Most Anticipated Small Press Books of 2017

Big Other has aggregated a list of the most anticipated small press books of 2017 according to writers such as Kate Angus, Nathaniel Baldwin, Jeff Bursey, Tobias Carroll, Annie DeWitt, Claire Donato, Brian Evenson, and many more. Here are my two modest contributions:

Not One Day by Anne Garréta. Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan. Publication Date: April 11, 2017. Deep Vellum Press.

In the introduction to Barbara Henning’s Looking Up Harryette Mullen (2011) Juliana Spahr somewhat blithely describes the Oulipo as being “not only mainly French but also mainly male.” Spahr continues, “I believe they admitted a woman once. She seems to have quit at some point.” Though Michèle Métail is no longer an active member, the Oulipo–contrary to Spahr’s suggestion–added four formidable women to its ranks between 1995 and 2009: Michelle Grangaud, Anne Garréta, Valérie Beaudouin, and Michèle Audin. Work by the women members of the Oulipo–arguably some of the most exciting writing being produced by the group–is largely underappreciated in an Anglophone context due, in part, because much of it has not yet been translated into English. Deep Vellum Press has been making major strides in rectifying this lack. In 2015, Deep Vellum published Emma Ramadan’s translation of Garréta’s debut novel Sphinx, an innovative love story that avoids pinning down the genders of the two main characters. And in 2016, Deep Vellum released Christiana Hills’ translation of Audin’s One Hundred Twenty-One Days, a brilliant example of what Linda Hutcheon has called “historiographic metafiction,” a postmodern form of highly self-reflexive writing that “both install[s] and then blur[s] the line between fiction and history.” Not One Day will give English speakers a better sense of one of the Oulipo’s most gifted and provocative writers; and it will likely be a key text in discussions about gender, the Oulipo’s legacy, and formal constraint.

Wild Geese Returning by Michèle Métail. Translated from the French by Jody Gladding. Introduction by Jeffery Yang. Publication Date: March 14, 2017. New York Review of Books.

This critical anthology of “Chinese reversible poems”–its focus is on fourth century poet and expert palindromist Su Hui–may help us reconsider the relation between the classical and the avant-garde. Hopefully Wild Geese Returning will show that Métail’s contributions to literary culture needn’t be exclusively defined by her former affiliation with the Oulipo.

~ by Michael Leong on February 17, 2017.

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