On Our Shelves: Open Letter

It’s no secret we love receiving shipments of spiffy new books—and last week we were extra happy to be (carefully) tearing open a box containing titles from the wonderful Open Letter, the University of Rochester’s literary translation press.

Open Letter publishes ten books each year and runs a fascinating website called Three Percent, a must-read for anyone interested in international literature. (The website takes its name from the rather shameful fact that only 3% of all books published in the United States are works in translation.) Open Letter do a brilliant job of promoting literature from around the world, and we’re thrilled to be stocking their beautiful books for the first time—in fact, we might have gone a little nuts and ordered their entire catalog. Oops…

By way of introduction, here are eight extraordinary Open Letter titles that are well worth a read… come on down to Malvern Books and check ’em out!

Open Letter 1Navidad & Matanza—a novel by Carlos Labbé
Chilean Carlos Labbé was named one of Granta’s “Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.” Navidad & Matanza is a metafictional, mind-twisting Choose Your Own Adventure account of several mysterious disappearances.

The Discoverer—a novel by Jan Kjaerstad
Jan Kjaerstad received the Nordic Prize for Literature in 2001 and is considered one of the most influential writers of his generation. The Discoverer is the third novel in a trilogy about a Norwegian broadcaster called Jonas Wergeland—but it stands alone as a powerful and riveting novel in its own right.

The Elusive Moth—a novel by Ingrid Winterbach
South African artist and novelist Ingrid Winterbach has won numerous awards, including the prestigious M-Net Book Prize. The Elusive Moth is a smart and funny account of a visiting entomologist’s adventures in a sleepy rural community.

The Sailor from Gibraltar—a novel by Marguerite Duras
The Sailor from Gibraltar has everything you could possibly want from a Duras novel: love and passion, charm, insight, and, above all, hauntingly poetic language.

Open Letter 2

Why I Killed My Best Friend—a novel by Amanda Michalopoulou
Amanda Michalopoulou is one of Greece’s leading contemporary writers and the author of six novels. Why I Killed My Best Friend explores the self-destructive bonds that can turn friends into ‘frienemies.’

This is the Garden—stories by Giulio Mozzi
Mozzi’s debut story collection astounded the Italian literary world with its stunning prose and heartfelt exploration of the notion that the world around us is a fallen Eden.

The Planets—a novel by Sergio Chejfec
Award-winning Argentinian writer Chejfec recounts the story of a childhood friendship in Buenos Aires through a moving and mournful series of interconnected vignettes.

La Grande—a novel by Juan José Saer
The last novel of Argentinian writer Saer (1937–2005), La Grande ends with what many consider to be one of the greatest lines in all of literature: “With the rain came the fall, and with the fall, the time of the wine.” (You can read an excerpt from La Grande here.)