Friday, September 28, 2007

Would you pass?

According to the New York Times, federal immigration authorities have 100 new questions to test immigrants who want to become American citizens. The old test from 1968 has been thrown out in favor of questions that focus on the structure of the American government and represent a more diverse view of history. Apparently some immigrants could pass the old test without studying, but "officials said the new one is intended to force even highly educated applicants to do reviewing."

Here are ten sample questions from the new test. I didn't pass.

Rugby Update

The USA lost to Samoa 21-25 on Wednesday sending them to the bottom of the pool. England will face Tonga in a critical game today. Kick-off is at 8 pm BST, and you can listen to BBC's live radio coverage here. England must win against Tonga to continue to the quarter finals. If they lose, they will be the first defending championship team to be knocked out of the play-offs. A win against Tonga is looking more difficult now than anyone predicted as this underdog team has consistently performed beyond expectations in the tournament.

The English Sprawl

Bloomsbury reports in the Guardian (on Sept. 19--I'm a little late on this one) that the English-language version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has sold as many copies overseas as in the UK. One million copies of the original version sold to Germany in the last month! The German translation doesn't come out until October 27. I guess all those German kiddos are so anxious to read this book that they are willing to learn a new language to do it!

Publishing Trends Survey

This month's issue of Publishing Trends features the results of their poll sent out to subscribers, and here are my two cents on the results.

The article begins (as did the survey) with our favorite after work drinks. It's no secret that we like to imbibe. There is a strange dichotomy in publishing between socially awkward bookworms and fabulously glamorous literati, and alcohol helps does wonders to bridge this gap. Wine, beer, and water take the top three spots, although I was pleased to see that gin and tonic came in with 6.6% of the pie chart.

The next big question is how tech-savvy us book people really are. As an industry, we are sprinting to catch up with the digital age (books cannot help being antediluvian). As individuals, the situation is mildly better. Overall 36% of us engage in social networking of some kind, but we have yet to figure out how to harness Web 2.0 in business situations. 40% of us read blogs, but the Huffington Post and celebrity blogs take the top two spots. Even publishing people aren't reading literary blogs. They must be on Team Tanenhaus.

For overall job satisfaction, we are doing pretty well. 45.5% of us never consider leaving the publishing industry, and 32% never consider leaving our current job. Oddly enough, sales people are the happiest and rights people consider leaving most often. Maybe it is all the traveling and exhibiting at book fairs that get rights people down.

When asked what job you aspire to, 49.2% said they were "just happy being me" and only 2.9% want to be a CEO. Unmotivated to climb the corporate ladder? You bet. If we were motivated by corporate culture, we would work somewhere that paid us more. 73.6% of respondents between the ages of 21 and 35 reported earning "less" or "much less" than their non-publishing peers. Compensation was the top-rated worst aspect of the industry, followed closely by instability of the market. We love our jobs and are willing to risk being poor and/or get laid off to stay.

Un-shockingly, we love to read fiction. 46.6% of us said that last thing we read for pleasure was fiction, followed not so closely by nonfiction at 20.1%. A few of us seem a little bitter that we have to read so much for work because 3.4% answered with "Reading? For Pleasure?" and another 1.3% of respondents answered "subway ad."

To be completely honest, the only unexpected result of this survey was that sales people are so happy. Everything else is typical of publishing. We talk about this stuff all the time anyway while drinking wine and beer (and water?!) after work, but now we have concrete results to print on paper and sell to each other.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


"Truman Capote is the most perfect writer of my generation." -Norman Mailer

Thanks for the success!

To all my readers out there, thank you for making yesterday the most successful day here at Literary Rapture to date. We set records for pageviews and unique visitors. Thanks for reading my blog!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Put some pace on it!

That is what rugby coaches say when they want their players to go faster. The reason I'm writing about this is because the Rugby Union World Cup is taking place in France right now, a major event in international sports. If you are American, you probably don't know about the Rugby World Cup for two reasons. 1) American fans only like domestic sports like football and baseball, and 2) the American rugby team is bad. Although, the US team has a single feather in its cap for being the only team to score a try against the Australian champs during the 1999 World Cup.

The BBC has decided that the USA "can be expected to be competitive against Tonga, but the loser of that game will finish at the bottom of the group. Unrealistic to expect any more." The USA lost to Tonga . Tune in today, September 26 at 7 p.m. BST to watch the USA take on Samoa.

Yesterday, Canada tied Japan 12-12, only the second tie in World Cup history. Japan is about as good as America at rugby, and they likely peaked during this game. The Canadians were expecting to beat Japan, so the tie was a disappointment for them. Also today, Romania edged out Portugal 14-10. Portugal led 7-0 at halftime but could not hold on to the lead, securing the last spot in the very competitive Pool C against Romania, Italy, Scotland, and New Zealand.

Scotland went down 0-40 against tournament favorite New Zealand on Sunday, but according to the BBC report, Scotland is more concerned about beating Italy. They had no chance of winning against New Zealand, who will likely take the top spot in Pool C. If Scotland beats Italy, they will come in second and make it to the quarter-finals.

The leaders as of today are: A) South Africa, B) Australia, C) New Zealand, and D) Argentina. Later today, Georgia takes on Namibia and the USA will play Samoa.

Quarter finals begin on October 6 and the playoffs culminate on October 20, when the 2007 World Cup Championship game will be played. Get your scrum on!


October 4, 2007 will mark the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to be launched into space. This was a big deal. The New York Times has a fabulous in-depth article about the impact that Sputnik had on America's self-image and the Cold War. The consequences of this Soviet victory in the space race were farther-reaching than your high school history teacher told you they were.

Miami Book Fair International

Ever since the Brooklyn Book Festival, I've been hearing buzz about the Miami Book Fair International, which will take place November 4-11 (with a street fair November 9-11). Apparently this is the cool new place to be for international literature. Last year, the fair boasted the strongest showing of Spanish-language authors of any American book fair.

The heavy emphasis on literature in translation at the Miami fair has led to a joint effort with BookExpo America to host a day-long forum on November 8 to discuss translations and world literature. Speakers include the usual suspects from the international literature niche of book publishing: Morgan Entrekin, Publisher, Grove/Atlantic; Dedi Felman, Senior Editor, Simon & Schuster, Words Without Borders; Carol Fredericks, Sanford Greenburger Agency; Daniel Halpern, Publisher, Ecco/HarperCollins; Lucinda Karter, Agent, French Publishers Agency; Peter Mayer, Publisher, Overlook Press; Chad Post, Director, Open Letter Books; David Rieff, Author & Policy Analyst; Nan Talese, Publisher, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday; Barbara Epler, New Directions; Johnny Temple, Publisher, Akashic Books; and Steve Wasserman, Agent, Kneerim & Williams.

Miami is the newcomer of the book fair scene, and I predict great and glamorous things for its future.

LitKicks on NBCC panel

I like LitKicks' upbeat outlook: "I'm starting to think this whole NBCC vs. online fracas is nothing but a big group hug waiting to happen."

The reason blogs are growing and print reviews are shrinking is because people are turning to the internet for their literary discussions. How much clearer can a situation be and why do print reviewers need to host twenty million panels and write a billion articles on the subject before they get this? The internet does not signal the end of intelligent literary reviews and debates. The medium has simply changed. Of course there are less-than-intelligent bloggers out there, but the intelligent bloggers rise to the surface the same way intelligent print reviewers do.

Sam Tanenhaus just needs to talk to Salman (we are on a first-name basis, as you may remember) about blogs. Maybe they can start one together. I'd read it.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Late Night Observation

It occurred to me on my commute home today that Literary Rapture has fallen into a rut of simply repeating news that other bloggers have already uncovered. Much of it is great and worth reposting, but I would like to make a pledge to you, scant readers. I shall do my best to provide more original content on this website, as well as keep you updated on the litblog buzz.

Now I will curl up with a book and read several paragraphs before falling asleep.

Rushdie likes blogs

Just when you expect all the members of the old-guard literati to be stuffy, one of them goes and surprises us all. According to an article in the New York Observer, a Friday night "doomsday" discussion on the impending collapse of book review culture hosted by the National Book Critics Circle was crashed by none other than Salman Rushdie.

He materialized to deliver his opinion the future of print reviews vs. blogs (“I think it’s rather unfortunate that some of the coverage tries to pitch print reviewing against the new media. I think they complement each other very well.”) and vanished again into the night.

In other words, Salman likes print reveiws AND blogs. Hooray! And I have decided that Salman and I are on a first-name basis because bloggers are so cavalier and casual.

Dept. of Gross

This is one of the more unbelievable things I've heard Bush say. How many people voted for him thinking he would do a good job? These must be the same people who are buying this book, but not any of these books.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alan and O.J. on Literature

God bless the "Shouts and Murmurs" section of The New Yorker. This is seriously brilliant.

New in the NYT Book Review

Are you seeing things? No, the Books section of the New York Times has been redesigned to accommodate its smaller size. It will also include caricatures (because people like pictures better than words, hence the book trailer trend), and little icons to help people figure out if they are reading a normal review or part of a recurring column. The NYT thinks readers are stupid, too!

Out of all this, however, there is this one gem: "This issue also introduces a new best-seller list, devoted to trade paperback fiction. It gives more emphasis to the literary novels and short-story collections reviewed so often in our pages (and sometimes published only in softcover)."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The system is down

Pardon the silence at Literary Rapture on Friday afternoon. The internet connection suddenly failed. I called our service provider and performed some troubleshooting measures several times to no avail. Finally they informed us that the "local phone company" a.k.a Verizon had to come out and service the connection. Not to worry, though. The problem would be solved sometime before 7 p.m. on Monday. Ummm...that is a long time from noon on Friday.

We had suddenly fallen into a deep chasm beneath the earth while the rest of the world continued above us. Hardly any sunlight could penetrate our information-less prison. The sweet nectar of gossip and news that had coursed so freely through our internet cables suddenly went dry. We only had provisions for a few more hours before we would go into starvation mode. The situation was dire.

So we all left the office early.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Roundup

Bookslut found further evidence that publishers secretly look down on readers: "The recent Penguin edition of Wells's hilarious Tono-Bungay features this introductory sentence before the footnotes: 'Because this edition is intended for readers everywhere in the world, the notes explain allusions for which British readers need no explanation.'"

Apparently Belgium is thinking about splitting into two countries. What?! From the New York Times: "'We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer,' said Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Bloc, the extreme-right, xenophobic Flemish party, in an interview. 'It’s "bye-bye, Belgium" time.'" (Watch out for the ridiculous number of single and double quotation marks here!)

It would be a bad financial decision to travel to Europe right now.

Chinese author Ha Jin on writing in English: "I transported myself to another tradition, the one set up by Conrad and Nabokov. There are disadvantages. I will never feel at home in English, so the books involve so much labor and so much risk. I have to go over everything again and again, to work hard to make everything right. There’s an absence of spontaneity. If you read Conrad and Nabokov, you see it, too, but they know how to turn it to advantage; they create their own style. I don’t exactly try to emulate them, but I try to understand their logic, then find my own way."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I have them, you have them, your grandmother has them

A term has just emerged in the book world. Other people (here and here) already know about it, but I just caught on (big surprise). Conjure up a mental image of your bookshelf. Peruse the selection until you come to that one book you have not read, the book that was not meant to be read all the way through. Maybe it contains little pearls of wisdom from Hallmark writers, or it tells you how to preserve your family heirlooms. Imagine being the author of such a book, knowing copies of your year-long project will gather dust on bookshelves across the country. Imagine being the editor of this book, knowing that your hard work is generating dollars but no…sense (I like puns).

This treasured bit of clutter is called the Antibook. It is a book that is not meant to be read. You might consult it from time to time, or refer to a single section. You won’t read it though. Estranged relatives buy antibooks for each other because they seem like the best variety of gift-giving miscellany. They think to themselves, “If I buy a book for someone, whatever book it is, it means that I am smart and that I think they are smart.”

The term Antibook comes from an article written by Sherman Young in the Sydney Morning Herald. Using sales figures as evidence, Young argues that antibooks are shoving books out of the marketplace. This certainly seems to be the case in Australia. Do your part to preserve books. When the time comes to give a gift to an estranged relative, buy a book they can actually read.

Morning Roundup

From Conversational Reading: "Good God! The LAT reviews OJ's book. I can see why this thing was published (and good for the Goldman family), but why did the LAT waste space on this piece of junk? Guess that's another one of those books that management told the reviews editor that the people would want to know about."

Bookforum linked to a story in the San Francisco Bay Guardian about top 10 stories the media missed. (To my readers, the Bookforum website is updated daily, and it provides awesome links to book reviews and general trends in culture).

Just because I'm currently fascinated by Ryszard Kapuscinski, a review of Travels with Herodotus

Late on the uptake, but Turn Here and Expanded Books have tons of cool book videos. How cross-platform!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On Monday...

...this happened. Thanks to Chad Post's insightful interpretation of events and ceaseless efforts on behalf of international literature, we can expect to hear more about this unfolding controversy (if only because a few bloggers decide not to let the matter lie). More coverage of this and other similar events that took place on Monday at the Deutsches Haus will be available as soon as I finish typing up my endless notes. Shorthand is a lost art that I wish I knew!

Hip lit in Brooklyn

Only in its second year, the Brooklyn Book Festival is about to outgrow its grassroots shoes. Real business deals were going down left and right, and major authors came out for panel discussions and readings. But take heart, intrepid readers. The fair has managed to retain its hipness, ranging from casual hip to edgy hip. If you are a child or have one, this is an unexpectedly great place to go. There was a children's pavilion with story time, craft projects, and book signings. Little kiddos were running to and fro in a state of utter glee (until late afternoon when they all got tired and started crying).

I missed some of the cool panels, like the scholarly discussion of To Kill a Mockingbird (I wonder if they ever mentioned this), one called "Culture Crash" with Ana Castillo, Colin Channer, and Amitav Ghosh, and "Works in Progress" featuring soon-to-be published works by Jim Carroll, Gloria Naylor, and Joe Meno.

However, I did score a ticket to see Jonathan Letham and Jonathan Safran Foer in coversation with their French and German publishers. The panel was moderated by the ever-impressive and million-lingual book critic Liesl Schillinger. The panel was called "Brooklyn Bridges to Europe" and was meant to explore how these two authors are received in Europe and what in their writing appeals to this more universal audience. Overall it was a satisfying panel with a couple memorable sound bites. What really stood out to me was how little the authors themselves knew about how their work is received in Europe. They have both gone on tour in Europe, but as Safran Foer pointed out, the only people they met at these readings were fans. He was said that the only American publisher doing translations was New Directions. He only knows that because he gets their newsletter (which is admittedly a good newsletter). Hint to all other small publishers: create a good email newsletter and send it to famous authors.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

French and German publishers in New York

I was beaten to the punch twice on this lead by the Literary Saloon and PW. On Monday, September 18th, publishing professionals from France, Germany, and the US participated in the French-German Editors Exchange, a day's worth of events which explored trends in the European and American book markets and how publishers from these book markets communicate with each other. Check back soon for further details on the outcome of these discussions, and added bonus material about the glamorous crowd.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The key to communication is...


Dept. of Gross

One of my scant readers has alerted me to a Gross oversight, the publication of James Frey's new novel Bright Shiny Morning. Yes, that is the real title, and yes, the author of A Million Little Pieces has written a new book and conned someone at HarperCollins into buying it. According to the Publishers Weekly article, someone at HC called Frey "an immensely talented writer." Uh-huh. He had to peddle his first book as a memoir because nobody would publish it as a novel. That's talent.

In other Gross news, the O.J. book is officially on sale today. It is already number TWO on Don't waste $14.97 plus shipping on this, people.

Frankfurt is huge!

7,275 exhibitors are registered for the Frankfurt Book Fair this year, and they will occupy 171,790 square meters of exhibition space (that's 563,615 square feet!). From October 10 to 14, everyone related in any small way to books will flood Frankfurt, crowd the subways, and spend gobs of money on food and alcohol, all for the sake of books and reading.

My favorite part of the book fair are the stand receptions at the European publishers' booths. They chatter excitedly over glasses of wine and bottles of beer in their stylish suits and cool eyeglasses. The smoking ban will be in effect for the first time this year (which is fine by me), but with cigarettes, these mini-fetes looked like scenes from classy 1950s dinner parties.

You might be surprised to learn that very few librarians are aware of the Frankfurt Book Fair's existence. While staffing the Frankfurt booth at the American Library Association annual conference this year, I was asked at least five times a day where the Frankfurt Book Fair took place. Really? "Frankfurt, Germany," I would answer with a smile. More often then not, the librarian would nod and tell me a story about having been to Germany once. It never registered that the question was a dumb one. It turns out there is such a thing as a dumb question.

Brooklyn Book Festival

All day long on Sunday, you can bask in the literary warmth of indie publishers (and big publishers who send their hippest people and books out to pretend they are indie) and awesome writers at the Brooklyn Book Festival. Yours truly will be there scoping the scene and chatting with the cool kids before attending a panel with Jonathan Letham and Jonathan Safran Foer. Some of these events are ticketed, so you'll have to get there early and stand in line. Be there or be un-hip.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl was born on September 13th, 1916 in Wales. In my opinion, he is one of the finest children's book writers who ever lived. He empowered generations of young readers, and apparently his adult fiction is pretty wild, as well.

How fondly I remember the BFG in cave, choking down snozzcumbers and guzzling frobscottle. He and Sophie devisied a plan to get rid of the other man-eating giants by enlisting the help of the Queen of England.

It was with wonder that I read about James and his peach-home that floated across the Atlantic Ocean to escape his evil aunts.

Charlie Bucket, Matilda Wormwood, the Witches, the can you not love them all?

Visit the official Roald Dahl website for fun facts and awesome illustrations. The memories will come flooding back to you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dept. of Gross

This is coming out November 1, 2007. Commence with gagging and noises of disgust.

What PEN thinks

PEN doesn't like closet translations either. They have even written a guide for book reviewers on how to review translations properly. Etiquette is everywhere, people.

Shakespeare Conspiracy

The BBC Magazine featured an article yesterday outlining both sides of the recently reborn theory that William of Stratford-upon-Avon was not the same man who wrote the works attributed to William Shakespeare.

Based on the reader's comments below the article, people are not that bothered by the idea that we may have given credit where it was not due. Shakespeare fans will remain fans regardless of authorship because of the power of this literature.

Closet Translations

Is this book actually a translation? As dumb as that sounds, we ask that question all the time here in the office. Translations published in the US are often disguised as English originals, and it begs the question, who is it that cares so much about keeping this a secret?

I just spent a good 20 minutes this morning searching for the translator of Frank Schatzing's newly translated book Death and the Devil. In the information age, 20 minutes is a long time! The translator was not listed on Amazon, in the book description, in the Publishers Weekly review, or on the HarperCollins website. I had to open the super slow "Look Inside" feature from HarperCollins and scroll to the front matter to find the translator's name.

Are publishers that afraid of translations? Are readers? As a reader, would you shy away from a book that said "translated by so-and-so" on the cover? Maybe the issue is familiarity. As readers, we are grossly unaware of awesome translated literature because it is not very available. Only three percent of our books are translations. Low sales numbers make publishers reluctant to take a chance on future translations, which makes readers less aware and willing to buy them. Ugh.

New Yorker Festival

If you are going to be in New York City on October 5-7, you have no excuse for missing the New Yorker Festival. This three-day festival brings the public face-to-face with "some of the brightest and most innovative minds, across disciplines and from around the world." Tickets go on sale September 15.

Here are some highlights of the festival (in my opinion), but I encourage you to look through the schedule yourself because all of the events look fantastic.

Friday, October 5:
  • Jhumpa Lahiri and Edward P. Jones readings, 7pm at the Ailey Citigroup Theater ($16)
  • Salman Rushdie and Orhan Pamuk in conversation, 7 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Miranda July and A.M. Homes in conversation, 9:30 pm at the Anthology Film Archives ($25)
  • Norman Mailer and Martin Amis in coversation, 9:30 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Errol Morris and Philip Gourevitch on film project about Abu Ghraib, 8 pm at the Directors Guild of America, ($25)
Saturday, October 6:
  • Anthony Lane and Simon Shama "Let them eat popcorn: Hollywood does history" 1 pm, Acura Stage at the Helen Mills Theater ($25)
  • Ian McEwan interviewed by David Remnick, 1 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)
  • Steve Martin interviewed by Susan Morrison, 4 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)
  • "Superheroes" panel with Tim Kring, Jonathan Lethem, Mike Mignola, Grant Morrison, moderated by Ben Greenman, 1 pm at the Highline Ballroom ($25)
  • Preview screening of "The Kite Runner" 7:30 pm at the Directors Guild of America ($25)
Sunday, October 7:
  • expensive, mostly non-literary events that you should check out if you have money

So pull out your wallet and spend that beer money on something good for your brain (and then buy a beer afterwards). You might even find yourself slipping into literary rapture.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Umbrella Etiquette

At the request of one of my readers, this is getting reposted from its original debut on June 25, 2006:

I strongly urge all of my fellow city-dwellers to practice good umbrella etiquette! This may seem inconsequential, but if you live in a crowded city, especially one with excessive pedestrian traffic like New York City, umbrella etiquette is actually a matter of grave concern and public safety. Serious injury and embarrassment can occur because of careless umbrella use. However, if you follow the proper umbrella technique, you can avoid tragic umbrella-related incidents.

1) The move-it-over rule: Fundamental to umbrella etiquette is being aware that you take up more space with an open umbrella than you do without one. If someone is coming toward you on the sidewalk and both of you have umbrellas, move it over. Simply move your umbrella to one side and in this way, you can avoid a collision and possible tangling up of umbrellas.

2) The shorter/taller rule: If there is not enough room to move it over, one person must lift his umbrella and the other person must keep his lowered. This rule is especially handy to keep in mind during rush hour and otherwise crowded situations in which there might be people surrounding you on all sides.

3) The big umbrella rule: There are two kinds of umbrellas: those meant to block rain and those meant to block sun. Beach umbrellas have no place on crowded and slippery sidewalks. Do you really need a six-foot diameter around your head to keep the rain off? Leave the big one at home and purchase a little one for three dollars from a street vendor. Your fellow pedestrians will thank you.

4) The opening/closing rule: Do not open your umbrella in a crowded area. Going back to rule number one, you take up more room with an umbrella than without one. Opening your umbrella while squeezed in next to others could result in collision and possible injury to the face. Closing your umbrella in a crowded area will result in a spray of water onto others. This could prove equally dangerous if you accidentally spray someone with anger management issues. You could find yourself with an earful of curse words or worse.

5) The good judgment rule: Most important to umbrella etiquette, and all sorts of etiquette, is using your good judgment and remaining aware of your surroundings. We all lose track of where we are from time to time, but if you make a conscious effort to make life easier for those around you, your own life will magically become easier as well.

Next time it rains in the city and you must walk with your umbrella open, I sincerely hope that you will remember the basics of umbrella etiquette. Happy travels, everyone!

For more on etiquette, check out Emily Post and her descendants.

The story behind Tannöd

To kick things off, I am reposting this entry written yesterday on my old blog:

The world English rights to Tannöd and Kalteis, both by German author Andrea Maria Schenkel, have sold to British publisher Quercus. Finally! This should have happened sooner considering that Tannöd has been on the bestseller lists in Germany for approximately 36 weeks, and Kalteis jumped onto the list as well immediately after its publication. This week, Tannöd is number 3 and Kalteis is number 1, according to FOCUS Magazin.

Tannöd is a crime thriller based on actual events that took place in the small Bavarian village of Hof Hinterkaifeck in 1922. A farmer, his wife, their widowed daughter, her son and daughter, and the family's maid were all brutally murdered with a pickaxe in the middle of the night. Several days before the murders, mysterious tracks started to appear in the snow leading from the nearby forest to the farmhouse, and the only house key suddenly went missing. Sometime in the night between March 31st and April 1st, the farmer and his wife, their daughter, and her daughter were killed the stable, and the maid and the young son were killed in the house. The bodies were discovered four days later. Townspeople noticed that the little girl had not gone to school, and the postman saw the mail untouched.

The papers first reported robbery as the motive behind the killings, but the family's cash, jewelry, and bonds were all still in the house. Further investigation by inspectors from Munich revealed a tense relationship between this family and the townspeople. The family was known to be wealthy but often stingy, hiring help illegally to save money. In addition, the old farmer and his daughter had been convicted of an incestuous relationship in 1915, for which the father went to jail for a year and the daughter for one month. After pursuing several suspects from the town and offering a 100,000 Mark reward for information about the killer, the police still had nothing. The case remains unsolved to this day.

Author Andrea Maria Schenkel recreated this crime in her novel, but she set the story in the 1950s, when postwar Germany was struggling to return to normal life. Schenkel captures the mistrust and religious fervor that gripped Bavaria at the time. Her characters would rather keep their heads down and their noses to the grindstone, but the crime forces them to take notice of each other and their lives. Details surrounding the murder eerily unfold, and the precise language of the novel both reports and terrifies. According to the German press, Schenkel has masterfully captured the Bavarian idioms, something that might be lost in the translation. However, the novel is certainly worth reading when it comes out.

Further sources: Hof Hinterkaifeck, BR-Online (with pictures), Edition Nautilus, Perlentaucher

New and Improved

Welcome to my new digs here at Literary Rapture. Now that I have grown out of my blogger beginnings at Myspace, the time has come to move beyond the realm of social networking and share information with the rest of the web. In addition to covering the book publishing industry and related literary subjects, I will expand other subjects that are noteworthy and awesome.

Let me briefly introduce myself. I work at a small non-profit office in New York City that promotes literature in translation. We get to go to book fairs and hobnob with awesome publishing people. Before I landed this job, translated literature was not something I ever though about. Things have changed. I grew up in Colorado and miss the mountains every day. The first book that made me believe in the power of literature was The Scarlet Letter. Thanks for visiting my blog. Come back soon!