A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook)

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9780811223379: A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook)

A reader’s fictional tour of the art and lives of some of the great 20th-century Surrealists

An author (a version of Vila-Matas himself) presents a short “history” of a secret society, the Shandies, who are obsessed with the concept of “portable literature.” The society is entirely imagined, but in this rollicking, intellectually playful book, its members include writers and artists like Marcel Duchamp, Aleister Crowley, Witold Gombrowicz, Federico García Lorca, Man Ray, and Georgia O’Keefe. The Shandies meet secretly in apartments, hotels, and cafes all over Europe to discuss what great literature really is: brief, not too serious, penetrating the depths of the mysterious. We witness the Shandies having adventures in stationary submarines, underground caverns, African backwaters, and the cultural capitals of Europe.

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About the Author:

Enrique Vila-Matas was born in Barcelona in 1948. His novels have been translated into eleven languages and honored by many prestigious literary awards including the Prix Médicis Etranger. Author of Bartleby & Co., Montano’s Malady, and Never Any End to Paris, he has received Europe’s most prestigious awards and been translated into twenty-seven languages.

Anne McLean has won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize twice, as well as the Premio Valle Incla´n. She has translated the works of Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ignacio Padilla, and Evelio Rosero.

Thomas Bunstead lives in England and has translated the works of Eduardo Halfon, Yuri Herrera, and Rodrigo Fresán

Review:

“His intelligent playfulness and his fervor for written language are visible on every page and highlighted by this excellent translation. Vila-Matas is a master, one of the most gifted contemporary Spanish novelists.”
- Publishers Weekly

“Vila-Matas's work made a tremendous impression on me. I was so fascinated by his humor, the incredible knowledge he has of all kinds of literature, his compassion for writers, and his fearlessness in taking on literary subjects and making that part of what he is writing about.”
- Paul Auster

“Arguably Spain's most significant contemporary literary figure.”
- Joanna Kavenna, The New Yorker

“Vila-Matas's touch is light and whimsical, while his allusions encompass a rogue's gallery of world literature.”
- Time Out New York

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