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CAT Book Club: Spring Edition

Hello friends! For the first time ever we’re organizing a virtual book club.

What does this mean? It means that we’re inviting you to read along with us this spring as we read books from Danish, Spanish, Japanese, French, Hebrew, and Arabic.

For many of these books we’ll be hosting events here in the city with the translator or author, and we’ll upload the audio afterwards for those of you who are unable to attend. We also encourage you to reach out to your friends and start an in-person book club to discuss these books, or perhaps you’re already part of a book club and would like to add one or more of these titles to your reading list. It’s up to you!

However you decide to participate, we’re excited to showcase these books and have some great conversations. If you’re on social media, you can join the conversations by using the hashtag #TheCATBookClub. Cheers and happy spring!



MARCH

The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen, translated from Danish by Gaye Kynoch

The first book on our list kicks things off with a bang. A passionate love story about a Danish woman and a much younger Portuguese artist, The Endless Summer confronts ideas of time, sexuality, and tragedy in a style reminiscent of both Proust and Lars Von Trier.

We’re thrilled that Madame Nielsen, one of Denmark’s most daring artists, will be in San Francisco on March 8 to discuss The Endless Summer with our very own Scott Esposito. Scott recently published a piece about the book in the New York Times, which gives a great introduction to Madame Nielsen and the book.

About the book: Emotional and visceral, the novel drifts through time and space, relating the lives, loves, and dissolutions of everyone who surrounds this unexpected couple, including the woman’s ex-husband who holds the family at gunpoint, her daughter, and her lovers, who include a boy who finds himself and his true sexual identity in America. There is also the young boy who “is perhaps a girl, but does not yet know it,” who narrates it all.

 

Empty Set by Verónica Gerber Bicecci, translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney

We published an excerpt from Empty Set in Two Lines 27 and couldn’t wait to read the rest of it! Translated by Christina MacSweeney (translator of Valeria Luiselli’s books and Elvira Navarro’s A Working Woman), this book is delightfully unique, a blend of beautiful prose, diagrams, and illustrations. And we’re thrilled to announce that both Mexican author and visual artist Verónica Gerber Bicecci and translator Christina MacSweeney will be in San Francisco on March 29 to discuss the book.

About the book: A Venn diagram for love, Empty Set traces and reconstructs relationships using geometry, ice cores, and tree rings. It tells a story of holes appearing inside other holes. It is the chronicle of a breakup that results in a journey toward family origins. The narrator, the daughter of Argentine exiles who settled in Mexico City, must move back into the apartment from which her mother suddenly disappeared. When words fail, fall short, or stop working altogether, they yield to drawings and abstractions. Empty Set traces a language of its own, composed of letters, diagrams, and hollowed spaces.


APRIL

Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono, translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill

This is the first Two Lines Press title of 2018 and also our first ever hardcover book! Masatsugu Ono received the Akutagawa Prize, Japan’s highest literary honor, in 2015, and his fans include authors Akhil Sharma, Stuart Dybek, and Yoko Tawada. Masatsugu Ono will be on tour here in US and will attend the annual Bay Area Book Festival in April. Stay tuned for more details!

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.

 

Imaginary Lives by Marcel Schwob, translated from French by Chris Clarke and The Children’s Crusade by Marcel Schwob, translated from French by Kit Schluter

Who is Marcel Schwob? A cult phenomenon who secretly influenced a generation of writers from Guillaume Apollinaire and Jorge Luis Borges to Roberto Bolaño. Until recently, Schwob was only available to English readers through hard-to-find out-of-print translations. But 2018 brings us two new translations of the author, both published by Wakefield Press. Make sure you don’t miss our conversation with two of Schwob’s current translators, Chris Clarke and Kit Schluter, on April 12, or listen to the conversation online.

About the books: 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. And 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.


MAY

A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen

A Horse Walks into a Bar is a must-read this spring. How can you resist reading a book in which, as one New York Times critic put it, “A broken man walks on stage and makes jokes for 194 pages”? What a concept for a novel! Add to this the fact that everyone seems to be raving about this book and the fact that the book won the 2018 Man Booker International Prize and you’ll see why we’re so excited to include this title in our first-ever book club.

About the book: The setting is a comedy club in a small Israeli town. An audience that has come expecting an evening of amusement instead sees a comedian falling apart on stage; an act of disintegration, a man crumbling before their eyes as a matter of choice. They could get up and leave, or boo and whistle and drive him from the stage, if they were not so drawn to glimpse his personal hell.

 

The Apartment in Bab El-Louk by Ahmad Nady, Donia Maher, Ganzeer, translated from Arabic by Elisabeth Jaquette

I first saw an excerpt of this book a few years back in Words Without Borders and am excited to finally read the entire book! From the excerpt you can tell that this is no ordinary graphic novel. Instead, it appears to be an experiment in form, one in which the writing is just as striking as the (stunning) illustrations. To top it all off, the book was recently shortlisted for the inaugural TA First Translation Prize.

About the book: This “fabulous noir poem” has been simply described as “the reflections of an old recluse in busy downtown Cairo neighborhood of Bab El-Louk” by Egyptian artist, Ganzeer. Cairo-based writer Donia Maher was first published in Arabic by Dar Merit in 2014 and then received the Kahil Award 2015 for the Graphic Novel Prize.