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October, 2007

All the Bad Young Literary Women

Last Sunday's NYT Book Review has a front page feature on Edith Grossman's new translation of The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa. The review looks at the influence of Flaubert at play in Llosa's book. A great admirer of Flaubert's, Llosa casts his titular bad girl as the familiar love 'em…...

David Leavitt Responds to Mark Sarvas in Our Book Club

Renowned novelist David Leavitt (The Indian Clerk, The Body of Jonah Boyd) doubles as the editor of Subtropics, the literary journal of the University of Florida. In Issue 3, Leavitt included the opening chapter of The Rebels, and I invited him to talk here a little about why he chose it. 1) How did…...

Returning to Afghanistan

While publishers, agents and some authors were heading for Frankfurt for the annual book fair I decided to return to Afghanistan—or to be more precise Oruzgan, a small province in the south—where some 1,600 Dutch soldiers are trying to rebuild the country. A year ago I stayed at Kandahar Air…...

Mark Sarvas Talks about Fathers and Sons in “The Rebels”

Leading a book group discussion on Sándor Márai's The Rebels, one is faced with an interesting dilemma, one to which Arthur Phillips politely alluded to in his excellent New Yorker review. To begin, he told us: Sándor Márai keeps getting younger. Twelve years after he committed…...

Free Aung San Suu Kyi!

As the feeding frenzy that is Frankfurt Book Fair gets into full swing, a more mindful energy is fuelling the monks leading the people power revolution against the Military Junta in Burma. Last Saturday, thousands of demonstrators marched from Millbank, looped across the River Thames, and ended up in…...

Celan’s Schneepart

A short while ago Patrick Kurp wrote a piece on Primo Levi's conflicted perspective on the work of Paul Celan. More recently, James Buchan at the Guardian's Book Blog discusses Ian Fairley's translation of Celan's Schneepart, and in the process, sheds light on the role of the darkness and obscurity that…...

October Book Club—“The Rebels” by Sándor Márai

This October, we're delighted to host a new installment in the WWB-Reading the World Book Clubs with a feature on Hungarian author Sándor Márai's The Rebels. Discussion will be headed by Mark Sarvas from The Elegant Variation, with contributions from David Leavitt and others. The Rebels…...

Reading Bioy Casares

I had never heard the name Adolfo Bioy Casares until I read a lengthy review of his diaries in Times Literary Supplement What Eckermann was to Goethe, Mr. Bioy was to Jorge Luis Borges. He aspired to be him. Mr. Bioy's diaries are 1644 pages (even in the edited version), but based on the review,…...

September, 2007

The 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature: Our Office Pool

Between the World Cup and the World Series comes high season for world literature: time to place your bets on this year's candidates for the Nobel Prize in Literature. You can read two of the usual suspects, Adonis and Ko Un, right here, as well as 1988 laureate Naguib Mahfouz and, of course, any number…...

Jungle Books

The New York Times follows our Lusophone lead with a profile of our Milton Hatoum and his fellow Brazilian Márcio Souza.

To Write is to Transmit

Patrick Kurp at Anecdotal Evidence has an illuminating piece on Primo Levi's inclusion of Paul Celan's Todesfuge in his anthology-as-biography The Need for Roots: A Personal Anthology. Levi was almost famously perplexed by the darkness and obscurity in Celan's poetry, and as Kurp mentions in his piece,…...

Panel Discussion at the Americas Society

The Americas Society is hosting a panel discussion on Argentine Literature, Culture and Society on the 28th of September. Essayist Jorge Monteleone and literary critic Gabriela Nouzeilles (Princeton University), both contributors to Review 75 (Fall 2007, Argentine writing/arts), will engage in a discussion…...

A Few Questions for Anna Moschovakis, Translator of “The Engagement”

To add to the ongoing discussion about Georges Simenon's The Engagement, we asked translator Anna Moschovakis a couple of questions. Q: How did this project come about? A: I was lucky this time because the project came to me. I had already worked with Edwin Frank, the editor of New York Review Books…...

Writers Gather in Finsbury Park

A blue and white striped tent, 30 white plastic chairs, a table covered in books supplied by Serpent's Tail, Apis Books, Legend Press, 12 writers and a microphone: Welcome to the Story Tent at FinFest: One World, One Park Community Festival in Finsbury Park, North London. No glitz or queues waiting for…...

An Author Questionnaire for “The Jewish Messiah”

On the subject of "small cultural differences between the U.S. and Europe," I'd like to say a few words about the author questionnaire. Before this summer I thought that questionnaires were limited to a few occasions: when applying for visa or for jobs. When a lady from the census rings the doorbell…...

Mark Binelli’s Recommendations for the Mystery Novel Aficionado

Continuing with our discussion of Georges Simenon's The Engagement, Mark Binelli responds to Chad Post's earlier blog entry about the book and even recommends some of his own picks for fans of detective fiction.—Editor's note. Well, see, I'd actually dispute Gray's entire premise. Like you, Chad,…...

Boris Akunin

I was delighted to see that Josh Spero at the Guardian's Book Blog has written about the Russian writer Boris Akunin in a recent post. Akunin is a figure familiar to many English-language readers, with four of his books already out in English translation. Akunin's Erast Fandorin series, which features…...

Promising Stuff

The autumn leaves fell as the school year began when I was a child; now they stay on the trees longer as indian summers become the norm. In Britain around 120,000 new books are published every year, of which 6,000 are novels. Around 1% of unsolicited (fiction) manuscripts received in a year are published.…...

La Paz Book Fair

In the middle of the summer, I traveled to the capital of Bolivia, La Paz—where it was winter—for a literary festival. The festival was part of the La Paz Book Fair. Even La Paz has a book fair. It's small compared to the book fair of, let's say, Thessaloníki, Greece. The fair takes…...

Young-ha Kim’s “Empire of Light”

Publishers Marketplace reports that WWB author Young-ha Kim's latest book, Empire of Light, was just picked up by Harcourt. The brief reads: "Young-ha Kim's EMPIRE OF LIGHT, Manhae Prize-winning novel about a day in the life of a North Korean spy who is recalled from the South and must decide to either…...

Susan Sontag Prize for Translation

The Susan Sontag Foundation has just officially announced that it's now open season for the 2008 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation. The prize invites undergraduate students and graduate students under the age of 30 to apply for a commission to translate a work of German literature into English. The…...

“The Engagement” as Genre-Bender? Chad Responds

In today's installment of our discussion of Georges Simenon's Engagement, Chad Post addresses Mark Binelli's comments on whether the book really subverts the expectations of the genre—Editor's note. For any of you who haven't read the book yet, the part of John Gray's afterword that (I believe)…...

Mark Binelli Weighs in on Simenon

Mark Binelli's post, below, is part of our monthlong discussion of Georges Simenon's Engagement, WWB's pick for our September Book Club. Mark is leading the discussion along with Chad Post, whose first two blog posts you can find here and here. Check them out and be sure to return for more--it's Simenon…...

Chronicle of a Murder Foretold

A Polish writer has been convicted of a 2000 murder that replicated (or, more accurately, foreshadowed) the pulpy plot of his 2003 novel. The court ruled the evidence insufficient to convict Krystian Bala of killing Dariusz Janiszewski, but strong enough to charge him with planning and orchestrating…...

Biography and Online Resources for Georges Simenon’s The Engagement Book Club

Before getting into the book itself, I thought it would be useful to get a little more info about Simenon himself—aside from the fact that he was a great showman. Below is a brief outline of Simenon and his career, straight from the New York Review Books Reading Group Guide, which is also worth…...

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