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  • You are here: Home | News | May 2008
The Seattle Times: "This superb and scary Italian writer . . . has blown the lid off tempestuous parent-child relations."

If you are looking for uplifting bromides about the intimate mother-daughter bond, do not look to Elena Ferrante's novels.

This superb and scary Italian writer, who chooses to remain anonymous by publishing her popular books under a pseudonym, has blown the lid off tempestuous parent-child relations in each of the three novels that have been translated into English for Europa Editions.

And the latest, "The Lost Daughter," is about as sentimental in its view of parenting as a Mother's Day card inscribed in battery acid.

Read complete review

May 23 2008
Massimo Carlotto and Amara Lakhous on stage at the Turin book fair

Massimo Carlotto's stage adaptation of his most recent novel, Allah's Christians (Cristiani di Allah) at the Turin Book Fair May 10th.

(Video in Italian)

May 21 2008

People on Privilege Hill selected as one of Fresh Air's summer reads

Jane Gardam’s The People on Privilege Hill has been selected by the NPR's  Fresh Air as one of their recommended books for summer reading.

A story from the collection will soon be available on the Fresh Air Web site.

May 19 2008

Publishers Weekly: "By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking . . . [Barbery's] simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts."

This dark but redemptive novel, an international bestseller, marks the debut in English of Normandy philosophy professor Barbery. Renée Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hôtel particulier. Though “short, ugly, and plump,” Renée has, as she says, “always been poor,” but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, “supersmart” 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renée, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts.

May 19 2008

Amara Lakhous's interview with Massimo Carlotto

Massimo Carlotto is Italy's foremost noir novelist and a major exponent of the "Mediterranean Noir novel." In 2007 he was a guest at the PEN World Voices festival, and on May 29 of this year he will appear at the International Festival of Literature at Rome's Massenzio Basilica. His latest novel is Cristiani di Allah ("Allah's Christians"), an historical noir set in the Mediterranean, in particular in Algeria, in 1542.

Massimo Carlotto's novels include the Goodbye Kiss, Death's Dark Abyss, and The Fugitive, an accout of the author's years on the run.

Amara Lakhous is the author of Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, forthcoming from Europa Editions in October 2008.

The following interview first appeared online at Reset DOC

“Allah’s Christians and Mediterranean Civilisation”

"The 300,000 Christians who converted to Islam between the 16th and 19th centuries were fleeing from an oppressive system which prohibited them from social redemption. Islam represented a genuine possibility to change the way in which they lived". In his latest novel, Massimo Carlotto tells the story of Cristiani di Allah (Allah’s Christians, Edizioni e/o), a ‘Mediterranean Noir’ set in Algiers in 1542: "To overcome the ‘clash of civilisations’ we need to lay claim to our common ‘Mediterranean roots’”, he said during this interview with Resetdoc. "I see the Mediterranean as a closed sea where one civilisation was born which then divided into two cultures."

Why are you writing a novel on the Mediterranean renegades today?

To recover a ‘deserted’ story, one which disappeared from collective western memory for religious and political reasons. I see the Mediterranean as a closed sea where one civilisation was born which then divided into two cultures. Open identity is the tool for being able to bring this knowledge to life and to develop discussion.

Between the 16th and 19th centuries, 300,000 European Christians converted to Islam. Were they ‘religious’ or ‘political’ refugees?

Some were religious, some political, certainly all were ‘social’ refugees, fleeing from an oppressive system which prohibited them from social redemption. Islam represented a genuine possibility to change the way in which they lived. One can state that it was convenient to become a Muslim, while this did not apply to Christianity. In fact there were very few conversions to Christianity.

Is it possible to use the Mediterranean’s past as a key to understanding our present day?

It’s not only possible, it’s necessary. We westerners cultivate a distorted vision of our history which leads us to perceive ‘the other’ with an unprovoked suspicion. It’s not by chance that in recent years there has been a rediscovery of the so-called rhetoric of [the Battle of] Lepanto, which is referred to as a strategic victory which saved Christian Europe from an Islamic invasion. Nothing could be more wrong, and yet numerous essays have been published in the press which have provided room for discussion.

Is conversion a way to comply with the Other or an act of protest against one’s own religion of origin?

Both. In fact we need to take into account that abjuration was regulated by norms which were recognised by both religions and which dealt with a public and certified act. A conscious and acknowledged choice to the actual community one belonged to.

Your novel is an in-depth critique on the so-called ‘clash of civilisations’. How can we protect ourselves from this media propaganda?

By recovering an aspect of historical truth and laying claim to our own common ‘Mediterranean’ roots, and never ceasing to maintain that behind the concept of the ‘clash of civilisations’ hide political, economic and military wishes for control and predominance.

In the Mediterranean, religion continues to be a tool of manipulation, how can we leave this behind?

Firstly by attempting to rein in excessive religious power in order to conserve a truly secular dimension in the respective societies, and then to fight for a different development in order to get out of this crisis which is assailing both banks of the Mediterranean; to stop religion from becoming a response to people’s needs, especially in young people.

In your novel Algiers is an open city. How did you find it during your journey last year?

Algiers is a city of rare beauty which has been severely tried in recent times. I had a clear perception of a city ‘under control’ yet still deeply divided. At the same time I had the impression of a cultural and civil stability which would do well in hoping for the future.

Translation by Helen Waghorn

May 16 2008

Europa distribution now through PENGUIN GROUP USA

After three years with Consortium Book Sales and Distribution, from June 1st Europa Editions will be distributed in the US and Canada by PENGUIN GROUP.

For Europa titles, both from our backlist catalog and new releases, from June 1st  booksellers can contact their Penguin sales representative, or contact Penguin Group USA directly.

Further information about Europa Editions and Penguin:

Karin Wessel

May 14 2008

Europa Editions at BEA 2008

BEA 2008, May 30th to June 1st.

Visit the Europa Editions booth (#2717) in the south hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center to take a peek at what's new at Europa this summer and fall. Kent Carroll, Michael Reynolds, and Karin Wessel from Europa will be at the expo from Thursday to Sunday.

Publisher Kent Carroll will be part of a panel at the AAP Independent Publishers Conference on Thursday 29th (11:05-11:45) entitled Successful Start-Ups & Successful Growth.

May 14 2008
Elegance of the Hedgehog

from Me and My Big Mouth

Hedgehog I started this book in the knowledge that it had sold over a million copies in its native France. That is a merde-load of books by anyone's standard.

For the first third I was seriously wondering what all the fuss was about. Nice premise, but no big deal.  Perhaps there is something uniquely French in its appeal.  Like Johnny Hallyday.  Or horse meat.  After all, it outsold the hyped-to-death Les Bienveillantes and spent longer in the bestseller charts than The Da Vinci Code so the French certainly liked it.

During the middle section I was beginning to warm to it.  The book was working its charm.  It was pretty good after all.  Not a classic, mind, but not bad.

By the end I had fallen madly in love with it, the way I have, in turn, with Emanuelle Beart, Vanessa Paradis, Audrey Tatou and Soko.  It is bloody marvelous.  And yes, there was a tear in my eye as I turned the final pages...

Read the complete review

May 10 2008
Zeroville Shortlisted for Believer Book Award

Steve Erickson's novel Zeroville has been shortlisted for the Believer Magazine Book Award.

Each year the editors of the Believer generate a short list of the novels they thought were the strongest and, in their opinion, the most undervalued of the year. The 2007 list appears below, along with several writers’ citations.


May 05 2008
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