Translation Spotlight: Open Letter Books and Deep Vellum Publishing

Guest Article by: 
Chad Post & Will Evans

No secret: all of us at Brazos have a little thing for literature in translation, and two of our favorite publishers are Open Letter Books and Deep Vellum Publishing. Next week, we’re hosting two of their authors: Josefine Klougart (ONE OF US IS SLEEPING) on Monday, September 26; and Ananda Devi (EVE OUT OF HER RUINS) on Tuesday, September 27.

Anticipating these two events, we reached out to our friends at Open Letter and Deep Vellum to find out what they’re excited about in the world of translation.

Chad W. Post, Publisher, Open Letter Books:

Looking back over the eighty books Open Letter has published, you’ll find a ton of gems. Books from Macedonio Fernandez, Alejandro Zambra, Mercè Rodoreda, Ilf & Petrov, Mikhail Shishkin, etc. But I don’t think we’ve ever had a run of quality quite like what we’re in right now. There’s Josefine Klougart’s ONE OF US IS SLEEPING and Iben Mondrup’s JUSTINE—the second and third books in our Danish Women Writers Series—both incredibly evocative and stylistically mind-blowing. Then there’s CHRONICLE OF A MURDERED HOUSE by Lúcio Cardoso, who was Clarice Lispector’s close friend and sort of mentor. A truly modern classic, this book contains everything that made me fall in love with literature and want to be a publisher. There’s also GESELL DOME by Guillermo Saccomanno, which won the Dashiell Hammett prize and is like True Detective meets CSI, except that no one ever really tries to solve any of the plethora of crimes taking place in this small resort town. And in the spring? New Antoine Volodine (his most sci-fi work yet, and one of the most haunting), Rodrigo Fresno’s THE INVENTED PART (one of the best books ever, in the vein of David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon), and THE ISLAND OF POINT NEMO by Jean-Marie Blas de Roblés (part adventure novel—think Jules Verne—part literary puzzle). Every time I look over our forthcoming list of books, I land on a different title that I’m “most” excited about that’s coming out. Given all the great work that’s out there, and the great job so many publishers are doing in making works of world literature available to us, we’re truly living in a time of riches when it comes to international fiction. (Which is why my “to read” shelf is actually half my apartment.)

Will Evans, Publisher/Executive Director, Deep Vellum Publishing:

This upcoming fall 2016-2017 publishing season is special to us at Deep Vellum for so many reasons, not the least of which is it is the first (and definitely not the last) publishing season in which our female authors outnumber the men, with incredible books on the way from Ananda Devi, with her award-winning poetic, tragic exploration of wayward youth in her native Mauritius, EVE OUT OF HER RUINS, plus the newest books in English coming from Josefine Klougart and Bae Suah, both of whom are touring this fall, with new books forthcoming in early 2017 from us, following on the heels of their fall releases by each author from Open Letter Books, with whom we partnered up to promote these authors as part of a wave of bringing their incredible books and incomparable talents to more readers in English, with Bae's book translated by the Man Booker International Prize-winning Deborah Smith, who translated Han Kang's incredible novel THE VEGETARIAN and who also just founded the amazing Tilted Axis Press. We also have an incredible debut novel from Peru's Claudia Salazar Jiménez, whose BLOOD OF THE DAWN is a moving, stylistically innovative portrayal of life under the Shining Path militant insurgency that terrorized Peru in the 90s and early 00s, only ending in the last decade.

PLUS we have the debut novel from Eduardo Rabasa, who is the editorial director of Mexico's renowned Sexto Piso publishing house, his A ZERO-SUM GAME, a visceral, political, satirical takedown of the ills of modern global neoliberal society (and if you've ever wondered what the hell neoliberalism is, or why nobody's explored the inhumanity of this economic and political system that has taken over the world, this book is for you!), translated marvelously by Christina MacSweeney, who's gained renowned for her work with Mexican authors Valeria Luiselli and Daniel Saldaña Paris.

PLUS we have the final books in trilogies by Mexico's legendary Sergio Pitol (THE MAGICIAN OF VIENNA, coming in March, closes out his Trilogy of Memory, the first two books are the Brazos-favorites THE ART OF FLIGHT and THE JOURNEY), and the former mayor of Reykjavík, Iceland Jón Gnarr's THE OUTLAW is coming in February, which he finished writing in Houston while in residency at Rice University's Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences in early 2015, so the book has an amazing local tie, following up on the first two books in the trilogy exploring his childhood as an outsider who rebelled against the norms of society, got into punk rock, and discovered comedy as the means to transform the world: THE INDIAN and THE PIRATE.

This season we're also thrilled to continue to expand the geographic diversity of our authors, with FIVE continents represented by the authors we have coming out this fall (Mauritius in Africa, South Korea, Iceland, Mexico x 3, Peru, Denmark).

PLUS most of our authors plan to visit the US for bookstore visits at our favorite bookstore in the country, Brazos Bookstore, but also visiting us at our home bookstores in Dallas, Deep Vellum Books and The Wild Detectives, plus more events at the Texas Book Festival in Austin (Salazar Jiménez & Rabasa), Brooklyn Book Festival (Devi & Lina Meruane), and at McNally Jackson in NYC (Rabasa & Salazar Jiménez).

We were founded to not just publish the world's greatest authors in English, but to bring these authors to Texas to interact with readers here on the ground in our beloved home state, because great books belong in the hands of great readers, and Texas is the best, so let's keep it that way.

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