Open Letter’s First Run

Open Letter Press just announced its debut list of titles, which are currently set to come out in the fall of 2008. Get psyched and buzzed!

Nobody’s Home by Dubravka Ugresic:
By Dubravka Ugresic, a Croatian exile living in Amsterdam. After the outbreak of the war in 1991 in former Yugoslavia, Ugresic wrote critically about nationalism and the travesty of war. She was labeled a traitor and left Croatia in 1993. This collection of witty stories offers life from the exile’s point of view.

The Taker and Other Stories by Rubem Fonseca:
By Rubem Fonseca, a Brazilian author who was one of the first to write about the reality of urban life in Rio. His gritty style is considered groundbreaking for Brazilian writers, where the pastoral setting has in recent decades reigned supreme. Few English translations of Fonesca’s works are available today.

The Pets by Bragi Olafsson:
By Bragi Olafsson, a young Icelandic writer who also forged a notable musical career as the former bassist for the Sugarcubes, the first band of Icelandic superstar Bjork. Olafsson’s work is a quirky, cinematic novel, much of which takes place with the main character trapped under his bed hiding from his “friends” who have invaded his living room.

Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Givelas:
By Ricardas Gavelis of Lithuania. The translator of this novel felt so strongly about the work that she translated the entire novel without a contract and sent it to Open Letter. The book is one of a handful of Lithuanian novels to be translated into English in the past decade. An intensely imaginative and creatively structured novel, it’s considered by many to be one of Lithuania’s greatest literary works.

The Conqueror by Jan Kjaerstad:
By Jan Kjaerstad of Norway. This book is the second in a trilogy featuring the fictional TV personality Jonas Wergeland, a famed Norwegian documentary producer who, for reasons left unexplained at the end of the previous novel, The Seducer, has murdered his wife. Kjaerstad was the recipient of the Nordic Prize for Literature in 2001.

The Sailor from Gibraltar by Marguerite Duras:
By Marguerite Duras, the late French author and filmmaker known for her autobiographical work translated into English as The Lover. Open Letter is reprinting The Sailor from Gibraltar, an expansive novel about a women living on a yacht, traveling the world looking for her lost lover.

The boys of Open Letter are featured in the new issue of Currents, which describes the unique approach to publishing that the press is taking:

Most nonprofit presses exist on their own as an entity that ends up at universities with special arrangements. In this case, Open Letter organically came out of the things that are going on here at the University within the humanities and all the international and translation initiatives. We’re seamlessly integrated into the mission of the University and work really well within the structure, including as a key resource in the developing academic programs in literary translation. I know of only one other press that operates similarly as part of a university. You could say that this is an experiment of sorts, one we hope will be very successful.

This is the kind of experiment that the publishing industry needs. We need to begin thinking of new ways to preserve the literary culture in this country and to keep it from disintegrating into a landscape of homogeneity. Long live the small press!


Author: Hannah Johnson

When I first came to New York City, I almost ran over Liza Minelli with my suitcase. Then I got a job in book publishing.

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