On Publishing Angélica Gorodischer

Mon 7 Feb 2022 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Angélica GorodischerOn Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022 I was incredibly sorry to read in an email from Amalia Gladhart, who translated Trafalgar for us as well as Jaguars’ Tomb for Vanderbilt UP, that Argentinean author Angélica Gorodischer had died at her home in Rosario at the age of 93. Here’s a link to the obituary Amalia sent.

We published the first three of Angélica’s books to be translated into English: Kalpa Imperial (translated by Ursula K. Le Guin) in 2003, followed by Trafalgar (translated by Amalia Gladhart) in 2013, and Prodigies (translated by Sue Burke) in 2015.

Publishing Angélica’s books — and meeting her when she came up to the WisCon conference in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2003 — have been one of the highlights of our work here at the press. Kelly and I publishing Angélica’s books in our third season put Small Beer onto a different plane and meant that we could from our early years use Kalpa Imperial to show that we had very broad horizons in our sights. Angélica was exceedingly generous to share her books with us and we very appreciative. The story of how we came to publish the books, while not as interesting as any of Angélica’s own wide ranging stories, shows a little of how publishing works, with a drop of luck, much hard work and juggling, and a little of being in the right place at the right time.

In 1998 Kelly read and admired a section of Kalpa Imperial, The End of a Dynasty, or The Natural History of Ferrets, in the anthology Starlight 2, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, which had been translated by Ursula K. Le Guin. This was not the first translation of Angélica’s work into English. According to this useful site, Alberto Manguel translated “Man’s Dwelling Place” for his anthology Other Fires: Short Fiction by Latin American Women (Three Rivers, 1985); four of her stories were translated (by Monica Bruno, Mary G. Berg, and two by Lorraine Elena Roses) for the 1991 White Pine Press anthology, Secret Weavers, edited by Marjorie Agosin; and Diana L. Vélez translated “Camera Obscura” for Latin American Literary Review, 19 (37).

At some point after reading Starlight 2, Kelly wondered if Ursula had translated more of Angélica’s work. We had met Ursula once or twice at WisCon, an annual feminist science-fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin, which we all loved and so we sent her a letter. I am still amazed at the response.

At this point, the two of us had published four books through Small Beer: in 2001, Kelly’s first collection, Stranger Things Happen and Ray Vukcevich’s collection Meet Me in the Moon Room, and in 2002, two books by Carol Emshwiller, a novel, The Mount, and a collection, Report to the Men’s Club. While talking to Carol we found out that Ursula was a big fan of Carol’s books and asked Ursula if she would blurb one of Carol’s books — Ursula said she could not . . . because she admired Carol (here’s her review of Ledoyt) so much that she had just asked Carol to blurb one of her books. So when we wrote, rather out of the blue, asking about Kalpa Imperial we had at least corresponded a little and at some point I’d been brave enough to buy her a bourbon in Madison. (Ursula and Angélica were both smart, no nonsense, and more than a little bit terrifying.)

Ursula’s agent at the time was the late Linn Prentis of the Virginia Kidd Agency — who was a mixed blessing. She was willing to work with our tiny press but between her office having work done on it and not everyone being on the same computer system it took three months for the manuscript to be sent to us and the final deal — our first translation contracts — wasn’t concluded until January 2003. Here’s the Publishers Lunch announcement:

Angélica Gorodischer’s KALPA IMPERIAL, a history of an empire that never was, translated by Ursula K. Le Guin, to Gavin Grant at Small Beer Press, in a nice deal, by Linn Prentiss at the Virginia Kidd Agency (NA).

Kalpa Imperial coverWe were planning on publishing in August of that year — as we’d done for our first two seasons — but then an unmissable opportunity came up: the possibility that Angélica could attend WisCon on the Memorial Day weekend in May 2003. Suddenly everything was moving very fast. Fortunately for my monolingual self, Angélica’s English was strong: “I can make myself understood and I can understand your Scotch English. Je parle Français aussi.” (I read in the one of the obituaries that her 1988 Fulbright Scholarship allowed her to participate in the University of Iowa International Writing Program and she also taught at the University of Northern Colorado.)

She could do more than make herself understood. She was sharp and funny and sometimes returned emailed after trips to Ecuador or Bolivia (“where I thought I was going to die: 4,500m above sea level!”) and I learned that she too loved Carol’s books — I had mailed her our first four books and we were both delighted they arrived. The mail to Argentina then seemed to be about as reliable as the present day USPS.

And then the US started another war and we were all thrown for a loop (again).

On Mar 20, 2003, at 8:04 AM, Angelica Gorodischer wrote: Dear Gavin: I was pepared to write you a letter about Kelly Link's book. But I am so scared, horrified; so angry and annoyed by this war, that all I can say is that I love it! God help us, if He is up there looking down at this madness. Love Angelica

However she was worried at the speed we were working.

She was right.

Our proofreader turned in a workmanlike job and after all the changes had been entered I sent the book to the printer. There’s nothing quite like having an internationally acclaimed award-winning author fly in from Argentina and when you meet for the first time she sits you down in an empty ballroom to show you the typos in her first book translated into English that you have just published.

Our printer also shifted the ship date at the last minute without telling us and we almost didn’t get books to the convention. For some reason they also individually shrink wrapped every copy. Ugh. It was both a fantastic and miserably stressful weekend and I learned that all that “extra time” in publishing schedules is very necessary.

By a happy coincidence in 2003 another of Angélica’s short stories, “The Violet Embryos” translated by Sara Irausquin, was published in the anthology Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (Wesleyan UP).

In the run up to the actual publication date of Kalpa Imperial, a bilingual friend of ours from the KGB Bar Fantastic Fiction reading series, Gabriel Mesa, offered to interview Angélica for the website Fantastic Metropolis. You can read the interview here which captures some of Angélica’s vivacity.

The book found many friends at independent bookshops and a few months later it was reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. It was easy to be enthusiastic about, as I loved it so much.

Angélica GorodischerBeing a very small press, I struggled with how we could afford more translations of Angélica’s work. I knew I wanted to read them but I didn’t know enough about the industry to even know where to begin. So I put a tiny line on our website saying that we were always looking for more translations of Angélica’s work. A couple of people contacted us over the years, usually grad students, to see if we had any funding or if they could work with us. My (ongoing) problem was that I have to read the full book before I can tell if I’m going to publish it so I could not read just a chapter or two. Early as 2003, two books were especially recommended to me: a short story collection, Trafalgar, and a novel, Prodigies. Both of them were said to be very different from Kalpa Imperial which only deepened my interest.

In 2011 I discovered something which made it much less likely that we would be able to publish another of Angélica’s books. All the checks we had sent to her agent from 2004 – 2011 had been cashed but none of the money had been sent on. I was truly horrified — I can still hardly believe it. I can see how easily it happened — many international editions don’t earn out their advances and I trusted the agent, of course, so I never checked with Angélica to see if she was receiving the money.

When I found out from the agent by email she replied saying how expensive it was (as it still is) to send money to Argentina, but that was no excuse. Despite my pushing, nothing happened until the agent retired and someone else took over that we were able to make any headway. I had given up on the agent by then and the Argentinean government had made it easier to send money into the country so I was able to send everything owed to Angélica. At some later time, the agency paid the press back for the unsent royalties — minus their percentage. Anyway, she was a good agent for a lot of people for many years and had done good work for Angélica at first.

Then, as I was trying to get information from the agent about the unpaid royalties, came the news that Angélica was going to be awarded a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Awards at their November 2011 convention — a lovely prize for a writer who had dipped in and out of many genres and who received many awards: here are a few from her extended bio:

1964 “Vea & Lea” award, III contest of detective stories
1965 “Club del Orden” award
1984 “Más Allá” award; “Poblet” award, “Premoi Konex”
1984-85 Emecé award
1985 “Sigfried Radaelli Club de los Trece”
1986 Gilgamesh (Spain)
1991 Gilgamesh (Spain)
1994 “Platinum Konex”
1996 “Dignity” award granted by the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights for works and activity in women’s rights
1998 Silvina Bullrich award, granted by the Argentina Writers’ Society to the best novel written by a woman during the three precedent years
2000: “Esteban Echeverría”
2007: Premio ILCH, California
2014: Konex Career Award
2017: Honorary Doctorate, National University of Cuyo
2018: Prix Imaginales for Kalpa Imperial
2018: Grand Prize for Artistic Career from the National Fund for the Arts for her contribution to Argentine culture.

At first it seemed the organization was going to bring Angélica in to receive the award in person but it did not work out. Another translator, Edward Gauvin, who had translated French author Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s stories in a collection, A Life on Paper, was good enough to collect the award in her place. This is the speech Angélica sent:

As you may see, I am not here, but just now, at this exact moment I am in Rosario, very far away from here but thinking of you all, and I wonder: what are they thinking now? Are they happy to be here? Yes. I know you are, and then, of course, I am happy too. And I feel immensely grateful. This Award is very important to me. It comes to my hands at the right moment. At eighty-three years old, I can count so many blessings: my husband, my sons, my daughter, my grandsons and my granddaughter, and my accomplices: the words I put in my thirty books of narrative. As Jorge Luis Borges said once I am condemned to the Spanish words. And I am trying to say in my poor English that I feel happy and joyful and that I send you my love and my gratitude. Thank you.

And here is Gauvin’s speech on accepting the award:

Any committee (or convention) that gives a prize like this to a person like this needs no reminder of the kind I’m about to give, so let me position this as preaching to the choir rather as a pat on its back, or a collective prayer. Angélica Gorodischer has been given a tremendous honor but one that I hope will serve to take her a step further down the trail first blazed eight years ago by the publication of Ursula K. Le Guin’s translation of Kalpa Imperial by Small Beer Press, Angélica’s publisher and mine.

Giving her this award is a little like hanging a medal round the tip of the iceberg whose other nine-tenths I hope one see the light of English day. By a curious metonymy of publishing economies, single books sometimes stand in for entire bodies of work. In the worst cases, single authors are allowed to stand in for entire countries or languages, as if the attention span of English-speaking readers were not enough to hold more than one complicated, funny-sounding name in its mind at a time. Or, as if with such an award, we Anglophones deigned to notice the rest of a world with a nod and now owed no more. We in this room know better.

Let fantasy, which draws already from so many folkloric world traditions, truly become world fantasy. Thank you.

Trafalgar coverAt yet the same time, I received an email from a writer and translator, Amalia Gladhart, an Associate Professor of Spanish Department of Romance Languages. Amalia had translated two books by Ecuadorian writer Alicia Yánez Cossío (The Potbellied Virgin, UT Press, 2006, and Beyond the Islands, UNO Press, 2011) and after reading Kalpa Imperial and finding the note on our website, she contacted us about translating Trafalgar. She had been in touch with Angélica, had begun translating Trafalgar, and was heading to Rosario to teach so would be able to go over her translation directly. I was delighted and when she sent me the translation I was enamored of the strangeness of the book in which an intergalactic salesman tells stories of his travels to his friends back in a coffeeshop in Rosario.

We placed some of the stories in magazines (The Sense of the Circle [interview],  The Best Day of the Year, Trafalgar and Josefina) and published the book in 2013. The colors in the cover came out muddier than the sharp piece of art we had selected. Our then printer didn’t agree with us and would not reprint so we did not work with them again. Despite the muddy cover, much to my relief, Angélica was very pleased and Amalia translated her letter on receipt of the books:

Dear Gavin: I received the copies of Trafalgar, just marvelous. The first thing I did was to caress them, because they are so beautiful that they call to the hand and the eye. What a fine object, so attractive, so precious. Afterwards, of course, with great feeling I began to turn the pages and, as always, I was stunned by Amalia’s expert translation. Well, everything is perfect, and I am very happy, very moved, and Amalia and I are planning public presentations and dialogues in bookstores, the College of Translators, etc., here in Rosario, to make the book known. Many thanks for everything and let’s keep in touch as in the past.
With warm greetings,
hugs,
Angélica

TrafalgarIn 2020 Trafalgar was reprinted in the UK as part of a new Penguin Classics line and I very much like the presentation and the quotes they’ve used:

“A novel that is unlike anything I’ve ever read, one part pulp adventure to one part realistic depiction of the affluent, nearly-idle bourgeoisie, but always leaning more towards the former in its inventiveness and pure sense of fun.” — Los Angeles Review of Books

In an email in 2004, Ursula had said she was reading Prodigies and found it “fascinating and extremely difficult.” In his 2003 interview, Gabriel Mesa had asked Angélica:

Q. If after KALPA you had to choose another of your novels to be translated into English, which would it be?

A: PRODIGIOS, always PRODIGIOS which I believe is the best thing I have ever written in my life. Of course no one would read it because it is a difficult text.

A few months after Trafalgar came out we were approached by another writer translator, Sue Burke, to see if we were still interested in a translation of that very novel, Prodigies. An American, she was then living in Madrid and her most recent translation was Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Science Fiction (Sportula, 2013). Given that Angélica thought it was the best thing she had written, how could I resist? I may have ignored the last line in her answer above.

Prodigies cover - click to view full sizeProdigies is as promised, a slim, fabulous, somewhat difficult novel. We placed excerpts in the journals Eleven Eleven and Spolia Magazine. Reading it is like diving into a dream, with sentences and paragraphs that leave no room for coming up for air so the reader has to go with it or drown.

Angélica wrote around thirty books and so far Prodigies is the last translation of her work we’ve published — but never say never. Amalia Gladhart translated the dark, recursive, and fascinatingly structured Jaguars’ Tomb for Vanderbilt UP and Angélica’s name is now well enough known in the Anglophone world that I expect there will be more translations, perhaps published by us, perhaps elsewhere. Having more than one publisher means there is more than one team of publicists and editors talking up the books and there is more chance the books will find readers.

We were incredibly fortunate to work with Angélica — and her three translators — on these three books. I send my sympathies and condolences to Angélica’s family and those who knew and loved her and I am grateful that we have her books.

More

website

El Pais obituary

Locus obituary

Sofia Samatar on Kalpa Imperial



AWP Reading/Party: Thu April 9, 7 pm

Wed 1 Apr 2015 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

In less a week or so we will be in the Twin Cities (where our distro, Consortium is based, woohoo!) at the AWP Conference and Bookfair. To celebrate 1 million poets, writers, editors, publishers, readers, teachers, students, preachers, itinerant educators and professional argumentors getting together we are hosting a party with a few readings in it. Here are the salient details!

When: Thursday, April 9, 7 -9 pm
Where: Peterson Milla Hooks, 1315 Harmon Pl, Minneapolis, MN 55403 (4 minutes by car from l’hotel, says Google Maps)
What: Party — with short readings from . . .
Who:
Amalia Gladhart (translator of Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar)
Alan DeNiro (Tyrannia)
Kelly Link (Get in Trouble)

We’ll also have a table in the Bookfair, #324, and will be there be most of the time (multiple snack breaks will be taken) while the Bookfair is open:

4/9     Thu. 9 am – 5 pm
4/10   Fri. 9 am – 5 pm
4/11    Sat. 9 am – 5 pm

and at said table on Friday morning we are very happy to announce that we will have those lovely writers in for signings!

Friday, April 10, 30-minute signings:
10 am  Kelly Link
10:30 am  Amalia Gladhart
11 am  Alan DeNiro

This post will be updated with panel info and anything else that seems appropriate. Can’t wait to be standing there in the bookroom with 1000 (sounds about right, yes?) other indie presses. I am going to go and buy me some books, chapbooks, and journals. And maybe a T-shirt if I am lucky. Whomsoever brings the pink T-shirt, I am your buyer!



2013 in SBP books

Wed 18 Dec 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Sometimes I miss Badreads, the community reading site that AFAIK closed down earlier this year. I haven’t yet really migrated to LibraryThing (there’s that part ownership thing) or any of the others. I certainly liked seeing what other people were reading and keeping up with what I was reading.

Now, who knows what I read? I barely do. Although I really enjoyed the most recent issue of Pen AmericaNot just because they reprinted two stories from Three Messages and a Warning either. The whole thing was great, from the forum on teaching writing (Dorothy Allison, Paul La Farge . . . and Elissa Schappel’s heartbreaking piece) to the poetry by Ron Padgett (“Advice to Young Writers”) and two graphic narratives (comics!) by the fab David B. and Jean-Pierre Filiu (translated by none other than Edward Gauvin!) and Brian Evenson and Zak Sally. Anyway, you want a good magazine? Go read it.

I joined Pen a couple of years ago (teenage me: so proud!) and now Kelly’s a member, too. Are you a writer or editor? Do you care about intellectual freedom? If you can swing it, sign up here!

Ok, so, Small Beer: What have we been up to this fine year almost done and gone?

2 issues of LCRW! A record! Well, for recent years. We are planning 2 more for 2014. Phew!

A banner year for Weightless, yay!

And the New York Times just gave a great review to one of our final books of the year, Howard Waldrop’s new collection. I always think our books are so good that they all should be on NPR, in the WaPo, the LA, NY, St. Petersburg, Seattle, and London Times, etc., etc., so sometimes I surprised when they aren’t. I know: different strokes for different folks and all that, although really I think since all our books are so good they should overcome any reader prejudices. (“Short stories! Pah!”) The real reason they’re not reviewed anywhere? All the papers and magazines find it hard to justify reviewing half a dozen or more books from the same publisher. Right? Right!

BTW: if you would like to order Small Beer books (we have many signed copies!) to arrive in time for the holidays, please select Priority Mail. We are shipping until 5 pm on Thursday December 19th this year.

Here’s a picture of all the books we published this year and below, a little bit more about each book.

2013 books

BOOKS!
Authors!

Chuntering on!

Reviews!

CRY MURDER! IN A SMALL VOICE
Greer Gilman

What, another chapbook? That’s two in two years! The last one we did was in 2004 (Theodora Goss) and the next one should be 2014. Woo! This one is a dark, dense and intense serial killer story with Ben Jonson, detective and avenging angel.

“A jewel of a novella.”—Strange Horizons

NORTH AMERICAN LAKE MONSTERS
Nathan Ballingrud » interview

The darkest book I expect we will ever publish! Bleak? Check. Monsters? Check? Fabulous, fabulous writing? Check!

“Matched to his original ideas and refreshing re­furbishments of genre set pieces, Ballingrud’s writ­ing makes North American Lake Monsters one of the best collections of short fiction for the year.
Locus

“The beauty of the work as a whole is that it offers no clear and easy answers; any generalization that might be supported by some stories is contradicted by others. It makes for an intellectually stimulating collection that pulls the reader in unexpected directions. The pieces don’t always come to a satisfactory resolution, but it is clear that this is a conscious choice. The lack of denouement, the uncertainty, is part of the fabric of the individual stories and of the collection as a whole. It is suggestive of a particular kind of world: one that is dark, weird, and just beyond our ability to impose order and understanding. These are not happy endings. They are sad and unsettling, but always beautifully written with skillful and insightful prose. It is a remarkable collection.”
Hellnotes

SPIDER IN A TREE
Susan Stinson » Rick Kleffel interviews Susan Stinson (mp3 link).

Flying out the door in our town (Broadside Books alone has sold 140+ copies!) and now all over the country. Jonathan Edwards, we hardly knew ye. Until Susan brought you and your family and your town back to life.

“Ultimately, ‘Spider in a Tree’ is a lesson in what not to expect. Stinson eludes the clichés usually associated with religious extremism to peel away the humans underneath. We speak of a loving God, who asks us to embark upon a deadly war. We most easily see the sins in others that we are ourselves guilty of. Every ambition to perfect ourselves has a very human cost. As we reach for what we decide is the divine, we reveal our most fragile human frailties. Words cannot capture us; but we in all our human hubris, are quite inclined to capture words.”
The Agony Column

A STRANGER IN OLONDRIA
Sofia Samatar

We still have a few hardcovers of this left, unlike most other places. Some reviewers have really got this book including Jane Franklin in Rain Taxi who just gave it a huge excellent review. Yes, it’s a fantasy novel. Yes, it’s fantastic. Sofia sure can write.

“Sofia Samatar’s debut fantasy A Stranger in Olondria is gloriously vivid and rich.”
—Adam Roberts, The Guardian, Best Science Fiction Books of 2013

“For its lyricism, its focus on language, and its concern with place, it belongs on the shelf with the works of Hope Mirrlees, Lord Dunsany, and M. John Harrison — but for its emotional range, it sits next to books by Ursula K. Le Guin or Joanna Russ.”—Jane Franklin, Rain Taxi

TRAFALGAR
Angélica Gorodischer. Translated by Amalia Gladhart.

Our second Gorodischer—and we have high hopes of a third and maybe even a fourth! This one is a discursive, smart, self aware science fiction. Don’t miss!

“Perhaps the strangest thing about these tales is how easily one forgets the mechanics of their telling. Medrano’s audiences are at first reluctant to be taken in by yet another digressive, implausible monologue about sales and seductions in space. But soon enough, they are urging the teller to get on with it and reveal what happens next. The discerning reader will doubtless agree.”
Review of Contemporary Fiction

HORSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR: STORIES
Howard Waldrop

We keep getting letters from Waldrop fans who are so pleased he has a new book out: and that after 40 years he’s in the New York Times! Spread the joy!

“What’s most rewarding in Mr. Waldrop’s best work is how he both shocks and entertains the reader. He likes to take the familiar — old films, fairy tales, Gilbert & Sullivan operettas — then give it an out-of-left-field twist. At least half the 10 tales in his new collection are prime eccentric Waldrop . . .  as he mashes genres, kinks and knots timelines, alchemizing history into alternate history. In “The Wolf-man of Alcatraz,” the B prison movie rubs fur with the Wolf-man; “Kindermarchen” takes the tale of Hansel and Gretel and transforms it into a haunting fable of the Holocaust; and “The King of Where-I-Go” is a moving riff on time travel, the polio epidemic and sibling love.
“Among the most successful stories is “The Horse of a Different Color (That You Rode In On),” an improbable confluence of vaudeville (two of the main characters perform in a horse suit) and the Arthurian Grail legend that manages to name-check Señor Wences, Thomas Pynchon, “King Kong” and more as Mr. Waldrop tells of the Ham Nag — “the best goddamned horse-suit act there ever was.” It’s certainly the best horse-suit-act story I’ve ever read.”
New York Times

TYRANNIA AND OTHER RENDITIONS
Alan DeNiro

Alan’s second collection marries absurdity to with politics and heart. Every writer is unique. Alan? Alan is like a superhero made up of the best parts of half a dozen of our favorite writers. Read these two excerpts to see why: “Tyrannia”, Walking Stick Fires [excerpt].

“Most of Tyrannia‘s rambunctious, immensely entertaining stories — seven of them science fiction — blend bizarre speculations with intermittent humor. When there isn’t humor, there’s weirdness — often extreme weirdness, funny in its own right. Fair warning: what I’m about to describe might not always make sense. That’s in the nature of this highly unconventional collection.”
—Will George, Bookslut

DEATH OF A UNICORN & THE POISON ORACLE
Peter Dickinson

We added Reading Group Questions to the former and the latter includes an author interview carried out by none other than Sara Paretsky. These two sort of mysteries are filled with bon mots, memorable characters, and the strangeness of the 1950s, 1970s, and 1980s. There is nothing as haunting as the last line of The Poison Oracle.

“Dickinson’s crime novels are simply like no other; sophisticated, erudite, unexpected, intricate, English and deeply, wonderfully peculiar.”
—Christopher Fowler, author of The Memory of Blood



Small Beer Podcast 17: Angélica Gorodischer’s “The González Family’s Fight for a Better World”

Tue 19 Mar 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Julie

Trafalgar cover - click to view full size

I don’t always take authors very seriously, but when Angélica Gorodischer indicated in Trafalgar’s foreword that the stories should be read in order, something in her tone made me pay attention. And something in her writing. She amused me right from the beginning, and so I decided to take her at her word and allow the journey to unfold over the course of the novel. Honestly, it was no hardship. Once I started the first story, I realized nothing less than mainlining the entire book would satisfy.

Angélica Gorodischer is the recipient of the 2011 World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award. She has published over nineteen award-winning books in her native Spanish. Still, for me, an English-only reader, Gorodischer feels like a “new author” discovery. Trafalgar may have been written in 1979, but it’s already one of my top five books for 2013.

A fix-up novel, a mosaic novel, or as the book copy suggests “a novel-in-stories:” whatever the term you choose to describe Angélica Gorodischer’s Trafalgar, it is funny, dry, and always engaging. Trafalgar feels like some sort of Douglas Adams, Gabriel Garcia Marquez hybrid. The narrator of Trafalgar is Trafalgar Medrano’s coffee-shop companion. It is she who transcribes the various intergalactic adventures Trafalgar describes over cups of strong, black coffee. And it is she who understands Trafalgar and his foibles enough to fill in the blanks he might have left in these stories. Unlike Dr. Watson, this biographer has no misapprehensions about human nature.

And now we have one of these stories available on the podcast. When Amalia Gladhart offered to read for the podcast, I was thrilled. Amalia translated Trafalgar; she read the original novel and she shepherded that novel from Spanish to English. What better person to read the English translation?

Episode 17: In which Amalia Gladhart reads Angélica Gorodischer’s “The González Family’s Fight for a Better World” from Trafalgar.

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Trafalgar, here, there, everywhere

Thu 21 Feb 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Trafalgar cover - click to view full sizeThanks to translator extraordinaire Amalia Gladhart, I’m very happy to be celebrating the first English language publication of Angélica Gorodischer’s novel TrafalgarThe credit for this book coming out also goes back to Ursula K. Le Guin whose translation of Kalpa Imperial opened our eyes to this excellent writer. I am so glad I put this rather optimistic line in our About page:

We are seriously interested in more translations — especially of Angelica Gorodischer. However, we are monolingual (sorry) which makes the editorial process difficult. If you are a grad student looking for a translation project which may be of interest to us, we recommend Gorodischer’s Trafalgar and Prodiges.

We heard from a few translators of Gorodischer’s work in the ten years(!) since we published Kalpa Imperial but nothing panned out so when I received an email in June 2011 from Amalia I didn’t know whether to get excited or not. She had published a couple of previous translations, The Potbellied Virgin and Beyond the Islands, both by Alicia Yánez Cossío of Ecuador, which seemed like a good sign. But I still wasn’t sure, of course, until I got the book.

The first story, “By the Light of the Chaste Electronic Moon,” is great and really off the wall—check it out in Fantasy & Science Fiction this spring—so I was on edge, wondering where the book was going. But the second story, “The Sense of the Circle,” blew me away and I knew we were going to publish the book.

When it was announced that Angélica was one of the two winners of the World Fantasy Life Achievement Award, I had a mad thought that we could get the book—or at least a chapbook—out in time for the convention. Ha. Did not happen. But in the meantime Kelly found Ron Guyatt‘s fabulous travel poster “Caloris Basin – Mercury” and we worked with him to use it for the cover.

And now the book is out!

Two of the stories are already online: “The Best Day of the Year” (on Tor.com) and “Trafalgar and Josefina” (on Belletrista), and just today “Of Navigators” went up on the lit journal Eleven Eleven’s new site (their print edition will be available here). And reviews are coming in from all over. The Willamette Week (“a thing of digression and casual wonderment”) liked that Trafalgar was translated by an Oregonian. Abigail Nussbaum, in the Los Angeles Review of Books, called it “A novel that is unlike anything I’ve ever read, one part pulp adventure to one part realistic depiction of the affluent, nearly-idle bourgeoisie, but always leaning more towards the former in its inventiveness and pure (if, sometimes, a little guilt-inducing) sense of fun.”

Trafalgar is hard to describe, which is part of the fun of it. Put the coffee on and join in.



Coffee? Sure. La Morenita or La Virginia?

Thu 17 Jan 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Pinot Noir beginning veraisonReforma gives Trafalgar a very strong recommendation (“Highly recommended for Public and Academic Libraries”), which I translate as: a book for everyone!

I suppose a good quote from the review would be “The narrative of this compilation draws the reader into the story of an ordinary man traveling to alternative worlds. Gorodischer creates an atmosphere where fascinating stories take on the ordinariness of everyday life.”

Not mentioned: Trafalgar drinks a lot of coffee. We should have partnered with an Argentinean coffee firm because this book is going to cause a lot of people to get up and put the coffee on. La Morenita! La Virginia! Coffee shops! Baristas! Call us!

How much coffee? Seven cups. Begins like this:

I was with Trafalgar Medrano yesterday. It’s not easy to find him. He’s always going here and there with that import-export business of his. But now and then he goes from there to here and he likes to sit down and drink coffee and chat with a friend. I was in the Burgundy and when I saw him come in, I almost didn’t recognize him: he had shaved off his mustache. . . .

Marcos brought him his double coffee and a glass of cold water on a little silver plate. That’s what I like about the Burgundy. . . .

Marcos brought him another double coffee before he could order it. That Marcos is a marvel: if you drink nothing but dry sherry, well chilled, like me; or orange juice—not strained—with gin, like Salustiano, the youngest of the Carreras; or seven double coffees in a row like Trafalgar Medrano, you can be sure that Marcos will be there to remember it even if it’s been ten years since you went to the Burgundy.

Marcos arrived with the third double coffee. . . .

Marcos had put down the paper—he had collected at one of the other tables—and now he was coming with the fourth double coffee. . . . 

All right, coffee, anyone?

But, wait, if you prefer it with wine, the third edition of Wine and Word Tasting at Winter’s Hill Vineyard will take place on Saturday, February 16, 11:00-5:00 in Lafayette, Oregon. Yum.



Trafalgar and Josefina

Wed 5 Dec 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Trafalgar cover - click to view full sizeBelletrista just posted “Trafalgar and Josefina,” an excerpt which will give you a nice sense of our forthcoming book by Angélica Gorodischer, TrafalgarAlong with the book there is a short intro—and a great picture of the two of them—by the translator, Amalia Gladhart:

Trafalgar’s adventures are curious, funny, sometimes hair-raising, always thought-provoking. His stories are sought after, traded among acquaintances, shared sparingly by those lucky enough to hear them first hand. And the importance of the storytelling process is always evident. Trafalgar loves to tell a tale—and he loves to draw it out, pausing for another cup of coffee, petting a friend’s cat, playing hard to get; his listeners prod him impatiently, but he will not be rushed.

Read on.

 



Trafalgar’s chaste light

Thu 15 Nov 2012 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 2 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

Trafalgar cover - click to view full sizeBefore you know it we’ll be publishing our second novel by Angélica Gorodischer, Trafalgartranslated by U. of Oregon professor Amalia Gladhart. Originally published in Argentina in 1979, it’s a very light and funny book. We had some good news recently: the book is getting a small grant to help with translation costs from the “Sur” Translation Support Program of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Culture of the Argentine Republic. (Obra editada  en el marco del Programa “Sur” de Apoyo a las Traducciones del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto de  la República Argentina.) How cool is that? It is awesome.

We’re also working with Ron Guyatt on the final cover.

Trafalgar is a novel-in-stories and the first one, “By the Light of the Chaste Electronic Moon,” is more bawdy than the others, which is a funny way to set things up! But it also starts right in with Trafalgar Medrano, salesman and storyteller, who, given time and seven double coffees, will tell all about his sales trips to the farthest parts of the galaxies. Another of the stories, “Trafalgar and Josefina,” is forthcoming on Belletrista, but you can get a tiny taste of the first story here:

“By the Light of the Chaste Electronic Moon”

I was with Trafalgar Medrano yesterday. It’s not easy to find him. He’s always going here and there with that import-export business of his. But now and then he goes from there to here and he likes to sit down and drink coffee and chat with a friend. I was in the Burgundy and when I saw him come in, I almost didn’t recognize him: he had shaved off his mustache.

The Burgundy is one of those bars of which there aren’t many left, if there are any at all. None of that Formica or any fluorescent lights or Coca-Cola. Gray carpet—a little worn—real wood tables and real wood chairs, a few mirrors against the wood paneling, small windows, a single door and a façade that says nothing. Thanks to all this, inside there’s a lot of silence and anyone can sit down to read the paper or talk with someone else or even do nothing, seated at a table with a cloth, white crockery dishes, and real glass, like civilized people use, and a serious sugar bowl, and without anyone, let alone Marcos, coming to bother them.

I won’t tell you where it is because one of these days you might have adolescent sons or, worse, adolescent daughters who will find out, and goodbye peace and quiet. I’ll give you just one piece of information: it’s downtown, between a shop and a galería, and you surely pass by there every day when you go to the bank and you don’t even see it.

But Trafalgar came over to me at the table right away.