SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 16. That’s when Deep Vellum will have a launch party in Dallas. At The Wild Detectives. 7pm. Be there. It’ll be a party. And prepare for the grand unveiling of Deep Vellum’s cover art for the first round of books we’ve signed . . .
Speaking of launch parties, if you’re in NYC for BEA next week, let me know–Deep Vellum is throwing a launch party on May 27 (that was featured in the Publishers’ Lunch Deluxe email today, I nearly lost it with glee over that fact), and will be part of a grand translation publishers’ party on May 28 with friends/inspirations Open Letter, Archipelago, New Vessel Press, Ugly Duckling Presse, And Other Stories, Frisch & Co., Asymptote, Words Without Borders and MORE! If you’re going to be in NYC, don’t miss these parties, they will be the highlights of the week (well, until I shake Laszlo Krasznahorkai’s hand again at the New Directions party on Thursday . . .).
Man, speaking of updates, it’s been a minute since I last wrote here, and I am sorry! Life is insane! I’m trying to figure out what font to use for the text in Deep Vellum’s books (I’m leaning Minion, but have gotten recommendations for Miller and Gentium as well…). And I’ve been going back and forth with the book designer to get these covers confirmed ASAP, and in the last week we’ve had a huge breakthrough in designs, the problem now is that we have to actually make some choices, when in reality I love them all so, so much…but they won’t be unveiled until June 16 at the launch party, so hold on to your hats.
Preorders will be up as soon as I learn how to install WordPress on my computer and get a Paypal shopping cart added to this page…forgive me, though I am young, I am not as digitally-savvy as I should be.
The response to the KERA piece on Art & Seek has been phenomenal, and has introduced me to so many inspiring people who love world literature and who want to be involved in growing this publishing endeavor here in Dallas. Just today I confirmed the first Dallas-based member of Deep Vellum’s board of directors, she loves world literature so much that she regularly reads the Complete Review for book recommendations and even reads the Complete Review’s Literary Saloon, which is amazing, because that’s literally the greatest source for international publishing news and gossip on the entire internet, and I thought I would definitely be the only Dallas IP address logging on…but no! I’m not alone! People love literature here, and literature in translation to boot! I’m so overwhelmed with joy, gratitude, and excitement to get this thing going…
In other publishing news, Chad Post of Open Letter Books put up the first update for the 2014 Translation Database, which includes 442 titles to be published this year (it is missing, at least, the three Deep Vellum titles to be released in 2014, as we have yet to buy our ISBNs because there are only so many hours in the day…). Those 442 books are for fiction and poetry, and will inevitably grow a bit as more books are scheduled for release and dug out of the weird distribution graveyards some end up in, which is great, because 2012 had 453 titles published, and 2013 had the most ever recorded at 524 (Three Percent has been keeping tabs since 2007), and this year is on pace to shatter the previous record (though in reality, my guess is the final total will be right around 550). Here’s some fun facts gleaned from the Translation Database report, and if you ever want to know why I do what I do, take a look at these numbers, take a hard look, and think about how crazy this is (a point visualized well by Brooklyn Quarterly in the piece I wrote earlier this year):
- The top translated languages: French (93 books), German (50), Spanish (46), Arabic (30), Italian (23), Russian (22), Chinese (19), Swedish (18), Japanese & Portuguese (17 each).
- Dalkey Archive still publishes more translations than anybody else (32 titles), but is now followed by Seagull Books (an Indian-based publisher who put out some of the most gorgeous books in the world, and specialize in German literature, at 21), Europa Editions and Gallic Books (both at 18), AmazonCrossing (17), Other Press (15), and New Directions (12).
- No books from Thai, Latvian, Tagalog, Lithuanian, or many African or Indian languages (I know I’m leaving out a ton). Only one each from Vietnamese, Urdu, Pashto, Tamil, Hindi, Bulgarian, Estonian, Flemish (which should be under Dutch, but still, combined that would only be SIX), Croatian, and Serbian.
- Only eight (!) books published out of Mexico, and two of those are works of poetry (and one is from the Zapotec)…ONLY EIGHT BOOKS FROM MEXICO! That number will spike to ten (only ten!) when Carmen Boullosa’s Texas: The Great Theft and Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight join this database, but still, that’s insane.
Now the fight becomes building a readership for these 442 titles! Read some of these books! Check out the Complete Review for more reviews of translations than any other source on the planet. Tony’s Reading List and Winston’s Dad are good too.
In better news, the winner of the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize was announced today, and it went to Hassan Blasim’s short story collection, The Iraqi Christ, translated by Jonathan Wright. This is a huge deal for so so so so many reasons, but most importantly to me are the facts that this is the first Arabic-original title to win the illustrious IFFP, it’s also the first short story collection to ever win the IFFP (!), and the publisher is Comma Press, and independent, not-for-profit UK publisher based in Manchester (a world away from the London publishing establishment), with the mission (from their website) “dedicated to promoting new writing, with an emphasis on the short story. It is committed to a spirit of risk-taking and challenging publishing, free of the commercial pressures on mainstream houses.” HELL YES (and Comma’s list of authors is insane! What is this Arnon Grunberg book they published?!?). Good work, IFFP, this is so inspiring. I just put in a request for the Dallas Public Library to buy some copies of this book, here’s hoping we can get more Comma Press titles in the States after this win. Amazing work, can’t wait to read it.
And in more fun news, to prepare you for the madness in Brazil (<3 Ronaldo <3) Three Percent is hosting the 2014 World Cup of Literature, and I’m a judge! And we want you to be involved! So here are the details:
- The World Cup of Literature will be a 32-book knock-out tournament that will run around the same time as the actual World Cup of Football Soccering. Obviously, our game schedule will be different, since we’re forgoing all that round robin stuff.
- Stealing a bit from the Morning News Tournament of Books, each “match” will pit two books against one another and will be judged by one of our 24 illustrious judges. (More on that below, but if you’re illustrious and a judge, let me know. We need a few more good readers.) They’ll assign a soccer-like score and one of the two books will move on. (No draws! Because we are America and America is about winning and teams that don’t win as the winning team.)
- All 24 judges will weigh in on the championship match.
Here’s where you all come in: We need recommendations of books for all the World Cup countries. The full list of countries is below. And I set up a special email account (email@example.com) for you to send in your ideas. There’s also a Facebook page and Twitter feed that we’ll get going over the next few days. Submit recommendations there are well!
In terms of what we’re looking for, I think the books we end up including in this competition should be fun, interesting, enjoyable, “readable,” etc. So, in contrast to the BTBA finalists, this could include more genre works and the like. Not that we want to include crap, but I don’t think this should feature 32 obscure, high modernist writers from around the world.
And to keep in the World Cup spirit of young, healthy people running around athletically, we’d like to include books published from 2000 onwards. Keep it young! (And avoid match-ups like The Tin Drum vs.The Great Gatsby.)
Please send along any and all recommendations you have by June 10th. Obviously, there are certain countries that are trickier to find good representatives from than others. (Like Costa Rica. Like Côte d’Ivoire. And good luck coming up with an American book.) I’ll post all the recommendations we get after the 10th, and we’ll announce the official representatives later that week along with a match schedule.
Also, I’m serious about looking for a few more judges. Rather than calling on all the usual suspects, I think it would be more fun to include a bunch of Three Percent/International Literature fans in the judging process. As a judge you will be assigned two matches that you’re responsible for, and can vote on the championship. The pieces you write can be as serious or as flippant as you want—it’s up to you. Just email the same address (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’re interested.
I think that’s it for now . . . So for the non-soccer obsessed, here are the countries that are participating:
- Costa Rica
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Ivory Coast
- South Korea
I’m off to New York for Book Expo America on Monday. The Global Market Forum this year at BEA is on Translation (with the … interesting subheading of “Wanderlust for the Written Word”), so you can find me camped out in that wing of the Javits Center all day on Wednesday. There will be a full wrap-up of this year’s BEA, what transpires with the Translation Global Market Forum, and what it means to launch a publishing house at BEA, rather than somewhere else (since I have ranted about BEA before, why launch during BEA now?), to come in Publishing Perspectives a week after I’m back. And remember, June 16, launch party in Dallas. Get involved in Deep Vellum! And get involved in the World Cup of Literature!! Peace for now, y’all.