2015 is Upon Us: The Year of Deep Vellum

Happy 2015 everyone! The year of Deep Vellum is now upon you!

First off, if you’re interested in seeing your name in print, subscribe to Deep Vellum by Wednesday, January 14th and your name will be listed in the acknowledgements section of the next book we are publishing, Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight, translated by Dallas’s own George Henson. If you’ve already subscribed, the book will ship out to subscribers in mid-to-late February ahead of its March 17 publication date. And if you live in Dallas, pencil in a party March 18 on your calendars: we will be hosting a reading of The Art of Flight and birthday party for Sergio Pitol, who will turn 82 that day, the day after the first of his magisterial works will ever appear in English. Hell, if you live in NYC or SF, you should book yourself a birthday party for Sergio Pitol. Maybe we’ll do that in 2016, plan a series of birthday parties for this genius…ah, I can’t wait for you all to read Pitol! You’re going to love him, his writing is from another time and place altogether (but not a fantasy world). I can’t even describe it…it’s…just…brilliant. And the introduction is being provided by Enrique Vila-Matas. Once you read Pitol, you’ll understand the genesis of so much postmodern & contemporary Spanish-language literature descending from the incomparably influential and profoundly erudite mind of one man, the man I’m dubbing “the Maestro of Mexican literature,” Mr. Sergio Pitol.

Speaking of introductions, fellow member of Oulipo Daniel Levin Becker has agreed to provide the introduction to Anne Garréta’s Sphinx, which we’ll be shipping off to the printers before the end of the month (April 6 publication date).

And if you have a mad genius idea for someone to provide an introduction to Jón Gnarr’s The Indian, let me know ASAP, I’m leaning towards publishing the book without an introduction, but if we could get the right person…

As I was writing up this entry we enjoyed ourselves a little earthquake here in Dallas (which has been happening frequently since fracking started in Dallas County last year, and has been happening across the region since the fracking boom started in North Texas), and I’ve also been distracted by the live broadcast by RT of Russian Orthodox Christmas service in Moscow in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour on RT, which is being live translated brilliantly by somebody who sounds like a drunk Russian Kermit the Frog (I hope this is archived for you to enjoy forevermore).

But on to all the great news!

In the Dallas Morning News, Roberto Ontiveros reviewed Texas: The Great Theft right before the holiday, which makes me so happy to see this first book we published here in Dallas reviewed by the book section of our hometown newspaper (thank you to Books/Arts editor Mike Merschel for helping make this happen!). From Ontiveros’s review:

At its bones, Boullosa’s fourth novel to appear in English (and the first release from Dallas’ Deep Vellum Publishing) is a picaresque news report about police brutality and its justified aftermath. […] What is outstanding in Boullosa’s work is the deep sympathy expressed for every human encountered.

Texas was also just reviewed in the January 2015 issue of Bookslut by Matt Pincus, describing the novel as “masterful” and “a timely piece of historical fiction,” before delving into Boullosa’s style and language with great insight:

What is both moving and also lucid about Boullosa’s prose, though, is her ability to take one in and out of a scene fraught with disorder and violence, and place one back in the rich spirit of humility encountering sublime beauty. Before the Sheriff’s infamous words, the text takes us to the landscape: “The sun bears down, piercing the veil of shimmering dust.” Again, later in the novel, after tensions have risen to violence, “The buffalo hunter, Wild, leaves Mrs. Big’s Hotel to take a piss and get some fresh air. Santiago’s body is hanging heavily from the icaco tree without swinging, like a mangrove root searching for the earth. A blackbird lands like a stone on his shoulder.” The body almost melds into the landscape through the similes as one also sees the atrocity of the recent lynching, the corpse, and also Wild’s apathetic reaction. The text continuously expands on these moments, letting them accumulate for the reader in opacity of deferred fabulation, which does not point towards interpretation or totality, but rather frees one into possibility.

One of our favorite review sites that covers literature and film, The Mookse & The Gripes, has also just featured a preview of Texas in their latest podcast, along with discussions of other amazing books released in December 2014 & January 2015, alongside some other amazing books, like A Useless Man: Selected Stories by Sait Faik Abasiyanik (translated from the Turkish by Maureen Freely and Alexander Dawe) published by Archipelago Books (released today—and I must say I am hugely excited to read this, I was considering publishing some of Sait Faik’s stories myself before finding out Archipelago had already signed this book!); Midnight in the Century by Victor Serge (translated from the French by Richard Greeman) published last month by NYRB Classics (and coincidentally I just bought a weird old hardcover 1960s British edition of this book I’d never seen before from Half Price Books last week!); and Subtly Worded and Other Stories, by the wholly underrated & amazing Russian author Teffi (translated from the Russian by Robert Chandler and Anne Marie Jackson), published last month by one of my favorite publishers, Pushkin Press. So head over to The Mookse & The Gripes & let them know your thoughts on Texas and your comments may be featured in their next podcast!!

Deep Vellum was featured in Janklow & Nesbit literary agent Rebecca Carter’s recent piece in Publishing Perspectives on the new crop of publishing houses starting up across the world dedicated to bringing more translated literary voices into English, “New Ways of Publishing Translations,” one of the quotes featuring Deep Vellum is here, but the whole piece warrants a read, it is exhaustively comprehensive of the challenges and rewards that come from so many startups getting into the business of translation:

Identity is so important for a small publisher that wants to attract a following. It’s not enough just to publish good books: those books need to create a world to which readers want to belong. To specialize or not to specialize is one of the questions. Will Evans of Deep Vellum is determined that, although his roots are in Russian literature, his publishing company is about ‘world literature’ and how authors in different languages speak to each other.

Our very own Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83, translated by Roland Glasser, has been shortlisted for the prestigious French Voices Award!! On Wednesday, January 21, the second annual French Voices Award Ceremony will take place at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy on the Upper East Side of Manhattan (which is now also home to the incomparably gorgeous Albertine bookstore). Honorary Chair Rick Moody will announce the winner. The three amazing finalists are Tram 83 (which we are publishing as our lead Fall 2015 title in September) alongside Barbara Cassin’s La Nostalgie (forthcoming from Fordham University Press in spring 2016, translated by Pascale-Anne Brault) and Dominique Fabre’s Guys Like Me (forthcoming from New Vessel Press in Feb. 2015, translated by Howard Curtis), The French Voices Award is a cool one because it not only honors French books that haven’t yet been published in English, but it awards the quality of the translation, giving a $4,000 bonus to the translator for their hard work (each translator on the nomination longlist of nine books gets a $2,000 bonus!). The winning author is also awarded the chance to do a book tour of the US. Honorary Chair Francine Prose presided over last year’s ceremony, which drew 200 attendees, so make sure you head out and root for Fiston to take home the prize this year! This event is free and open to the public, but please note that RSVP is required (click the link to RSVP). So please head to the Upper East Side on January 21 and represent Fiston & Roland & Deep Vellum!! We need a street team. A Deep Vellum nation (like Colbert Nation). A consortium, if you will!!!!!!!!!

In other, less sexy news, we here at Deep Vellum are working feverishly to get Deep Vellum onto firm financial footing so we can start hiring some employees to evolve into a stable, forward-thinking publishing house that can survive decades of changes in the industry, like a Dallas version of Graywolf or Coffee House or Milkweed who have all survived for 40 years or so in Minneapolis. We have submitted our application to the IRS for 501(c)(3) status and will hear back about that by the end of February.

We’re also working on a new website. I mean, we’re working on an ACTUAL website, designed by web wizard Justin Childress (who has designed some pretty damn amazing websites that Dallasites will recognize, including A New Dallas). It should go live this spring. Thank you for your patience with this low-functioning website (aka: blog with links).

Another post will go live sometime later this week with a recap of the editors’ trip I participated in last month with Chad Post of Open Letter Books and Ross Ufberg of New Vessel Press. And once I get these next couple books off to the printers, I’ll hopefully announce a few Korean titles for 2016 & 2017. And hopefully Open Letter & New Vessel will as well. We all fell in love with Korea, and even more so with K-lit. There is some seriously amazing literature coming out of South Korea in the next several months, we’ll keep you posted!

So now back to copyediting the Pitol layout and preparing the Garréta & Gnarr texts for layout & negotiating for a couple of absolute dream books & booking readings & travel for Carmen Boullosa’s tour up the west coast next month & remember to subscribe before next Wednesday to get your name included in the back of the Pitol book!!

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