Literary roundup: A new publisher, Lady Gaga and an ice hammer for a hairdresser

At Deutsche Welle there is article about the new Berlin-based publisher Frisch & Co. Run by E.J. Van Lanen the e-book publisher is putting out a fascinating selection of novels in translation from Germany, Austria, Spain, Argentina and Italy.

I have just read the debut novel they put out by Argentine writer Carlos Busqued, Under This Terrible Sun, and it is a truly great book. Even better, you will have a chance to read an excerpt from the novel in B O D Y, as you will from the press’s next release The Swimmers, which comes out at the end of August.

Vladimir Sorokin on the power of literature

Elsewhere in Berlin, Kathrine Tschemerinsky interviewed Russian novelist Vladimir Sorokin for BOMB. Sorokin talks about losing his ability to remain apolitical in today’s increasingly totalitarian Russia, about needing to write differently from one book to the next and about his reception in countries outside of Russia, among other topics.

There are a lot of great quotes, including Sorokin’s recounting a Moscow taxi driver answering him that Lolita is “about a professor who fucks an adolescent girl” [Ed. Note – you mean it’s not?] but the best is when he talks about going to a hairdressers in Moscow after Ice Trilogy came out:

“One of the girls working there recognized me during the haircut, and she suddenly asked, “Mr. Sorokin. Tell me, is it true that if you make a hammer out of ice and hammer it into your chest, then you will wake up your heart?”

I told her that I hadn’t tried it yet. She was serious. That’s the power of literature. In Russia there is, thank God, still some very sincere and open-minded readers. It’s wonderful.”

Stanislaw Lem finds a new and unlikely voice

I do my best to help publicize Central and Eastern European literature and instead of writing and reviewing etc. etc. I should have thought of the following – have Lady Gaga read from a great Polish novel like, say, Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris. It’s so simple really. But I didn’t think of it, Marina Abramović did. That’s why she’s famous and I’m not. Bravo, Marina.

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