We are so happy to be announcing our next book club pick, and first ever from translation giant The Other Press, All Russians Love Birch Trees by Olga Grjasnowa, translated from the German by Eva Bacon. The book has little to do with Russians, birch trees, or any fondness the former may or may not have for the latter, but a lot to do with identity in a multicultural landscape, love, loss, sexuality, and the politics of affiliation. It follows Masha Kogan, an Azerbaijani-born Jew, from a comfortable life as a translator living with her boyfriend Elias in Germany, to a war-torn life in Tel-Aviv after his untimely and unpredictable death. Ismet Prcic described it as “an astounding debut novel, both political and personal, sexual and full of grief.” O Magazine included it in a list of “7 Books That Will Transport You to Another World”. Kirkus Reviews called it “a thoughtful, melancholy study of loss.” Here’s what The Other Press has to say about it:
An award-winning debut novel about a quirky immigrant’s journey through a multicultural, post-nationalist landscape… Olga Grjasnowa has a unique gift for seeing the funny side of even the most tragic situations. With cool irony, her debut novel tells the story of a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is immaterial—her Jewish background has taught her she can survive anywhere. Yet Masha isn’t equipped to deal with grief, and this all-too-normal shortcoming gives a particularly bittersweet quality to her adventures.
And if you don’t want to take our word for it, you can read an excerpt here as well as an in-depth interview with the author from Tweed’s. Also, the author will be coming to New York as part of the Festival Neue Literatur, you can see her Sunday, March 2nd at McNally Jackson’s in Soho, more event details here.
Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf
A new year, a new book club, and Publishing the World is very excited to be announcing it’s first young adult pick! In February we’ll be kicking off the year right with Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herrndorf, translated from the German by Tim Mohr, and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic. The Washington Post said, “you’re in for a bumpy, exhilarating ride with this winner of the German Youth Literature Award,” and Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called it an “action- and emotion-packed story of surprise summer adventure.” It’s also gotten rave reviews from the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Kirkus Reviews. Need more than that? Here’s a little something from the publisher:
Forget the popular kids: Together, Mike and Tschick are heading out on a road trip. No parents, no map, no destination. Will they get hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere? Probably. Will they meet crazy people and get into serious trouble? Definitely. But will they ever be called boring again?
Not a chance.
Publishing the World is delighted to coincide with the German Book Office’s Pick of the Month! We will all be reading Wrecked by German author Charlotte Roche and translated by Tim Mohr, published by Grove/Atlantic. The publishing world is all abuzz and atwitter about erotica and so-called “mommy porn”, but though Roche’s newest novel involves a mother who has quite a lot of explicit sex, as the Guardian puts it, “sex is the bait that lures you into a German novel that gleefully goads the feminist establishment.”
As Grove/Atlantic describes it:
“It’s easier to give a blow job than to make coffee.” That’s what Elizabeth Kiehl, mother of seven-year-old Liza, thinks to herself, after a particularly lengthy and inventive bout of sex with her husband Georg, recounted in detail over the book’s first sixteen pages. Elizabeth goes to great efforts to pleasure her husband in the bedroom, and to be a thoughtful and caring mother. But her perfect mother and wife act hides a painful past and a tragic rift in her psyche— the result of a terrible car accident in which her brothers and mother were involved. As a result, Elizabeth’s relationship with Georg is rather unusual: most husbands and wives wouldn’t watch porn together, or go off on joint trips to a local brothel for threesomes with prostitutes while their daughter is at school. A raw, explicit novel from one of Europe’s most controversial voices,Wrecked is literary erotica with a kick.
As in her first best-selling novel, Wetlands, Roche never shies away from what is difficult, uncomfortable, or generally left unsaid. As The Independent says, “Roche’s writing is as compelling and complex as it is salacious and explicit, expertly dissecting the basis of relationships to show that traditional ideals have no place in the modern marriage. This thought-provoking, original novel highlights the urgent need to liberate women from the shackles of gender stereotyping.” Need some more proof? Take a quick peak at the excerpt available from Grove/Atlantic. Happy reading!
The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
We are delighted to announce that Publishing the World will be reading The Days of Abandonment by the mysterious and pseudonymous Italian author Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, and published by Europa Editions. Ferrante, though an established and celebrated author, makes no public appearances and gives only occasional written interviews (including one with PW) leading to wild speculation in Italy that she is fact a pen name for a wide variety of authors and celebrities. Though she says simply, “books, once they are written, have no need of their authors.”
Europa describes The Days of Abandonment thus:
Rarely have the foundations upon which our ideas of motherhood and womanhood rest been so candidly questioned. This compelling novel tells the story of one woman’s headlong descent into what she calls an “absence of sense” after being abandoned by her husband. Olga’s “days of abandonment” become a desperate, dangerous freefall into the darkest places of the soul as she roams the empty streets of a city that she has never learned to love. When she finds herself trapped inside the four walls of her apartment in the middle of a summer heat wave, Olga is forced to confront her ghosts, the potential loss of her own identity, and the possibility that life may never return to normal again.
And the winner is… BONSAI by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish (Chile) by Carolina de Robertis and published by the fine folks over at Melville House! Congrats to author/translator/editors alike, and especially thanks to our readers and voters out there. Now head out to your local bookstore and get reading today! More news and interviews to come.
Zambra is heralded as “the greatest writer of Chile’s younger generation” and is the winner of Chile’s Literary Critic’s Award for Best Novel. Bonsai is an artfully told tale of star-crossed lovers with a deceptively simple structure that reveals ever deeper layers. Junot Diaz called Bonsai a “total knockout” and the Quarterly Conversation says that, like it’s namesake, it is both “tiny and exquisite.” You can read more here, here, and here. (Also, not to be biased but we did review it right here on PTW.) It was made into a movie in 2012, with an admiral approval rating of 95% on rotten tomatoes.
So…. we are back from our impromptu early spring break, well-rested and ready to kick some literary butt in April! Starting with two bite-sized books that each pack enough punch (in under 200 pages) to make a full length film. Please read more and then VOTE for your favorite and we will announce the winner by the beginning of next week.
The first is Bonsai by Alejandro Zambra, translated from the Spanish by Carolina di Robertis and published by Melville House. Zambra is heralded as “the greatest writer of Chile’s younger generation” and is the winner of Chile’s Literary Critic’s Award for Best Novel. Bonsai is an artfully told tale of star-crossed lovers with a deceptively simple structure that reveals ever deeper layers. Junot Diaz called Bonsai a “total knockout” and the Quarterly Conversation says that, like it’s namesake, it is both “tiny and exquisite.” You can read more here, here, and here. (Also, not to be biased but we did review it right here on PTW.) It was made into a movie in 2012, with an admiral approval rating of 95% on rotten tomatoes.
And second, is Horses of God by Mahi Binebine, translated from the French by Lulu Norman, and published by Tin House Books and winner of the English PEN Award. Binebine is a Moroccan author and was inspired to write this novel following the devastating attack of fourteen suicide bombers on Casablanca in 2003. The novel follows a group of boys from the slums of Sidi Moumen who are lured away from their dreams of soccer stardom by the promises of martyrdom. It got a starred review from PW, and you can read an excerpt from our friends over at Words Without Borders. You can read more here, here, and here. It was also made into a movie in 2012 and was the winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
Now it’s time for you to decide! No cheating and watching the movies. CLICK HERE to cast your ballot.
Festival Neue Literatur, New York’s only German-language festival, is back for the fourth time February 22-24! If you didn’t make it out last year, you’re in for a treat!
2013 curators celebrated translator Susan Bernofsky and journalist Claudia Steinberg have selected a slate of the German-speaking world’s most promising, talented writers including: Clemens Setz, Cornelia Travnicek, Leif Randt, Silke Scheuermann, Ulrike Ulrich, and Tim Krohn. Over the festival weekend, the German-language authors will engage in discussion panels with American authors Joshua Ferris and Justin Taylor.
All events are free and open to the pubic AND in English, so no excuses! If you’re in New York, this event is not to be missed. As an insider’s tip, be sure to RSVP early to the Literary Brunch at Deutsches Haus at NYU. It will sell out, it will be packed, and there will be crying.
See you there!
The New York Times spotlights French photographer Sacha Goldberger and his unforgettable and oh-so-photogenic grandmother, Mamika, of Mamika: My Mighty Little Grandmother from Harper Design.
Two Lines Press at the Center for the Art of Translation is now publishing books, including an upcoming one from one of our “Authors of the Month” and nominee for the Man Booker International Prize, Marie NDiaye! Continue reading
”Korean and English could probably not be any farther apart linguistically. In other words, there are so many linguistic difficulties translating from Korean into English that I’m not even sure where to begin.” – Charles La Shure
Our five question series continues with the translator of our January Book of the Month Black Flower, a historical novel by Korean author Kim Young-ha. We haven’t come across too many translators from the Korean, so we were very excited to have a chance to talk with him over Skype from Korea. Our conversation included a lot of introductions into the Korean literary landscape and the culture of translation. For majority languages such as French or German, these topics are generally well known and it was both enlightening and novel to start with the basics, because really with other predominant language we take those privileges for granted. Charles was a helpful guide in introducing PTW into the world of Korean literature and we are thankful for that. We hope that you’ll find it as interesting as we did!
So as to not delay any further, we present our 5 Questions with translator Charles La Shure! Continue reading