Last June, Brainiac alerted you to Reading the World, an annual collaboration between booksellers and publishers interested in bringing the best new literature in translation to America's attention. (RTW started in 2005.)
Throughout the month of June, approximately 250 bookstores across the country are displaying RTW titles complete with posters and brochures featuring the artwork of Czech artist Peter Sis. Once again, Barbara's Bookstore in South Station is the sole Boston bookseller participating in this smart, useful, and important program.
This year the RTW list consists of 25 titles. Twenty are from the 10 publishers who have been part of the program from the start (Archipelago; Dalkey Archive; Ecco; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Knopf; New Directions; New York Review Books; Other Press; and Picador), while five titles from other presses (Columbia University; Copper Canyon; Europa; Graywolf; Grove) were selected by independent booksellers.
Word Without Borders, the online magazine for international literature, whose launch I covered for Ideas in 2003, is lending a hand with Reading the World. The WWB site features online book clubs devoted to several of the 2008 RTW titles.
Here are this year's titles:
"Yalo," Elias Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Peter Theroux (Lebanon)
"A Mind at Peace," Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, translated from the Turkish by Erdag Goknar (Turkey)
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS
"The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai," Wang Anyi, translated from the Chinese by Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan (China)
COPPER CANYON PRESS
"So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971-2005," Taha Muhammad Ali, translated from the Arabic by Gabriel Levin and Peter Cole (Lebanon)
DALKEY ARCHIVE PRESS
"I'd Like," Amanda Michalopoulou, translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich (Greece)
"Knowledge of Hell," Antonio Lobo Antunes, translated from the Portuguese by Clifford Landers (Portugal)
"Don Quixote," Miguel de Cervantes, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (Spain)
"Celestial Harmonies," Peter Esterhazy, translated from the Hungarian by Judith Sollosv (Hungary)
"The Days of Abandonment," Elena Ferrante, translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein (Italy)
FARRAR, STRAUS, AND GIROUX
"The Girl on the Fridge," Etgar Keret, translated from the Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger and Sondra Silverston (Israel)
"Beijing Coma," Ma Jian, translated from the Chinese by Flora Drew (China)
"New European Poets," edited by Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer, translated from various by various (Europe)
"Serve the People!," Yan Yan, translated from the Chinese by Julia Lovell (China)
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
"Peeling the Onion," Gunter Grass, translated from the German by Michael Henry Heim (Germany)
"Woods and Chalices," Tomas Salamun, translated from the Slovenian by Brian Henry (Slovenia)
"Mind's Eye," Hakan Nesser, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
"Fire in the Blood," Irene Nemirovsky, translated from the French by Sandra Smith (France)
"Nazi Literature in the Americas," Roberto Bolano, translated from the Spanish by Chris Andrews (Chile)
"The Assistant," Robert Walser, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (Switzerland)
NEW YORK REVIEW BOOKS
"The Unforgiving Years," Victor Serge, translated from the French by Richard Greeman (France)
"The Post-Office Girl," Stefan Zweig, translated from the German by Joel Rotenberg (Austria)
"The King of Corsica," Michael Kleeberg, translated from the German by David Dollenmayer (Germany)
"Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak," Jean Hatzfeld, translated from the French by Linda Coverdale (France)
"Out Stealing Horses," Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Anne Born (Norway)
"The Diving Pool," Yoko Ogowa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder (Japan)
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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.