Saturday, March 25th
Most exciting bit of literary news I've heard in a long time came across my desk the other day -- Oğuz Atay's Tutunamayanlar will be published in English translation this month! This novel was a huge influence on Pamuk at the beginning of his career, and has repeatedly been cited as one of the books most in need of a translation into English.
The translation is by Atay's friend (and the book's dedicatee) Sevin Seydi; an excerpt previously won the Dryden Translation Competition. Here is Olric Press's flyer:
Oğuz Atay: The Disconnected [Tutunamayanlar]
translated by Sevin Seydi
715- pages, hardback only, 1/200 copies, published 17 March 2017.
Olric Press is pleased to announce for its first publication a major work in the canon of world literature. The Disconnected was the first book of Oğuz Atay (1934-1977), and was before its time. First published in 1972, it was a cult book among younger writers (Orhan Pamuk, for example, has recorded that he read it twice in the year it came out), but Atay never saw a second printing before his premature death. Since it was reprinted in 1984 it has gone through more than 70 editions, and is widely reckoned to be the most important book in modern Turkish literature.
“My life was a game, but I wanted it to be taken seriously,” says Selim, the anti-hero of the novel. But the game has a terrible end with his suicide, and his friend Turgut’s quest to understand this is the story of the book. He meets friends whom Selim had kept separate from each other, he finds documents in a kaleidoscopic variety of styles, sometimes hugely funny, sometimes very moving, as Selim rails against the ugliness of his world whether in satire or in a howl of anguish, taking refuge in words and loneliness. Under layers of fantasy is the central concept of the Disconnected, Tutunamayanlar, literally ‘those who cannot hold on’, poor souls among whom he counts himself, whose sole virtue is that they do not fit into society as it is constituted. He will be their messiah, at whose second coming they will change places with the comfortable of the world. Confronted with this Turgut sees the faultline in his conventional middle class life, and that he too is one of the Disconnected: he takes a train into Anatolia and ‘vanishes’. What could have been a bleak vision of alienation is transformed by the power of language and the imagination.
In 2002 UNESCO put The Disconnected at the head of their list of Turkish books of which translation was essential, warning that it would be very difficult. A German translation in 2016 was well received (e.g., Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26 June, found it astonishing that this masterpiece should wait 45 years to appear in German), and needed three printings in six months. But English was the language Atay knew and loved, and his confrontation with literature in English, notably Hamlet and the King James version of the gospels, is a feature of the book. An English translation is therefore called for, and by good chance one has long existed. Sevin Seydi (to whom the original was dedicated) made a rough translation page by page as Atay was actually writing the book, almost as a game with the author, and discussed it with him. After 40 years living, studying, working, marrying in England she has thoroughly revised it, and it should be the definitive version.
This limited edition, with paper and binding of archival quality, is available at £50 or $75 post paid.
Available only from the publisher. Please contact email@example.com
Olric Press, 13 Shirlock Road, London NW3 2HR, UK
(44) 207 485 9801
Wednesday, November 9th, 2016
I woke up on the wrong side of history.
Sunday, October 30th, 2016
If Never Let Me Go and Infinite Jest had a baby, it would be episode 2 of Black Mirror: Fifteen Million Merits.
Friday, October 28th, 2016
Mirá / estas cenizas / que fueron en otro tiempo mi cuerpo / lo que has abrazado fuerte / en otro tiempo / sientelas caerse / estas cenizas / entre tus dedos. Escuchá / al bosque / silencioso.
Look, now/ at these ashes / that used to be my body / you held me tight / used to / Now feel them falling / these ashes / between your fingers. Listen / to the silent / forest.
Thursday, October 20th, 2016
A friend just now described a blister's shape as "a laconic Nike swoosh" -- and he was quite right, too, that's what it looked like. And I had indeed just had in mind that very image, without having been able to name it, and replied, "I had that exact thought except without the eloquence!" He: "I feel that way when I read books I like" and the scales fall from my eyes!
Sunday, October second, 2016
I would have written several enthusiastic posts raving about Josh Fruhlinger's new novel (his first), The Enthusiast. It is such a treat.
Saturday, September 24th, 2016
A meme going around Facebook asks us to describe our own identity using 3 fictional characters. Mine? K. (Amerika), Ka (Snow), Kate (The Enthusiast).
Friday, September 23rd, 2016
"If an infinite number of rednecks riding in an infinite number of pickup trucks fire an infinite number of shotgun rounds at an infinite number of highway signs, they will eventually produce all the world's great literary works in Braille. "
Sunday, May 22nd, 2016
The unfamiliar world instruments story continues... For my birthday last week, Ellen and Sylvia gave me a dilruba, northern Indian fiddle with a neck similar to a sitar's neck (although the sound is pretty different from a sitar's).
An unusual thing about this instrument: Its bowl body is carved from a block of wood, not separate ribs bent and glued together. It is pretty heavy, but easy to hold since it rests on the floor. The bow ("gaz") is horsehair strung on bamboo, much tighter than the hair on a violin bow and without the mechanics -- the frog is just a piece of wood attached to the bow with twine, and does not tighten/loosen. The gaz is light as a feather and balanced perfectly. Bowing technique is very key; it is easy to just produce a dissonant scratching/buzzing tone if you are not holding the gaz just right. (Holding it right so the note rings, there is still a scratch/buzz element to the sound, but it does not overwhelm.)
The dilruba ("दिलरुबा" in Hindi means "heart-stealer") has in common with the erhu, that there is no fingerboard; strings are stopped with just the finger rather than pressed between the finger and something solid. Although the frets are exactly like a sitar's frets, you don't press the string against the fret. I've found the clearest and truest tone comes from fingering the side of the string -- this way you can touch the fret to keep your finger accurately positioned, and can stop the string without bending it.
Here is a recording of "Country Honk":
Friday, April 8th, 2016
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Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.