More Literature in Translation

As Black Forest Bookshop continues to grow, I am increasing my focus around literature in translation. It is most often what I read for reasons I find myself never quite sure how to explain. Undoubtedly, my discovery of W.G. Sebald and Thomas Bernhard years ago was a start, coupled with my experience of traveling in Germany several times. The tone of story-telling, the styles I was unaccustomed to reading in many American authors, and the general wider perspective continues to influence and widen this approach. Here are a few items recently acquired. Be sure to check out the many other wonderful books by foreign authors listed at our online shop here.

Recent Arrivals

  1. Laszlo Krasznahorkai – The Melancholy of Resistance is an amazing and powerful book. Called by Susan Sontag “the contemporary Hungarian master of apocalypse” this book deserves a read! Long, flowing sentences depicting a village, a visiting circus, and a giant whale in a truck. Turned into the great film Werckmeister Harmonies by Bela Tarr.
  2. E.M. Forster – An excellent example of the New Directions Alvin Lustig dust jackets from the New Classics series.
  3. Frank Bidart – This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was nominated for the National Book Award. Nice associative inscription to fellow writer.
  4. Karl Shapiro – Nice collection by Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner.
  5. Yasunari Kawabata – Nobel Prize winners (1968) collection of over 70 of his short short stories. A form he practiced through much of his career that may give the reader an intimate, distilled look at his art.
  6. Michael Punke – The first edition of this tale of Hugo Glass, the driven (mad?) mountain man, who, after surviving a bear attack, tracks the men who abandoned him. Turned into the powerful and beautiful film, The Revenant, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Alejandro Inarritu.

Some ideas for the holiday

One of my favorite bloggers recently posted this great piece on good considerations for the holidays. A gift guide for small/Indie press. Conversational Reading and related site, Quarterly Conversation are for me long-time go-to sites for excellent coverage of small press, literature in translation, and literature in general.


Each year I tend to do one of those “best reads of the year” lists, but this year I’ve decided to do things a little differently. Those lists tend to feature a lot of the same titles, and if you follow my Internet presence you’ve probably already got a pretty good idea of what books I’ve been really enjoying in 2017.

So instead what I’m going to do this year is do something along the lines of a gift guide to small and indie presses you may want to buy from this holiday season. I think probably everyone knows what the holiday season means to businesses and retailers, and presses are no different—this is make or break time for a lot of the publishers you love, so if you go and buy a few books from them for yourself and others, it’ll make a difference.

So here I’m going to recommend a book from each press that I think you should make an effort to check out this year. Look at them as entry points to presses I hope you get to know and buy a lot of books form in December. These books aren’t limited to things I read in 2017—they’re just great books that I think embody something important about each press. And I’m also going to try hard to get as many female, queer, & writers of color as possible in here. Continue reading here…

Hermann Hesse

Glad to have just got in this nice batch of titles by Hermann Hesse (1877-1962). He does not need much introduction, considering the fame of numerous of his works. This group includes some of the lesser known books! Love these dust jackets.

Recent Inventory – Literature in Translation – Sharp Views


Here is a sample of some recent inclusions to the Black Forest list. These authors and titles represent the direction I am looking to build my inventory. Literature in translation, and perhaps of a somewhat edgier or experimental sort, though I believe, you will find these authors are representatives of the high quality, important global literary tradition most already know. My hope is to widen my customers’ experience and knowledge of those artists that may be less well known. I have long had a fascination of European modern and contemporary arts, as my Artists posts may illustrate.

In this particular batch you will see the First American printing of Juan the Landless, by Juan Goytisolo, the third in his Alvaro Mendiola trilogy. These works were banned from publication in Spain under the Franco government. Goytisolo passed this summer, and an informative send-off was written by William Grimes at NY Times.

Here is also the First American printing of Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman, a novel that he was told by the Russian authorities, could not be published for 200 or 300 years. Some compare this work to Tolstoy’s War and Peace. The book was smuggled out in microforms, and the author never saw its publication.

I have also included the First printing of Robery Bly’s translation of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger, Jaroslav Hasek’s The Good Soldier Hasek, poetry by Zbigniew Herbert, and Celine’s Death on the Installment Plan, translated by Ralph Manheim.

In contrast to this last writer’s poor reputation and sometimes hateful, bitter works, (influential and significant as some may be) I have included Wolfgang Langhoff’s Rubber Truncheon.

Rubber Truncheon
1935. Trans. by Lilo Linke. Foreword by Lion Feuchtwanger. First American edition.

Arrested by the Gestapo in 1933, he spent thirteen months in prisons and Börgermoor and Lichtenberg concentration camps. This book, published in 1935, became one of the first published eyewitness accounts of Nazi evil and brutality in the concentration camps.

I hope you find yourself curious and pulled to exploring some of these works, and others that can be found under most recently listed. Some of these writers may be intimidating, for their style or unflinching content, but I also find the view can be compelling, or at least informative, certainly works of art, and perhaps relevant to where things in our own country currently stand. I hope to immerse myself in such work, to get lost, find myself, and ultimately, learn something about this difficult effort of humanity.

Be well.



Engage With Literature From Around the World

I am very excited to announce that we have recently acquired a wonderful collection of literature in translation and from around the world. Japan, Germany, France, Argentina, Italy, Chile, South Africa, Russia, Bosnia, and Poland are all represented. This is an excellent group of books, in near fine to fine condition, prominently first American editions. The publishers vary from Knopf to New Directions to Dalkey Archive Press, with lovely books from Archipelago Press. Here is an opportunity to encounter major influential texts from all over the world, to become acquainted with writers you’ve perhaps not heard of: Cesar Aira, Nina Berberova, Julio Cortazar for example. Read the prison and political works of Breyten Breytenbach, or the interesting historical perspectives of Shusaku Endo. Here is a sample from this first group, with many more to come, so be sure to check back!

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