The 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
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.
Crnjanski at the London Book Fair
Miloš Crnjanski's A Novel of London will be the subject of a panel at the London Book Fair, March 9, 2020, at the British Library. The panel will feature the novel's translator Will Firth, Servian literary and cultural studies professor Dr. David Norris, Christina Pribicevic-Zoric, and Vesna Stanojevic. For those of you who will be at the LBF, here is the flyer with details for the event. Diálogos will, hopefully, be participating via Skype...
Zvonko Karanović Interview at Poetry International
Poetry International, in collaboration with 3:AM Magazine, is showcasing a group of amazing young European poets, including our own Zvonko Karanović, author of Sleepwalkers on a Picnic. Steven Fowler, the Editor of the Maintenant Interview Series, interviewed Zvonko recently, saying:
Perhaps with some validation it is often suggested we currently inhabit an onanistic poetic culture. Mere decades ago there are innumerate examples of poets and their work changing the political landscape of their time, their words serving as a vital and indelible representation of protest, change and rebellion. It is unlikely that this phenomenon has become obsolete. Rather the poets creating this unforgettable work, which aims at the very heart of what they must suffer and observe, that they will not let pass unanswered, are off the radar of the zeitgeist. Yet in Serbia, in counter-cultural circles, Zvonko Karanović is a near legend. Working in the rebellious, revelatory manner of the Beats and the German new-wave, postwar poets, Karanović has been a relentless critic of Serbia and its actions over the last two decades. A Beat poet, in the most stringent and expansive manner, and an accomplished novelist, his work is resonant, dashing and singular. In an extraordinary interview, Karanovic speaks of his influences, the context of the Balkan wars and his experience of how Serbia, and Serbian poetry has altered in the countries tempestuous recent history. We are honoured to introduce Zvonko Karanović as the 27th edition of the Maintenant series.
Check out the entire interview here.
Mihajlo “Misha” Djordjevic Book Prize
Rumor has it that Cat Painters: An Anthology of Contemporary Serbian Poetry will be this year's recipient of the Djordjevic Prize...
Sleepwalking on a Picnic…
Sleepwalkers on a Picnic introduces poet Zvonko Karanović to English-speaking readers, and in the genre of the prose poem, which is extremely rare in the Serbian poetics. Poems in prose were historically written in the age of symbolism, expressionism and surrealism, however Karanović’s poetics formed during the 80s, in the poetic culture of socialist Yugoslavia.
We announce with pride the release of Perishable Poems (Poèmes Périssables) by Abdellatif Laâbi in a new translation by Peter Thompson, continuing our focus on post-colonial literatures of northern Africa. English speakers can now join Africans and Africa scholars in recognizing Abdellatif Laâbi as Morocco’s preeminent living poet.
Cadiot at Diálogos
Diálogos is pleased to announce the publication of a new translation of French visionary poet Olivier Cadiot. Anna Fitzgerald's translation of his remarkable A Mage in Summer (Un mage en été, original published by POL in 2010), with an introduction by Cole Swensen, is releasing January 1, 2020, with pre-release pricing until then. The book features a cover photo—which is discussed at length in the text—by the great Nan Goldin, used with her generous permission.
Will Firth on Translating Crnjanski
Will Firth's article on translating Miloš Crnjanski's A Novel of London is out at Los Angeles Review of Books. It'll be a book very soon now. For a foretaste, we have posted the entire text of David Norris's excellent introduction here.
Seasons greetings from Lavender Ink / Diálogos
Djaout / Farès: Two New North African Releases
On 26 May, 1993, Algerian novelist and activist Tahar Djaout was shot in the head on his way to work in Algiers. He died in a coma a week later. One of his attackers, a member of the Armed Islamic Group, confessed that he was murdered because he "wielded a fearsome pen…", a fact that highlights one of Djaout's more famous quotes: "If you speak, you die, and if you remain silent, you die. So, speak and die."
Djaout's untimely death at the age of 39 robbed Algeria of one of its great 20th century voices, but not before he produced a corpus of lasting and important novels and books of poetry. We are excited to be releasing, this December, The Bone Seekers (Les chercheurs d’os) in a new translation by esteemed translator Marjolijn de Jager, whose credits include, among many others, Assia Djebar's seminal Children of the New World.
The Bone Seekers is set in an Algeria ravaged by the war for independence, narrated by an adolescent boy who sets out, with his uncle and a donkey, from his primitive Kabylian village to find the bones of his brother who was killed in the war. The boy's naive encounters with "the new world" of post-independence Algeria, along with his ruminations on his and his brother's past, culminate in a homecoming that is a realization of the world to come.
We are also releasing—or rather re-releasing, since I published this book, formerly, at UNO Press—another North African title of great significance, Nabile Farès' A Passenger from the West, translated by Peter Thompson. In 1970, Farès was asked to interview James Baldwin in Paris for Jeune Afrique magazine. What begins in this book as an interview with Baldwin confronting the history of Black America leads Farès into a journey through his own past and a broad consideration of the matter of identity in the postcolonial world. The original interview with Baldwin (the only extant English translation) is included.
These two volumes bear comparison at a number of levels. They are both "road novels" that hinge, in very different ways, on the revelations that travel can inspire. And both grapple with the problem of identity (and its now fundamental corollaries of language and nation) in a way that brings to light the real costs of empire building, from the American slave trade to the sacking of Algiers.
For this reason we would like to offer these two books in a special package deal: Order either one from our website in the month of August, and you will receive the other at no additional cost. Click here to order.
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