September 28, 2015 § Leave a comment
Fiston Mwanza Mujila & Roland Glasser have taken America by storm!
Check out video of Fiston Mwanza Mujila performing at the Brooklyn Book Festival last Sunday, September 20th, after recounting how he always wanted to be a jazz musician growing up in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, but how he could never afford the saxophone he so desperately wanted, so be became a poet, and uses his voice as his saxophone—which is exactly what gives Tram 83 the jazz rhythms & musicality that make this novel stand apart from anything else:
Tram 83 is taking over (!), and has so far received rave reviews in Publishers Weekly, the Wall Street Journal, Kirkus Reviews, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Rumpus, Three Percent, The Quarterly Conversation, Library Journal, Foreword Reviews, and more. Fiston & Roland were also interviewed by Sofia Samatar for BOMB Magazine. Booksellers love this book, you can read their recommendations here. It’s never too late to get into it, order a copy from us or from your favorite local indie bookstore!!
And now they’re in Texas! Join us this week in Houston, Austin, and Dallas before the Tram 83 boys head out to conquer the West Coast to conclude this remarkable, in-depth tour of the US arranged with the considerable support and direction of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Consulate in Houston:
Fri. Oct. 2 – Alliance Francaise Dallas presents Fiston Mwanza Mujila & translator Roland Glasser reading & discussion at Richland College (Richland Library, Building L [Parking X, Y, Z]) – Dallas, TX – 11am
Fri. Oct. 2 – SMU’s World Languages & Literatures & Dedman College presents Fiston Mwanza Mujila & translator Roland Glasser reading & discussion at SMU (Hyer Hall, Room 100) – Dallas, TX – 2pm
Thu. Oct. 8 – UC-Berkeley’s French Dept. presents Fiston Mwanza Mujila & translator Roland Glasser reading & discussion at the University of California, Berkeley (Dwinelle Hall) – Berkeley, California – 5pm
Sat. Oct. 10 – Fiston Mwanza Mujila & translator Roland Glasser reading at Litquake at Green Apple Books on the Park (9th Ave.) – San Francisco, CA – 7:30pm
Leila S. Chudori has an excerpt from her novel Home (out from us October 27th) up at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop (AAWW) magazine, The Margins, who are running a series on Indonesian Literature in Translation around Indonesia’s turn as the Guest of Honor (which they’re branding as “17,000 Islands of Imagination“) at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Here’s a piece of the excerpt from Home posted in The Margins:
We drank our coffee on the back terrace of the house. Tante Surti now seemed to be ready to give her testimony. She positioned herself on a chair facing the camera, a sign that we could begin.
Before starting, I told Tante Surti that if at any point she began to feel uncomfortable, she was to tell me so, and I would stop the camera. But with only one question from me to start, she began speaking to the camera as if it were a long lost friend, someone she had waited for years to meet again….
“I decided to marry Hananto Prawiro in Jakarta in 1953 for reasons of love and conviction. Hananto was a responsible man and I knew that he would love and take care of his family. I knew little about his political aspirations or activities. He worked as a journalist at the Nusantara News Agency where he ran the foreign desk. I knew that, of course, but I knew little of his activities outside office hours. In the numerous times that I was interrogated during the three years that Hananto was on the run, it was always that information my interrogators wanted: what it is that Mas Hananto did, whether he was a member of LEKRA, what meetings he had ever attended; who was present at the meetings, and so on and so forth. These questions were asked repeatedly by different interrogators, and with different tones of voice…”
Tante Surti paused for a moment to take a breath and a sip of coffee.
“Perhaps you could tell me why they detained the entire family…” I said to her.
“It’s not true that they detained our entire family—or at least that hadn’t been their original intent. It was my fault that happened. It was just that, with Mas Hananto gone, the kids and I were all so afraid of being separated from each other. But let me go back a bit…
The Margins also published an essay by Chudori, “Why I Wrote a Novel About Indonesian Political Exiles” describing how she came to write this remarkable, historical epic novel. It’s out in stores officially on Oct. 27th, but go ahead and read the excerpt, fall in love, order your copy (or subscribe!) & we’ll ship it out to you right away! Here’s an excerpt from Chudori’s essay:
I wanted to tell the story of political exiles who could not return home. Those who lived far from their homeland but still felt they were a part of Indonesia, no matter what kind of passports they were issued and no matter how the government treated them.
I became better acquainted with Oemar Said, Sobron Aidit and their friends who had established the restaurant Indonésia in Paris as a part of their resistance as political exiles. I used them, and especially Oemar Said, as the ‘model’ in the novel for a group of political exiles consisting of Dimas Suryo, Nugroho Dewantoro, Tjai Sin Soe, and Mohammad Risjaf. InPulang, the story goes that while they were on a trip as reporters to Santiago, Chile, the bloody September 30, 1965 incident took place back home. Their passports were revoked, after which they had to move from country to country, until they finally settled in Paris.
Pulang is a work of fiction, not a history book, a memoir, or a biography. Even so, I’ve spent six years researching and writing—in the midst of my work as a journalist at Tempo and as a mother. The exiles and prisoners I spoke to agreed to and supported my desire to write a novel.
Reviews of the first two books in Sergio Pitol‘s “Trilogy of Memory“: The Art of Flight and The Journey are popping up, and they’re revelatory, check out West Camel‘s take on the two books in 3:AM Magazine, “Labyrinths of Astonishment: Sergio Pitol’s Literary Journeys,” and Jeffrey Zuckerman‘s in-depth analysis in The Quarterly Conversation, “Pitol’s Wounds.” We’re proud to publish Pitol in English for the first time, and even more proud to publish the concluding book in the “Trilogy of Memory,” The Magician of Vienna, next winter, and then to follow that up with a short story collection (Spring 2017) and Pitol’s groundbreaking “Carnaval Trilogy” of novels: El desfile del amor (1984, winner of the Herralde Prize, the inspiration & creation of which is recounted in The Art of Flight), Domar a la divina garza (1988, the inspiration & creation of which is recounted in The Journey), and La vida conyugal (1991)—we’ll publish all three novels in Fall/Winter 2017, which will continue to develop our understanding and appreciation in English of one of the world’s most influential living authors. All of these Pitol works will be translated by Dr. George Henson, who did such an unbelievable job translating The Art of Flight and The Journey, and who recently left Dallas for a wonderful position as a professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he is working with the university’s Spanish Department and Center for Translation Studies.
And I know I’ve been hinting over and over and over again that our new website is almost ready, but really, it is, it is, and it’s beautiful:
Bear with us, we’re still painting walls in the new office, printing the second edition of Sphinx (!), getting Gnarr’s The Pirate off to the printers, signing books for 2017 & beyond, and gearing up for a fall fundraising campaign so that we can continue to bring the world to Dallas from right here in Deep Ellum. We need your support now more than ever. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation or subscribing or ordering a book or three from us right here on this old (but soon to be new) website! We do this for you, and can’t do it without you!
P.S. Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air w/ Terry Gross today!
September 23, 2015 § Leave a comment
We’re the Best New Thing in Town!!
Check out the new “Best of Dallas” issue of the Dallas Observer, hitting newsstands today, for the full recap & rundown of all the best stuff in the Big D, including us! What an honor!
Last year, our friends at The Wild Detectives won Best New Thing in Town, and man, have they ever changed everything in Dallas ever. Join us to celebrate the two most recent Best New Things in Town as we bring Fiston Mwanza Mujila & Roland Glasser to town to celebrate, read, perform, and be awesome, next Thursday night at 7pm!
New website is so close to launch, y’all! Just tweaks, tweaks, tweaks.
In the meantime, read Jennifer Smart’s beautiful essay, “On Translation in Texas,” Deep Vellum, how translation opens up new worlds of possibilities, and what literature means to the arts in the new issue of Arts + Culture Texas Magazine!
Translation, it seems, diversifies our experience of the world at the same time as it demonstrates our commonalities; its unique ability lies in expanding our concepts of literature by slightly complicating our stories with those of others.
With the launch of Deep Vellum, Evans is giving us, as a reading community, a reason to talk about these things (and more). Now we just have to do it.
We’ve moved into our new office at 3000 Commerce in the heart of Dallas’s beating heart, the historic neighborhood of Deep Ellum, and will soon have more information to share about the bookstore/cafe/event space we’ll be opening up front this fall. In the meantime, look at this beautiful building:
You can find us easily, we’re in the building with the Leadbelly historical plaque put up by the Deep Ellum Foundation:
And all the old Dallas crew will love this sign for the legendary Club Clearview that once lived on Elm Street in the 80s & 90s living in our front room for now:
And thank you to every single generous donor who opened up their hearts and wallets on North Texas Giving Day, every single cent you donated goes towards making amazing literature happen, building bridges between cultures thanks to the power of the written word! You are amazing, and you make it all possible.
September 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
It’s North Texas Giving Day!
Please consider making a tax deductible donation to Deep Vellum Publishing on the North Texas Giving Day website today, every donation made over $25 will qualify Deep Vellum for prizes, bonuses, and other awesome recognition that will go a long way towards furthering our mission of connecting the world through the written word!
What is North Texas Giving Day?
North Texas’ incredible generosity has broken the national record 3 years in a row! After last year’s national record-crushing 75,000 donations totaling $26.3 million, North Texas Giving Day is back with the hopes that North Texas will raise the giving day bar once again to benefit more North Texas nonprofits. On September 17, 2015, donations of $25 or more can be made 6 a.m. to midnight to more than 2,100 certified nonprofits listed on www.NorthTexasGivingDay.org. Those donations will be amplified by more than $2 million dollars in bonus funds and prizes.
Donate directly to Deep Vellum at this link or click the picture above: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/#npo/deep-vellum-publishing
Think of North Texas Giving Day as Christmas for the 2100 amazing Dallas nonprofit organizations signed up, including Deep Vellum! And if you make a donation, please share that fact on social media, with the hashtag #NTXGivingDay. We need your support! And the support of your friends, family, loved ones, bosses, exes, cousins, acquaintances, high school frienemies, billionaires, and readers.
Why should you donate to Deep Vellum?
- In only one year, we’ve published 10 books by 9 authors (4 women, 5 men) from 7 countries written in 6 languages!
- When we publish books, we bring our authors to Texas, like Carmen Boullosa‘s events in Dallas last October, or our upcoming events in Dallas with author Fiston Mwanza Mujila and translator Roland Glasser at The Wild Detectives on October 1st and at Richland College and SMU on October 2nd!
- We host events for authors and translators in Dallas, like John Darnielle just as Wolf in White Van was shortlisted for the National Book Award, or Marian Schwartz before her translation of Anna Karenina was nominated for the National Translation Award!
- We’ve just signed the lease to move Deep Vellum HQ into a new office space in Deep Ellum that will feature a bookstore/gallery/event space up front, giving the beating heart of central Dallas a new cultural hub to enjoy!
- Deep Vellum has been recognized by local and international media as “Dallas’s Best Publisher” by D Magazine, publisher Will Evans has been featured as one of the Dallas Observer‘s “100 Dallas Creatives,” Flavorwire named Deep Vellum “one of the five small publishers changing the face of the industry.”
- We publish game-changing, life-altering, mind-blowing, genre-bending literary masterpieces by authors who have often never been published in English before, like Sergio Pitol and Anne Garréta, expanding our very understanding of what literature is and what it can do.
- Books are awesome.
- Dallas is more awesome with more books in it.
- Translators make the world seem real to us and we value translators for that, always putting their names on the front cover of our books and promoting translation as a form of creative writing to be better understood and appreciated.
These are but a few of the reasons why you should support Deep Vellum today on North Texas Giving Day. None of what we do at Deep Vellum is cheap, nor is it free, though everything we do is for you, the Dallasite, the North Texan, the 214 to the 817, we do this for you. Join us in creating a more vibrant and engaged literary Metroplex, and by extension a more literary world. Together we are always more awesome than alone.
July 27, 2015 § Leave a comment
We’re the best publisher in Dallas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
“Not only has he brought great authors like Sergio Pitol and Anne Garreta to English-language readers, he offers Dallas an unmatched energy and enthusiasm for building a true literary community.”
For those who are curious, we are not in fact the only publisher in Dallas, and I don’t know if there has ever been a Best Publisher category in the Best of Big D listings, but the fact that D Magazine would include this category, or us, at all speaks volumes to how far we’ve come in the past two years to increasing the awareness of the literary arts in Dallas, and embracing our city’s rich literary history (see for example this amazing D Magazine piece from last month’s issue written by Ben Fountain about Willard Spiegelman and the 100th anniversary of the Southwest Review, published out of SMU!). Thank you to our friends at D Magazine for recognizing what we’re trying to do—simultaneously publishing great literature and building a more vibrant literary community in Dallas, North Texas, and beyond!!
And check back soon for potential huge news about new office/event space for Deep Vellum…and don’t forget, we can’t publish these books or host events without your support, please consider subscribing or making a tax-deductible donation to support our mission today. THANK YOU AS ALWAYS FOR READING!!!!!
July 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
Mark Haber, writer, Best Translated Book Award judge, and bookseller at Houston’s Brazos Bookstore, has interviewed Dallas’s own George Henson about translating Sergio Pitol. Read the full interview at Brazos’s website:
Henson remembers the first time he was exposed to Hispanic literature in translation. It was in 1983 at a panel discussing Carlos Fuentes. Henson heard one of Fuentes’ translators, Margaret Sayers Peden, speak. “I thought, Oh, this woman translates. I’ve read Carlos Fuentes in Spanish and this woman translates him into English. And I remember specifically going and buying a book, one of Carlos Fuentes’ novels that Margaret Sayers Peden had translated.”
Now, Henson is a popular translator himself, most recently known for translating Mexican author Pitol for Deep Vellum, the independent literary publisher based in Dallas (where Henson also lives). Before I’d ever read Pitol—before he’d even had a book translated into English—my Spanish-speaking friends had told me about this writer, a recipient of both the Juan Rulfo Prize and the Miguel de Cervantes Prize. They raved about his coveted place in Mexican letters, his brilliance and originality. Thus, there was already a sense of anticipation, even an expectation, when I finally held THE ART OF FLIGHT in my hands this past March. I expected to like the book, but I didn’t expect to find a library of authors contained inside a single novel, one that combines travelogue, essay, memoir, and literature effortlessly—in other words, I didn’t expect to love Pitol. Reading him feels like sitting beside your favorite uncle, the one who has traveled the world and read everything, yet wears his intelligence loosely and comfortably. Now, with THE JOURNEY, Pitol’s newest book translated into English, the author looms even larger.
THE JOURNEY, the second book in Pitol’s Trilogy of Memory, is forthcoming on August 18th. We’ll be sending review & subscriber copies out this week. It’s the first time one of our books has been delayed, but bear with me, it’s not easy publishing this many books as a one-man show (and we’re still ahead of schedule for all of our fall season of amazing books!). Enjoy an excerpt from THE JOURNEY from our friends at the Houston-based Literal Magazine as you wait for your copy to arrive:
Faced with centuries of cruelty and an unrelenting history, against the robotic nature of contemporary life the only thing they have left is their soul. And in the Russian’s soul, I include his energy, his identification with nature and eccentricity. The achievement of being oneself without relying too much on someone else and sailing along as long as possible, going with the flow.The eccentric’s cares are different from those of others—his gestures tend toward differentiation, toward autonomy insofar as possible from a tediously herdlike setting. His real world lies within. From the times of the incipient Rus’, a millennium ago, the inhabitants of this infinite land have been led by a strong hand and endured punishments of extreme violence, by Asian invaders as well as their own: Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, Nicholas I, Stalin; and from among the glebe, among the suffering flock, arises, I don’t know if by trickle or torrent, the eccentric, the fool, the jester, the seer, the idiot, the good-for-nothing, the one with one foot in the madhouse, the delirious, the one who is the despair of his superiors. There is a secret communicating vessel between the simpleton who rings the church bells and the sublime painter, who in a chapel of the same church gives life to a majestic Virgin greater than all the icons contained in that holy place. The eccentric lends levity to the European novel from the eighteenth century to the present; in doing so, he breathes new life into it. In some novels, all the characters are eccentrics, and not only they, but the authors themselves. Laurence Sterne, Nikolai Gogol, the Irishmen Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien are exemplars of eccentricity, like each and every one of the characters in their books and thus the stories of those books.
And the introduction to THE JOURNEY was written by none other than Álvaro Enrigue, author of the Herralde Prize-winning Sudden Death (coming soon from Riverhead). Enrigue used to be the editor of Letras Libres, one of, if not THE, most important literary review outlets in Mexico and the entire Spanish-speaking world (check out Enrigue’s original review of The Journey after it was published in Mexico, from 2001). From Enrigue’s brilliant introduction to THE JOURNEY, called “Sergio Pitol, Russian Boy,” which I think helps contextualize the entire Trilogy of Memory for the English-language reader in an important way (and which you can read in full in Spanish at Letras Libres):
The Journey is at once a lesson in subtlety and in destruction. It is a book that, in order to rescue one tradition, dynamites another. It is a volume about how a writer constructs. About freedom and its lack; that final, indomitable freedom which is letting go, allow- ing things to come out: narrating. This is why the book does not function, like almost all the others, as a progressive sequence of stories, ideas, and images, but rather like a hall of mirrors, in which a series of narratives reflect on each other: eschatological tales; a body of essays on the humiliations suffered by Russian writers who chose to pay the price for speaking their mind; a collection of documentary vignettes in which the reader watches live the Soviet generation that was becoming emancipated, fertilized by the sacrifice of those authors and the autobiographical framework of the writer who chose not to comply with any parameters to become who he wanted to be: a Russian boy.
Remind yourself why you love Sergio Pitol so much, like in the young Mexican novelist Daniel Saldaña Paris‘s “Sergio Pitol: Mexico’s Total Writer,” which was published in English translation by the Literary Hub (and Saldaña Paris’s debut novel, Among Strange Victims, is forthcoming from Coffee House next year!):
Pitol is one of those authors whom one never leaves. There is always a corner of his work that can be read under a new lens. It is not for nothing, it seems to me, that he is held as a clear example of a “writer’s writer” in recent Latin American narrative. The fact that authors such as Enrique Vila-Matas and Mario Bellatin have turned him into a character in their own fiction only confirms what any reader senses upon reading him: that Pitol is unfathomable; it could almost be said that he is a literature entire of himself.
Or remind yourself that Pitol is one of the major influences on so many of the greatest Spanish-language authors of our time, like Enrique Vila-Matas, who says in his introduction to THE ART OF FLIGHT:
In these anecdotes of rainy days past lies the silhouette of his Cervantesesque life, since, as he says, “Everything is all things.” Reading him, one has the impression of being in the presence of the best writer in the Spanish language of our time. And to whomever asks about his style, I will say that it consists in fleeing anyone who is so dreadful as to be full of certainty. His style is to say everything, but to not solve the mystery. His style is to distort what he sees. His style consists in traveling and losing countries and losing one or two pairs of eyeglasses in them, losing all of them, losing eyeglasses and losing countries and rainy days, losing everything: having nothing and being Mexican and at the same time always being a foreigner.
Sergio Pitol’s stories, essays and novels do not only travel through his many places of residence. His writing – the way he constructs sentences, inflects Spanish, twists meanings and stresses particular words – reflects the multiplicity of languages he has read and embraced –and perhaps, too, the many men he has been. Reading him is like reading through the layers of many languages at once.
It isn’t easy to explain the reason why Pitol’s imagination takes hold of his readers. Perhaps it is the way he’s able to delicately tap into the most disturbing layers of reality and turn our conception of what is normal inside out. Perhaps it’s because he’s always telling a deeper, sadder, more disquieting story while pretending to narrate another. Or perhaps it is merely that strange gift which very few possess: a voice that reverberates beyond the margins of his books.
August 18th, get yourself a copy of Pitol’s THE JOURNEY (from your local indie bookstore, or preorder from Brazos Bookstore) and enjoy one of the world’s greatest, most influential, and most fun to read authors take you on a trip from Prague to Moscow to Leningrad to Tbilisi and to the depths of your imagination. Enjoy, amigos.
July 15, 2015 § Leave a comment
With the publication of Sergio Pitol‘s The Journey on August 11th we will wrap up our inaugural Spring 2015 season, and as we look ahead to our impending Fall 2015-2016 season, which will expand our literary horizons, literally and physically, with 6 authors from 6 countries; 4 continents; 2 women authors, 4 men; award-winning, life-changing books all:
- September: Fiston Mwanza Mujila (Democratic Republic of Congo) – Tram 83 (translated from the French by Roland Glasser)
- October – Leila S. Chudori (Indonesia) – Home (translated from the Bahasa Indonesian by car)
- November – Ricardo Piglia (Argentina) – Target in the Night (translated from the Spanish by Sergio Waisman)
- January – Jón Gnarr (Iceland) – The Pirate (translated from the Icelandic by Lytton Smith)
- February – Lina Meruane (Chile) – Seeing Red (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell)
- March – Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (Netherlands) – La Superba (translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison)
And because we publishers work years ahead of schedule, today I am uploading all of the information for our Spring 2016 season into our distributor Consortium Book Sales‘s backend system. Here’s a sneak peek of Spring 2016, featuring 6 authors from 6 different countries on 5 (!) continents; 3 women, 3 men; 1 member of Oulipo (Audin!); 100% amazing:
- April – Michèle Audin (France) – One Hundred Twenty-One Days (translated from the French by Christiana Hills)
- April – Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine) – Voroshilovgrad (translated from the Ukrainian by Reilly Costigan-Humes & Isaac Wheeler)
- May – Fouad Laroui (Morocco) – The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers (translated from the French by Emma Ramadan)
- June – Carmen Boullosa (Mexico) – Before (translated from the Spanish by Peter Bush)
- July – Jung Young Moon (South Korea) – Vaseline Buddha (translated from the Korean by Jung Yewon)
- August – Noemi Jaffe (Brazil) – What are the Blind Men Dreaming? (translated from the Portuguese by Julia Sanches & from the Serbo-Croatian by Ellen Elias-Bursac)
If you are interested in more information on any of these books, please feel free to write me (will at deep vellum dot org) to request a review copy, a reading copy, a pat on the back, it’s not easy to run a publishing house putting out 10-15 books a year with a full-time staff of approximately two (shoutout to Anna Zylicz, our amazing book designer & typesetter, based in Italy!). To support Deep Vellum and our mission to enriching our literary culture and deepening cultural understanding through translation and translated literature, please consider a subscription (5 or 10 books) or making a tax-deductible donation. More information available, as always, on our website & social media (especially Twitter), which is in the process of a massive, professional redesign by Justin Childress of Switch Creative.
Thank you for reading this and for reading books and for caring!
July 14, 2015 § Leave a comment
Sphinx continues to blow away everybody who reads it!
Reviews of Anne Garréta‘s remarkable debut in English, Sphinx, have recently come in from Bookforum (“ingenious translation…Garréta finds endless shades of in between and out of bounds, her characters taking shapes no other text before—or since—has imagined.“), BOMB Magazine (“For Garréta, it just may be possible then that the body occupies the space of language as powerfully as its capacity to produce it.“—available in the newest print edition onsale now!), and Lambda Literary (“Sphinx is an important contribution to queer literature—fascinating, intelligent, and very welcome.”)!!
Emma Ramadan recently read from her translation of Sphinx and discussed the novel alongside author Sarah Gerard and translator/author Ian Dreiblatt on July 1 at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn. Audio from that event is available online now, listen and marvel in the ridiculous beauty of this book and its impact on us all:
Today is the release date for Harper Lee’s “follow-up” to To Kill a Mockingbird: Go Set a Watchman. Do the right thing and buy this book from your local independent bookstore. For us Dallasites, that means heading down to The Wild Detectives to get your copy, and plus it’s Bastille Day, so join us with The Wild Detectives selling books and hanging out at Bastille on Bishop tonight (we’ll also be stuffing ourselves with crêpes as we play pétanque!). So head down to the Bishop Arts District to get your fill of the best French cultural celebration in Texas, and get your copy of Sphinx (that is, if you don’t already have yours, and Dallas, if you don’t already have yours, best to get yours!!!!), and Go Set a Watchman too.
Congratulations to maestro Ricardo Piglia on winning the Formentor Prize! The Formentor Prize was originally founded in the ’60s, named after a town on the Spanish island of Mallorca famous for its literary gatherings, and was awarded then to Borges, Gombrowicz, Beckett, Bellow, and others, before dissolving in 1967 under pressure from Franco’s dictatorship. It was resurrected in 2011 to award an author for a lifetime’s achievement in literature with a cash purse of 50,000 euros (!). The winners since the prize’s resurrection in 2011 have been, in order, a laundry list of the greatest authors in the Spanish language: Carlos Fuentes, Juan Goytisolo, Javier Marias, Enrique Vila-Matas, and, now, Ricardo Piglia (information on the prize taken from Wikipedia). In typical American fashion, there was not a single literary media outlet that covered this year’s Formentor Prize, but the Spanish press has it covered, check out the articles in El País and El Mundo. (Maybe if our literary press opened their eyes to the rest of the world just the tiniest, I mean the tiniest, bit, then there’d be more interest from American readers in authors who are recognized with these types of lifetime achievement or huge novel prizes in other countries…it’s like the Patrick Modiano situation, nobody knows who he is until he wins the Nobel, even though he’s won zillions of foreign prizes for years and years & is quite well known internationally; it’s not the American reader’s fault they don’t know about these authors & prizes, it’s the “gatekeepers” keeping the gates closed to the rest of the world. Deep Vellum, Open Letter, Archipelago, New Vessel, and our other translation-publishing peers, seek to blow those doors wide open! Ask yourself who’s publishing what you read, and why they’ve withheld the good stuff from you for so, so long!)It is an honor and a privilege to publish Piglia‘s Romulo Gallegos Prize-winning novel Target in the Night in November in Sergio Waisman‘s transcendent translation, reintroducing the work of Argentina’s greatest living writer, one of the all-time greats, one of the canonical writers of all Spanish language literature, in a book that will blow your mind in its precision, its beauty, its power. Target in the Night is a must-read for all fans of Latin American literature, from Borges & Arlt & Bioy Casares to Bolaño & Vila-Matas to Pynchon & DeLillo & Chandler. I’m reading his Artificial Respiration right now, originally published by Duke University Press in 1994, and if you haven’t read this book, drop everything and get on it (and then check out Assumed Name, those stories are unbelievable, and his Homage to Roberto Arlt should be required reading for all translated literature lovers). It’ll get you so stoked for the release of Target in the Night, too. And in the meantime, read an excerpt from Target in the Night in Literal Magazine here:
During a break in the music, a car was heard driving up at full speed from behind the hill. Everyone saw Durán driving Old Man Belladona’s convertible coupe with both sisters beside him in the narrow front seat. Redheaded and beautiful, they looked as if they hadn’t gotten enough sleep. While Durán parked the car and helped the young ladies out, the Inspector stopped, turned around to look at them, and said something softly to Saldías. The Scribe shook his head. It was strange to see the sisters together except in extraordinary situations. And it was extraordinary to see them there at all because they were the only women at the race (except for the country women selling empanadas).
Durán and the twins found a place near the starting line. The young women each sat on a small, canvas folding chair. Tony stood behind them and greeted people he knew, and joined in making fun of the out-of-towners who had crowded together at the other end of the track. His thick, black hair, slicked back, shone with some kind of cream or oil that kept it in place. The sisters were all smiles, dressed alike, with flowery sundresses and white ribbons in their hair. Needless to say, had they not been the descendants of the town owner, they wouldn’t have been able to move about with so much ease among all the men there. They, the men, looked at the Belladona sisters out of the corner of their eyes with a combination of respect and longing. Durán was the one who’d return the looks, smiling, and the men from the countryside would turn around and walk away. The two sisters also immediately started betting, taking money out of a diminutive, leather purse that each carried around their shoulder. Sofía bet a lot of money on the town’s dapple grey, while Ada put together a stack of five-hundred and one-thousand bills and played it all on the sorrel from Luján. It was always like that, one against the other, like two cats in a bag fighting to get out.
It’s 100 degrees in Dallas, finally, we’re off to edit in the A/C. Until soon, amigos.
July 6, 2015 § 3 Comments
Summer is reading season! And leaving the damp impressions of your sweaty little fingerprints on the delicate pages of a book…ah, that’s what summer is all about.
In honor of the 4th of July celebrations over the weekend, our friends at The Literary Hub compiled an interesting list of nearly 50 foreign authors’ three favorite quintessential American novels, including three Deep Vellum authors’ recommendations: Mikhail Shishkin (Bradbury, Salinger, Vonnegut), Carmen Boullosa (Twain, Faulkner, McCullers), and Alisa Ganieva (Franklin, Twain, Fitzgerald). Click here for the full list of author recommendations (a seriously amazing list of authors recommending a seriously amazing list of books!).
TRANSLATORS! Especially Texan translators, a note from our friends down in Houston: Gulf Coast’s 2015 Prize in Translation is now open:
Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts is now accepting entries for the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation. In 2015, the contest is open to prose (fiction and nonfiction) in translation. The winner receives $1,000 and publication in the journal. Two honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for paid publication on our website as Online Exclusives. Entry to the contest also includes a one-year subscription to Gulf Coast, beginning with the issue in which the corresponding prize winners are published.
This year’s contest will be judged by the poet, novelist, translator, critic, and scholar, Ammiel Alcalay. His books include A Little History (2013), from the warring factions, 2nd edition (2012), “neither wit nor gold” (from then) (2011), Islanders (2010), Scrapmetal (2007), Memories of Our Future: Selected Essays, 1982-1999 (1999), and After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture (1993). He is founder and general editor, under the auspices of the Center for the Humanities and the PhD program in English at the CUNY Graduate Center, of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative.
The Gulf Coast Prize in Translation was founded by the Editors in 2014. Kristin Dykstra won for her translations of Marcelo Morales. Yvette Siegert and Derick Mattern were given Honorable Mentions for their translations of Ana Gorría and Haydar Ergülen. Jen Hofer, social justice interpreter, urban cyclist, and founder of the language-collective Antena, was the inaugural judge.
Submissions are accepted online, through postal mail, and full guidelines can be found online here.
Long, complex sentences, resistance to straightforward answers, and a keen intellectualism visible in topical and stylistic choices make this an esoteric reading choice . . .
The end of this essay exemplifies one of those points in Pitol’s work where the reader isn’t quite sure what the author thinks the future of novels is, or what he even thinks of today’s novel. Because he never wrestles anything head-on he makes the reader do due diligence.
That’s one of the qualities that will make readers return to one or more pieces—to figure out what they missed the first few times or to enjoy those things again.
Anne Garréta‘s remarkable Sphinx landed on the bestseller list at Community Bookstore in Brooklyn this week alongside some remarkable company (and three other women writers, our kind of bookstore)!
Also, we received our first Kirkus Review for Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s debut, Tram 83, forthcoming September 15 in Roland Glasser‘s translation:
Stylistically quirky and unorthodox fiction from Africa . . . Tram 83 is the locus of those driven by ambition, desire, greed, or pleasure—and in this underworld we meet quite a cast of characters.
Fiston & Roland will be touring the US September 20-October 10 with the generous support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, including stops at the Brooklyn Book Festival; a week in the Northeast; a week in Texas (Houston, Austin, Dallas); and a week in California, with stops in Los Angeles, culminating in a reading at Litquake in San Francisco!
For further reading on Fiston and the literary history of the Congo, both Republic of Congo (or Congo-Brazzaville) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (or Congo-Kinshasa), from where Fiston hails (he’s originally from Lubumbashi, DRC), check out Siddhartha Mitter‘s 2013 New Yorker article, “Terror Across the River: Letter from a Congo Literary Festival“:
One afternoon during the festival, Bissila told some of this story from a stage in the gardens of the Palais des Congrès, where a makeshift restaurant dispensed cold drinks against the sweltering heat. Beside him were two young writers from across the river in the D.R.C., Papy Maurice Mbwiti A Bwanga and Fiston Nasser Mwanza. Their conversation was titled “New Congolese Voices,” but the panelists repudiated this designation, and so did some young Congolese writers in the audience—including several who had come over from Kinshasa—who grumbled that these three, having achieved a foothold in Europe, were now among the anointed and no longer new. Still, all three shared experiences that the crowd could identify with, and when they read from their works—brash, angry, sardonic, hilarious texts about daily life in the face of power and its perversions—each earned a lusty, knowing round of applause.
Update on Intern Eilidh: Intern Eilidh is doing a good job. She works hard and still likes YA books. I told her to start a blog and to start reviewing YA books. So if you have books you want reviewed by soon-to-be-no-longer-an-intern Eilidh, let me know and I’ll put you in touch!
June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment
Hello world, meet Eilidh, Deep Vellum’s first-ever intern!
Eilidh will be a senior at the University of Arkansas this fall (shoutout to Nightbird Books, the best/only indie bookstore in Fayetteville!). She’s helping us out this summer as we get ready to launch our second list of books (!), move offices (we’re gonna miss you, Common Desk), and figure out how to get Deep Vellum books in as many readers’ hands as humanly possible. But let’s let Eilidh (pronounced Ay-lith) introduce herself!
Hey everyone, I’m Eilidh Strecker the new intern at Deep Vellum Publishing! I am currently studying at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, but home for the summer before my senior year. I am a book enthusiast with aspirations of my own to work in the daunting field of publishing one day.
My majors at the UofA are English Literature and French, which contrary to popular belief, do not equal “unemployment” upon graduation. My interest in both literature and language are brought together by the vision of Deep Vellum, which focuses on bringing some amazing literature enjoyed by other countries to the English language. I have recently returned from a semester in Grenoble, France where I was more than forced to appreciate the value of translation and how directly it pertains to daily life. As I found, the ability to understand, empathize, and relate to other cultures on a real and personal level is a vital part of having a well-developed worldview. So much of this knowledge can be conveyed through the literature produced by other countries and it’s a real disadvantage to English speakers and readers everywhere, that not enough of this literature is being translated.
A little more about me: I am from the Dallas area – a nearby suburb – and until college, lived my entire life in the same home. There is certainly something to be said for this kind of continuity, something I will forever thank my fantastic parents for as I have maintained childhood friends from elementary school and before, but it made me all the more excited to expand my horizons after high school. I have always known that I wanted to go into literature in some way. For a while I wanted to be a high school teacher due to my incredible luck to have had some of the most wonderful English teachers, which played a large role in my choice to become an English major in college. However, I also wanted to contribute to the world of literature in some way, other than rereading and re-teaching texts that have already been produced. Between my teachers telling me to read read read (it doesn’t matter what, just read!) and the selection available for my age at the time, I took my first steps into the world of Young Adult literature. All through high school I read tons of YA literature, which combined with my growing love of my English classes, pushed me toward my current aspirations to get involved with YA publishing/editing. Eventually, I would love to get into the Young Adult literature arena, as I see it as a growing field in need of some new ideas. Though now, having begun my internship here at Deep Vellum, I have morphed my original plan slightly to include exploring the YA literature produced by other countries, something I hadn’t considered before.
I came to find Deep Vellum Publishing while researching summer publishing internships in Dallas. Amazingly (yet unsurprisingly), Dallas has a huge lack of publishing opportunities both for people seeking employment in the editing/publishing field as well as potential writers who would have the chance to publish their own work given more of a platform on which to publish locally. Due to this, Deep Vellum is an island of sorts in an ocean of the non-publishing world of Dallas, Texas. I feel incredibly lucky to get the opportunity to intern here for the summer and whether I got the job because of my persistent emails and badgering, or simply having great timing, I intend to make the most of this rare opportunity. I am more than eager and enthusiastic to see what the summer holds and I hope to contribute to a company, I think has nothing but awesome possibilities ahead.
June 18, 2015 § Leave a comment
Alisa Ganieva is in the USA!
Alisa Ganieva has arrived in the US! TONIGHT she is reading in NYC at the awesomely amazing bookstore BOOK CULTURE on the Upper West Side (W. 112th St.), and then discussing her work with Ronald Meyer (Harriman Institute of Slavic Studies at Columbia University). The event is co-sponsored by Read Russia.
Alisa will also be reading in Iowa City at Prairie Lights Bookstore on June 25th w/ Kiki Petrosino & Karim Alrawi.
Ganieva is in the US to teach a class at the University of Iowa‘s International Writing Program, of which she is a 2012 alumna:
Reviews of Ganieva’s The Mountain and the Wall are starting to roll in, and they’re exemplary:
An excellent story about the rise of Islam, the fate of the republics in post-Soviet Russia and the traditions of a people little known in the West.
I have to be honest and admit straight away that I’d never even heard of Dagestan until I read this book, so I come to write this review more tentatively than I might usually. In a way, though, that’s quite appropriate; because it seems to me that Ganieva’s novel is very much concerned with hearsay and the limits of knowledge.
We also have two incredibly amazing events coming up to celebrate the brilliance that is Anne Garréta‘s SPHINX with the book’s translator, Emma Ramadan:
- June 23rd – A Celebration of Sphinx w/ translator Emma Ramadan, Oulipo member Daniel Levin Becker, and writer/critic Scott Esposito at Green Apple Books on the Park in San Francisco, CA at 7:30pm. Event info here.
- July 1 – A Celebration of Sphinx w/ translator Emma Ramadan, Sarah Gerard (author of Binary Star, pub. by Two Dollar Radio), and Ian Dreiblatt (poet, Russian translator, good dude) at Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn, New York at 7pm. Event info here.
The wave of rave reviews for Sphinx keeps growing:
Ramadan is not simply walking along underneath Garréta’s tightrope, looking up, and parroting her every movement. This is not a separate, unconnected tightrope—the two of them are intimately and inextricably connected.
I loved the book; it was a fully immersive reading experience.
Reading Anne Garréta’s Sphinx – or any work by a member of the Oulipo, I imagine – is like unraveling a puzzle.