Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Introducing Open Letter Books

Today, I'd like to introduce Open Letter Books, the excellent literary translation press run out of the University of Rochester. Some who read this blog will already, no doubt, be aware of their work: I've blogged about them before and talked them up to many. I'm also a daily reader of the press's blog, Three Percent, one of the best online resources for those interested in literary translation.

Translation has always been a big part of what Biblioasis is about. Our second and third titles were translations, of Goran Simic's From Sarajevo With Sorrow, and Yesterday's People. From there we went on to start the Biblioasis International Translation Series, with Stephen Henighan as series editor, and this is now the second year we've put out two translations. These have included Ryszard Kapuscinksi's I Wrote Stone, Ondjaki's Good Morning Comrades, Hans Eichner's Kahn & Engelmann, and Horacio Castellanos Moya's Dance With Snakes; forthcoming titles (2010) will include Mauricio Segura's Black Alley (Cotes des Negres), Mihail Sebastian's The Accident, and Jaime Sabines Love Poems. But I've had an urge to do more for some time, to expand the series to four or six titles a year. For the time being, alas, it simply isn't possible: we don't have the available resources of enough time, money or manpower, so we'll have to continue to develop the series at a more reasonable pace.

In some ways I've been jealous of Open Letter: if I could do more of what they are doing I'd do so. I've been corresponding with Chad Post, publisher at Open Letter for some time now, and we finally got a chance to meet in New York last May for Book Expo. Taking a break from the Kick the Can music festival we were at, we sat down for a few beers and hatched a plan which would allow us to bring some extra international literary titles to Canadian bookshelves and readers.

So: as of this month, Biblioasis will be representing Open Letter Books in Canada. For booksellers, this means that Open Letter books will be available through the LPG and Litdistco. Just talk to your sales rep, or place your orders when you order other LPG-repped books. For readers, it will mean you'll have easier and better access to some of the most exciting translations being published in the English language. If you don't see a title you want on your local shop's bookshelf, get them to order it. You won't regret doing so. To get a head start, please check out Open Letter's most recent catalogue here.

We'll be profiling and reviewing key titles on Thirsty in the coming weeks and months, starting with Jerzy Pilch's fabulous The Mighty Angel (pictured above) and keeping you posted of any other Open Letter developments, reviews or events that might be of interest. Just another reason to stay tuned.

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