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Upcoming Transnational Literature Series Events

 

Hala Alyan will be reading from her novel Salt Houses as part of the Transnational Literature Series. For more information, please contact series curator Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Palestinian American poet and clinical psychologist Hala Alyan was born in Carbondale, Illinois, and grew up in Kuwait, Oklahoma, Texas, Maine, and Lebanon She is the author of three poetry collections and has been awarded a Lannan Foundation fellowship. Salt Houses is her first novel.  

About the books: 
Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, Nylon, Kirkus Reviews, Bustle and BookPage. 

On the eve of her daughter Alia’s wedding, Salma reads the girl’s future in a cup of coffee dregs. She sees an unsettled life for Alia and her children; she also sees travel and luck. While she chooses to keep her predictions to herself that day, they will all soon come to pass when the family is uprooted in the wake of the Six-Day War of 1967. 

Lyrical and heartbreaking, Salt Houses follows three generations of a Palestinian family and asks us to confront that most devastating of all truths: you can’t go home again.

 

Discussing Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera.

Our Transnational Summer Book Club will discuss a book that explores themes of migration, displacement, and exile. To contact our moderator, email shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back.

Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages - one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.

Ticketed Event

Our Transnational Literature Series further explores migration, exile, and displacement through foreign film.

Coolidge Corner Theatre will screen the 2017 drama Wajib. A father and his estranged son must come together to hand deliver his daughter’s wedding invitations to each guest as per local Palestinian custom, in this rousing family drama from Annemarie Jacir (When I Saw You).

Tickets available through the Coolidge Corner Theatre. 

This event is presented in partnership with Boston Palestine Film Festival.

Dubravka Ugrešić will be in conversation with translator Ellen Elias-Bursać as part of the Transnational Literature Series. For more information, please contact series curator Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Dubravka Ugrešic was born in the former Yugoslavia (Croatia). She is a novelist, essayist, and literary scholar and the author of seven works of fiction and six collections of essays. She has won, or been shorlisted for, more than a dozen prizes, including the NIN Award, Austrian State Prize for European Literature, Heinrich Mann Prize, Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, Man Booker International Prize, and the James Tiptoe Jr. Award. In 2016, she received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature (the “American Nobel”) for her body of work. Ellen Elias-Bursać is an American scholar and literary translator. Specializing in South Slavic literature, she has translated numerous works from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian.

About the book: 

Winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature

In the midst of the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990s, Dubravka Ugresic—winner of the 2016 Neustadt International Prize for Literature—was invited to Middletown, Connecticut, as a guest lecturer. A world away from the brutal sieges of Sarajevo and the nationalist rhetoric of Miloševic, she instead has to cope with everyday life in America, where she’s assaulted by “strong personalities,” the cult of the body, endless amounts of jogging and exercise, bagels, and an obsession with public confession.

Organized as a fictional dictionary, these early essays of Ugresic’s (revised and amended for this edition) are as pertinent to today’s America as when they were first published. It’s here, in these pieces filled with Ugresic’s unparalleled wit and devastating observations, that the comforting veil of Western consumerism is ripped apart as the mundane luxuries of the average citizen are contrasted with the life of a woman whose country is being destroyed.

Translated from the Croatian by Celia Hawkesworth & Ellen Elias-Bursać.

Olga Tokarczuk will be in conversation with translator Jennifer Croft and writer Askold Melynczuk as part of the Transnational Literature Series. For more information, please contact series curator Shuchi Saraswat at shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.

Olga Tokarczuk is one of Poland’s most celebrated and beloved authors, a two-time winner of her country’s highest literary honor, the Nike. She is the author of eight novels and two short story collections, and has been translated into a dozen languages. Her work has appeared in n +1, BOMB, and Asymptote. Jennifer Croft is an American author, critic and translator who works from Polish, Ukrainian and Argentine Spanish. She was awarded the Man Booker International Prize along with Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, for her translation of Flights. Askold Melnyczuk is an American writer whose publications include novels, essays, poems, memoir, and translations

About the book:

WINNER OF THE MAN BOOKER INTERNATIONAL PRIZE

A visionary work of fiction with “echoes of Sebald and] Kundera . . . There’s] no better travel companion in these turbulent, fanatical times” (The Guardian). A seventeenth-century Dutch anatomist discovers the Achilles tendon by dissecting his own amputated leg. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.

Celebrated Ecuadorian author Gabriela Alemán’s first work to appear in English: a noir, feminist eco-thriller in which venally corrupt politicians and greedy land speculators finally get their just comeuppance

Poso Wells is ironic, audacious, and fierce. But what is it, exactly? A satire? A scifi novel? A political detective yarn? Or the purest reality of contemporary Latin America. It’s unclassifiable–as all great books are.” - Samanta Schweblin, author of Fever Dream

About the Author

Gabriela Alemán, based in Quito, Ecuador, has played professional basketball in Switzerland and Paraguay and has worked as a waitress, administrator, translator, radio scriptwriter, and film studies professor. She received a PhD at Tulane University and holds a Master’s degree in Latin American Literature from Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. Her literary honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006; member of Bogotá 39, a 2007 selection of the most important up-and-coming writers in Latin America in the post-Boom generation; one of five finalists for the 2015 Premio Hispanoamericano de Cuento Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia) for her story collection La muerte silba un blues; and winner of several prizes for critical essays on literature and film. This is her first full-length work to appear in English.

Dick Cluster is a writer and translator living in Oakland, California. He is editor/translator of the recently released Kill the Ámpaya!: Best Latin American Baseball Fiction, and co-author with Rafael Hernández of History of Havana. His many published translations include fiction and poetry from the Caribbean, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, and Spain.

Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel She Would Be King reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

About the Author

Wayétu Moore is the founder of One Moore Book and is a graduate of Howard University, Columbia University, and the University of Southern California. She teaches at the City University of New York’s John Jay College and lives in Brooklyn.

When the Croatian War of Independence breaks out in her hometown of Vukovar in the summer of 1991 she is nine years old, nestled within the embrace of family with her father, mother, and older brother. She is sent to a seaside vacation to be far from the hostilities. Meanwhile, her father has disappeared while fighting with the Croatian forces. By the time she returns at summer’s end everything has changed. Against the backdrop of genocide (the Vukovar hospital massacre) and the devastation of middle-class society within the Yugoslav Federation, our young narrator, now with her mother and brother refugees among a sea of refugees, spends the next six years experiencing her own self-discovery and transformation amid unfamiliar surroundings as a displaced person. As she grows from a nine-year old into a sparkling and wonderfully complicated fifteen-year-old, it is as a stranger in her own land.
            
Applauded as the finest work of fiction to appear about the Yugoslav Wars, Ivana Bodrožić’s The Hotel Tito is at its heart a story of a young girl’s coming of age, a reminder that even during times of war—especially during such times—the future rests with those who are the innocent victims and peaceful survivors.

About the Author

IVANA BODROŽIĆ was born in Vukovar, Croatia, in 1982 where she lived until the Yugoslav wars started in 1991. That year her father disappeared while fighting for Croatian independence and she and the rest of her family moved to Kumrovec, where they stayed at a hotel for displaced persons. In 2005, she published her first poetry collection, The First Step into DarknessThe Hotel Tito, her first novel, was published in 2010, receiving high praise from both critics and audiences and becoming a Croatian bestseller. She has since published a second poetry collection, A Crossing for Wild Animals, and a short story collection, 100% Cotton
 
ELLEN ELIAS-BURSAĆ is a translator of fiction and nonfiction from Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian. She has taught in the Harvard University Slavic Department and is a contributing editor to the online journal Asymptote. She lives in Boston.

Our Transnational Book Club will discuss a book that explores themes of migration, displacement, and exile. To contact our moderator, email shuchi@brooklinebooksmith.com.


Tommy Orange’s “groundbreaking, extraordinary” (The New York Times) There There is the “brilliant, propulsive” (People Magazine) story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. It’s “the year’s most galvanizing debut novel” (Entertainment Weekly).

As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life back together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honor his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and will to perform in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

There There is a wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen. It’s “masterful . . . white-hot . . . devastating” (The Washington Post) at the same time as it is fierce, funny, suspenseful, thoroughly modern, and impossible to put down. Here is a voice we have never heard—a voice full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. Tommy Orange has written a stunning novel that grapples with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and profound spirituality, and with a plague of addiction, abuse, and suicide. This is the book that everyone is talking about right now, and it’s destined to be a classic.

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