Monday, May 31, 2010

Lots of News from Book Expo America

I’m still getting caught up on my sleep after three days in New York for Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Fortunately, this is a good kind of tired, from long talks with people who care about books, including Russian fiction. As a matter of full disclosure, I should note that I spoke with many publishers about two things: their upcoming titles (more on that at the end) and their potential interest in my translation projects.

The Biggest News. I enjoyed my visits to the first-ever Books from Russia booth, organized by the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications together with Academia Rossica. Russian books will receive lots of attention over the next two years: Russia will be the market focus at the London Book Fair in 2011 and then at BEA in 2012. I think I need to build a bigger travel budget!

Also of interest: Academia Rossica publishes a journal, Rossica, which calls itself an “international review of Russian culture.” Issue 18 includes translated excerpts of fiction by writers such as Oleg Zaionchkovsky (whom I’m still enjoying), Aleksei Ivanov, Dina Rubina, and Aleksandr Ilichevsky. Issue 19 has extracts of novels by Dmitry Bykov, Vladimir Makanin, and Mikhail Shishkin. There’s much more in each journal; tables of contents are here. (AR gave me copies of both journals plus Dmitry Bykov’s book Был ли Горький? (I’ll call it Did Gorky Exist?).)

Other translation news, listed in alphabetical order by publisher, includes:

Moscow Noir, from Akashic Books, will be available in wide release this summer. Most of Akashic’s Noir series books contain commissioned stories, so there is currently no Russian version of the collection.

This isn’t news but it makes me happy: Dalkey Archive Press loves Viktor Shklovsky, and their list contains seven Shklovsky titles. They gave me a copy of Energy of Delusion: A Book on Plot, translated by Shushan Avagyan; Dalkey’s list also includes Зоо, или Письма не о любви (Zoo, or Letters Not about Love), translated by Richard Sheldon… I’m feeling an even stronger urge to finally read it. Dalkey’s Russian list is online here.

Thanks to writer Ron Hogan for mentioning that Knopf will release Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky’s translation of Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago (previous post) in fall 2010.

New York Review Books has a Vasily Grossman book, The Road, on its calendar for fall 2010. This eclectic compilation includes stories, letters, and “The Hell of Treblinka.” Translators are Robert Chandler, Olga Mukovnikova, and Elizabeth Chandler.

Translator Andrew Bromfield told me he’s been translating the last of Vladimir Voinovich’s Chonkin books for Northwestern University Press; the book will be released in 2011. Andrew’s translation of Andrei Rubanov’s Сажайте, и вырастет (Do Time, Get Time), a National Bestseller finalist, is listed on Amazon as available in the US from Old Street Publishing… starting tomorrow.

The Overlook Press, which recently published Marian Schwartz’s translation of Olga Slavnikova’s 2017 (previous post), will release a translation of Liudmila Ulitskaya’s Даниэль Штайн, переводчик (Daniel Stein, Translator) (previous post) during winter 2010-2011. Overlook was also excited about the U.S. edition of Sam Garretts English translation of Dutch author Frank Westerman’s book Ingenieurs van de ziel (Engineers of the Soul), which focuses on Soviet-era writers and ideology. (A fresh review.) A reminder: Ardis Publishing now resides at Overlook, too, where translated titles include some favorites, from Sologubs Petty Demon (previous post) to Vladimir Makanin’s Escape Hatch and The Long Road (previous post).

Technically speaking, Android Karenina, a joint effort from Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters, isn’t a translated book but it’s perfect for my rather mashed up state of mind. Quirk Books certainly chose the right novel for a steampunk mashup. (BTW, steampunk is a Russian word, too: стимпанк.) AK has already generated some attention: Russian TV came to BEA to visit Quirk.

Related Non-Translations. At 560 pages, Ian Frazier’s Travels in Siberia, from FSG, sure must expand on Frazier’s New Yorker pieces about a Russian road trip; it comes out in October. Adrienne Sharp’s The True Memoirs of Little K, a historical novel based on fact, narrated by a former ballerina and lover of the czar, is scheduled for November. Harper Collins also has a ballet-related historical novel coming out this fall (September): Daphne Kalotay’s Russian Winter.

I’ll be happy for comments about errors, omissions, or ideas… there was so much going on that it was impossible to see everyone I wanted to see.

And Another Blog on the Way. Now that I’m working more on literary translation, I’m feeling an urge to read more fiction in English: I know I’m missing out on lots of good books, writers, connections, and, yes, vocabulary. Starting a new blog seems like the best (or only?) way to keep discipline so I gathered a nice stack of books at BEA to get myself going. The pile is heavy on translations and books from small publishing houses but there’s lots of variety.

My Russian reading and blogging habits won’t change much but I’ll make a quick mention of the new blog here when it goes live in June. One sure change: I’ll link from blog to blog when I find common themes and techniques in books. After all, it was Mikhail Elizarov’s Мультики (‘Toons) that convinced me I needed to (re)broaden my reading after I recognized shadows of A Clockwork Orange in ‘Toons


  1. I had no idea that Pevear and Volokhonsky were translating Doctor Zhivago. That immediately goes on my list to watch for in the fall. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome, Ape. I'd seen mentions of it but then lost track of time... I'm glad Ron mentioned it!

  3. Thanks for all the news. Very exciting to read about. Academia Russica titles look very intriguing. Must check them out.

  4. Thank you for the comment, Carol, I'm glad the summary is useful!

  5. What an exciting bunch of news! You've given me a lot to explore here...

  6. It was a lot of fun, Andrea -- I especially love visiting the independent publishers' booths!