French conceptual artist Sophie Calle once passed a night in a bed installed at the top of the Eiffel Tower, inviting members of the public to tell her bedtime stories to keep her awake. Asked later how she managed to convince authorities to let her spend a night in a bed at the top of the Eiffel Tower, she replied, awestruck by her own good fortune, “I asked for the moon and I got it.”
I felt a bit like Sophie Calle upon discovering recently some news about Miklós Bánffy’s “Transylvania Trilogy” – They Were Counted, They Were Found Wanting, and They Were Divided. Long-time readers of this blog may know that my enthusiasm for this set of novels is the reason I began book-blogging in the first place. Unfortunately, the books have not been particularly easy to find, and I’ve heard from several readers that the cost of used copies – especially the first volume – is often prohibitive (at least for print editions; the books are now available for Kindle download).
Arcadia Books, the British publisher originally responsible for putting out the trilogy, re-released new trade paperback versions of the books in Great Britain in early 2010, but these new editions quickly seemed to become nearly as expensive and difficult to find as the originals. But Gary Pulsifer of Arcadia had also launched a campaign to generate publisher interest outside of Britain, and, in an effort to further that cause, I followed up some correspondence with him by writing to the agency handling international rights to the books, expressing my hope of one day seeing them in hardcover, perhaps in a well-known collection such as Everyman’s Library.
I’m not about to claim credit, but I’m nonetheless delighted to announce that I seem to have received the moon: Bánffy’s Transylvania Trilogy will in fact be published by Everyman’s Library this coming July. The books will come in a standard Everyman’s Library hardcover edition in two volumes (with the shorter second and third books of the trilogy bound together).
In the unlikely event that I did have something to do with this excellent news about the Bánffy trilogy, I'll keep up my baying at the moon by offering up a few more works/authors I’d to see published or re-published in English translation. Some have been available in English before and are now out of print, some I’ve found only in French (listed below with their French titles), and my interest in others has been piqued by suggestions from various book bloggers and reviewers.
The Dying Lion and Milolo, by Miklós Bánffy - Hungarian
Grande Sertão Veredas, by João Guimarães Rosa - Portuguese
Amrikanli: Un automne à San Francisco, by Sonallah Ibrahim – Arabic
Astronautilia : Hvezdoplavba, by Jan Křesadlo – Greek & Czech
Gravelarks, by Jan Křesadlo - Czech
La fôret des renards pendus, by Arto Paasilinna (and others – so few have appeared in English) - Finnish
L’Art de la joie, by Goliarda Sapienza - Italian
Congo, by David Reybrouck - Dutch
A World Without Maps, by Abdul Rahman Munif & Jabra Ibrahim Jabra – Arabic
Portrait of Lozana, the Lusty Andalusian Woman, by Francisco Delicado - Spanish
The Peasants, by Wladyslaw Reymont - Polish
Monday Starts on Saturday, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (the “unauthorized” translation by Leonid Renen) - Russian
Perrudja, by Hans Henny Jahnn - German
La Petite Pièce Hexagonale, and Parfum de Glace, by Yoko Ogawa (though some of Ogawa’s works are available in English, these two – my favorites of the several I’ve read in French – are not) - Japanese
Tales of Spring Rain, by Uyeda Akinari (the companion volume to Akinari’s wonderful 18th century collection of Japanese gothic stories, Tales of Moonlight and Rain) - Japanese
Ri Koran watakushi no hansei (Half of My Life as Ri Koran), by Yoshiko Otaka a.k.a. Ri Koran a.k.a. Li Xiangjian a.k.a. Yoshiko Yamaguchi a.k.a. Shirley Yamaguchi - Japanese
Other authors un- or under-translated into English:
Joseph Kessel - French
Manuel Mujica Láinez – Spanish
Ramón Gómez de la Serna – Spanish
Panaït Istrati* – French
Julio Ramón Ribeyro* – Spanish
Angel Ganivet* – Spanish
Albert Londres - French
Max Mohr - German
Serge Filippini - French
Albert Cossery - French
Simon Vestdijk - Dutch
Eduard von Keyserling - German
Sergio Pitol – Spanish
Carlos Drummond de Andrade – Portuguese
There are certainly hundreds and even thousands more. I’d be most interested in others’ suggestions, so please offer up your own nominees in the comments.
*Translator John Penuel has been addressing the works of these three writers; some of his translations have been published in print editions and/or are available for Kindle download.