HavIf you don’t know about it already, there is a GoodReads group dedicated to NYRB Classics (see here). I’m a moderator, and I’ve done a lot of work to ensure there is a thread dedicated to each and every book, and I continue to work to keep track of forthcoming releases (see my list here).

The most active portion of the group, though is the book club. Members select a book each month and then discuss it. Sometimes there is a lot of discussion, and sometimes things dry up, as tends to be the case with these things. I know that we’d love to have more interested readers come aboard and share their thoughts and engage with the books!

This month, the group is reading Jan Morris’s Hav. Here is the main thread, and here is the NYRB Classics blurb:

Hav is like no place on earth. Rumored to be the site of Troy, captured during the crusades and recaptured by Saladin, visited by Tolstoy, Hitler, Grace Kelly, and Princess Diana, this Mediterranean city-state is home to several architectural marvels and an annual rooftop race that is a feat of athleticism and insanity. As Jan Morris guides us through the corridors and quarters of Hav, we hear the mingling of Italian, Russian, and Arabic in its markets, delight in its famous snow raspberries, and meet the denizens of its casinos and cafés.

When Morris published Last Letters from Hav in 1985, it was short-listed for the Booker Prize. Here it is joined by Hav of the Myrmidons, a sequel that brings the story up-to-date. Twenty-first-century Hav is nearly unrecognizable. Sanitized and monetized, it is ruled by a group of fanatics who have rewritten its history to reflect their own blinkered view of the past.

Morris’s only novel is dazzlingly sui-generis, part erudite travel memoir, part speculative fiction, part cautionary political tale. It transports the reader to an extraordinary place that never was, but could well be.

Come, interact, enjoy some good books with some good company! We don’t know what next month’s book will be, but I’ll do my best to keep folks here in the know.

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By |2015-09-03T18:15:15+00:00September 3rd, 2015|Categories: NYRB Classics Book Club|6 Comments


  1. Adrienne September 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    I’d love a little background on the New York Review of Books? Do they pick books to republish? Or are these new books? Thanks!

  2. Trevor Berrett September 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    Oh, I’d love to just talk about this great publisher!

    To answer your question, they do a bit of both. Many books they publish are books that have, unjustly, gone out of print. They bring them back. But besides that, they do bring out quite a few books that have never seen the light of day before due to a variety of circumstances:

    -the book has never been translated into English (like Krzhizhanovsky)
    -the book had some hiccup even in its native language (like Chekhov’s The Prank, or, in the case of an English book, Friedman’s Conversations with Beethoven)

    Mostly, though, I’d say their catalog consists of great titles that they’re bringing back to us, titles that should never have left.

    Here is their “about” page — go to the NYRB Classics section, as it’s just one of their imprints.

    And for a list of the NYRB Classics books (I believe it’s somewhere above sixty now) that have been reviewed here, click here.

  3. Trevor Berrett September 3, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Oh, also, Hav in the NYRB Classics edition contains two books: Last Letters from Hav, from 1985 (shortlisted for the Booker) and Hav of the Myrmidons, from around ten years ago. This edition brings them together for the first time.

  4. roughghosts September 3, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Can I play along if I do not have the NYRB edition? Mine is from Faber, also containing both books and an introduction by LeGuin. I bought it a few years back when someone suggested reading it with in concert with Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino for a reading group. It was not the lucky choice but I was actually just looking at it the other day when I found it buried on a book shelf.

  5. Trevor Berrett September 3, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    Please do, roughghosts!

  6. Adrienne September 5, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks for the links! It looks like a wonderful project – almost like Persephone Books out of England (but with a less feminine flair…) http://www.persephonebooks.co.uk/

    Oh – too many books too read and so little time! Argh!

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