In the Pipeline: The Cathedral of Mist, by Paul Willems

January 31st, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


Forthcoming in late spring, my second book with the wonderful Wakefield Press after Jean Ferry’s The Conductor in 2013: an exquisite collection of six stories and two essays by Belgian fabulist Paul Willems. The Cathedral of Mist will take its place, after two books by Paul Scheerbart, in Wakefield’s series Imagining Architecture, which focuses on fantastical architecture, imaginary urbanism, and hallucinatory dwellings. The collection features a cover and interior illustrations by Bette Burgoyne, whose work has previously been featured by Will Schofield on 50watts.

Some stories from the book previously appeared (in slightly different form) in these fine publications:

  • “The Horse’s Eye” in Tin House #50: Beauty (2011)
  • “Cherepish” in Subtropics #13 (2012)
  • “The Cathedral of Mist” in Tin House #58: Winter Reading (2013)
  • “Requiem for Bread” at The Open Bar, Tin House’s blog (forthcoming)

Willems’ delicate original fairytale “The Colors of the World” (not in the forthcoming collection) was published in in Scheherezade’s Bequest #15 (2012) and podcast in 2013 at Podcastle, read aloud by Marguerite Croft.


Paul Willems (1912-1997) belongs to the final generation of great Francophone Belgian fabulists of Flemish descent. Four novels and two story collections bracket his career as a playwright, for which he was best known in his lifetime. He published his first novel, Everything Here is Real, in 1941. Donald Friedman’s translation of his late novella The Drowned Land was nominated for the Dublin IMPAC Literary Award and published with Suzanne Burgoyne’s translation of his play La Vita Brève in an edition from Peter Lang in 1994.



Good Words for Guez

January 29th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


Jérémie Guez’s Eyes Full of Empty, which came out in November from Unnamed Press, continues to rake in the good reviews:

  • At The Missing Slate, Casey Harding calls it “impossible to stop reading,” and singles out its “beautiful, terrifying humanity” for praise. She concludes:

Guez, helped by the artful translation by Gauvin, crafted an entirely believable world populated by characters that you alternate between loving and hating. And that, for me, is as close to real life as you can get.

  • Bookseller Chris Phipps at Oakland’s Diesel Books shortlisted it at Lithub as one of his 2015 year’s best, along with books by Georgi Gospodinov, Yoss, Boris and Arkady Strutgatsky, and Valeria Luiselli. What awesome company!
  • Publisher’s Weekly says the book has “a wicked grace that will appeal to American noir fans,” and Dan Forrest of Library Journal agrees, going one further:

“Fans of the genre who are looking for a protagonist they haven’t seen before in a location with plenty of history and skulduggery will enjoy this quick-paced and suspenseful story.”

  • For readers interested in learning more about Guez’s “unusual protagonist” Idir, Nadia Ghanem at Your Middle East sets Guez’s book into a history that straddles the Mediterranean: authors French and North African alike who each looked to each other’s countries for inspiration when it came to crime and noir. She outlines a rich history often overlooked and untranslated. Readers of French looking for something similar can turn to Machaho Tellem Chaho‘s review in Al Huffington Post (for Maghreb-Algeria).
  • At Crime Fiction Lover, fan Marina Sofia says that she’s been reading Guez “for a while now [in French] and was hoping his books would appear English […] this book effortlessly mixes noir tropes with contemporary references, sarcastic retorts with heartfelt moments. She also interviews the author.
  • For a slightly longer interview, check out Layton Green’s at The Big Thrill.
  • And finally, if you missed the author’s live event in November at LA’s Skylight Books, where James Ellroy called the author his illegitimate son (with Delphine Seyrig) and said “Camus, thumbs down! Jérémie Guez: arriba, arriba!” look no further: the LA Review of Books has got you covered with video.

TONIGHT at The Booksmith in San Francisco

January 27th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

The Booksmith

The estimable Michael Holtmann of the Center for the Art of Translation will be interviewing me tonight on the occasion of Serge Brussolo’s English debut, The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, recently released by Melville House. Come one and all! This free event begins at 7:30pm at The Booksmith on 1644 Haight St.

I originally pitched this novel as “Inception directed by David Cronenberg.” You can read excerpts from the first chapter at the Melville House site and also on Lithub. The book has been featured on Barnes & Noble’s January New Book Roundup, the French Embassy’s French Culture Book Blog, and SF Signal. Reviewing it at NPR, Genevieve Valentine says:

“Syndrome is also a novel of ideas that’s much less concerned with the ideas than it is the minute ways things stay with us; unimportant details fester and eat their own tails.

Brussolo seamlessly maintains both that air of dread and a quality of the lugubrious unreal that’s only fitting in a novel that’s so ambivalent about reality […] visually rich and deliciously unsettling, it’s a science fiction fever dream that will leave you in no hurry to wake up.”

Serge Brussolo is the author of nearly two hundred books in every possible genre—dark fantasy, horror, historical fiction, young adult fiction, thrillers, and literary fiction. His books are consistently bestsellers, have won every major French science-fiction prize, are considered modern classics.



January 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


WRITERS with DRINKS! with Charlie Jane Anders

San Francisco’s longest-running spoken word night is going to new frontiers of honesty and also deception. A little of both, really. Honest deception. These are some of our favorite writers, and we hope you like them!

When: Jan. 9 from 7 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open 6:30 PM
Who: Anthony Marra, Naomi Williams, Lisa Goldstein, Edward Gauvin, Tracey Knapp, Elizabeth McKenzie
How much: $5 to $20, all proceeds benefit the CSC

Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St., San Francisco, CA

A Blitz of Brussolo

January 8th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

With the official release date for Serge Brussolo’s US debut, his SF noir The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, set for January 19th, advance notices are rolling in. Thank you, reviewers!

John DeNardo’s January Round-Up of Speculative Fiction at Kirkus Reviews says “This reads like a dream-state version of a James Bond film.” While KC at Library Journal gives her verdict: “Vivid imagery, intriguing characters, and the blurred boundaries of David’s worlds will hold their attention. A captivating read that will immerse the senses.” Charlie Jane Anders includes Brussolo in her io9 roundup of All the Science Fiction and Fantasy Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in January. And finally, Thessaly La Force features DSDS among a trio of titles perfect for winter getaways at Travel + Leisure.

Brussolo in T+L


WRITERS… and a Translator! WITH DRINKS!

January 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink


Happy 2016! This Saturday night, I’ll be reading at San Francisco’s longest-running spoken word night, Writers With Drinks, hosted by io9’s very own Charlie Jane Anders!

But get this all-star line-up: Lisa Goldstein, Tracey Knapp, Anthony Marra, Elizabeth McKenzie, and Naomi Williams!

I’ll be reading from Serge Brussolo’s English debut, The Deep Sea Diver’s Syndrome, a science-fictional noir about dream heists, art, pulp, and ectoplasm. What’s not to like? Melville House will be publishing this novel, which I pitched them as “Inception directed by David Cronenberg,” later this month.

When: Jan. 9 from 7 PM to 9:30 PM, doors open 6:30 PM

How much: $5 to $20, all proceeds benefit the CSC

Where: The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd. St., San Francisco, CA

Back in 2001, writer Charlie Jane Anders set out to create a new kind of reading that jettisoned the idea of a hushed audience hanging reverentially on each carefully-crafted word, replacing it with a lively cabaret night drawing writers from a smorgasbord of genres—poetry to sci-fi to comedy to kids books.

Writers With Drinks has won numerous “Best ofs” from local newspapers, and has been mentioned in 7×7, Spin Magazine and one of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novels. The spoken word “variety show” mixes genres to raise money for local causes. The award-winning show includes poetry, stand-up comedy, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, literary fiction, erotica, memoir, zines and blogs in a freewheeling format.

About the readers:

Anthony Marra’s latest book is The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories. He’s also the author of The Wolves of Bilaya Forest and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. He was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where he now teaches as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction. Marra’s story “Chechnya” won a Pushcart Prize and a Narrative Prize.

Naomi Williams’ first novel is Landfalls, a fictionalized account of the 18th-century Lapérouse expedition. Her fiction has appeared in A Public Space, One Story, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review. In 2009, she received a Pushcart Prize and a Best American Honorable Mention.

Lisa Goldstein’s latest book is Weighing Shadows. She won a National Book Award for her novel The Red Magician, a Mythopoeic Award for her novel The Uncertain Places, and the Sidewise Award for her short story “Paradise Is a Walled Garden.” Her other books include Travelers in Magic, The Divided Crown, The Alchemist’s Door and Dark Cities Underground.

Tracey Knapp’s first full-length collection of poems, Mouth, won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award. She’s received scholarships from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fund. Mark Strand and Claudia Emerson each chose her poems for Best New Poets 2008 and 2010. Other work has appeared in Five Points, The National Poetry Review, Red Wheelbarrow Review, The New Ohio Review, The Minnesota Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Connotation Press, Painted Bride Quarterly, No Tell Motel, 236, Failbetter, La Petite Zine, Sewanee Theological Review and elsewhere.

Elizabeth McKenzie’s latest novel is The Portable Veblen. She’s the author of a collection, Stop That Girl, short-listed for The Story Prize, and the novel MacGregor Tells the World, a Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle and Library Journal Best Book of the year. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and the Pushcart Prize anthology, and has been recorded for NPR’s Selected Shorts. She was an NEA/Japan US-Friendship Commission Fellow in 2010.


“When you move to San Francisco and ask about the literary scene, Writers With Drinks is likely the first thing people tell you about. For one thing, most of us can get behind drinking as a social activity, especially when it’s being done by the witty and verbose. But the real reason is host Charlie Jane Anders, who is a pioneer and master of free-form and fictitious biography.” ~ San Francisco Weekly


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