Few exceptions aside, the most compelling, challenging, absorbing literary art is being produced by small presses and their respective writers. I asked a number of writers, editors, and publishers to send me a list of small press books to look out for in 2016. Below you’ll find my own list, which is informed by Kate Angus, John Cayley, Lauren Cerand, Samuel R. Delany, Rikki Ducornet, Andrew Ervin, Lily Hoang, Sean Lovelace, Scott McClanahan, Hubert O’Hearn, Jane Unrue, and Curtis White.
Below you’ll also find lists from Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Gabino Iglesias, Janice Lee, Dawn Raffel, Nick Francis Potter, John Reed, Adam Robinson, Michael Seidlinger, Terese Svoboda, Jason Teal, Angela Woodward, and Jacob Wren. All the abovementioned people are small press heroes and great writers in their own right. My thanks to all of them.
Chejfec Through the Looking Glass
There are those who would argue that a translator should avoid reading the text or author he or she is translating in the target language, to avoid contamination by exposure. I have to confess that I showed no such restraint when my copy of Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds – the first of his novels to be published in English – arrived in my mailbox: I ravenously tore open the package and read the first twenty pages while standing in the doorway, finishing the rest in one sitting, as suits the compact volume. As a fellow translator of Chejfec’s work, I was not only drawn in by the narrative, but was also curious about Margaret B. Carson’s approach to the meandering yet precise reflections that define his style. Beyond the familiar word or turn of phrase that would offer the comfort of continuity (his) or solidarity (mine, with her), I wanted to get to know this other Chejfec, who emerged from the pages of the novel like one of the parallel realities he explores within it, and I’m glad that I did. Not only does he show his dexterity at weaving together observations that seem connected only by chance, My Two Worlds reveals something often overlooked in the discussion of his work: as it turns out, he has quite the sense of humor.