My Review of Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco is up at Three Percent

My review of Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn by is up at Three Percent.

Alessandro Baricco’s Mr. Gwyn is a set of two loosely interlinked novellas that play with narrative and the construction of character. Ably translated by Ann Goldstein, Mr. Gwyn plays some subtle metafictional games as Baricco delves into what it means not just to write, but to create representations of ourselves. Is narrative a story, or a portrait, or both? It is a question Baricco delightfully plays with, with intriguing results that can be quite sensual.

In the title novella, a writer, Jasper Gwyn, after publishing only three novels publicly announces in the Guardian that he is never going to write another book. The reason? It “no longer suited him.” His publisher and friend try to no avail to have him change his mind. Gwyn is unwilling to go back on what he’s said and refuses to write another book. However, he is restless after his decision and feels the pull of writing. His solution is to become a copyist, a man who makes portraits. Gwyn determines he needs 30 days of observing his subject for four hours every day in the nude. His first subject is his publisher’s assistant, an overweight woman who is somewhat self-conscious. It is an encounter that starts awkwardly as each learns what it means to be the observer and the observed. Slowly, the assistant finds the experience liberating and at times erotic as she lies there with her body exposed to Gwyn, often ignoring him.

My Review of On Leave by Daniel Anselme is up at Three Percent

My review of Daniel Anselme’s On Leave is up at Three Percent. The book is a lost novel from the 1950’s that takes on France’s war with Algeria:

In 1957, Daniel Anselme published On Leave, a novel about three soldiers on leave from the Algerian War. At that point during the war, only two of its eight years had passed and the full savagery and politically instability that would mark latter years of the conflict had yet to occur. Yet despite the national trauma of the intervening years, On Leave, as translator David Bellos notes in his introduction, is one of the rare literary responses to the war. It is even more remarkable given it received little notice when it was first published, and was then soon forgotten. It now makes its first appearance in English.

read the whole thing at Three Percent

The Three Percent Translation Database for 2013 is Up

I’ve always found the Three Percent Translation Database fascinating and a great resource for what is coming out in English for the year. Perusing the list is always an interesting and daunting thing to do. I was pleased to see a book from Marcos Giralt Torrente, a writer I’ve always been interested in reading. This year there are 49 Spanish fiction titles most from authors I don’t know, which is a good thing and there are even a few books I’ve already reviewed in these pages. Any way, it is worth a look.

Spanish Language Fiction In English for 2011 – Via Three Percent

Three Percent has updated their translation database for 2011 (you can see the whole list here (Excel file)). But I thought it would be interesting to look at just the Spanish language fiction, especially if you don’t have Excel. Many of the names are familiar such as Bloano, Volpi, Aira, Castellanos Moya. I recognize Felix J Palma from Spain and even own one of his books. But there are many I don’t recognize at all.

Titles AuthorFN AuthorLN Country TranslatorFN TranslatorLN Publisher Genre Price Month
Seamstress and the Wind Cesar Aira Argentina Rosalie Knecht New Directions Fiction 12.95 June
My Two Worlds Sergio Chejfec Argentina Margaret Carson Open Letter Fiction 12.95 July
Prose from the Observatory Julio Cortazar Argentina Anne McLean Archipelago Fiction 18 June
Kamchatka Marcelo Figueras Argentina Frank Wynne Black Cat Fiction 14.95 May
Vertical Poetry: Last Poems Roberto Juarroz Argentina Mary Crow White Pine Poetry 16 June
Seconds Out Martin Kohan Argentina Nick Caistor Serpent’s Tail Fiction 14.95 Apr
Passionate Nomads Maria Rosa Lojo Argentina Brett Alan Sanders Aliform Fiction 14.95 June
Sweet Money Ernesto Mallo Argentina Katherine Silver Bitter Lemon Fiction 14.95 Oct
Purgatory Tomas Eloy Martinez Argentina Frank Wynne Bloomsbury Fiction 17 Nov
Secret in Their Eyes Eduardo Sacheri Argentina John Cullen Other Press Fiction 15.95 Oct
Scars Juan Jose Saer Argentina Steve Dolph Open Letter Fiction 14.95 Dec
Dark Desires and the Others Luisa Valenzuela Argentina Susan Clark Dalkey Archive Fiction 15.95 May
Third Reich Roberto Bolano Chile Natasha Wimmer FSG Fiction 25 Dec
Tres Roberto Bolano Chile Laura Healy New Directions Poetry 24.95 Sept
Lizard’s Tale Jose Donoso Chile Suzanne Jill Levine Northwestern University Press Fiction 24.95 Oct
Chilean Poets: A New Anthology Jorge Etcheverry Chile various various Marick Press Poetry 16.95 Apr
Absent Sea Carlos Franz Chile Leland Chambers McPherson & Company Fiction 25 June
Shadow of What We Were Luis Sepulveda Chile Howard Curtis Europa Editions Fiction 15 Feb
Good Offices Evelio Rosero Colombia Anne McLean New Directions Fiction 12.95 Sept
Secret History of Costaguana Juan Gabriel Vasquez Colombia Anne McLean Riverhead Fiction 26.95 June
Anima Jose Kozer Cuba Peter Boyle Shearsman Books Poetry 20 Feb
Micrograms Jorge Carrera Andrade Ecuador Alejandro de Acosta Wave Books Poetry 16 Nov
Tyrant Memory Horacio Castellanos Moya Honduras Katherine Silver New Directions Fiction 15.95 June
Afterglow Alberto Blanco Mexico Jennifer Rathbun Bitter Oleander Press Poetry 21 June
Destiny and Desire Carlos Fuentes Mexico Edith Grossman Random House Fiction 27 Jan
Three Messages and a Warning Eduardo Jimenez Mayo Mexico various various Small Beer Fiction 16 Dec
Negro Marfil/Ivory Black Myriam Moscona Mexico Jen Hofer Les Figues Poetry 15 Sept
Love Poems Jaime Sabines Mexico Colin Carberry Biblioasis Poetry 16.95 Oct
In Spite of the Dark Silence Jorge Volpi Mexico Olivia Maciel Swan Isle Press Fiction 28 Jan
Origin of Species and Other Poems Ernesto Cardenal Nicaragua John Lyons Texas Tech University Press Poetry 21.95 Apr
Reasons for Writing Poetry Eduardo Chirinos Peru G. J. Racz Salt Poetry 15.95 Jan
Against Professional Secrets Cesar Vallejo Peru Joseph Mulligan Roof Books Poetry 14.95 Apr
Fire Wind Yvan Yauri Peru Marta del Pozo Ugly Duckling Poetry 14 Feb
I’m a Box Natalia Carrero Spain Johanna Warren AmazonCrossing Fiction 13.95 July
Waiting for Robert Capa Susana Fortes Spain Adriana Lopez HarperCollins Fiction 14.99 Oct
Traitor’s Emblem Juan Gomez-Jurado Spain Daniel Hahn Atria Fiction 24.99 July
Scale of Maps Belen Gopegui Spain Mark Schafer City Lights Fiction 14.95 Jan
Exiled from Almost Everywhere Juan Goytisolo Spain Peter Bush Dalkey Archive Fiction 13.95 Apr
Nijar Country Juan Goytisolo Spain Peter Bush Lumen Books Fiction 15 May
Barcelona Noir Adriana Lopez Spain Achy Obejas Akashic Books Fiction 17.95 May
Map of Time Felix Palma Spain Nick Caistor Atria Fiction 26 June
No World Concerto A. G. Porta Spain Rhett McNeil Dalkey Archive Fiction 15.95 Oct
Procession of Shadows Julian Rios Spain Nick Caistor Dalkey Archive Fiction 13.95 May
Lost Angel Javier Sierra Spain Carlos Frias Atria Fiction 25.99 Oct
A Bit of Everything Juan Valera Spain Johanna Warren AmazonCrossing Fiction 13.95 Feb
Dona Luz Juan Valera Spain Kenneth Evan Barger AmazonCrossing Fiction 13.95 Feb
Never Any End to Paris Enrique Vila-Matas Spain Anne McLean New Directions Fiction 15.95 May

Short Story from Quim Monzo – Books – At Three Percent

Three Percent has a short story (pdf) from Quim Monzo that you can down load. I thought it could have gone in other directions, but then again that is just echoing Monzo himself when he says, ” a narrative is never as good as the possibilities that fan out at the beginning” . Nevertheless, it is in English and short. I found it to be a mix of Bernhard and Borges, which, despite my love of both, didn’t excite me. But perhaps it will you.

BTBA 2010 Fiction Longlist and My Review of News from the Empire by Fernando del Paso

Three Percent, as part of their Best Translated Book Award for 2010, has used my review of “News from the Empire” by Fernando del Paso In their post and gave it some nice comments.

I can’t do half the job summing up this mammoth book that Paul Doyle did for Quarterly Conversation. So rather than even try, I’m going to give all props to Paul and use his review to profile this particular BTBA title

Another book in their Best Translated Book Award 2010 long list that I read this year and thought was very good (and reviewed) was Vilnius Poker. You can read my review here.

The Long list is a great resource for translated books, especially since all of them are in print right now, so if you see one you like you can buy it. The full list is here.

Translation is a Love Affair – A Novel from Quebec

I haven’t read Translation is a Love Affair yet, but it seems to be popping up all over my radar screen. First Three Percent has posted a review of it and Nick’s Book Club is going to be discussing it Monday, December 28 in Seattle. I am looking forward to reviewing the book soon. I have never read anything from Quebec and though I think the idea of national literature is a little over done, it will be a welcome change.