May 9th, 2013
Come see Benjamin Hollander, author of the just-out In the House Un-American, read on one or both coasts!
On May 15th Hollander will read with George Albon at Bird and Beckett Books in San Francisco.
On May 22nd Hollander and Susan Gevirtz will read at Moe’s Books in Berkeley.
On May 28th St. Marks Bookshop in New York will host Hollander and the poet David Shapiro.
Hope to see you there!
April 4th, 2013
We’re excited to share that Adania Shibli will join Randa Jarrar and Najwan Darwish for “All That’s Left to You: Palestinian Writers in Conversation,” as part of the PEN World Voices Festival:
Saturday, May 04, 2013, 3:00pm
For the first time in the Festival’s history, PEN brings together a panel of leading Palestinian writers to take their place in the global literary community. From Palestine and from the diaspora, they will share their work, experiences, and visions, revealing how a literature is both imagined and created under occupation, siege, and exile.
Moderated by Judith Butler
Co-sponsored by ArteEast, The Lannan Foundation, The New School, and the Open Society Foundation.
March 29th, 2013
There’s a fantastic new story by Ersi Sotiropoulos, translated by Chris Markham, up in the spring 2013 issue of Kenyon Review Online. Check out the audio feature to hear Ersi read some of the original Greek.
And if you enjoy that, of course we recommend Landscape with Dog, Ersi’s stunning collection of stories, translated by Karen Emmerich and published by us!
Keep an eye out this spring for the paperback release of the extraordinary Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees (trans. Peter Green), the first work of Ersi’s to appear in English, and truly a contemporary classic, a novel I’m still thinking about six, seven years after first reading it. It’s been our enormous honor to get to publish Ersi Sotiropoulos in English.
February 22nd, 2013
For all you New Yorkers or near-enough-to-New Yorkers, we’re thrilled to say that our own Alex Epstein, author of Blue Has No South and Lunar Savings Time, will be reading, with Christine Sneed, at the KGB Bar on March 3, as part of their Sunday Night Fiction series.
January 27th, 2013
A review of Uzma Aslam Khan’s wonderful Thinner than Skin is the cover story today at Dawn.com and is accompanied by an interview with the author. A taste:
Thinner than Skin could be a story about love and the search for identity. But it could as easily be a story about the impact of militancy on nomadic communities in northern Pakistan. How did you bring all this together? Nadir and Farhana travel to Kaghan but then it all unravels and there’s a moment at the end when the conflict becomes unimportant.
I’ve never mapped out a novel. I don’t really trust maps, because the lines change as soon you find them. As if the form of a novel itself demands that you stay open to change, open to surprises. All my novels have begun either with an image and/or a voice. With Thinner than Skin, the spark was an Ansel Adams photograph of a waterfall. The force of the torrent inspired a line that has stayed in the book. All the threads of a novel, at least for me, come together through sensory cues, through acts of faith. There is no plan except to feel my way through it.
You write about glacier mating. There’s an ice-bride and ice-groom which to me sounds magical but in some ways is reflective of Nadir and Farhana’s relationship, blowing hot and cold. How did you come up with this strange use of a metaphor that you play with throughout the book?
My first encounter with a glacier was on a visit to northern Pakistan years ago, and it was the same glacier that the characters in my book trek across to get to Lake Saiful Maluk. At the time, what struck me was the sheer physicality of it — the size, the slipperiness, the muddiness of footprints and jeep tracks, the crevices and knuckles and slopes. Things can live inside us a long time before we know they’re even there. It wasn’t till another visit that I learned the glaciers are named, and even given a personality, a gender and a wedding. The ceremony is mysterious and sacred. Naturally, this fascinated me. But even then I never thought to include it in a book. That process — from learning something amazing to finding it a home in my own small way — is also mysterious. I never know how one becomes the other.
December 26th, 2012
At the PBS Newshour arts blog, Jeffrey Brown interviews Ersi Sotiropoulos, author of Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees and Landscape with Dog and Other Stories. An excerpt:
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: … What was astonishing for me was to see was a middle-aged woman like me, well dressed, with a certain dignity, with a small stick looking through the garbage. Also hiding, in a way. Feeling ashamed. Looking behind her back to make sure nobody was observing her.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because she was formerly well off, middle class?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Yes, yes of course.
JEFFREY BROWN: How is what’s happening come into your writing?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: First, it comes into my life because I have to move from this apartment.
JEFFREY BROWN: Move because of economic reasons?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Because we cannot afford the rent any more. To my writing, I think I am writing the way I was always writing throughout my life. But it’s more difficult to concentrate now.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Because I have this feeling of almost physical oppression, sometimes suddenly during the day, like an earthquake is approaching. When you go out, you see people begging. Now beggars usually don’t ask for money. They usually ask “Please can you buy me something to eat?” After awhile, I’ve found I’ve stopped giving things. I’ve become selfish. Sometimes I pretend I’m talking on the phone. It’s not that I don’t have the money. It is opening up the purse and knowing there will be another, and then another and another who approaches me.
JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see it having an effect on society, the cohesion?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. At the beginning I thought the crisis could be beneficial, in a way. That it would get rid of many silly things. The idiotic consumerism, the fast lifestyles. I thought it would be a chance to rediscover things like friendship. But I was wrong. It was an illusion. I mean the crisis empties the wallets as well as the souls.
Read in full here.
November 22nd, 2012
Vicki James Yiannias has written a wonderful piece in Greek News on Ersi Sotiropoulos and her “Plato in New York” and her recent doings.
“… [A]n unusual, riveting, and groundbreaking presentation in the Living Room at the Gershwin Hotel on October 11 was described by Sotiropoulos as a “hybrid of a novel that uses fictional narrative, dialogue, and visual poetry”. “Plato in New York” was perhaps a “first” such hybrid by a Greek author. But it was not the only “first” from this acclaimed Greek author. Zigzag through the Bitter Orange Trees, one of her twelve books of fiction, was the first novel ever to receive Greece’s two most important literary awards, the Greek State Prize for Literature and Greece’s preeminent Book Critics Award (2000). More professional tributes to Sotiropoulos’ work: her last novel, “Eva”, a young woman’s odyssey through the backstreets of Athens on Christmas Eve, won the Athens Academy prize for best novel in 2011, and her book of stories “Feel blue, dress in red” has just been short-listed for Greece’s National Book Award.
Sotiropoulos, who lives in Athens and was Artist in Residence at the Gershwin Hotel from September 6- October 18 (and Director’s Guest there in 2010), explained to the GN that “Plato in New York” used fictional narrative, dialogue and visual poetry, was a way of exploring the identity of the city through analogies between two distinct and very different times and cultures, New York now and Plato’s Athens. “The idea is to portray New York as Plato’s cave, a complex place where it is almost impossible to separate the real from the virtual”, she says, “Plato wrote, ‘How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?’ It seems like the eruption of the past in the present, but it is not so simple. With the virtual devouring big chunks of the real, apparent these days in the financial world and the media, Plato’s questions seem as relevant as ever.” Read more
Also, for a Greek perspective on the current European economic crisis, see these excerpts of Ersi’s piece for the BBC.
October 28th, 2012
A fantastic new interview with Uzma Aslam Khan is just out in Pakistan’s Friday Times. Uzma’s fourth novel, Thinner than Skin, has just been released (for those who haven’t gotten it yet!); she also discusses her 2009 novel The Geometry of God:
AA: In the years since you wrote The Geometry of God, the country has seen some of the most gruesome attacks on religious minorities, including inhumane abuses of the blasphemy law. What is your perspective on this?
UAK: When The Geometry of God was completed in 2007, there were many documented cases of blasphemy charges being leveled against innocent civilians, particularly Ahmadis and Christians. My character Nana was not based directly on any one person, but I read several case studies, including those involving ridiculous spelling errors, word shuffling, rumor, and revisionism – including of Jinnah’s famous speech in which he emphatically declares us all “equal citizens of one State” – all of which I draw on in the book. And then last year it happened again: a Christian eighth-grader was accused of blasphemy for a spelling error in a poem. For a Pakistani writer, life imitates art all the time. When in the book Nana is falsely accused of blasphemy, he is also called an Ahmadi, as though calling someone this is an insult. His response is to refuse to wear it as an insult by refusing to say what he is. He says instead, “My faith is what they bury when they force me to expose it.” And I think that the increasingly furious pace of hate crimes against our religious minorities – from the attack on an Ahmadi mosque in Lahore on May 28, 2010, which should be declared a national day of mourning, to the assassinations of Shahbaz Bhatti and Salmaan Taseer, to the present-day case of young Rimsha Masih – all of this, on top of terrorizing those already vulnerable in our society, makes us all guilty, for two reasons. First, for staying silent about what we know to be wrong. And second, because we are all forced to say what we are, all the time. We can’t even get our passport renewed without ‘confessing’ to not being Ahmadis. I’ve even been asked my religion while registering for a blood test. And to whom are we always in need of confessing? Not to God, but to a bunch of people who call themselves the state. If this were a civilized land, faith would be private and proof against those we know are playing God would be public. But in Pakistan, it’s the other way around: Faith is public and proof is private.
Read the rest here.
October 19th, 2012
We’ve just had the fantastic news that Sunetra Gupta’s So Good in Black is on the long-list for this year’s DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. The shortlist will be announced in November; the sixteen long-listed books are:
Jamil Ahmad: The Wandering Falcon (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India)
Alice Albinia: Leela’s Book (Harvill Secker, London)
Tahmima Anam: The Good Muslim (Penguin Books)
Rahul Bhattacharya: The Sly Company of People Who Care (Picador, London / Farrar Strauss and Giroux, New York)
Roopa Farooki: The Flying Man (Headline Review/ Hachette, London
Musharraf Ali Farooqi: Between Clay and Dust (Aleph Book Company, India)
Amitav Ghosh: River of Smoke (Hamish Hamilton/Penguin India)
Niven Govinden: Black Bread White Beer (Fourth Estate/ Harper Collins India)
Sunetra Gupta: So Good in Black (Clockroot Books, Massachusetts)
Mohammed Hanif, Our Lady of Alice Bhatti (Random House India)
Jerry Pinto: Em and the Big Hoom (Aleph Book Company, India)
Uday Prakash: The Walls of Delhi (Translated by Jason Grunebaum; UWA Publishing, W. Australia)
Anuradha Roy: The Folded Earth (Hachette India)
Saswati Sengupta: The Song Seekers (Zubaan, India)
Geetanjali Shree: The Empty Space (Translated by Nivedita Menon; Harper Perennial/ Harper Collins India)
Jeet Thayil: Narcopolis ( Faber and Faber, London)
Many thanks to the DSC Prize for all their work, and congratulations to Sunetra!