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He was the most courageous kind of eccentric, daydreaming at some doomed remove from the world yet able to conjure it up in his work, where it attains a warm and puzzling glow.

—Charlie Fox, Frieze  on Robert Walser's Looking at Pictures

The Hotel Years

by Joseph Roth

translated by Michael Hofmann

The Hotel Years gathers sixty-four feuilletons: on hotels; pains and pleasures; personalities; and the deteriorating international situation of the 1930s. Never before translated into English, these pieces begin in Vienna just at the end of the First War, and end in Paris near the outbreak of the Second World War. Roth, the great journalist of his day, needed journalism to survive: in his six-volume collected works in German, there are three of fiction and three of journalism.
Beginning in 1921, Roth wrote mostly for the liberal Frankfurter Zeitung, which sent him on assignments throughout Germany−to write about inflation, the occupation, political assassinations−and abroad to the USSR, Italy, Poland and Albania. And always: "I celebrate my return to lobby and chandelier, porter and chambermaid."

Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

Fiction by Bohumil Hrabal

translated by Paul Wilson

Never before published in English, the stories in Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult were written mostly in the 1950s and present the Czech master Bohumil Hrabal at the height of his powers. The stories capture a time when Czech Stalinists were turning society upside down, inflicting their social and political experiments on mostly unwilling subjects. These stories are set variously in the gaslit streets of post-war Prague; on the raucous and dangerous factory floor of the famous Poldi steelworks where Hrabal himself once worked; in a cacophonous open-air dance hall where classical and popular music come to blows; at the basement studio where a crazed artist attempts to fashion a national icon; on the scaffolding around a decommissioned church. Hrabal captures men and women trapped in an eerily beautiful nightmare, longing for a world where "humor and metaphysical escape can reign supreme."

Beauty Is a Wound

Fiction by Eka Kurniawan

translated by Annie Tucker

The epic novel Beauty Is a Wound combines history, satire, family tragedy, legend, humor, and romance in a sweeping polyphony. The beautiful Indo prostitute Dewi Ayu and her four daughters are beset by incest, murder, bestiality, rape, insanity, monstrosity, and the often vengeful undead. Kurniawan's gleefully grotesque hyperbole functions as a scathing critique of his young nation's troubled past: the rapacious offhand greed of colonialism; the chaotic struggle for independence; the 1965 mass murders of perhaps a million "Communists," followed by three decades of Suharto's despotic rule.

Beauty Is a Wound astonishes from its opening line: One afternoon on a weekend in May, Dewi Ayu rose from her grave after being dead for twenty-one years. . . . Drawing on local sources—folk tales and the all-night shadow puppet plays, with their bawdy wit and epic scope—and inspired by Melville and Gogol, Kurniawan's distinctive voice brings something luscious yet astringent to contemporary literature.


Fiction by Fran Ross

with a contribution by Danzy Senna and Harryette Mullen

Oreo is raised by her maternal grandparents in Philadelphia. Her black mother tours with a theatrical troupe, and her Jewish deadbeat dad disappeared when she was an infant, leaving behind a mysterious note that triggers her quest to find him. What ensues is a playful, modernized parody of the classical odyssey of Theseus with a feminist twist, immersed in seventies pop culture, and mixing standard English, black vernacular, and Yiddish with wisecracking aplomb. Oreo, our young hero, navigates the labyrinth of sound studios and brothels and subway tunnels in Manhattan, seeking to claim her birthright while unwittingly experiencing and triggering a mythic journey of self-discovery like no other.

The Complete Stories

Fiction by Clarice Lispector

translated by Katrina Dodson
with a contribution by Benjamin Moser

The recent publication by New Directions of five Lispector novels revealed to legions of new readers her darkness and dazzle. Now, for the first time in English, are all the stories that made her a Brazilian legend: from teenagers coming into awareness of their sexual and artistic powers, to humdrum housewives whose lives are shattered by unexpected epiphanies, to old people who don’t know what to do with themselves. Clarice’s stories take us through their lives—and ours.

From one of the greatest modern writers, these eighty-six stories, gathered from the nine collections published during Clarice LIspector’s lifetime, follow her from her teens to her deathbed.

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