“So, each year, I can’t help but ask: Is there a political point to be made for calling non-book related detritus, tchotchkes, sparkly twinkly things, sidelines instead of gifts, as many of my esteemed colleagues insist on calling all things?” When it comes to the pressures of running an independent bookstore during the holidays, Lucy Kogler at The Literary Hub gets it very right. Our own Janet Potter has waxed poetic about bookstores, as well.
The work of Elvio Gandolfo, whose novel Cada vez más cerca ("Each Time Closer") won Argentina's equivalent of the Pulitzer in 2013, is rarely published in English. So it's a special treat to find his magical story about a whale falling out of the sky, newly translated for the anthology A Thousand Forests in One Acorn, available free at Ninth Letter.
East of the West author Miroslav Penkov is sitting pretty these days. The Bulgarian fiction writer recently nabbed the BBC International Short Story Award for his collection’s titular story, “East of the West.” With a purse of £15,000, this is the world’s biggest prize for short stories, though typically it considers work by British authors only. However this year, due to the 2012 Olympics, the field was expanded to include international writers. All five judges unanimously picked Penkov’s work over the nine other submissions. You can read an excerpt online courtesy of Google Books, and you can get a little more acquainted with Penkov’s themes on Picador’s Tumblr.
"The best critics do more than explain why they liked or didn’t like a book; they try to understand books, and show other readers, by example, how to read and think about those books. Specialized expertise can work in service of that goal, but is probably not as important as a willingness to attempt to be a work’s most thoughtful reader." Elisa Gabbert writes for Electric Literature about who gets to translate and review works and takes Kazuo Ishiguro's latest novel, The Buried Giant (which we reviewed here), as a case study.
Out this week: Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta; After the Parade by Lori Ostlund; Hotel by Joanna Walsh; The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi; Succession by Livi Michael; Selected Later Poems by C.K. Williams; and Notes on the Assemblage by Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.