Discovering a new world…

“Pure incomprehensible jibberish” is how a Goodreads reviewer classified Nabile Farès’ Exile and Helplessness, one of the three novels collected in the trilogy just released by Diálogos, Discovery of the New World. Despite this chilly reception on Goodreads, we consider the release of this  work—for the first time in English, and for the first time under one cover—to be one of our crowning achievements. Master translator and expert in North African letters Peter Thompson labored more than a decade with the translation of this often challenging text, including multiple meetings and consultations with Farès himself, prior to his death in 2016. Though it may not be a smash hit on Goodreads, Discovery of the New World should rank as a discovery of the first order for anglophone students of postcolonial literature.

Pierre Joris says in the preface to the book: 

The first thing that hits me every time I open or reopen one of Nabile Farès’ books is the immediacy of the intense struggle — simultaneously, the glorious success — of a text that stays at white heat by bending/bedding itself between what some would call the “genres” of poetry & prose.

Farès work is not so much incomprehensible as it is uncategorizable, which some of us see as an accomplishment rather than a failure.

Our North African collection was further enhanced, recently, by the release of the equally uncategorizable Agadir, by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine, translated by Pierre Joris and Jake Syersak. A recent review in Banipal said:

ln Agadir, Khaïr-Eddine has created “a dynamic, original, a revolutionary conception of writing” in which “literature is a beautiful weapon”. lt is at once a novella, a poem, a play, an extraordinary manifesto and, as he once called it, a “political essay”, in which a myriad of voices, including that of a narrator, speak out.

For a limited time, buy both these titles, either in paperback or ebook, and use coupon code “northafrica” to receive a 25% cart discount on checkout.

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Michael Clayton interview and review

An interview with Michael Clayton and review of Dead Roosters and Other Stories is up at Trueself. An excerpt:

Dead Roosters and Other Stories – recently published by Lavender Ink – is a striking collection of hardscrabble lives and dreams deferred. When I read Michael Clayton’s debut collection Larry Brown came to mind. In fact, bestselling author Amanda Boyden … compares him to Flannery O’Connor and Breece D’J Pancake.

Read the entire interview here.

Two New Interviews

Two extensive and informative interviews have recently been published with Lavender Ink / Diálogos author/translators. 

 

Mark StatmanFirst, Leslie Tate begins an interview with Mark Statman on the topics of Exile Home, fatherhood, translation, Mark’s move into happy exile from Brooklyn to Oaxaca, and most everything else. Part 1 of a long interview.

 

Next, please check out this tandem interview with A Novel of London translator Will Firth and 2020 European Union Prize for Literature winner, Stefan Bošković at Asymptote, in which Jovanka Kalaba questions each about literature, politics, language, and the current state of Balkan letters.

Hank Lazer reviewed by John Yau

John Yau’s thoughtful and thorough review of Hank Lazer’s COVID19 SUTRAS on the Massart blog:

COVID19 SUTRAS is full of tenderness, empathy, anger, despair, sadness — the ping-pong ball of feelings bouncing this way and that. Lazer, in his isolation, slows down all of this so he can examine these states of being, while attempting to understand consciousness and what it means to be alive and alert to this mutating, contagious world, yourself both within it and not.

Yau compares the book, quite fruitfully, with William Carlos Williams’s Spring and All, which was also written on the fringe of a pandemic, the Spanish Flu, which ravaged the US and the world after World War I. Read Yau’s review here.

 

Agadir reviewed at Kenyon Review

With his explosive style, surrealist imagery, and political critique, Khaïr-Eddine was among the most important avant-garde writers of his generation. Translators Pierre Joris and Jake Syersak forge a biting idiom in English to convey the apocalyptic world of Agadir, as well as the creative violence of its language. A substantial introduction by Khalid Lyamlahy serves to contextualize the work in its historical and literary context. The publication of the English translation of Agadir in 2020, with its portrayal of “catastrophe, the place from which questions will unceasingly arise,” feels fitting—unsettlingly and urgently so. —PBC

From the September 2020 Kenyon Review online.

 

Hank Lazer’s COVID19 SUTRAS reviewed at Tears in the Fence

Ian Brinton reviews Hank Lazers COVID19SUTRAS at Tears in the Fence.

What was immediately recognised by Rae Armantrout when commenting on the importance of this collection of poems was that it ‘brings us the news in the way that 18th century ballad broadsides did to Londoners’:

‘Quatrain by quatrain, Lazer sings the present world, its viruses (covid and structural racism), and its beauties (animals, friendship, the shape of a sentence).’

Just as Hank Lazer’s earlier collection had presented the reader with the poem radiating outward this new collection offers us a world in which

‘each day is
rich
in its
specifics’

Angelus at The Modern Novel

AngelusThe Modern Novel site continues its focus on Diálogos books, this time with some long overdue attention to Ruxandra Cesereanu‘s Angelus. Like many of our authors, Cesereanu is little known in the US but well-known in her own country, Romania. Angelus is a thoughtful parable, complex and multi-faceted. Marius Conkan writes:

Angelus raises a series of questions regarding the society in which we live, offering, at the same time, possible solutions to (or at least, hypotheses on) the revitalisation of the sacred and the resurrection of symbolic depth for a (post)humanity characterised by the atrophy of imagination and the hypertrophy of pragmatic reason.…Ruxandra Cesereanu, in her parable-like novel, begins with the following question: what would happen if angels were to descend upon a Metropolis one day?

John Alvey at The Modern Novel sums it up this way:

I have mentioned on various occasions that I generally do not enjoy the navel-gazing novels that seem to be particularly in vogue at this time but much prefer a novel that has a thoroughly original and, preferable, complex story, that is totally unpredictable, that discusses a realm of interesting ideas, that delves into the dark recesses of the human (and, at times, extra-human) mind and raises as many questions as it answers. If you share my view, you will thoroughly enjoy this novel. You will get lost. You will wonder what is going on but you will also smile, you will be surprised, you will have much food for thought and, above all, you will have a first-class read.

 

 

Announcing the release of our second novel by Fernando Contreras Castro, translated by Elaine S. Brooks

Blue Note is a novel short in length but enormous in its depth…” says Benedicto Víquez Guzmán, and Diálogos is happy to announce the release of the English translation by Elaine S. Brooks this month. Fernando Contreras Castro continues his humane approach to the novel, this time with the story of a jazz group, told through the eyes of a precocious feline. “During the first instances of emancipation,” writes the author, “the slaves appropriated the language of those in power and their instruments. Through language they entered the culture of the oppressor, but they never renounced their music, that shined through by way of the remembered blue note.…”

Única at The Modern Novel

Única Looking at the SeaThe Modern Novel blog has posted an extensive review of Única Looking at the Sea, by Fernando Contreras-Castro, translated by Elaine S. Brooks. Many thanks to John Alvey for this review and the constant work he does with contemporary novels in translation.

Our time of Emergency

Emergency!, by Mohamed Hmoudane, our latest offering of poetry from North Africa, is a Small Press Distribution recommended book this month. Pick up the book, with full-color gravures by Bouchaïb Maoual, at SPD, or right here on the site

 

 

Of Daewoo

François Bon, the French writer, translator, and activist, traveled to the Lorraine region of France in 2002 to study the effects of the sudden closing of two Daewoo factories there on the “factory town” of Fameck. In an inventive, imagined reportage combining fiction, theater, and interview forms, Bon writes a record of the social devastation wrought by the closures on the mostly women workers, creating a document that is both moving and sociologically important. Carefully translated over the past three years by Youna Kwak, winner of the French Voices Grand Prize,  Daewoo is a genre-bending and compelling work. 

A novel of (more than) London

Despite its title, Miloš Crnjanski‘s  A Novel of London is far more than just a novel about London. As its hero wanders the streets and the bureaucracy of the bombed-out city in the wake of WWII, he encounters a host of émigrés from around the world, whose stories also unfold. A pan-European portrait of class structures and the real effects of the war emerges, a vision whose depth and scope may be unmatched in 20th century literature. 

Crnjanski’s 600+ page masterpiece of European Modernism is now available for the first time in English, thanks to Will Firth’s labor of translation, three years in the making, with deep discounts offered this month. Pick this one and other special deals from our sale rack.

Madame St. Clair

Madam St. Clair, Queen of Harlem is the story of a real-life woman’s rise from the slums of Martinique to the heights of Sugar Hill during the Harlem Renaissance. This remarkable story has been told before (for example in the 1997 film Hoodlum, in which Cicely Tyson plays Madam St. Clair). What is unique about Raphaël Confiant‘s contemporary telling is his focus on her early life in his native Martinique, as well as the complications that arose from her being a French-speaking black in Harlem. Confiant has devoted a long career (more than 40 books) to explorations of Martinican and Francophone diasporic culture. Many of his early works were written in Creole, though most of his later work, including Madame St. Clair, in French. Our edition is beautifully translated by Patricia Hartland and Hodna Bentali Gharsallah Nuernberg.

For a limited time this summer we are offering $10 off on this title and other of our newer releases. You can view all of them here.

Coronavirus and the Press

As everyone probably already knows, concerns over the spread of COVID-19 have cancelled most public events this season. While the Crnjanski and London panel discussion went on as scheduled at the British Library (see below and also this write-up in the British press), the London Book Festival was cancelled, as was the New Orleans Poetry Festival. 

We remain shut-in but still in operation.

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