Samuel Riba, a recently retired small-press publisher and recovering alcoholic, tries to keep his mind off wanting a drink, only to discover that his life has been the catalog of the books he published. Though he has a loving wife and good friends, he feels closest to the writers he worked with—Sebald, Auster, Vok, Magris—(and didn’t, the elusive genius he never discovered). As his thoughts flit from book to book and quote to quote, it seems natural that he plan a Bloomsday trip to Dublin where, in lieu of Joyce’s interment of Paddy Dignam, he’ll conduct a funeral for the Gutenberg era, done in by the digital age. Dublinesque (New Directions, $16.95), by the Spanish novelist Enrique Vila-Matas, is a delightful book of books. Riba’s literary name-dropping and impromptu critical commentary are by turns whimsical and profound; his own narrative is humorous, moving, and thoroughly endearing.
Dublinesque Cover Image
By Enrique Vila-Matas, Rosalind Harvey (Translated by), Anne McLean (Translated by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780811219617
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions - June 27th, 2012

If you’ve read José Saramago’s later novels (such as the masterpieces Blindness and Seeing), reading his first is like looking at a slightly blurred photo of someone you know well. But H., the narrator of the Manual of Painting and Calligraphy (Mariner, $13.95), is a blur to himself. A portrait painter, he produces icons of CEOs for boardrooms. Emphatically not an artist, he nonetheless struggles with aspirations to create great works and to reveal the truth about his subjects—or, as he slowly learns, of his real subject: himself. Frustrated with images, he turns to words, and the novel is a series of “experiments in autobiography” that encompass H.’s travels through Italy, his love of the Renaissance masters, the end of a passionate relationship, and Portugal’s political troubles of the 1970s when the country was “plagued with disquiet and fear.”

Manual of Painting and Calligraphy Cover Image
By José Saramago, Giovanni Pontiero (Translated by)
$13.95
ISBN: 9780547640228
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - May 1st, 2012

Literary wunderkind Nell Freudenberger has given us her best novel yet. It’s an unusually moving study of an unusual marriage, told from the point of view of Amina, a young Bangladeshi woman who travels to snowy Rochester, New York, to marry George, a man she met online. His motives are hazy; for her it’s a business decision, a chance to rescue her destitute family. Nevertheless, The Newlyweds (Knopf, $25.95) stumble towards a quiet mutual tenderness— until the emergence of old secrets upends their fragile equilibrium and Amina returns to Bangladesh alone. Freudenberger, a seasoned, sensitive traveler, is especially attuned to the myriad small ways that different cultures mesh and repel one another. She makes us wonder how much of any relationship can be explained by “culture clashes”—or are our loved ones simply unknowable, regardless of their origins?

The Newlyweds Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307268846
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf - May 1st, 2012

The Newlyweds (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307388971
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - February 12th, 2013

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