Today we’re celebrating the publication of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s first book in English, A Life on Paper: Stories, translated by Edward Gauvin. Obviously we will be watching the New York Times bestseller list closely this week because this book is a surefire hit: not only is it a translation, it’s a short story collection. Last week’s bestseller list contained four collections (one translated from Basque, one Welsh) and two anthologies—one of the usual sex+drugs+rocknroll stories and the other an anthology of Czech novellas. So the national appetite is whetted for a collection such as A Life on Paper, which introduces one of France’s premiere masters of the form. Run to the store! Or, download it now.
Edward Gauvin first brought Châteaureynaud to our attention a couple of years ago with a small chapbook of three stories, Trois Contes (One Horse Town), and he continued to keep us up to date with his doings. There had been a story published here, a story there, had we seen that Châteaureynaud won another award, let me tell you about this great and weird novel he just published. He sent us some pictures of the author (see below—and we realized that this was the French Vonnegut) and a few of his French book covers. Eventually we clued in to the fact that we are publishers and here was a fantastic French author whose work hadn’t been published in ye olde English language. At that point we broke out the checkbook and acquired the book. We also realized that Châteaureynaud’s face was about the best cover possible for this book. There’s a face that says I’ve got stories to tell.
Publishing a translation of 22 stories taken from half a dozen different collections whose rights are owned by three different publishers and the author has been . . . interesting! The easiest part was working with Brian Evenson who wrote the excellent Foreword to the collection. The more difficult part was that thing about the three publishers and so on. However, that’s where the French Publishers’ Agency comes in. The lovely people there worked with us on all those contracts (and the revisions, the endless revisions!) with Actes Sud, Grasset, and Juilliard, and without them it’s unlikely that this book would have made it to publication here in the USA. They also worked with us and Edward on applying for a couple of different grants—which very much helped with the costs; and one of the grants may be used for Châteaureynaud’s next book instead of this one. Because it turns out that some of Châteaureynaud’s work is connected and if you read some of these stories they help set up the world of some of his novels. Which is something we’re looking forward to getting to once Edward sends us the translation. Of course, Edward is off in Belgium on a Fulbright, but we’re hoping he won’t be so enamored of the Belgian beer and books that he will forget his US readers patiently waiting for the next Châteaureynaud.
So in the meantime, we’re proud to present our second translation—Kalpa Imperial by Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer and translated by Ursula K. Le Guin being the first—and newest collection of short stories: A Life on Paper. As usual for us, this book crosses many genre borders so no doubt in some bookshops you will find it shelved in fiction and in others you’ll find it in science fiction. The one given is that you should go out and find it!