International Small Press Round-Up

Will Heyward from Readings St Kilda rounds up the best new releases from international small press.

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New Directions, the publishing company incapable of making bad books, has recently released Satantango by Laszo Krasznahorkai. The third of his vortex-like books to appear in English, Satantango was the first novel Krasznahorkai published in Hungarian over twenty years ago, and the one which made his (near impossible to pronounce) name. For those interested in adaptation, Satantango was made into a film in 1994 by Krasznahorkai’s equally brilliant compatriot Bela Tarr and has since become a cult classic. Refer to YouTube for a glimpse.

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Also new from New Directions is Varamo by Cesar Aira, translated by Chris Andrews from Sydney. Just like the previous Aira novellas, Varamo is just about as haywire as anything that’s ever been written, and as crazily clever as Hannibal Lector. If you have just finished reading Roberto Bolaño’s books (also translated by C. Andrews) then this is the next stop, so to speak, on the Hispanic literature express.

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Another book recently published in translation, this time from by Archipelago Books, is My Struggle (also published in the UK under the title A Death in the Family) by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Part one of a three thousand page work, My Struggle takes autobiographical fiction to a new level and caused a scandal in Norway (but if you’re willing to call your novel, which happens to double as memoir, My Struggle(!), then I suppose you don’t mind scandal). Knausgaard kind of sold out his whole family in this book, which sold 500,000 copies in Norway, and the result is surprisingly good. Comparisons have been drawn with Proust by reviewers, which probably don’t hold, not least of all because Proust didn’t grow up listening to post-punk in Norway in the 80s…

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And also worth a look… Dalkey Archive have published Autoportrait by the suicidal Edouard Levé. Coffee House Press have put out Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner, which just won the Believer Book Award and is hilarious and brilliant. Daniel Sada’s novel Almost Never has been published by Grey Wolf Press – I haven’t read it yet, but the praise it has received so far has been really, really strong.

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New Directions are republishing four Clarice Lispector novels, which is something of an event. And even though it’s not being published by an independent publisher, I want to mention the latest installment of Susan Sontag’s journals, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, which probably won’t get a local release, so check out the FSG edition.

willheyward Will Heyward works for Readings in Carlton and St Kilda. He has been published in the ABR and a few other publications. He helps edit Voiceworks and is a contributing editor for Higher Arc.

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Leaving the Atocha Station

Leaving the Atocha Station

Ben Lerner

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