February 2012 News

February News from New Directions

Forrest Gander Selected as a Finalist for the NBCC Award in Poetry

The National Book Critics Circle Awards finalists for 2011 were announced on January 21, and among the five poetry collections was Forrest Gander's Core Samples from the World. We couldn't be more honored, and want to offer him our heartiest congratulations. The full press release is here

If you're looking for something special to do for Valentine's Day, and if you happen to live in the St. Louis metropolitan area, Forrest Gander and C.D. Wright will be reading at St. Louis University. More info here.

Gander will also be part of a panel including Bei Dao, Eliot Weinberger, and C.D. Wright during AWP's annual conference* in Chicago, on March 2. Details are here

*There are several New Directions writers and translators attending the conference, so have a look at the entire schedule at the link above. And we will, of course, have a table at the bookfair. Stop by and say hi.


New Books:
The Poetry of Thought

by George Steiner

The Poetry of Thought: From Hellenism to Celan is George Steiner's magnum opus: an examination of more than two millennia of Western culture that argues on behalf of the essential oneness of great thought and great style. Sweeping yet precise, moving from essential detail to bracing illustration, Steiner spans the entire history of philosophy in the West as it entwines with literature, finding that, as Sartre stated, in all philosophy there is “a hidden literary prose.”

Illuminating and attractively undogmatic. He writes as a man sharing ideas, and his original notions have the bracing effect that first-rate thinking always has.
— The New Yorker



by César Aira
translated by Chris Andrews

The title character of Aira's novel is a simple Panamanian government employee who —  having never written a single line of poetry — composes what will become the celebrated masterpiece of Central American literature in a single night. Varamo explores the nature of the poet’s vocation, but the story also unearths counterfeit money, failed taxidermy projects, a golf club smuggling ring, complacent editors, and much more… 

Aira is one of the most provocative and idiosyncratic novelists working in Spanish today and should not be missed.
— Natasha Wimmer, The New York Times


Conversations with Kafka

by Gustav Janouch
translated by Goronwy Rees
new introduction by Francine Prose
new cover illustration by Maira Kalman

Conversations with Kafka is a quintessential literary gem, now with an ardent new preface by Francine Prose, avowed “fan of Janouch’s odd and beautiful book.” A young poet at the time, Janouch met the older Kafka — already famous for "The Metamorphosis"  — and soon began joining him on long walks. They discussed everything and anything, including technology, film, crime, Darwinism, Chinese philosophy, carpentry, insomnia, street fights, Hindu scripture, art, suicide, and even prayer.

This remarkable book, itself the result of a miraculous discovery of material believed lost, is one of the most exciting works — fiction, nonfiction, poetry — I remember having read.”
— Joyce Carol Oates


Monsieur Pain
— now in paperback

by Roberto Bolaño
translated by Chris Andrews

Roberto Bolaño was an exemplary literary rebel. To drag fiction toward the unknown, he had to go there himself, and there invent a method with which to represent it. Since the unknown place was reality, the results were multi-dimensional.
— Sarah Kerr, New York Review of Books

A surrealistic attic of unlikely juxtapositions… The novel melds existential anxiety to political terror in a measure peculiar to Bolaño. Imagine the protagonist of Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ if he were being interrogated by the secret police on suspicion of having hidden subversives behind his wall.
— The New York Times Book Review

Monsieur Pain plays with genre the way a cat plays with a mouse.
— The Los Angeles Times


News & Notes: Susan Howe and David Grubbs in Performance

On Wednesday, February 8, Susan Howe will make an appearance with David Grubbs at The Poetry Project's space. They'll be performing sections from “Frolic Architecture,” a piece that weaves, layers, and synthesizes text and sound to create an eclectic and engaging experience. More information here.

And then on Sunday, February 26, Howe and Grubbs will perform again, also from "Frolic Architecture," at The University of Chicago's Bond Chapel. More information here.

Neither traditional recitation nor music-with-words… in Howe's imagination the past becomes a very current stake, and Grubbs' sonic architecture is a striking accompaniment to the text.
— Artforum


Ferlinghetti on the 49ers

In case you missed it, the day before the Niners lost to the Giants in the NFC Championship game, The New York Times spoke to famed poet — and longtime San Francisco resident — Lawrence Ferlinghetti about his renewed love for the team, despite disenchantment with the violence. He also predicted a Niners' win… oops. You can read the full article here, and some of his poetry, including a new one, here.


Events with Susan Bernofsky

192 Books in New York's Chelsea neighborhood will celebrate the release of Susan Bernofsky’s translation of Robert Walser’s Berlin Stories  — published by New York Review Book Classics — on Thursday, February 2, at 7:00 pm. More information here.

On Sunday, February 26, at the Goethe Institut Chicago, Susan Bernofsky will present a reading and discussion of Robert Walser’s MicroscriptsThe presentation is part of the Institut's symposium “We Don’t Need to See Anything Out of The Ordinary. We Already See So Much.” All of the details are here.

And in New York on the weekend of February 10-12, Bernofsky is curating the Festival Neue Literatur, a series of readings and conversations by six top German-language authors. More information here.


Béla Tarr Retrospective at the Film Society at Lincoln Center

Beginning February 3, the Film Society at Lincoln Center is showcasing the work of famed Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr, including three films that he made in collaboration with novelist Lászlo KrasznahorkaiDamnation, Werckmeister Harmonies, and the epic masterpiece Satantango, which we're publishing in English later this month. 

Béla Tarr has been likened to Tarkovsky and praised by Susan Sontag, Gus van Sant, and Jim Jarmusch. As the Film Society says, his films are famous for his use of "long, elaborately choreographed tracking shots in which camera and actors seem locked in a hypnotic dance — ravishing cinema that demands to be seen on the largest possible screens." More information and a full schedule here


Now That It's Now:
The New Directions Blog

If you haven't visited (or dare we suggest, bookmarked) our new blog, we'd like to invite you to take a look now. Recent posts include a preview of Anne Carson's Antigonick, a small tour of Tennessee Williams' haunts in New Orleans, poetry from Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and reviews

We're also on twitter: @NewDirections


Musician The Caretaker Releases a Soundtrack to a Film about W.G. Sebald

The musician Leyland Kirby, also known as The Caretaker, recently released a soundtrack to Grant Gee’s film Patience (After Sebald). The album mixes and manipulates Franz Schubert's Winterreise into a crystalline soundscape that complements Gee’s film on Sebald’s brilliant work, The Rings of Saturn. You can read the full article here.


Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman Win the ALA's Brody Medal

We'd also like to congratulate Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman, whose book Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza was awarded the American Library Association's Brody Medal for best Jewish book of 2011. 



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