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César Aira: An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter

If you were paying attention when I wrote about Aira’s Ghosts a little while ago, you noticed that New Directions offered to send me the two other Aira books they have published.  There was no hesitation and very little effort to tone down my excitement when I gratefully accepted.  Ghostsgave a taste of something…

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Man Booker International!

Excellent news from the literary awards arena.  Alice Munro has been awarded the Man Booker International Prize! I’m sure that will make KFC very proud!

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David Park: Swallowing the Sun

David Park is a writer from Northern Ireland whom I might never have heard of were it not for his fellow Northern Irishman, John Self.  Last year John trumpeted the release of Park’s The Truth Commissioner as “a book worthy of the highest praise.”   Then this year, John visited Swallowing the Sun…

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Gérard Gavarry: Hoppla! 1 2 3

Another of the best places to go for excellent world literature is the Dalkey Archive Press, a nonprofit publisher ran from the University of Illinois.  An interviewer once asked the founder, John O’Brien, for a description of the types of books the Dalkey Archive publishes—experimental, avant-garde, innovative?  O’Brien said: Subversive.  “My point…

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Guillermo Rosales: The Halfway House

For me, one of the most exciting publishing houses is New Directions.  Consistently they release important world literature that is innovative in its form and substance and in how those two comingle.  While I don’t suggest they aren’t business-minded, their output suggests their main goal is not necessarily to top the New…

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Kamila Shamsie: Burnt Shadows

I hesitated before beginning Kamila Shamsie’s Burnt Shadows (2009) because, while not overly long, at nearly 400 pages neither is it overly short.  Also, so far this year I haven’t been in the mood for a “widescreen” novel (thanks John Self and KevinfromCanada for making that a term of art).  That said, I did want…

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Philip Roth: Goodbye, Columbus

This past week Philip Roth’s first book, Goodbye, Columbus (1959; National Book Award), celebrated fifty years.  Those of you who’ve been followed my blog last year know that he is one of my favorite authors, though I’ve really only read novels written since The Ghost Writer.  I was very curious how his…

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César Aira: Ghosts

César Aira seems to be in the air lately.  Over the past few years three of his books have been translated into English by Chris Andrews and published by New Directions: An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (tr. 2006), How I Became a Nun (tr. 2007), and…

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Richard Price: Lush Life

The real reason I got through 2666 was because my youngest son was not sleeping at night.  For months I would frequently stay up until way-too-late just hoping he’d finally nod off, dreaming about the day when he finally settled into a decent bedtime.  It finally started happening.  Foolishly, just as I…