Tag Archives: Deep Vellum Publishing

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 through October 15 is Hispanic Heritage Month, a time for celebrating the culture, lives, and achievements of Hispanic people all across the Americas. The month begins on September 15 in honor of the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua; Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence shortly after, on September 16 and 18. Though Hispanic people make up nearly twenty percent of the United States population, Hispanic authors continue to be ridiculously and frustratingly underrepresented in literature (this study in the Baltimore Sun says that less than one percent of all children’s books are written by Hispanic authors). It’s a statistic that becomes even more infuriating when you realize that Hispanic authors have produced some of the biggest books in the last ten years (Junot Diaz, anyone?). To counteract this inequality, we’ve compiled a list of titles by Hispanic authors from the United States to Central and South America: authors who represent the strength, resistance, and incredible contributions of Hispanic people everywhere, in genres from poetry, to literary fiction, to sci-fi, and more.

Beyond the Wall: New Selected beyond-the-wallPoems by Régis Bonvicino (Green Integer, November 2016) This is poetry at its most crucial and political, poetry that won’t let you off the hook even after you’re done reading. Beyond the Wall is the first English translation of Bonvicino’s work from 2002 to the present. Bonvicino has worn basically every hat you can wear in the literary world, from poet to translator, editor, and literary critic. His experience shows: in his poetry, he nimbly jumps between the stunning imagery of nature and the harsh realities of industrialization in urban environments. There’s a pulse to these words, a driving force that pushes you to constantly think about what you’re reading and why. Bonvicino challenges you to examine the massive role that colonialism played in developing what we think of as poetry.

Blood of the Dawn by Claudia Salazar Jiménez (Deep Vellum Publishing, Novemblood-of-the-dawnber 2016) Three Peruvian women brave the brutal and bloody military insurgence of the Shining Path guerillas in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The insurgence was the beginning of twenty years known in Peruvian history as the “state of fear.” In Blood of the Dawn, Jiménez rewrites the conflict through these women’s voices, marking how the personal can become political and vice versa. Jiménez’s prose is clear-cut and doesn’t sugarcoat the realities of the insurgence and the effects it had on the people of Peru. When this debut novel was first published in Spanish, Jiménez received the 2014 Americas Narrative Prize. Read it, and you’ll see why.

chronicle-of-a-murdered-houseChronicle of a Murdered House by Lúcio Cardoso (Open Letter Books, August 2016) is juicy familial drama at its best, rich with gossiped stories of adultery, incest, madness, and decadence. The first  English translation of Cardoso’s iconic Brazilian novel (originally published in Portuguese in the 1930s), follows the legacy of a once-proud family that blames its downfall on the marriage of its youngest son to a vibrant, rebellious, passionate woman named Nina. Cardoso’s writing is far from a fluff piece, however, meandering between plot-based narrative and deep philosophical questions in the driven-yet-pensive way that only literary fiction can. As Cardoso follows the family over the years, he hops between narrative devices from letters to diaries to confessions that will keep you reeled in until the very end.

I’ll Sell You a Dog by Juan Pablo Villalobos (And Other Stories, August 2016) followill-sell-you-a-dos an elderly man named Teo as he attempts to fend off boredom and cockroaches in a retirement home —all with a beer in hand. In his heyday, Teo was known all throughout Mexico City for his dog meat tacos, which he called “Gringo Dogs,” but that was before he lost his girlfriend to Diego Rivera and had his dreams crushed by his hypochondriac mother. Now, Teo is stuck trying to fill his days by antagonizing the literary salon that meets downstairs, flirting with the revolutionary greengrocer next door, and reading critical theory to telemarketers. When I’ll Sell You a Dog isn’t making you laugh out loud at Teo’s ridiculous antics, it’s “full of affection for art and artists” according to NPR. The novel is full of people who are die-hard believers, and it’s impossible not to root for characters who are so unapologetically passionate about their work.

the-revolutionaries-try-againThe Revolutionaries Try Again by Mauro Javier Cardenas (Coffee House Press, September 2016) tells the story of three childhood friends who reunite to transform Ecuador, and then discover that revolution isn’t as easy as it might seem. It’s political, yes (full of election turmoil, history of the Ecuadorian pro-austerity movement, and subversive radio plays), but to say it’s only a political novel would be to undercut the complexity of Cardenas’s writing. In The Revolutionaries Try Again, Cardenas explores the many facets of friendships, the things we leave unsaid, and all of the ways nostalgia acts as a fun house mirror on our memories. Cardenas’s writing crackles with wit and pop culture references (from ABBA to The Exorcist) – there’s a reason Harper’s magazine called The Revolutionaries Try Again a “high-octane, high-modernist debut.”

San Juan Noir, edited and introduced by Mayra Santos-Febres (Akashic Boosan-juan-noirks, October 2016) is an anthology of noir fiction by some of Puerto Rico’s best and brightest authors. Noir is nothing without atmosphere, and the setting here becomes a character of its own. The authors of San Juan Noir dig deep into the city, cracking open the (largely white, American) mythos of, as editor Santos-Febres says in the introduction, “sandy beaches, casinos, luxury hotels, relaxation, and never-ending pleasure—a place that satisfies all senses and appetites.” The stories within San Juan Noir stare right into the face of colonialism as they examine the gaps between the city’s rich and its poor, its residents and its constant flow of tourists, its colorful exterior and its gritty underbelly. This is noir with a bite, noir that enthralls with its dark tales even as it challenges the reader—do better, do better, do better.

transmigration-of-bodiesThe Transmigration of Bodies by Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories, August 2016) is a response to the violence in contemporary Mexico. A plague has come to an unnamed city, spreading death and destruction everywhere. Two rival crime families take advantage of the emptied streets to reopen a decades-old feud, but when the situation escalates beyond control, they call in the only person who can rebroker the peace: the Redeemer. Both families have kidnapped the children of the other, and the Redeemer must venture out into the disease-ridden streets to negotiate the return of the bodies they hold hostage. This definitely isn’t one of the lighter books you’ll read, but Herrera’s short, poetic prose “goes straight for the soul,” according to NPR, and is impossible to ignore. The Transmigration of Bodies pays homage to literary greats from Roberto Bolaño to Raymond Chandler and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as it honors all of the bodies that violent crime has touched.

Wicked Weeds by Pedro Cabiya (Mandel Vilar Press, October 2016) is not your avewicked-weedsrage zombie novel. From The Walking Dead to iZombie, you may be groaning at the thought of even more zombie narratives. But Wicked Weeds is different. Instead of a traditional, chronological narrative, the book comes together in scrapbook form, compiled by fictional doctor Isadore Bellamy as she tries to make sense of a brutal accident caused by her (zombie) boss. The book is made up of confessions from our zombie protagonist, transcripts of police interrogations, and segments of prose. Wicked Weeds incorporates all the best parts of sci-fi, experimental fiction, traditional horror, and Caribbean literature to create what Kirkus Reviews called “a culturally resonant tale of zombie woe.”

zero-sum-gameA Zero-Sum Game by Eduardo Rabasa (Deep Vellum Publishing, November 2016) is a biting political and consumerist satire—definitely a timely and relevant pick for this fall. A Zero-Sum Game follows the high-stakes election for the presidency of a residents’ committee, where a powerful stranger threatens to use his influence to shake up the process. Rabasa uses the charged atmosphere to crack dry, wry jokes that manage to lend sympathy to both sides: those in power, who find themselves caught between empowerment and selling out, and those outside of it, who find themselves wanting to be part of a revolution. It’s complex, intense, and would be heavy were the book not so charmingly funny. VERDICT: Add to your pre-election reading list.

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Will Evans of Deep Vellum Tells The Rumpus “Translators are the missing link”

It’s hard to imagine a day in the life of Will Evans. He almost singlehandedly runs Deep Vellum—one of the few publishing houses in the country that publishes exclusively translated works. He is integral to building and connecting the emerging literary community in Dallas, where he is also opening an independent bookstore called Deep Vellum Books.

“I met Will at the Dallas Book Festival, where he was clearly in his element as a force of literary energy…engaging in conversation continuously with a community that had its hooks in him, and vice versa,” writes Graham Oliver in his introduction to the interview with Evans for The Rumpus, published August 24.

Since its founding in 2013, Deep Vellum has published works from award-winning authors spanning the globe, including Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight, Lina Meruane’s Seeing Red, and Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83. “I have to round out the world. I haven’t published from everywhere yet,” Evans says. “I need a Japanese book, a Turkish book, an Italian book, a German book. For me, one of the reasons I choose books is based on diversity and diversity comes in all those forms: language, region, country, gender, etc.”

As a non-profit organization, Deep Vellum eGrambraces a publishing philosophy that is “about connecting authors and readers.” Deep Vellum addresses the desperate need for more international books. Evans says, “Translators are that missing link.”

Though Deep Vellum often faces skepticism from members of the publishing industry as a translation publisher based in Dallas, Evans is confident in their mission. “I’m hungry,” he says, “I’m voraciously waiting for these books, so if I can create some of that sense in myself, maybe I can create it in readers too.”

Within Dallas, Deep Vellum is gaining traction and becoming a key figure in the city’s developing literary community. “I set up Deep Vellum to be Dallas-specific because no one took Dallas seriously in Dallas, let alone anywhere else,” Evans says, “but in Dallas at least, the conversation’s changed, and I’m not taking all the credit, but I’m trying to be a part of it…Part of my identity for Deep Vellum has been Dallas on purpose, to help make Dallas a better place to live, to make it more of the place I want to live.”

Coming out this month from Deep Vellum is Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, and translated from the French by Jeffrey Zuckerman, a harrowing novel exploring the violent reality many native Mauritians live that the tourists never see.

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Deep Vellum Publishing is Opening a Bookstore!

When you think of Ddeep-vellum-logoallas, do you think of it as the art and literary hub of Texas? If not, look to Will Evans and his press Deep Vellum Publishing (founded in 2013), because he’s opening a bookstore which he hopes will be that hub. The Dallas Morning News (November 19) and Central Track (November 10) took a look at Evans’ hopes for this latest venture.

Under the name Deep Vellum Books, Evans plans to only stock titles from indie presses and literary magazines, according to Central Track. The 900 square foot space will house 2,000 to 3,000 titles, and it focus mainly on translations. The goal of the store itself is to “be the kind of place for things you can’t get anywhere else in the city,” Evans told the Dallas Morning News.

Evans wants the store to “be a catalyst for the entire neighborhood. . . Dallas is going to become a world-class city, beginning with this space.” In the Central Track article, Evans shared his hopes for the store to become a space for the “intermingling of all the arts,” awill_evans2 cultural hub that’s open every night of the week, with different non-profit programming each night. There will be a stage for readings or music shows, and a small bar will also serve coffee and wine.

Evans told Central Track: “it will be a place to come and buy books, to have a cup of coffee or beer, to chill for a minute, to have a meeting with a friend, to see a show or what have you.” However, don’t plan on setting up your home office at Deep Vellum Books, because Evans might kick you off the wi-fi.

Deep Vellum Books is officially launching on December 9th, with a housewarming party/bookstore launch happening from 6pm-8pm at their new digs at 3000 Commerce Street. Thanks to the energetic and innovative Will Evans, Deep Vellum Books is an exciting and innovative venture. Welcome to Dallas’ literary hub.

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Library Journal Features Literature in Translation with New Vessel Press, Open Letter Books, and More!

Apparently translated fiction has a new vibe, which Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert likened to the “cool band you haven’t heard yet” vibe. On October 26, she took a look at the state of fiction in translation and profiled ground-breaking presses, including New Vessel Press, Deep Vellum Publishing, Open Letter Books, And Other Stories, Gallic Books, and Akashic Books.

Hoffert notes that many English-language readers stay away translated works, for fear of feeling intimidated. New Vessel Press, founded in 2012 by Ross Ufberg and Michael Wise and located in New York City, is specifically challenging this notion. Ufberg and Wise use their prolific language skills to find stories that will connect to all readers while providing diverse perspectives: “our books are not about what an American thinks of Paris but what a Frenchman or Turk or Russian thinks.”

Focused predominantly on translation, And Other Stories is a British-based press that emerged in 2009 from “a reading group of translators, academics, and others interested in uneRockPaperScissorsxpected, under the radar-type books,” as publisher Stefan Tobler explained. Akashic Books, created in 1996 and located in Brooklyn, NY, publishes non-mainstream authors and has also found success in publishing translated works, namely with their “Noir” series which features international authors in collections about a specific city, such as Tehran Noir.

Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Books, noted that the success small presses have had with translation is due to the fact that they can take more risks than larger puTram83blishing houses: “small presses are getting a crack at many fine authors,” a fact obvious with Open Letter Books’ smash hit Rock, Paper, Scissors by Danish author Naja Marie Aidt. In addition, Deep Vellum Publishing’s Tram 83 by Fiston Mawanza Mujila and Gallic Books’ The Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra are receiving numerous accolades, bringing these auDictatorsLastNightthors and presses mainstream recognition.

As Hoffert said, “a hunger to understand a world up close and personal is motivating many readers.” In addition, younger readers are turning towards translated works, getting rid of the intimidating and elitist air surrounding translation and replacing it with the youthful hipster vibe of reading something that no one else has heard of. Though still small in numbers, literature in translation is finding its home at these small presses.

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Literature in Translation? Poets & Writers Profiles Deep Vellum Publishing

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Will Evans. Photo Credit: Dallas Observer.

Since he founded Deep Vellum Publishing in 2013, publisher Will Evans has been committed to publishing literature in translation. Unique, recognizable, and innovative, Deep Vellum is an important fixture in the Dallas, TX literary community as well as in the larger indie publishing world. In recent press, Evans has divulged his inspiration and publishing philosophy.

In a Poets & Writers article published on October 15, Evans highlighted key aspects of the press and the importance of continuing to build a literary community in Dallas. The non-profit press “takes its cues from other indie presses,” a business plan Evans adopted from the very beginning after cold-calling Chad Post at Open Letter Books to learn the ropes. In terms of connecting with readers, Evans said “I wanted to create a literary community in Dallas, one that could engage with our books, and the larger publishing industry.” Deep Vellum Publishing has recently leased space that will serve as a new office, a bookstore, a cafe, and an event space, and there are plans in the works for Evans and Deep Vellum to partner with local schools and printers for education.

Both yourTram83 literary and aesthetic needs will be more than fulfilled with SphinxDeep Vellum: each book cover is distinctive, minimal, and unique, though they all complement each other for a cohesive look. As The Casual Optimist pointed out in an article on October 16, Deep Vellum covers are “instantly recognizable.” However, they’re not pigeon-holing themselves: the cover for their recent title Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila and translated by Roland Glasser branches away from the minimal and light aesthetic.

This past year, Deep Vellum Publishing has released ten titles, ranging from fiction to nonfiction and spanning seven different countries. They plan on publishing ten to fifteen titles each year, and their upcoming season includes books from Indonesian, Spanish, and Icelandic writers. Keep watching and reading— Deep Vellum has much in store.

 

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Deep Vellum Stirs Up Translation

You’ve probably read many translated classics—think Tolstoy or Flaubert—but when was the last time you picked up a contemporary work of literature in translation, or even really gave a thought about the translating process? Deep Vellum Publishing is striving to change this imbalance by publishing innovative literary works from writers around the world.  Though just over a year old, the press has provided English translations of titles from a wide range of different writers and countries, including French and Icelandic authors, with upcoming titles from Chilean, Argentinean, Dutch, and Congolese writers. Deep Vellum Publishing is located in Dallas, Texas, and the press and its founding publisher Will Evans have been getting lots of attention. In fact, Deep Vellum was just named “Best New Thing in Town” by the Dallas Observer!

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Will Evans. Photo by Steven Visneau.

Jennifer Smart of Arts & Culture magazine wrote an essay on September 23, 2015, looking into the act of translating and what it means for the specific text as well as the publishing industry at large. She cited Will Evans and Deep Vellum as the instigators in philosophical quandaries regarding translation. She posed the question of whether you can say you’ve actually read a translated text (like Anna Karenina) if you haven’t read it in the original language, and “whether or not some works are simply untranslatable.” Deep Vellum’s titles support and counter these questions, with their titles introducing readers to diverse worlds while also highlighting common themes felt around the world. Deep Vellum not only introduces readers to literary works they wouldn’t normally have access to, their titles also spark conversations about the role of translation in the larger publishing world.

Deep Vellum Publishing is a non-profit press, a deliberate decision on Evans’ part to provide space for eduTram83cation for training young translators. Their mission is to “connect the world’s greatest writers with English-language readers through original translations… promoting a more vibrant literary community in north Texas and beyond.” Their most recent title, Tram 83illustrates the diversity and freshness of titles the press publishes. Written by Fiston Mwanza Mujila from the Democratic Republic of Congo and translated from the original French by Roland Glasser, Tram 83 takes readers into the modern African gold rush and raises questions about the meaning of relationships and the increasing globalization of the world.

Smart summed up the importance of translation in her article: “translation, it seems, diversifies our experience of the world at the same time as it demonstrates our commonalities; its unique ability lies in expanding our concepts of literature by slightly complicating our stories with those of others.” Thanks to presses like Deep Vellum, it’s exciting to think about the previously unexplored stories and questions that will be presented to English-language readers in their upcoming season—straight out of Dallas.

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