July 15, 2016
One hundred and twelve years ago today, Anton Chekhov drank his last glass of champagne.
His wife would describe the scene years later in her journal: “Anton sat up unusually straight and said loudly and clearly (although he knew almost no German): Ich sterbe (‘I’m dying’). The doctor calmed him, took a syringe, gave him an injection of camphor, and ordered champagne. Anton took a full glass, examined it, smiled at me and said: ‘It’s a long time since I drank champagne.’ He drained it and lay quietly on his left side, and I just had time to run to him and lean across the bed to call to him, but he had stopped breathing and was sleeping peacefully as a child….”
Chekhov passed away in Badenweiler, a small German town near the Black Forest. His body was taken back to Russia by freight train, and somehow ended up in a refrigerated car meant for oysters.
July 5, 2016
Inspired by a political climate that its editors called “stranger than fiction,” the New York Times Book Review has commissioned its first ever short story: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Arrangements.”
In an article introducing the piece, John Williams of the Times explains that the Book Review “decided to turn to fiction to see how it might illuminate today’s befuddling political climate.” Befuddling, certainly, but at least this befuddlement has resulted in a piquant artistic contribution.
A modern spin on Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, “The Arrangements” replaces the genteel figure of Clarissa Dalloway with a different kind of hostess—Melania Trump. Adichie explains in an interview that she was intrigued by Ivanka Trump, who “seems to me too thoughtful and too intelligent to truly believe that her father’s erratic, ungrounded policy positions would genuinely be good for the United States. And so I imagined her as a kind of unknowable character, and I needed a foil of sorts for her, which is how Melania Trump became the center of the story.” As for the relationship between politics and literature, Adichie says, “[f]iction can remind us—and because of the blood-sport nature of politics, we constantly need reminding—that the players in politics are first human beings.” And “The Arrangements,” told in a stream-of-consciousness style from Melania’s perspective, does just that.
June 30, 2016
“People should and do trust me.”—Hillary Clinton
The marathon that is the presidential political campaign is coming to an end, and things are getting real uncomfortable. Information and insults are being thrown from every direction and it’s difficult to know what sources to trust to provide the truth on who the political candidates are and what they stand for.
Well, if you enjoyed Ted Rall’s Bernie and Snowden graphic biographies (psst he’s got a new one coming out soon), or believe anything Noam Chomsky has written, or are interested in preventing a real life version of The Hunger Games, you should seriously read Doug Henwood’s My Turn.
Henwood’s new book is concise, fact-based, and meant to get people talking; it is not about Bernie Sanders, not about Donald Trump, and not about misogynistic rants. Instead, Henwood goes point by point through Hillary’s personal and political history to illustrate how she is not the candidate she claims to be.
June 22, 2016
“Well all right.”
It doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “So it goes,” but the pointed understatement and faux-cheerful stoicism are already in place. As is the skeptical attitude toward the glories of mass slaughter. We at Seven Stories hereby present to you the “Well All Right,” the college musings of Kurt Vonnegut.
In the Cornell Daily Sun article linked above, a twenty-year-old Vonnegut eerily prefigures the subject matter of his later novels. “Cheers for the Army, the Navy . . . the WAAC’s, the WAAVs,” Vonnegut writes, mocking the gung-ho attitude of the university’s war recruiters and the nation at large, “to hell with the slackers in college.” Decrying the revolving door between war recruiters and the university, he seeks to remind his fellow students that there’s no shame in putting aside war for a moment and getting an education. Aside from attending classes, Vonnegut writes, “what we do is justly our own damned business!”
Yet in three month’s time the author himself had left Cornell for the Army.
April 22, 2016
It’s Earth Day! Earth Day XLVI, to be exact, and observers all over are largely focusing on the US and China, two of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change, which have agreed to mark the day by formally signing the Paris Agreement, a binding resolution on curbing ecological destruction that has been joined by 120 countries.
At Seven Stories, we’re marking the occasion by offering 50% off all our titles related to climate change and ecological activism, including Subhankar Banerjee‘s Arctic Voices, a stunning collection of first-hand accounts from the front lines of the war to protect our frozen north; Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk‘s Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe, a book of stark warning aboutthe twin dangers of too much and too little action; Tom Athanasiou and Paul Baer‘s Dead Heat, a polemic that connects hand-wringing over climate to bigger issues of justice along lines of ferocious clarity; and, of course, our suite of books by the uncompromising Derrick Jensen, the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement whose books, many and pathbreaking, include Dreams, What We Leave Behind, and many more, including, with comic artist Stephanie McMillan, the surprisingly merry As the World Burns: Fifty Simple Things You Can Do to Stay in Denial.
April 19, 2016
Every spring, New York City enjoys the intercultural literary splendor of the World Voices Festival, produced by PEN America! This year, Seven Stories Press is pleased to have three authors participating: Abdellah Taïa, Guadalupe Nettel, and Linh Dinh. For a complete schedule of this year’s festival, please visit the PEN website. Below is a listing of all WV events featuring Seven Stories authors!Wednesday, April 27th 6.30pm $40Literary Quest: Tenement Museum Editionat the Lower East Side Tenement Museum(103 Orchard Street, 10002)Featuring: Rashidah Ismaili, Eisa Davis, Richard Price, Colm Tóibín, Olga Tokarczuk, Sunjeev Sahota, Veronica Gonzalez Peña, and Guadalupe NettelTranslating Activism: Ayotzinapa and Beyondat Dixon Place(161A Chrystie Street, 10002)Featuring: Cristina Rivera-Garza and Linh DinhThursday, April 28th 6.30pm $20Literary Quest: Westbeth Editionat the Westbeth Center for the Arts(55 Bethune Street, 10014)Featuring: Dalia Betolin-Sherman, Lorea Canales, Álvaro Enrigue, Saleem Haddad, Yuri Herrera, Andreï Makine, Karim Miské, Mark Nowak, Alexandre Vidal Porto, Susanna Reich, Fatima Shaik, Burhan Sönmez, Juan Villoro, Jorge Volpi, Klaus Wivel, and Abdellah TaïaThursday, April 28th 8pm $15Women of Mexicoat Dixon Place(161A Chrystie Street, 10002)Featuring: Carmen Boullosa, Valeria Luiselli, Cristina Rivera-Garza, and Guadalupe NettelFriday, April 29th 6.30pm $12Translation Slamat the Nuyorican Poets Cafe(236 East Third Street, 10009)Featuring: Margaret Carson, Chris Clarke, Luis Felipe Fabre, Ezra Fitz, Michael F.
April 1, 2016
We sent some interview questions to Barbara Williams, whose new memoir of life in the logging communities of Western Canada, The Hope in Leaving, we recently published to early acclaim. Besides an author, Williams is a successful actress and accomplished musician. Spend a minute here — this is a terrific read.
Why did you decide to write The Hope in Leaving now, so many years after the events it describes took place?
It took many years and much distance to achieve a perspective on those events, to be able to distill them into art. I’ve always been journaling but acting was my primary creative focus. After my son was born I wanted to be present for his childhood. Other actresses can manage raising kids and working on location but I opted to stay close to home and write. My book was released on the eve of my son’s 16th birthday.
March 24, 2016
In an opinion piece published yesterday by the New York Times under the title “What Obama Should Know About Macri’s Argentina,” scholar Ernesto Semán and legal expert Gastón Chiller (of the Center for Legal and Social Studies in Buenos Aires) give a forceful account of the ways in which newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s administration recalls some of the most horrid periods in the country’s history. They begin with the case of activist Milagro Sala, arrested two months ago for organizing a protest of cooperative workers in the interior of the country, and continue to list other traces of repression — sometimes verging on fascism — in Macri’s excessive use of executive orders, his neglect of human rights abuses, and his decisions to prioritize free trade over domestic growth, profit over people. This account of a repression that comes about gradually and insidiously is all too reminiscent of an open letter signed thirty-nine years ago today by Argentine citizen, writer, and activist Rodolfo Walsh, just a day before he was gunned down in the street and disappeared by henchmen of the de facto regime, his body never found.
February 18, 2016
Is it hot in here, or are we just feelin’ the Bern?!
In an election when Senator Bernie Sanders is shaking everything up, speaking for millions of Americans who thought they had no voice in electoral politics, Bernie — the new graphic biography by Ted Rall — is shaking things up, too, blasting onto the New York Times Bestseller List, attracting interest and praise, and generally making waves.
It’s easy to see why. Bypassing horse-race commentary and bloviation about the status quo, Bernie instead cuts incisively and wittily to the man behind the headlines. Who is the socialist rabble-rouser that has lodged such an unexpectedly successful challenge to the long-awaited coronation of Hillary Clinton? The son of an immigrant raised in Brooklyn, New York, Bernie seems to represent the consummate political outsider — laughed off initially, but now a serious contender for the presidency whom the polls now show in a dead heat with his rival.
January 11, 2016
Some big news this morning from the American Library Association!
ADAM & THOMAS is a Batchelder Honor Book!
Congratulations to author Aharon Appelfeld, illustrator Philippe Dumas, and translator Jeffrey M. Green!
The Batchelder award honors outstanding children’s books translated from foreign languages and subsequent published in the United States.
SEX IS A FUNNY WORD is a Stonewall Honor Book!
Congratulations to authors Cory Silverberg and Fiona Smyth!
The Stonewall Award is given to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.
You can find more information about the ALA’s awards here.