Reading the World is now in its fourth year

JUNE 2008:
The Assistant by Robert Walser
Moderator: Sam “Golden Rule” Jones; translator Susan Bernofsky

SEPTEMBER 2008:
Yalo by Elias Khoury
Moderator: Drake Stutesman, Framework; translator Peter Theroux

NOVEMBER 2008:
Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous
Moderator: Maud Newton; translator Ann Goldstein

JANUARY 2009:
The Diving Pool by Yoko Ogawa
Moderator: TBA; translator Stephen Snyder

FEBRUARY 2009:
Don Quixote by Cervantes
Moderator: Mark Sarvas; translator Edith Grossman

MARCH 2009:
The Girl on the Fridge by Etgar Keret
Moderator: Adam Rovner of Zeek; translator Miriam Schlesinger

It’s hard to imagine that Reading the World is now in its fourth year. RTW grew out of a series of informal meetings of booksellers and publishers—all of whom were interested in finding a way to introduce American readers to more international authors. We had the sense that America’s book culture was becoming increasingly isolated, a feeling that’s been verified by the depressing statistic that only 3% of all books published here are in translation. (And if you consider just adult literature and poetry, that figure is much closer to 0.3%.)

As Goethe said back in 1827, “Left to itself every literature will exhaust its vitality if it is not refreshed by the interest and contributions of a foreign one.” This belief that international literature plays a vital role in book culture is one that is shared by all the publishers and booksellers involved in Reading the World. Our hope is that the following selection of 25 works of literature in translation will serve as an introduction to all American readers, encouraging you to explore some of the great works being written in countries around the world.

The titles included here represent a broad range of cultures, from Portugal to Lebanon, from China to Switzerland, from Chile to Japan. And the fifteen publishers included in this year’s program are diverse as well. In addition to the ten presses from years past (Archipelago; Dalkey Archive; Ecco; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Knopf; New Directions; New York Review Books; Other Press; and Picador) independent booksellers selected titles from five additional presses to include in the program. These five new presses are: Columbia University; Copper Canyon; Europa; Graywolf; and Grove.

All of the presses and bookstores involved in this program are among the best in the country, as are the other stellar partners affiliated with this project. Peter Sis has once again created amazing artwork for the project that perfectly captures the spirit and tone of Reading the World. And starting in June, Words Without Borders (www.wordswithoutborders.org) will be relaunching its Reading the World Book Clubs, featuring reading guides and moderated discussions of several of the titles found on the following pages.

Best,

Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum Bookshop
Chad W. Post, Open Letter/University of Rochester
Jeff Seroy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Reading the world

Now in its third year, Reading The World is an exciting collaboration between booksellers and publishers interested in bringing international voices to the attention of readers like you.

As a result, throughout the month of June and beyond, many independent bookstores across the country will be displaying the titles found on the following pages. These forty books represent some of the most exciting literature being written outside the United States. From Lithuania to Iraq, from Norway to Chile, the writers offer an excellent introduction to a variety of cultures and ideas found outside our borders—ideas and cultures that we must have access to in order to understand our world.

We would also like to thank the amazing Peter Sís for providing the artwork for Reading The World. The images he has created for the program beautifully capture the vision of our program, and his dedication to world literature is admirable.

Most important, though, we hope you enjoy whatever books from this list and the bookstore displays you decide to read.

Best,

Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum Bookshop
Chad Post, University of Rochester
Jeff Seroy, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

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