This month, we're very excited to celebrate the life and work of Muriel Spark by relaunching eight of her novels with snazzy new covers designed by the acclaimed Paul Sahre, including the first New Directions edition of Spark's Venetian caper, Territorial Rights. But the crown jewel will be our publication of Spark’s first ever essay collection The Informed Air — the first ever gathering of the very best of Muriel Spark’s essays.
To celebrate, we’re throwing a party! Please join New Directions on April 30, at Issue Project Room’s beautiful new Brooklyn Heights space, for an evening of anecdotes and admiration with ND Publisher Barbara Epler, New York Times columnist Maud Newton, Paris Review contributing editor Sadie Stein, T Magazine senior editor and former Harper’s editor Emily Stokes, and Vogue.com culture editor Thessaly LaForce. ND Publicity Director Michael Barron will moderate. We hope you can join us for what will surely be a night to remember.
Be sure to check out all the new Spark editions below, and, if you’re keen to read them all, you’re not alone. Muriel Spark has been chosen as Flavorwire’s author of the month. Throughout April, they’ll be reading through several of the new editions. Participants can weigh in with comments and may be eligible to win prizes.
Viva la Spark!
We are pleased to announce that three of our authors will be participating at this year’s PEN World Voices Festival. The great Hungarian novelist László Krasznahorkai, the acclaimed American writer Lydia Davis, and the remarkable Syrian writer Osama Alomar will be among this year’s featured guests along with the esteemed scholars Benjamin Moser and Richard Sieburth. The schedule for their panels is below. For a complete schedule of events, as well as detailed information for the events below, please visit the PEN World Voices Festival homepage.
(NB: Some panels may include writers not mentioned here.)
Thursday, May 1 @ 7 pm: Lydia Davis reads from her work at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House. NYU 58 West 10th St., NYC 10011. RSVP required.
Friday, May 2 @ 5 pm: Richard Sieburth and Archipelago Books’s Jill Schoolman in conversation at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House. NYU 58 West 10th St., NYC 10011. RSVP required.
Friday, May 2 @ 7:30 pm: Benjamin Moser and others discuss their literary muses in the Washington Mews. NYC. Free and open to the public.
Saturday, May 3 @ 1 pm: Osama Alomar and others discuss creativity and craft in asylum at The Invisible Dog. 51 Bergen Street. Brooklyn, NYC 11201. Tickets required.
Sunday, May 4 @ 4:30 pm: Lydia Davis and Osama Alomar in conversation at the Franklin. P. Rose Auditorium. 51 Cooper Union. NYC. Tickets required.
Sunday, May 4 @ 7:00 pm: László Krasznahorkai and Colm Tóibín in conversation at the Franklin P. Rose Auditorium. 51 Cooper Union. NYC. Tickets required.
New Directions would like to extend its congratulations to poet Bernadette Mayer who has been announced as the recipient of The Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award. Bernadette’s latest book, The Helens of Troy, NY — in which Bernadette crafted poems derived from interviews with several Helens living in Troy, NY — was one of our inaugural poetry pamphlets.
Our hat goes off to you, Bernadette!
Friday, April 11: Translator Chris Andrews (Roberto Bolaño, César Aira) will participate on the panel “Translating the Boundaries of Australian Writing.” Hosted by Asymptote Journal. 6:00 pm. GleeBooks. 49 Glebe Point Rd. Sydney, Australia. This event is free and open to the public. More info here.
Tuesday, April 15: Boston University’s Center for the Study of Europe will host a lecture by Japanese-German author Yoko Tawada (The Bridegroom Was a Dog, The Naked Eye). Boston University Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary’s Street, 9th floor. The event is free and open to the public. More info here.
Wednesday, April 16: Yoko Tawada will read from her work alongside Jazz Percussionist Paul Lovens. Hosted by the Goethe Institut Boston. 7:00 pm. 170 Beacon St.Boston, MA 02116. This event requires a ticket. More info here.
Saturday, April 19: Yoko Tawada will give the keynote address at “Soseki’s Diversity,” a conference that will focus on the life and work of Natsume Soseki. Hosted by the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. More info here.
Monday, April 21: Yoko Tawada will give a reading at the University of Western Michigan.
Wednesday, April 30: New Directions celebrates the life and work of Muriel Spark at Issue Project Room. With Barbara Epler, Maud Newton, Sadie Stein, Emily Stokes, Thessaly LaForce, and Michael Barron. 8:00 pm.
Thursday, May 1: Rosmarie Waldrop will read from her work with poet Nikolai Duffy. 7:00 pm. Poets House, 10 River Terrace, NYC. This event requires a ticket. More info here.
In this monumental collection, the inimitable Muriel Spark addresses all of her favorite subjects: the writing life; love; cats; favorite writers (T. S. Eliot, Robert Burns, the Brontës, Mary Shelley); Piero della Francesca; life in wartime London and in glamorous “Hollywood-on-the-Tiber” 1960s Rome; faith; and parties (of course). Spark’s scope is amazing, and her striking, glancing insights are precise and unforgettable. From the mysteries of Job’s sufferings, she glides to Dame Edith Sitwell’s cocktail-party advice on how to handle a nasty agent, and on to the joys of creation and of success.
“The most original and innovative British novelist.”
—The New York Review of Books
“Muriel Spark has written some of the best sentences in English.”
—The New Yorker
“Witty, exacting, and wholly original. Muriel Spark's writing is sui generis, her influence unquantifiable. These essays reveal in diamond-cut fragments the things that most amused and most touched her, each facet reflecting some new, surprising aspect of the deep inner workings of her mind. ”
Little is what it seems at first when young Robert Curran is "taken through the sunny waters of palaces, domes and ferries" to the Pensione Sofia, on his first visit to Venice...
Layers of intrigue; overlapping and triangulating love affairs; old but not-yet-forgotten murders; international spy-craft; adultery; parental interference; the sweet careless rapture of youth; unmarked graves — Territorial Rights claims much ground and Muriel Spark enjoys a wicked dance on it.
“The clues are planted deftly and wittily. Territorial Rights is as brilliant as the best of its predecessors, which is saying a great deal.”
—The Times Literary Supplement
“Once in a while, a book comes along that is beautifully put together and effortlessly entertaining; Muriel Spark's Territorial Rights is such a novel.”
—Edmund White, New York Times
In late 1950s London, something uncanny besets a group of elderly friends: an insinuating voice on the telephone reminds each: Remember you must die. Their geriatric feathers are soon thoroughly ruffled, and many an old unsavory secret is dusted off.
“Spark’s greatest achievement.”
“A jewel of a book”
Driven mad by an office job, Lise leaves everything and flies south on holiday in search of passionate adventure. In this metaphysical shocker, infinity and eternity attend Lise’s last terrible day in the unnamed southern city that is her final destination.
“This incredibly slim and surreal slice of modern gothic is my favorite of hers.”
“Her spiny and treacherous masterpiece.”
—The New Yorker
With her now-signature air of easy, sunny eeriness, Spark lights up the darkest things: blackmail; a drowning; nervous breakdowns; a loathsome busybody; a diabolist bookseller; human evil. These—along with a ring of smugglers and a metaphysical trap to be sprung—are Spark's meat, served up here in dazzling and rigorous fashion.
“The Comforters is fascinating: its heroine Caroline Rose, is a recently converted Catholic who finds herself hallucinating voices—voices that indicate to her that she has become a character in a novel. And of course she has—the very novel we are reading. ”
—Stephen Schiff, The New Yorker
“It is all held so lightly, so playfully. But this paralleling of cheap smuggling mystery and Roman Catholic mystery, this mischievous, merry challenge to British literary realism, this blatant parody of contemporary cold-war surveillance plotting and paranoia, becomes a life-and-death struggle in the end. That this light, clever, mirthful tour de force was a first novel is astounding. It still knocks the stuffing out of the realist tradition, and probably always will.”
—Ali Smith, The Guardian
Happily loitering in London with the intent of gathering material for her writing, Fleur Talbot finds a job “on the grubby edge of the literary world” at the very peculiar Autobiographical Association. Mad egomaniacs writing their memoirs in advance — or poor fools ensnared by a blackmailer? When the association’s pompous director steals Fleur’s manuscript, fiction begins to appropriate life in this darkly comedic delight.
“Lyrical, joyous, and formally perfect.”
“One of Spark's very best novels—funny and clever and surprising.”
—The New Republic
The Ballad of Peckham Rye is the wickedly farcical tale of an English factory turned upside-down by a Scot who may or may not be in league with the Devil. Hired to do “human research” into the lives of the workers, Dougal Douglas stirs up mayhem.
“Muriel Spark is the master of malice and mayhem.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Touched with a Satanic glamour, witty and quite perfect in its construction, this light and mock-folkloric novel is the work of an inspired satirist.”
Nancy Hawkins, the majestic narrator of A Far Cry from Kensington, takes us by the hand and leads us back to her threadbare years in postwar London, where she spent her days working for a mad, near-bankrupt publisher (“of very good books”) and her nights dispensing advice at her small South Kensington boarding house.
“Outstanding: an effortless, translucent grasp on the spirit of the period.”
“A 1950s Kensington of shabby-genteel bedsitters, espresso bars—irradiated with the sudden glows of lyricism she can so beautifully effect.”
—The Sunday Times
First found contentedly chatting in their London clubs, the cozy bachelors (as any Spark reader might guess) are not set to stay cozy for long. Soon enough, the men are variously tormented — defrauded or stolen from; blackmailed or pressed to attend horrid séances; plunged into the nastiest of lawsuits. And every horror delights: each is lit up by Spark's uncanny wit, at once funny and deadly serious.
“Spark's 1960 novel follows a group of British bachelors whose cozy little world is shattered when they suddenly find themselves the target of blackmail, fraud, and other bits of nastiness courtesy of one of the lads. Spark is always a great read.”
“The Bachelors’ greatness is inherent in the reading.”
—The New Republic
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