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!!!!!