Thursday, 18 May 2017

Harvill, Hyman, Hénaff & MacLehose

At the end of the last century there was a wonderful series of books being published by what was then the Harvill imprint, under the editorship of Christopher MacLehose. In the end there were at least 230 in this series, most of them translations, all recognisable by the stripe-and-lion on the left-hand-side of the cover.

I bought as many as I could at the time, and have been collecting them ever since when I come across them second-hand. Here are the piles of those I've not yet read...

Sadly, Harvill was swallowed up by Random House, and most of the list left to slide out of print. Fortunately, however, Christopher MacLehose later set up a new imprint, MacLehose Press, much of which is dedicated to fiction in translation. I bought one of their books recently--Sophie Hénaff's Parisian crime novel The Awkward Squad, and found that it was labelled as the third 'Maclehose Edition'.

Investigating further, I discovered these MacLehose Editions seem to be the beginning of  new list of translated books which I hope will come to rival the original Harvill series. Some of the other titles, published and forthcoming, are these:

Back to the Hénaff: it has a lovely and distinctive cover drawn by one Miles Hyman, who has also provided covers for other MacLehose books... well as for other publishers, both English and French. I knew Hyman's work from his excellent graphic-novel adaption/expansion of his grandmother's famous short story of group madness and cruelty: Shirley Jackson's 'The Lottery'.

Here are some of the book's pages (click to enlarge):

So, in short: old Harvills, MacLehose books, Miles Hyman's work--explore them all.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Keshiki Keshiki Keshiki

Strangers Press is a new small publisher based in Norwich who are setting out to bring great translated literature to English-speaking readers. They've launched very impressively with the 'Keshiki: New Voices from Japan' series, 8 novellas published as DL-sized chapbooks, with eye-catching covers and interiors printed in unusual dark blue ink. I ordered them based on their looks alone, not having read any of the authors before, but fortunately they're also quality stuff prose-wise.

All the books have French flaps with the author and translator biographies on them. Click for bigger, semi-readble versions.

So you don't have to suffer too much from my inepty photographs, here are the individual covers and their designer credits.

Design by Glen Robinson

Design by Glen Robinson

Design by Glen Robinson

Design by Glen Robinson

Design by Nigel Aono-Billson

Design by Nigel Aono-Billson

Design by Nigel Aono-Billson

Design by Nigel Aono-Billson

Strangers Press's website makes no mention of what their next project will be, but I look forward to it with impatience and greed.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Queued Penguins

Perving at the upcoming Penguin Classics has revealed a bunch of things I will need to spend money on, and a few things worthy of comment here. First of all, an apparently random trio of upcoming titles have a completely new series design, for no reason I can yet determine. I like it, but don't understand what's happening.



There's also a welcome addition of more weird/horror fiction to the line, both American and Filipino.

We also have another ofBassani's Romanzo di Ferrara books, getting us closer to having the whole cycle in print in English...

..and using a cover image last seen on the late, lamented Harvill edition of Erwin Mortier's My Fellow Skin.

And then we have Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo, which is a welcome addition to the library of books featuring Josephine Baker on the cover.

Here are some of the other upcoming offerings worth your consideration.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Empty Despair

There's something about the cover and author's note for this upcoming book, all about getting rid of everything and living in an empty howling void of whiteness, that makes me think it's more a cry for help than an advice manual. Where does he go to the toilet? In the box? In any case, it seems as though the cover should probably be more like this:

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Beached Statue

 Ever since Planet of the Apes, a disaster-wrecked Statue of Liberty has been used frequently in movies and on their posters to symbolise ruined America.



It's a cliche that started in literature, and actually goes back to 1887: the oldest occurrence I've read is in J. A. Mitchell's novella The Last American, which featured illustrations like these...

 ..and which, along with Planet of the Apes, led to numerous book, pulp magazine and comic covers featuring Liberty in various states of disrepair and repurposing.

Now that a horrific deluge of utterly unoriginal post-apocalyptic self-published fiction has been unleashed by Amazon, it seems only fitting that these books without new ideas should also feature covers to match.

It's mildly unfair to include Warday here, in that it was first published in the 1980s by a respectable firm, but Streiber abandoned his career as a writer of obvious fiction in order to become a wildly disreputable purveyor of alien-abduction bullshit and plagiarist, so fuck him.