2017 was not the best year. I am very aware that may be the understatement of the decade, but there it is. I med an old blogging friend at this year’s Brooklyn Book Festival and tried to explain to him why I’d retreated from Social Media (and the world) – which amounted to a list of the same reasons that everyone who eventually retreats from, and leaves, Social Media (Twitter) gives. So I won’t bore you with the details. Enough to say that I spent most of 2017 on the couch watching television or hiding behind a book. A lot of reading got done but not a lot of writing.
Looking back, though, I see that I accomplished more than I realized. But isn’t that always the way?
I’m still contributing over at Book Riot. You can find links to everything I’ve written for them on my Book Riot Contributor’s Page. I’ve also reviewed for Foreword Reviews, The LA Review of Books, Quarterly Conversation and The Rumpus. Below are 3 which I am particularly proud of:
- The Spanish Civil War: Required Reading for a Political Battle Royale
- Cockroaches by Scholastique Mukasonga at the Quarterly Conversation
- The Provateur’s Spirit, a review of Marie NDiaye’s My Heart Hemmed In at the LA Review of Books.
A few other highlights:
- In 2017 I read 60+ Books, over half were translations.
- Books by Women Authors – 10. This is roughly 30% of the books I’ve read in translation… to be honest I thought there’d be more. Which just reinforces the fact that unless I make a conscious effort to read women authors, it’s just not going to happen.
Languages – 9 (not including English). French, Spanish & Japanese novels made up the bulk of my reading in Translation. I also read books translated from Yiddish, Italian, German and Korean.
- Surprise of the Year – Return to the Dark Valley by Santiago Gamboa, translated by Howard Curtis. I’d never heard of Gamboa before picking up this book and I don’t understand why. I’ll definitely be reading more of his work in 2018.
- Disappointment of the Year – I really didn’t like The Impossible Fairy Tale by Han Yujoo, translated by Janet Hong. There’s a whole list of reasons I go into in my review of Han Yujoo’s novel at the Rumpus, but for those looking for the hot take: the book relies on a series of literary gimmicks and clichés rather than substance and structure. The shame of it is that she is talented enough to almost pull it off, which is saying a lot.
- I attended both the 2017 PEN World Voices Festival in New York City & AWP in Washington D.C.
- I’m also a judge for the 2018 Best Translated Book Award, which is something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time.
- And for the first time EVER I managed to complete my GoodReads Challenge for the year!
So that’s it for 2017. I didn’t want to spend too much time dwelling on this past year – I’d rather look to the future. Check back soon for my post on goals, news and resolutions for 2018.