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CAT Book Club: April

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In case you haven’t heard, we started a book club!

We spent March talking about Madame Nielsen’s The Endless Summer, translated by Gaye Kynoch, and Verónica Gerber Bicecci’s Empty Set, translated by Christina MacSweeney, which we’ll continue to discuss a bit this month.

Now that April is officially here, however, it’s time to start talking about our books for this month:

Imaginary Lives by Marcel Schwob, translated from French by Chris Clarke (Wakefield Press)
The Children’s Crusade by Marcel Schwob, translated from French by Kit Schluter (Wakefield Press)

Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono, translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill (Two Lines Press)

Imaginary Lives

About the Book

With Imaginary Lives, translated by Chris Clarke, Schwob established the genre of fictional biography. These twenty-two portraits present figures drawn from the margins of history, from Empedocles the “Supposed God” and Clodia the “Licentious Matron” to the pirate Captain Kidd and the Scottish murderers Messrs. Burke and Hare. In his quest for unique existences, Schwob also formulated an early conception of the anti-hero, and discarded historical figures in favor of their shadows, be they divine, mediocre, or criminal.

Meet the Translator

Chris Clarke has translated works by Raymond Queneau, Pierre Mac Orlan, among others. He was awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant in 2016 for his translation of Schwob’s Imaginary Lives. His translation of Nobel Prize winner Patrick Modiano’s In the Café of Lost Youth was shortlisted for the 2016 French-American Foundation Translation Prize. We spoke with Chris Clarke back in 2016 about his translation of Modiano—listen to the audio.

Chris Clarke on why he decided to translate Schwob’s Imaginary Lives.

Chris Clarke and Kit Schluter will be in San Francisco on April 12 to take part in an overdue celebration of Marcel Schwob and to discuss their translations of his work.

The Children’s Crusade

About the Book

Marcel Schwob’s 1896 novella The Children’s Crusade, translated by Kit Schluter, retells the medieval legend of the exodus of some 30,000 children from all countries to the Holy Land, who traveled to the shores of the sea, which instead of parting to allow them to march on to Jerusalem, instead delivered them to merchants who sold them into slavery in Tunisia or to a watery death. It is a cruel and sorrowful story mingling history and legend, which Schwob recounts through the voices of eight different protagonists: a goliard, a leper, Pope Innocent III, a cleric, a qalandar, and Pope Gregory IX, as well as two of the marching children, whose naïve faith eventually turns into growing fear and anguish.

Meet the Translator

Kit Schluter is the translator of Jaime Saenz’s The Cold (Poor Claudia), Marcel Schwob’s The Book of Monelle (Wakefield Press), Amandine Andre’s Circle of Dogs (Solar Luxuriance, in collaboration with Jocelyn Spaar), Anne Kawala’s Screwball (Canarium Books), and Marcel Schwob’s The King in the Golden Mask (Wakefield), among others. His personal writing can be found in Boston Review, BOMB, and Elective Affiities, among other publications. He co-edits O’clock Press, and curates the reading/performance series Wild Combination. Kit is the recipient of a Glascock Prize and a Boston Review/”Discovery” Prize, and holds an M.F.A. from Brown University.

Sarah Gerard interviewed Kit Schluter about Marcel Schwob.

Stephen Sparks also interviewed Kit about Schwob.

Chris Clarke and Kit Schluter will be in San Francisco on April 12 to take part in an overdue celebration of Marcel Schwob and to discuss their translations of his work.

Lion Cross Point

About the Book

In Lion Cross Point, celebrated Japanese author Masatsugu Ono turns his gentle pen to the mind of ten-year-old Takeru, who arrives at his family’s home village amid a scorching summer, carrying memories of unspeakable acts against his mother and brother. As Takeru befriends Mitsuko, his new caretaker, and Saki, his spunky neighbor, he meets more of his mother’s old friends, discovering her history and inching toward a new idea of family and home. All the while he begins to see a strange figure called Bunji—the same name as a delicate young boy who mysteriously vanished long ago on the village’s breathtaking coastline at Lion Cross Point.

What People Are Saying

“This is a book of the first order. A haunting mystery, it is about parents and children, about war and peace. Surely this book means that Masatsugu Ono belongs in the first ranks of not just Japanese literature but world literature.”
— Akhil Sharma, author of Family Life

“Masatsugu Ono, one of the most important Japanese novelists of the post-Murakami generation, has created a lyrical, psychologically astute novel that will only whet international appetites for more of his work.”
— Jeffrey Angles, 2017 Yomiuri Prize recipient

Publisher’s Weekly calls Lion Cross Point “haunting…a gentle yet powerful rendering of the inner turmoil of a boy struggling to comprehend acts of kindness and violence, and feelings of abandonment and shame.”

Another reviewer writes, “This eloquent, haunting work captures the heart of a boy at a crossroads.”

Meet the Author

Masatsugu Ono is the author of numerous novels, including Mizu ni umoreru haka (The Water-Covered Grave), which won the Asahi Award for New Writers, and Nigiyakana wan ni seowareta fune (Boat on a Choppy Bay), which won the Mishima Prize. A prolific translator from the French—including works by Èdouard Glissant and Marie NDiaye—Ono received the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s highest literary honor, in 2015. He lives in Tokyo.

Masatsugu Ono is embarking on his first U.S. book tour this month! He will be in Seattle, Portland, Dallas, Houston, and the Bay Area to discuss his English-language debut.