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.
February 13, 2015 § 1 Comment
Translation & drama collide in Dallas this Sunday, February 15th!
It’s been a dream of mine since starting Deep Vellum to work with some of the amazing arts organizations we have across the Dallas area to talk about the intersections of translation and literature with visual, performing, and interpretive arts. So far the local arts community has responded in a big way that has left me equally impressed and grateful, we’ve booked such events as the upcoming GalleryLab talk on translation (“The Mother Tongue”) with Sean Cotter at the Nasher Sculpture Center, and this weekend I will be leading a Q&A with the performers after the Dallas Actors’ Lab’s performance of Uncle Vanya at the Wyly Theater in Dallas’s incredible Arts District (7pm, Sun. February 17, in the Wyly Theater’s 9th Floor Studio Theater).
This all came about because I work in an awesome coworking space alongside Theater Jones, the destination for theater talk, reviews, previews, and awesomeness in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Theater Jones, knowing I specialize in publishing translations and am actively seeking local theater partnerships to start publishing & staging translated drama, asked me if I’d like to preview this Dallas Actors’ Lab production of Annie Baker’s adaptation of Uncle Vanya for them, interviewing the director Dylan Key, and turning the conversation around the issue of translation and, in my own way, trying to tie the art of translation to the art of staging a theatrical adaptation (of just about anything). It’s an interesting idea to stage Chekhov in Dallas, and doubly so in that this is the first time Annie Baker’s adaptation, working off a “literal translation” by Margarita Shalina, has run in Dallas. Triply interesting in that Baker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Flick just ran at the Undermain Theater in January (two months, two Annie Bakers, not bad, Dallas, not bad—PS, you can buy both of Baker’s plays through Theatre Communications Group, we share a distributor, Consortium, so I’m all about spreading the love).
The piece that resulted I’m quite proud of and was super fun to write, you can check it out here, “The Translation Game” at Theater Jones:
Our conversation veered from Annie Baker to Chekhov to Dallas as a regional theater powerhouse and about the state of the dramatic arts in Dallas to why the University of Dallas has such a good English program, putting out consistently impressive alumni who are not afraid to take creative risks in their careers at early stages. But the main gist of the conversation ran with the tripartite question: “Why this play? Why now? And why in this space?”
The answer to all three is simple, well, as simple as putting together a play in a space that is not quite home can be for a budding drama director and a cast of actors looking to flex their acting muscles in the classically cool Chekhovian style. Key explains that Kyle Lemieux of the Dallas Actor’s Lab approached him about directing a play as part of the Elevator Project that would see some of Dallas’s best underground (for lack of a better term; or literal in the case of Undermain) theater groups put on productions at the previously unavailable/unaffordable AT&T Performing Arts Center. Lemieux and the DAL are known for intimate, actor-driven plays, and wanted a characteristically DAL performance to fit in the Wyly.
After writing the piece I went to opening night (Feb. 6) and loved the performance. The living room setup, the intimacy of the actors sweating as much as the audience in that confined space, the whispers and the shouting mingling in a woozy haze of ennui was spot-on. I loved it. After that performance, the show’s Artistic Director & the head of the Dallas Actors’ Lab (and the actor who played the hunk of a doctor, Astrov), Kyle Lemieux, asked me if I’d like to lead a Q&A after an upcoming performance. And so this Sunday night, come see me & a bunch of professional actors talk about translation & adaptation, Annie Baker’s dialog & how it compares to other versions of Chekhov, and the cool chance to perform an intimate indie theater staging of a Chekhov classic in a unique space inside the otherwise-gargantuan Wyly Theater. It will be a great time. All info below:
Following the Sunday, February 15th 7PM performance of Uncle Vanya the Lab will host a post-show discussion with special guest Will Evans, Executive Director of Deep Vellum Publishing!
Performances of Uncle Vanya continue!
See why the Dallas Morning News calls it “another stand-out for the Elevator Project”! Tickets are selling fast! Reserve your tickets here or by calling (214) 871-5000!
$10 student rush tickets are available 90 minutes before each performance at the Wyly Theatre Box Office.
In other non-theater related news, copies of The Art of Flight will be delivered early next week. Review copies will be send first, subscriber copies at the end of the week or early the week after. And remember, we’re throwing a birthday party for Sergio Pitol on his 82nd birthday, March 18 at the Wild Detectives, the day after The Art of Flight, Pitol’s first book in English, will be released. The book’s translator, George Henson, will be defending his dissertation, which this translation is part of, a couple days before the reading, and so he and I will lead a conversation, a reading, and a massive celebration in Pitol’s life, in this work, in George’s remarkable translation, and in George’s undoubtedly successful PhD defense!!! Join us March 18 at the best place in Dallas, period, The Wild Detectives. It will be a party.
In other fun news, Jón Gnarr’s The Indian has been sent off to print! We should get copies the first week of March! Up next…Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, about a week behind!
And for those who were lucky enough to attend Winter Institute in Asheville, I hope you all had the chance to visit Malaprop’s, one of the finest bookstores in North Carolina, and truly the creme de la creme among bookstores in the entire country. And for those who went, perhaps you noticed our friend Justin Souther’s staff recommendations shelf, featuring four of the finest books you’ll see anywhere by publishers that are peers & inspirations. And I can’t state enough how grateful I am for the support of booksellers just like Justin, who love great books, who aren’t afraid to read the world, and who put these books before readers. A Staff Pick at a store like Malaprop’s means EVERYTHING to me (and not just because I’m a native North Carolinian and love to see a book I’ve published on sale in my beloved home state!), especially as a startup, but not only—this is the platonic ideal of the indie publisher-indie bookstore relationship, and booksellers like Justin make it all happen for us, forever pushing us forward, giving us the inspiration & strength to go out & sign ever better, ever more ambitious books, because we know we have an army of support behind us in the form of indie booksellers. Justin, thank you!
And if you don’t think that these types of recommendations are the most important way to contextualize a book for readers to understand, to help guide them towards making the right decision to read good books, look at this display from the Foyle’s flagship bookstore in Charing Cross in the center of London, provided by Gary Perry, the Assistant Head of Fiction for the store. LOOK AT THAT SELECTION OF BOOKS!! THAT IS UNBELIEVABLE! FOUR TRANSLATIONS BY FOUR OF THE BEST PUBLISHERS IN THE WORLD, OUR INSPIRATIONS!! Archipelago, And Other Stories, us, Portobello (that Han Kang book, The Vegetarian, is one of the best I’ve read in a long time, thanks to Deborah Smith’s amazing translation from the Korean), all those books are AMAZING, and if I went back in time to being a reader, those are four of the exact books I would want to read, hand-selected by a bookseller who not only gets it but who really cares about only the best literature for readers. Gary, THANK YOU!
More photos from the wild…Carmen Boullosa is halfway through her West Coast tour that kicked off Tuesday in Los Angeles with a reading at Skylight Books (which used to be my neighborhood bookstore when I lived on Charles Bukowski’s old street, Carlton Way, in east Hollywood…this pic sent over from our friends at Unnamed Press):
Carmen followed up the LA reading with a flight to the Bay Area for readings and discussions with students and professors at Cal State-East Bay in Hayward on the 11th and at UC-Berkeley the afternoon of the 12th before heading into San Francisco for a reading at the legendary City Lights Bookstore with Scott Esposito. And before her reading, City Lights interviewed Carmen, “5 Questions with Carmen Boullosa,” a great read, here’s a small, personal anecdote as an excerpt:
Carmen Boullosa: I went to City Lights during my very first “honeymoon” (even though we weren’t married–we were madly in love– it counts as a real honeymoon), many, many years ago (1976?). City Lights got imprinted on my memory with an incomparable glamor: love, desire, fear … youth … and the turmoil I was in. It’s all I remember, as if I’d never been there before. In a way, it breaks my heart to return.
Scott has interviewed Carmen before at Center for the Art of Translation event, is a true master of literary criticism and a damn good dude, and who has been tremendously helpful to Deep Vellum from the start, helping us out with marketing as well as setting up the bookstore readings on Carmen’s west coast tour. We couldn’t do this without him. Here he is with Carmen, live and in person in the wild (photo taken by an old, old friend and Deep Vellum supporter, dear Suejean Kim):
Carmen is reading as I write this at UC-Santa Cruz, and after her reading and lunch with students and professors today she gets a much-needed restful weekend off in beautiful Santa Cruz before flying up to Portland on Monday for a reading at the legendary Powell’s City of Books, then to the University of Oregon on Tuesday, and finishing up her tour Wednesday in Seattle at the remarkable Elliott Bay Book Company. Go to the events, and send us photos of Carmen! And go to your local bookstore, indie or otherwise, and send us photos of Deep Vellum books in stock.
These photos of our books “in the wild” not only make my day every time I see them, but also remind us all that we’re part of a huge and complementary ecosystem, we all need each other: indie publishers, indie bookstores, and the readers who support indie bookstores & publishers & read good books & love to be a part of a community of readership for the best books in the world. And plus, these pictures will help us build a Deep Vellum Readers’ Army. And if there’s some kind of critical mass maybe I’ll print some shirts and send them to subscribers and those from far away who buy our books in places like Elliott Bay, City Lights, or your own local indie haunt. And if your favorite bookstore doesn’t stock Deep Vellum yet, ask them to. Every bookstore that stocks Texas: The Great Theft so far has had to reorder copies, they fly off the shelves. Just ask Justin at Malaprop’s in Asheville, Carlos at The Wild Detectives in Dallas, Paul at City Lights in San Francisco, Jeremy at Brazos in Houston, Sarah at McNally Jackson in NYC, Gary at the Foyle’s flagship in London…these are some of the greatest bookstores in the world, this isn’t a Texas-specific book, our books are meant for the entire world to enjoy. Join the party!!
February 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
The iron is on the fire!
One important thing to note is that we have dozens of events for our authors coming up in February and March, including a full 10-day West Coast tour for Carmen Boullosa, and events in Dallas for Jón Gnarr (March 5 at Turner House) and Sergio Pitol (Birthday & Release Party, March 18 at The Wild Detectives)! Plus Deep Vellum is taking part in an upcoming GalleryLab talk at the Nasher Sculpture Center with Romanian translator & all-around good dude, Dr. Sean Cotter. And the return of the Wildcatter Exchange, Fort Worth’s upstart literary festival is at the end of March, the 27th & 28th! Full information on our February and March events are below, but remember to check out our calendar as we’re always planning months down the road (look for Deep Vellum’s tables at AWP Conference in Minneapolis in April, splitting table 1527 with Anomalous Press; and at the Brooklyn Book Festival in September, splitting with our forever-bromance-life-partners Open Letter Books!).
We look forward to seeing you out & about in the land of the literary living.
Carmen Boullosa Upcoming Events:
Tue. Feb. 10 – Carmen Boullosa reading at Skylight Books - Los Angeles, CA – 7:30pm
Wed. Feb. 11 – Carmen Boullosa reading at Pioneer Bookstore, Cal State-East Bay – Hayward, CA – 1:00pm
Thu. Feb. 12 – Carmen Boullosa reading at the University of California (in 5125 Dwinelle, the library of the Spanish & Portuguese Department) – Berkeley, CA – 12:00pm
Thu. Feb. 12 – Carmen Boullosa in discussion w/ Scott Esposito at City Lights Books – San Francisco, CA – 7:00pm
Fri. Feb. 13 – Carmen Boullosa reading at the University of California-Santa Cruz (Humanities 1, Room 210) – Santa Cruz, CA – 10:00am
Mon. Feb. 16 – Carmen Boullosa reading at Powell’s City of Books on Burnside – Portland, OR – 7:00pm
Tue. Feb. 17 – Carmen Boullosa reading at the University of Oregon – Eugene, OR – 7:30pm
Wed. Feb. 18 - Carmen Boullosa reading at Elliott Bay Bookstore – Seattle, WA – 7:00pm
Mon. Feb. 23 - Instituto Cervantes NYC presents “Great Voices from Mexico & the USA” w/ Carmen Boullosa – New York, NY – 7:00pm
Sun. March 15 – IBERIAN SUITE Literature Panel w/ Carmen Boullosa, Cesar Aira, Anne McLean & more at the Kennedy Center – Washington, DC – 4:30pm (Free!)
In a generous program that celebrates the stunning diversity of Spanish- and Portuguese-language writers, as well as the many resonances they share, this is a veritable symphony of voices from the past as well as the present. Contemporary writers from Latin America, Spain, and Portugal talk about their work amidst echoes from their literary predecessors.Juan Gabriel Vásquez of Colombia (with Gabriel García Marquez), Javier Cercas of Spain (with Pedro Salinas), Cesar Aira of Argentina (with Jorge Luis Borges), Dulce María Cardoso of Portugal (with Jorge Amado), Alonso Cueto of Peru (with Mario Vargas Llosa), and Carmen Boullosa of Mexico (with Octavio Paz). The event is hosted by the distinguished Canadian translator Anne McLean.
Deep Vellum Texas Events in February & March
Fri. Feb. 27 & Sat. Feb. 28 – Dallas Festival of Ideas in the Dallas Arts District – Dallas, TX
- Deep Vellum table in the Winspear Opera House – 9am-6pm – Sat. Feb. 28.
- Buy your tickets using our discount code PARTNER30 for 30% off this amazing new festival!!
Thu. March 5 - Turner House Salon Series w/ Jón Gnarr at Turner House - Oak Cliff, Dallas, TX – 7pm
- Don’t miss Jón Gnarr’s first Dallas appearance!!
Wed. March 18 – Sergio Pitol‘s 82nd birthday party & The Art of Flight release party w/ translator George Henson reading & in discussion w/ Will Evans (Deep Vellum) at The Wild Detectives - Dallas, TX – 7pm
Thu. March 19 – Nasher Sculpture Center GalleryLab: “The Mother Tongue” Talk on Translation & Art w/ Will Evans (Deep Vellum) & Dr. Sean Cotter (translator & professor at UT-Dallas) at the Nasher Sculpture Center – Dallas, TX – 6:00pm
Fri. March 27 & Sat. March 28 – Wildcatter Exchange Literary Festival in the Historic South Main Village – Fort Worth, TX
In other fun news, Carmen Boullosa‘s Texas: The Great Theft, translated by Samantha Schnee, is a finalist for the Typographical Era 2014 Translation Award. This is a huge honor, and the best part is you get to have a say in it, you can VOTE for the winner. Last year’s winner was the awesome The Devil’s Workshop by rad Czech writer Jachym Topol, translated by Alex Zucker, published by Portobello. This year: Vote TEXAS! Vote Boullosa! Vote Schnee! Deep Vellum army, let’s unite and win! Better together! And together forward!
More fun news, CONGRATULATIONS to Fiston Mwanza Mujila & translator Roland Glasser, Tram 83 won a French Voices Award, and was shortlisted for the French Voices Grand Prize (one of three books as a finalist; the winner was La Nostalgie forthcoming from Fordham University Press; the other finalist was our friends New Vessel Press’s Guys Like Me). And if you can feel the buzz on Tram 83 building, good, that’s the whole point, this Congolese novel is going to BLOW YOUR MIND!! We’ll publish it in September as our lead Fall 2015 title!!
In case you’re wondering, yes, the new website is still being built. It’s my secret goal to have it up before The Art of Flight‘s publication date, which is March 10. Might happen. By April at the latest. It’s close, y’all. Full ordering capabilities, smooth and beautiful design…it will be wondrous to behold.
A reminder to subscribe to Deep Vellum’s upcoming titles, if you have not done so already. And if you bought a copy of Texas and are curious about subscribing, check out out Spring 2015 catalog for information on the next six books we will publish. And if really want to know what the Fall 2015/2016 catalog will hold, email me. But it’ll all be announced soon. So soon. Super soon. Like, before the new website soon. But here’s the rundown: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Sept.), Leila S. Chudori (Oct.), Ricardo Piglia (Nov.), Jón Gnarr (Jan.), Lina Meruane (Feb.), Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (Mar.). That’s one hell of a list, y’all. And I haven’t even introduced you to Ms. Meruane yet, one of the hottest literary talents from Chile, she lives in NYC now and teaches at NYU, and her novel is going to blow your everloving mind.
Download our Spring 2015 Catalog by clicking the image below (PDF):
Our upcoming Spring 2015 release schedule:
March 10: Sergio Pitol – The Art of Flight (translated by George Henson)
April 14: Anne Garreta – Sphinx (translated by Emma Ramadan)
May 5: Jón Gnarr – The Indian (translated by Lytton Smith)
May 19: Mikhail Shishkin – Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories (translated by Marian Schwartz, Leo Shtutin, Mariya Bashkatova, and Sylvia Maizell)
June 9: Alisa Ganieva – The Mountain and the Wall (translated by Carol Apollonio)
July 14: Sergio Pitol – The Journey (translated by George Henson)
Support Deep Vellum’s mission to publish the world’s greatest literature and host all these awesome events and teach the world how awesome translation is by subscribing or making a tax-deductible donation today!
February 2, 2015 § Leave a comment
Back in early December I was fortunate enough to participate in my third editors’ trip of 2014 (the other two were Germany & the Netherlands over the summer), this time to SOUTH KOREA!
I started writing this blog post BEFORE CHRISTMAS and got sidetracked by the holidays, and then spent nearly all of January prepping The Art of Flight to send to print, and other business endeavors. It’s hard running a publishing house single-handedly! Which reminds me, if you want to see your name in the backs of Jón Gnarr’s The Indian or Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, subscribe NOW! These books are going to press next week at the latest!!
Fun story: I gave blood the day before starting to write this post (weeks and weeks ago…all y’all should go give blood every 56 days; not only does it save lives, yadda yadda yadda, it’s really good for you. Consider it a detox, or a flush [literally!] or an oil change for your body!), and one of the attendants at the Red Cross remembered me from the last time I gave blood and so she asked me where I’d traveled most recently (they get a kick out of the responses I have to give them every time the question pops up: “Have you left the US in the past 3 years?”). So I told her I’d most recently been in South Korea, and she was like, “What does a book man do in Korea?! You read Korean??!?!” Of course, I don’t read Korean, but thanks to the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, I can read Korean literature like never before!
LTI Korea (which used to be called the Korean Literature Institute of Translation or something like that, but thankfully abandoned that woeful acronym!) is a tremendously useful organization for publishers: they provide synopses of Korean works, and often commission the translation of works, and then send those translated versions to publishers all over the world to let them know what is going on in Korean literature. They have language specialists dedicated to promoting Korean authors in English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese, etc. (and I’m sure others, you get the idea).
I was invited on this totally awesome editors’ trip thanks to the recommendation of Chad Post of Open Letter Books, and also invited was Ross Ufberg of New Vessel Press (Consortium family, unite!). Yoonie of LTI Korea (pictured below) helped set everything up, and LTI Korea paid for our travel to & from Seoul, took care of our lodging while we were there, and all travel and a lot of food, and they also set up meetings for us with Korean publishers, authors, translators, and critics across Seoul (and Paju, more on that below). It was an unbelievable experience, not only was the hotel among the nicest I’ve ever stayed in, but the toilet in that hotel room was straight out of the 22nd century, and man, it makes you feel like you’re traveling back to medieval times when you come back to the US and you don’t have toilets everywhere that wash and dry your posterior WITH HEATED SEATS! Like, what are we wasting our innovations on if not toilets?!?!?!?! Certainly not books. Certainly not toilets. Which are two of the more important things in MY life, I dare say.
Back to books. Korean books. Korean books have had a bit of a moment in the US & UK recently, including the successes of Your Republic is Calling You by Kim Young-ha (Mariner, 2010), Kyung-sook Shin’s Please Look After Mom (Knopf, 2011) & I’ll Be Right There (Other Press 2014—man, I love that cover), the Dalkey Archive Library of Korean Literature (they’re committed to publishing 25 books from Korea’s modern literature of the last 100+ years—if I recommend any, start with Jung Young Moon’s stories, A Most Ambiguous Sunday, he’s in pictures below, he’s so cool, tall, handsome, and an unbelievable writer), Hwang Sun-mi’s The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly (Penguin, 2013), Bae Suah’s Nowhere to Be Found (AmazonCrossing, 2015), or Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (Portobello, 2015, currently sitting at #2 on the Foyles London bookshop bestseller list behind mother___ Murakami!!) the list could go on. Korean literature rules. And it’s not bound by politics, style, or aesthetics: you can read everything from experimental fiction to feminist surrealist poetry (Kim Hyesoon FTW!!) or sentimental love stories or deep and dark political sagas & historical epics….KOREA RULES!
The current head of LTI is Dr. Seong Kon Kim, whom we met on our second day in Seoul. Their offices are in the neighborhood of Gangnam (the answer is yes, hell yes, we did the horse dance more than once on this trip and yes, everywhere we went in Seoul Yoonie & our interpreter Alice pointed out places Psy had played massive outdoor concerts in public squares and huge streets). Dr. Kim is finishing up his three-year term this month or next, which is a bummer, he’s a wonderful guy and an American literature specialist. In fact, he’s translated a few classics of American literature into Korean, including Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49!
After landing on Sunday night and grabbing a dinner and feeling like WHOA I’M IN ASIA FOR THE FIRST TIME, we jumped right into our first full day of meetings Monday morning by hopping in a cab and setting out for Paju, a town about an hour northwest of Seoul, right across the river from North freaking Korea. But some years ago the Korean government asked the entire publishing industry to move to Paju, gave them some land and tax incentives or something like that, and most of the country’s publishers MOVED! It’s this weird quasi-urban space that feels distinctly American suburban, a sprawling city out among the hills of northwestern South Korea, and packed with beautiful modern architectural buildings that house a TON of publishing houses, and they told us that 100,000 people worked there every day. But the kicker is that almost NONE of them live in Paju, and have to commute an hour by BUS each way to get to Paju from Seoul! So in some respects it feels like the inverse of many American downtowns (*cough*Dallas*cough*) that are packed with office workers during the day and nearly ghosttowns at night.
We had some pretty awesome meetings right off the bat, including Open Books, an art and mostly-translated literature publishing house based inside the Mimesis Art Museum. We met with one of their acquiring editors, Gregory Limpens, a native Belgian who used to be a lawyer many moons ago who moved to Seoul for work, fell in love with the country, the language, and the literature, and who left his job in law to go work in publishing (only in Korea…).
Our first night in Seoul, to backtrack a bit, we got to hang out with Deborah Smith, a London-based translator of Korean literature who is single-handedly responsible for my obsession with Korean literature. She has impeccable taste, and she’s a damn fine translator (read her translation of Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, out from Granta/Portobello).
Day two of meetings included hitting up the traditional center of Seoul, near the palaces, and we met with Yi Mun-yol, pretty much the most widely-read and important author of the last half-century in Korea, who’s only had a handful of his books translated into English (most notably Our Twisted Hero, though he’s quite widely read and popular in France and Germany). Our meeting was in the amazing Arario Museum, and what’s cool is that building used to house a publishing house called SPACE, and the museum acknowledges that history on every floor by naming their cafes and restaurants after the former publisher, so we met at the Cafe in SPACE, there’s also the Boulangerie in SPACE, the Restaurant in SPACE, and the Bar in SPACE!!!! I LOVE IT!!
At Cafe in SPACE we also met with the poet Kim Hyesoon, who has several books of amazing poetry out in English, including the Best Translated Book Award-finalist ALL THE GARBAGE OF THE WORLD, UNITE! from Action Books. We were joined at dinner by Kim Yi-deum, a young poet who lives in Busan (and who was in town, sadly, for the funeral of a fellow poet). Yi-deum was “discovered” by Kim Hyesoon, and her poems are radical, amazing, feminist anthems that delve into the body and space in an awesome way. Can’t wait to read her debut collection in English when Action Books publishes it!
Our meetings were all awesome: the Korean publishers we met with had great ideas for literature, and it’s amazing that we three American publishers combined publish 25-30 books a year, and each of the publishing houses we met publish 200-1000 books a year. This is the sad state of affairs in publishing, small publishing houses in the US can publish the biggest and most important authors of nearly any foreign country. While that’s sad in general, it’s a tremendous blessing that publishers like us can step into the void left by the “market” and help bring these incredible authors into English. Here’s Ross & I outside of Moonji, a really interesting and big-time publishing house who publish my favorite young Korean author, Han Yujoo (whose debut novel, Impossible Fairytale, will be out from Graywolf next year in Janet Hong’s translation, here’s a reader’s report PDF on it by Jake Levine).
At one point we met with the publishers of Munhakdongne Publishing Group, I think the biggest publishing house in Korea (basically their Random House/Penguin). They publish an incredible list of literary titles in addition to commercial fiction, graphic novels, children’s books, cookbooks, etc. One of the most interesting things about Munhakdongne is that they’re part of an increasing trend in Korea where publishers are starting cafes (which are ubiquitous in Seoul, I’ve never seen a city with more cafes) that stock their own books. This bookstore/cafe concept is amazing (and something I’m trying to do in Dallas), and one of our meetings was at Munhakdongne’s bookstore/cafe: Cafe Comma (here’s an article about Cafe Comma, “Should Publishers Open Bookstore Cafes? They Are in Korea,” from Publishing Perspectives in February 2013).
At Cafe Comma we met with Jung Young-Moon, an extremely tall and handsome man who has one book already out in Dalkey Archive’s Library of Korean Literature series and has his newest novel coming out next year or so (it won the biggest literary prize in Korea last year). An alum of the Iowa International Writers Program, he was a hilarious guy to hang out with, apologizing when introducing himself to us because he had partied too hard with some friends the night before and he was a bit hungover. It was endearing, and he had a wicked sense of humor that only grew the more we talked. PLUS he’s an awesome writer, so keep your ears/eyes peeled for more news from him in English soon…
From one cafe to another we bounced across Seoul, from Cafe Comma in the uber-hip student-packed neighborhood of Hongdae to the uber-hip, foreigner-foreignized neighborhood of Itaewon (also the namesake neighborhood of my favorite K-pop song, “Itaewon Freedom,” introduced to me by my sister, who lived in Korea for a year teaching English, this song inspired me to ask, quite seriously, Chad or Ross every time we saw Nam-san Tower, “Do you know Nam-san Tower?”), where we met Kim Ae-ran, one of the most exciting and buzz-worthy young authors in all of Korea.
By this point our trip was almost over, we had three days (and nights!) of meetings, Monday thru Wednesday. Chad and I left on Thursday, Ross (who arrived a day earlier than us) left on the Friday. Wise man, that Ross. But for our “farewell” dinner, we met with several authors, a literary critic, and another colleague from the LTI Korea office. The food in Korea, by the way, is as good as the literature.
On the Thursday morning & afternoon before my & Chad’s flights we were able to sightsee for a bit for the first time, and so we hit up the center of town to visit the Palace, the Namdaemun Market, a cat cafe, a fish-eating-your-feet spa, and other “When in Seoul…” types of sights. But of course, what did I hone in on?
Texas. In Seoul:
This trip was a massive success for all parties involved. LTI Korea gave us an invaluable first-hand introduction to contemporary Korean literature and the lay of the publishing landscape in Korea today to us all. The three of us came home bursting with ideas and the desire to publish so many authors we’d met and those we’d heard about, which is exactly the point. Expect to hear more from all of us about publishing Korean literature very soon, and if you’re curious, some great resources for you to check out Korean literature are linked here:
- Dalkey Archive’s Library of Korean Literature series (supposed to be 25 books over several years, 15 or so already out)
- Asymptote’s archives of everything Korean they’ve published
- Words Without Borders special issue on “New Writing from South Korea” from April 2014
- Words Without Borders archives of everything Korean they’ve published
- Korean Literature in Translation site (they publish too!)
- Asia Literary Review’s Spring 2012 issue dedicated to Korea (feat. the English debut of Han Yujoo)
If you have suggestions of South Korean authors and/or books for me (or Chad or Ross or anyone) to check out, please email them to me!
지금은 한국어를 배우고 갈 필요가 읽기 주셔서 감사합니다!! ^_^
January 6, 2015 § Leave a comment
Happy 2015 everyone! The year of Deep Vellum is now upon you!
First off, if you’re interested in seeing your name in print, subscribe to Deep Vellum by Wednesday, January 14th and your name will be listed in the acknowledgements section of the next book we are publishing, Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight, translated by Dallas’s own George Henson. If you’ve already subscribed, the book will ship out to subscribers in mid-to-late February ahead of its March 17 publication date. And if you live in Dallas, pencil in a party March 18 on your calendars: we will be hosting a reading of The Art of Flight and birthday party for Sergio Pitol, who will turn 82 that day, the day after the first of his magisterial works will ever appear in English. Hell, if you live in NYC or SF, you should book yourself a birthday party for Sergio Pitol. Maybe we’ll do that in 2016, plan a series of birthday parties for this genius…ah, I can’t wait for you all to read Pitol! You’re going to love him, his writing is from another time and place altogether (but not a fantasy world). I can’t even describe it…it’s…just…brilliant. And the introduction is being provided by Enrique Vila-Matas. Once you read Pitol, you’ll understand the genesis of so much postmodern & contemporary Spanish-language literature descending from the incomparably influential and profoundly erudite mind of one man, the man I’m dubbing “the Maestro of Mexican literature,” Mr. Sergio Pitol.
Speaking of introductions, fellow member of Oulipo Daniel Levin Becker has agreed to provide the introduction to Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, which we’ll be shipping off to the printers before the end of the month (April 6 publication date).
And if you have a mad genius idea for someone to provide an introduction to Jón Gnarr’s The Indian, let me know ASAP, I’m leaning towards publishing the book without an introduction, but if we could get the right person…
As I was writing up this entry we enjoyed ourselves a little earthquake here in Dallas (which has been happening frequently since fracking started in Dallas County last year, and has been happening across the region since the fracking boom started in North Texas), and I’ve also been distracted by the live broadcast by RT of Russian Orthodox Christmas service in Moscow in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on RT, which is being live translated brilliantly by somebody who sounds like a drunk Russian Kermit the Frog (I hope this is archived for you to enjoy forevermore).
But on to all the great news!
In the Dallas Morning News, Roberto Ontiveros reviewed Texas: The Great Theft right before the holiday, which makes me so happy to see this first book we published here in Dallas reviewed by the book section of our hometown newspaper (thank you to Books/Arts editor Mike Merschel for helping make this happen!). From Ontiveros’s review:
At its bones, Boullosa’s fourth novel to appear in English (and the first release from Dallas’ Deep Vellum Publishing) is a picaresque news report about police brutality and its justified aftermath. […] What is outstanding in Boullosa’s work is the deep sympathy expressed for every human encountered.
Texas was also just reviewed in the January 2015 issue of Bookslut by Matt Pincus, describing the novel as “masterful” and “a timely piece of historical fiction,” before delving into Boullosa’s style and language with great insight:
What is both moving and also lucid about Boullosa’s prose, though, is her ability to take one in and out of a scene fraught with disorder and violence, and place one back in the rich spirit of humility encountering sublime beauty. Before the Sheriff’s infamous words, the text takes us to the landscape: “The sun bears down, piercing the veil of shimmering dust.” Again, later in the novel, after tensions have risen to violence, “The buffalo hunter, Wild, leaves Mrs. Big’s Hotel to take a piss and get some fresh air. Santiago’s body is hanging heavily from the icaco tree without swinging, like a mangrove root searching for the earth. A blackbird lands like a stone on his shoulder.” The body almost melds into the landscape through the similes as one also sees the atrocity of the recent lynching, the corpse, and also Wild’s apathetic reaction. The text continuously expands on these moments, letting them accumulate for the reader in opacity of deferred fabulation, which does not point towards interpretation or totality, but rather frees one into possibility.
One of our favorite review sites that covers literature and film, The Mookse & The Gripes, has also just featured a preview of Texas in their latest podcast, along with discussions of other amazing books released in December 2014 & January 2015, alongside some other amazing books, like A Useless Man: Selected Stories by Sait Faik Abasiyanik (translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe) published by Archipelago Books (released today—and I must say I am hugely excited to read this, I was considering publishing some of Sait Faik’s stories myself before finding out Archipelago had already signed this book!); Midnight in the Century by Victor Serge (translated from the French by Richard Greeman) published last month by NYRB Classics (and coincidentally I just bought a weird old hardcover 1960s British edition of this book I’d never seen before from Half Price Books last week!); and Subtly Worded and Other Stories, by the wholly underrated & amazing Russian author Teffi (translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler and Anne Marie Jackson), published last month by one of my favorite publishers, Pushkin Press. So head over to The Mookse & The Gripes & let them know your thoughts on Texas and your comments may be featured in their next podcast!!
Deep Vellum was featured in Janklow & Nesbit literary agent Rebecca Carter’s recent piece in Publishing Perspectives on the new crop of publishing houses starting up across the world dedicated to bringing more translated literary voices into English, “New Ways of Publishing Translations,” one of the quotes featuring Deep Vellum is here, but the whole piece warrants a read, it is exhaustively comprehensive of the challenges and rewards that come from so many startups getting into the business of translation:
Identity is so important for a small publisher that wants to attract a following. It’s not enough just to publish good books: those books need to create a world to which readers want to belong. To specialize or not to specialize is one of the questions. Will Evans of Deep Vellum is determined that, although his roots are in Russian literature, his publishing company is about ‘world literature’ and how authors in different languages speak to each other.
Our very own Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83, translated by Roland Glasser, has been shortlisted for the prestigious French Voices Award!! On Wednesday, January 21, the second annual French Voices Award Ceremony will take place at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (which is now also home to the incomparably gorgeous Albertine bookstore). Honorary Chair Rick Moody will announce the winner. The three amazing finalists are Tram 83 (which we are publishing as our lead Fall 2015 title in September) alongside Barbara Cassin’s La Nostalgie (forthcoming from Fordham University Press in spring 2016, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault) and Dominique Fabre’s Guys Like Me (forthcoming from New Vessel Press in Feb. 2015, translated by Howard Curtis), The French Voices Award is a cool one because it not only honors French books that haven’t yet been published in English, but it awards the quality of the translation, giving a $4,000 bonus to the translator for their hard work (each translator on the nomination longlist of nine books gets a $2,000 bonus!). The winning author is also awarded the chance to do a book tour of the US. Honorary Chair Francine Prose presided over last year’s ceremony, which drew 200 attendees, so make sure you head out and root for Fiston to take home the prize this year! This event is free and open to the public, but please note that RSVP is required (click the link to RSVP). So please head to the Upper East Side on January 21 and represent Fiston & Roland & Deep Vellum!! We need a street team. A Deep Vellum nation (like Colbert Nation). A consortium, if you will!!!!!!!!!
In other, less sexy news, we here at Deep Vellum are working feverishly to get Deep Vellum onto firm financial footing so we can start hiring some employees to evolve into a stable, forward-thinking publishing house that can survive decades of changes in the industry, like a Dallas version of Graywolf or Coffee House or Milkweed who have all survived for 40 years or so in Minneapolis. We have submitted our application to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status and will hear back about that by the end of February.
We’re also working on a new website. I mean, we’re working on an ACTUAL website, designed by web wizard Justin Childress (who has designed some pretty damn amazing websites that Dallasites will recognize, including A New Dallas). It should go live this spring. Thank you for your patience with this low-functioning website (aka: blog with links).
Another post will go live sometime later this week with a recap of the editors’ trip I participated in last month with Chad Post of Open Letter Books and Ross Ufberg of New Vessel Press. And once I get these next couple books off to the printers, I’ll hopefully announce a few Korean titles for 2016 & 2017. And hopefully Open Letter & New Vessel will as well. We all fell in love with Korea, and even more so with K-lit. There is some seriously amazing literature coming out of South Korea in the next several months, we’ll keep you posted!
So now back to copyediting the Pitol layout and preparing the Garréta & Gnarr texts for layout & negotiating for a couple of absolute dream books & booking readings & travel for Carmen Boullosa’s tour up the west coast next month & remember to subscribe before next Wednesday to get your name included in the back of the Pitol book!!