetic out of the gate, and we hope to continue to expand that aesthetic and always loop back around to what is most important to us in all of our future catalogs. Anna works tirelessly, not only designing the book covers, but also our catalog, and she typesets and lays out all of our books. Bless her heart. We’d be nothing without her. If you want some books designed, hit her up, she is the best.
Wait til you see the rest of the covers for the Fall 2015-2016 catalog…in fact I should write something up about all the awesome books we’ve signed recently as part of the Fall season AND next year’s Spring 2016 season which I think is full now…onward and upward, books!! The best books!! Deep Vellum books!!!!!
March 4, 2015 § Leave a comment
Jón Gnarr is in Dallas!
The man, the mayor, the anarchist, the crossdresser, the legend himself, Jón Gnarr has made it to Dallas ahead of the icepocalypse for his reading tomorrow night at Turner House! Don’t miss out on Gnarr’s first-ever Dallas appearance tomorrow, Thursday, March 5th, at the Turner House Salon Series at Turner House in Oak Cliff, Dallas, TX. Doors are at 7pm, the event starts at 7:30pm. Tickets are $20 for the public, $15 for members & students.
Gnarr and I will have a discussion about life, books, our friendship, and more, and he will read from Lytton Smith’s marvelous translation of The Indian, his literary debut, a memoir-novel about his brutal childhood that is somehow told with warmth and unprecedented insight into the psyche of a child lashing out at the world, which we will publish to the world on May 5th. But lucky you, Dallas audience, you have the chance to get a copy of The Indian tomorrow night and get Gnarr to sign your copy for you after the reading. If you are a Deep Vellum subscriber, come to the event and I will give you your subscriber copy in person for Gnarr to sign for you. These books are beautiful, they arrived yesterday, and review copies went out to major trade & review outlets immediately. Proud to announce these are the first books we have printed with vellum stock covers! Finally, Deep Vellum is living up to its name!
Otherwise, subscriber copies will not be mailed until the end of March or early April (I’m debating whether to send it together with the subscriber copy of Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, which publishes three weeks earlier than the Gnarr, not that the reading public gives a damn about publishing industry dates, but I’m more worried about what happens when you send someone two books at once…does that make them MORE or LESS likely to read one OR both books?!?!? Reader psychology, the type of thing that now keeps me up at night…
And for all the subscribers and supporters of Deep Vellum who were planning to join us tonight for a meet & greet with Gnarr, please note that event is now CANCELLED. The weather is already treacherous and only promises to get worse as this pouring rain hardens into ice in the next hour or two. Go home, hunker down, and come hang out tomorrow night at Turner House.
February 25, 2015 § 2 Comments
The Dallas Festival of Ideas, presented by The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture in partnership with The Dallas Morning News, will take place February 27-28, 2015, at venues across the Dallas Arts District. National keynote speakers Vishaan Chakrabarti, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elizabeth Green, Rahaf Harfoush, and Luis Alberto Urrea will join fresh local leaders from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise to help focus the power of ideas on shaping Dallas’ future.
Help make Dallas the city you want it to be. The Dallas Festival of Ideas will focus the power of smart thinking on our city’s next century. There’ll be compelling programs, interactive discussions, live music, visual art, and stage performances–all kicked off by a provocative opening night presentation. Don’t miss this important event–Dallas’ future won’t be the same without you. Tickets start at $30. Two-day passes start at $90. The Festival Headquarters in the Winspear Opera House with all-day programming that the entire family will enjoy (and where Deep Vellum will host a table), is FREE. To reserve your tickets, or to learn more, visit thedallasfestival.com.
Deep Vellum Publishing is proud to be in good company as one of the nonprofit partners for the inaugural Dallas Festival of Ideas. We will have a table in the Winspear Opera House from 9am-6pm on Saturday selling books (Boullosa & Pitol) & subscriptions and playing some fun translation games with the audience to open up the public’s understanding of how literary translation works. Join us, it’s free to come hang out in the Winspear.
Still on the fence? Use code FRIEND50 for half off passes.
Deep Vellum loves to love ya, Dallas. See y’all there.