Who is the Man of Pain?


This post comes to us from Sarah Coolidge, who works with Poetry Inside Out, a program of Two Lines Press’s parent organization, The Center for the Art of Translation. In addition, Sarah helps evaluate pieces for the Two Lines journal during our editorial meetings, and she’s our de facto photographer for Two Voices events.

When I first searched the name Richard Weiner online, I found only a short Wikipedia article and a handful of blog posts by Slavic literature enthusiasts, clearly intended for fellow academics and speakers of Czech. I was intrigued but bewildered. Here and there I caught bits of information: passing remarks about the writer’s sexuality, France, WWI, and odd comparisons to Franz Kafka and Marcel Proust, amounting to mere fragments of a life lived and obscured for nearly a century. I wished I knew Czech.

After speaking this past spring to Benjamin Paloff, Weiner’s translator and a professor at the University of Michigan, I realized that Weiner was a contradiction of identities, much like his protagonists. “It’s no longer, and not yet, real; it’s the most beautiful moment he could ask of waking,” the narrator tells us in the opening pages of “The Game for the Honor of Payback,” the second part of The Game for Real. It seems that all of Weiner’s protagonists live in worlds in which they would rather not exist. In these worlds—I say worlds because Weiner’s universe is multifaceted and malleable—they are pursued, invaded, manipulated, ignored, accused, and shamed. And in this particular case, the protagonist is literally referred to as Shame.

Perhaps this hostility reflects Weiner’s own sense of alienation as a gay Jew living in early 20th-century Europe. This is most likely what first attracted the Czech writer to Marcel Proust, another gay man of Jewish descent writing at that time. In fact, after suffering a psychological breakdown (today we would call it Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) during his short service in WWI, Weiner relocated to France, where he spent the majority of his remaining life. There, he became one of the first readers and reviewers of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, writing about each book as it came out for the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny.

And yet Weiner never achieved the international success of Proust. Much like his characters, he seemed to take refuge in abstraction, those moments when reality ruptures into a thousand pieces of uncertain dimensions. Whether lost in the torrent of European existentialist and surrealist writers or else overshadowed by his fellow countrymen Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera, Weiner died relatively unknown outside of his own country, and his works were left to collect dust for decades under the expansive shadow of the Iron Curtain.

The harder I search for Weiner—in those biographical fragments as well as in his prose—the more I am confronted with contradictions, which answer my question Who is Richard Weiner? with a succession of slaps! My only certainty is that the writer has playfully eluded me, escaping to an alternate reality in which a day is “ashily authentic, with hands dejectedly folded,” and hands behave “like sworn and skittish spies on the front lines . . . looking out for whatever’s eventually coming up against them.”

9/17: Indonesian Author Eka Kurniawan at Green Apple Books on the Park [EVENT]


Considered by many to be the greatest among a new generation of Indonesian novelists, Eka Kurniawan will discuss Beauty is a Wound (New Directions) and Man Tiger (Verso)—both published on the same day—with Center founder Olivia Sears. and his able translator Annie Tucker.

Kurniawan has been described as the brightest star in Indonesia’s new literary firmament, the author of two remarkable novels whose sheer beauty, elegance, cosmopolitanism, and ambition have brought comparisons not only to Pramaoedya Ananta Toer, universally considered Indonesia’s modern literary genius, but also to Salman Rushdie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Mark Twain.

  • September 17, 2015
  • Green Apple Books on the Park
  • 1231 9th Ave., San Francisco
  • 7:30 pm
  • FREE
  • RSVP here

10/19: A Celebration of Wolfgang Hilbig [EVENT]

“Wolfgang Hilbig is an artist of immense stature.”
— László Krasznahorkai, winner of the
2015 International Man Booker Prize

Join us on October 19 at Brecht-Haus in Berlin to celebrate one of Germany’s most essential authors: Wolfgang Hilbig. Although Hilbig is no stranger to acclaim in his native Germany, he has never before had any of his full-length works published in English. That changes this year, as two Hilbig titles see their English-language release: The Sleep of the Righteous (Two Lines Press) and ‘I’ (Seagull Books).

To mark this long overdue arrival into English, Two Lines Press has convened a Hilbig celebration in Berlin, consisting of: translator Isabel Fargo Cole, who is responsible for both of these English-language translations, plus two award-winning German authors who have been greatly influenced by Hilbig: Ingo Schulze and Inka Parei. The conversation will be moderated by the noted translator of German fiction and all-around lover of German books, Katy Derbyshire.

Join us to learn more about the work of one of Germany’s most esteemed and influential post-war writers, with four specialists on German literature!

WHERE: Brecht-Haus, Chausseestraße 125, 10115 Berlin

WHEN: Monday, October 19, 2015, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

WHAT: A celebration and exploration of Wolfgang Hilbig’s work, with Isabel Fargo Cole, Ingo Schulze, Inka Parei, and Katy Derbyshire

COST: admission: €6,
copy of The Sleep of the Righteous: €12
copy of The Sleep of the Righteous + admission: €15


Isabel Fargo Cole is a U.S.-born, Berlin-based writer and translator. Her translations include Boys and Murderers by Hermann Ungar (Twisted Spoon Press, 2006), All the Roads Are Open by Annemarie Schwarzenbach (Seagull Books, 2011) and The Jew Car by Franz Fühmann (Seagull Books, 2013). The recipient of a prestigious PEN/Heim Translation Grant in 2013, she is the initiator and co-editor of no-mans-land.org, an online magazine for new German literature in English.

Katy Derbyshire is a London-born translator who lives in Berlin. She translates contemporary German writers including Inka Parei, Clemens Meyer, Helene Hegemann, Simon Urban and Christa Wolf. Katy thinks out loud about German books and translation issues at her blog love german books,as well as co-editing the online journal no-mans-land.org, co-hosting Berlin’s monthly translation lab, and occasionally leading translation workshops.

Inka Parei is the recipient of the 2003 Ingeborg Bachmann Prize. Her novels The Shadow-Boxing Woman, What Darkness Was, and The Cold Centre have appeared in English translations with Seagull Books in Katy Derbyshire’s translation. She is also a translator from Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Bulgarian, and other languages.

Ingo Schulze was born in Dresden in 1962 and studied classical philology at the University of Jena. His first book, 33 Moments of Happiness, won two prestigious German literary awards, the Alfred Döblin Prize and the Ernst Willner Prize for Literature. In 2007 he was awarded both the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Thuringia Literature Prize. He is a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature.

Win a Pre-Publication Copy of The Boys


This fall, you’re going to be hearing a lot about Toni Sala! He’ll be appearing at the incredible International Festival of Authors in Toronto (alongside another Two Lines Press author, Santiago Roncaligolo). Plus, we’re going to be doing a major launch event with Toni in San Francisco. And that’s just for starters. This is Toni’s first ever appearance in the English language, and we’re preparing a very warm welcome for him.

As part of this welcome, we are making available 20 pre-publication copies of The Boys for people who can’t can’t wait to see what this book is all about. Anyone on Goodreads can enter to win one of these books free of charge by using the entry button below.

So who is Toni Sala? Well, for starters, the influential newspaper La Vanguardia said of him that “during the last 15 years, Catalan literature has produced
few voices of such strength.”

He’s regarded as one of the leading Catalan authors, and The Boys was hailed as a masterpiece upon its release in 2014, winning the Premis de la Crítica, the most prestigious award in Catalan writing.

And what is this book, you ask? Toni Sala’s The Boys is a profound story of how the deaths of two young men change the lives of four individuals. With intricate meditations worthy of Javier Marías, and dark, existential plots reminiscent of Michel Houellebecq, Toni Sala’s English-language debut should put him into the company of the best world writers.

We’d love to hear what you think! Please enter for a chance to read Toni Sala’s The Boys.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Boys by Toni Sala

The Boys

by Toni Sala

Giveaway ends August 11, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

#WITMonth Sale and Challenge!


With the start of August comes Women in Translation Month, also known by its hashtag as #WITMonth.This is an awesome invention that we at Two Lines Press fully support!

We do everything we can around here to keep the gender of our authors balanced and to generally promote the incredible writing being done by women around the world. So, of course, we love seeing Meytal Radzinski (aka Biblibio) putting together an awesome assortment of resources for all your #WITMonth needs, including a reading challenge (in 3 parts), a FAQ, and ways to participate.

And lots of other people are running with this, including Beyond Eden Rock, JacquiWine, and of course the incredible Tony Malone. You can also follow all of the action on Twitter.

Because this is such a cool thing, and because we like to believe we’ve got some of the coolest readers of all, we’d love to see Two Lines Press’s community participate in this celebration of women writers worldwide.

So do it TLP fans! Read, read, read!!!

To help get you in the mood, we’ve put together little challenge for you. We hereby challenge you, the Two Lines Press Community, to:

  1. read a woman in translation during August
  2. and send us a photo of yourself in action (or just your book, if you’re bashful)

The best way to do that is to tweet a photo at us (we’re @TwoLinesPress), along with the hashtag #WITMonth. You can also pop on over to our Facebook page and put your photo on our wall.

We’ll be thrilled to see any and all women in translation that you’re reading!

But, of course, we do publish and sell books around here, so we’d really love to see you reading some Two Lines Press titles. To help encourage you, we’re going to give you a huge WITMonth discount on our three titles by women in translation:

We are offering these at a WITMonth special of just $25—almost a 50% discount! (you can also buy them individually at the above links at 30% off)

Purchase them via Pay Pal by clicking on this link.

10/12: Naja Marie Aidt Reading and In Conversation with CJ Evans


Join us for Two Lines Press’s own Naja Marie Aidt at The Lab during Litquake. The author of Baboon will be talking with Two Lines Press’s editorial director, CJ Evans, about her long-awaited first novel, Rock, Paper, Scissors (Open Letter Books).

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a complex portrait of a man whose life slowly devolves into violence and jealousy. One of Denmark’s most decorated and beloved authors, Aidt will read from the newly released novel and share her thoughts on writing, being translated, and how she captures the dark secrets of her characters.

  • Monday, October 12th, 2015
  • The Lab, 2948 16th Street, San Francisco
  • 7:00 PM
  • FREE

Naja Marie Aidt was born in Greenland and raised in Copenhagen. She is the author of ten collections of poetry and three short story collections, including Baboon (Two Lines Press), which received the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize and the Danish Critics Prize for Literature. Her books have been translated into nine languages. Rock, Paper, Scissors is her first novel.

CJ Evans is the editorial director of Two Lines Press, and the author of A Penance (New Issues Press) and The Category of Outcast (Poetry Society of America). The recipient of an Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship, he recently returned to the Bay Area from Aix, France.

Two Lines Sale


For a limited time we are selling all back issues of Two Lines for $1 each, plus shipping.

That’s right, ONE DOLLAR EACH. That’s a discount of between 94.37% and 92.88% off, depending on which issue. INCREDIBLE!

The work of many hands, eras, languages, and world cultures can be yours for a scandalously low price.

For a limited time.


Each link below will joyfully fill your Pay Pal shopping cart with a back issue of Two Lines at the most discount price possible.


ISSUE 21 — FEATURING Johannes Göransson, Antonio Tabucchi, Marcos Giralt Torrente, Natasha Wimmer, and Edward Gauvin

ISSUE 20 — FEATURING Scholastique Mukasonga, Wolfgang Hilbig, Jeffrey Yang, Sergio Chejfec, Susan Bernofsky, and Christopher Merrill

ISSUE 19 — FEATURING Naja Marie Aidt, Lydia Davis, Katrina Dodson, Daniel Hahn, and Camille T. Dungy

ISSUE 18 — FEATURING Alejandra Pizarnik, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, César Aira, Marilyn Hacker, Albert Cossery, Luc Sante, and Rosanna Warren

ISSUE 17 — FEATURING Inger Christensen, Lydia Davis, Oliverio Girondo, Mikhail Shishkin, Mikhail Shishkin, Natasha Wimmer, and Jeffrey Yang

ISSUE 16 — FEATURING José Manuel Prieto, Anna Szabó, Yoko Tawada, Mahmoud Darwish, George Szirtes, Margaret Jull Costa, and Marilyn Hacker

ISSUE 15 — FEATURING Antonio Muñoz Molina, Margaret Jull Costa, Rodrigo Rey Rosa, John Biguenet, and Sidney Wade

ISSUE 14 — FEATURING Tomas Tranströmer, Robert Hass, Vicente Huidobro, Mercè Rodoreda, and Forrest Gander

ISSUE 13 — FEATURING Jorge Volpi, Suzanne Jill Levine, Dahlia Ravikovitch, Charlotte Mandell, César Vallejo, and Rosmarie Waldrop

ISSUE 12 — FEATURING Ingeborg Bachmann, John Felstiner, Brother Anthony of Taizé, and Yehuda Amichai

ISSUE 11 — FEATURING Don Mee Choi, Donald A. Yates, Eunice Odio, and Marilyn Hacker

ISSUE 10 — FEATURING Pablo Picasso, Suzanne Jill Levine, Marian Schwartz, and Aleksandr Anashevich

ISSUE 9 — FEATURING Ko Un, Enrique Anderson-Imbert, Giovanni Giudici, and Félix Morisseau-Leroy

ISSUE 8 — FEATURING Yoko Tawada, Cesare Pavese, Umberto Saba, Amélie Nothomb, X-504, and Richard Plantagenet, Coeur-de-Lion

ISSUE 7 — FEATURING Karel Čapek, Luis Cernuda, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Pura López Colomé, and Forrest Gander

ISSUE 6 — FEATURING Henri Michaux, Charles Baudelaire, Beatriz Escalante, Parents & Teachers of Tierra y Libertad, Chiapas, and Saigyo

ISSUE 5 — FEATURING César Vallejo, Peter Handke, Daimon Searls, Jayadeva, and Ryuichi Tamura

ISSUE 4 — FEATURING Juan Goytisolo, Peter Bush, Stephane Mallarmé, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Marian Schwartz, Jack Hirschman, and Alexander Pushkin

ISSUE 3 — FEATURING Julio Cortázar, Eugenio Montale, Natsume Soseki, Dante Alighieri, and King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain

9/24: Two Voices Salon with Katrina Dodson on Clarice Lispector

We are very pleased to announce our first Two Voices Salon of the 2015-16 season: translator Katrina Dodson discussing her translation of The Complete Stories of Clarice Lispector. Beginning with Lispector’s adolescence and ending just before her death, these 85 stories show a singular literary intelligence developing throughout an entire lifetime.

Please note: we will be holding this at the Book Club of California (not the Two Lines Press offices, as we usually do). Don’t worry, it’s just a couple of blocks from the Two Lines Press offices.

Katrina will be here live and in person, so be sure to bring your copies of Lispector with you, and be ready to participate in the conversation!

Katrina has spent years perfecting their English-language translation, and she will discuss with us all the ins and outs of working with Lispector’s famously bizarre Portuguese. We’ll also talk about how Lispector’s art evolved through the years and just why her mysterious, profound writing has touched so many readers.

Make sure to join us on Thursday, September 24th for the very first Salon of our new season of events! As always, refreshments and snacks will be served, and don’t worry if you have to join us late.

  • Thursday, September 24
  • 6:00 pm
  • The Book Club of California
  • 312 Sutter St #500, San Francisco, CA 94108
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, plus snacks

An Offer 226 Years In the Making


On Tuesday, July 14, French individuals and Francophiles everywhere will celebrate the storming of the Bastille, an occasion that gave rise to such historical greats as the the guillotine, the Reign of Terror, and the 1979 bicentennial concert with Jean Michel Jarre on the Place de la Concorde.

We at Two Lines Press would like to mark this momentous occasion in our own small way by offering you ALL THREE of our French titles for the historic (and ridiculously low) price of $17.89. This price includes FREE SHIPPING, because more freedom is always better, and also for greater historical accuracy and our own convenience.

So release your inner Frenchman/woman, support the continuance of the Fifth French Republic, and get behind your favorite translation press by ordering right now via this link. France may live until the end of the baguette, but this offer will only stand until 11:59:59 PST on Sunday, July 19.

This is what you get for the craaaaazily low (and historically proven) price of $17.89:

Self-Portrait in Green by Marie NDiaye (tr Jordan Stump)

Winner of the 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award for Nonfiction, lauded by Flavorwire, the TLS, and many more, this book has been tearing it up so far. Maybe it’s a memoir, maybe it’s a novel, maybe it’s a memovel. Who really knows? But we can say for certain that’s it’s mysterious, powerful, GREEN, and revolutionary.

All My Friends by Marie NDiaye (tr Jordan Stump)

Five ridiculously good stories by the woman who writes stories that are more complex than most novels. Winner of a Starred Review in Publishers Weekly, beloved by critics in Rain Taxi, The Collagist, The Rumpus, and more, with this book alongside Self-Portrait in Green there will be no monarchical dungeon fit to contain your adventures of self-discovery.

The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell (tr Charlotte Mandell)

Described by The New Yorker as “four nightmarish novellas,” this is the book that the Marquis de Sade would have written had he received a solid education in post-structuralism and lived to see World War II. BOMB Magazine says “here genitalia prove as amorphous as the desires they incite,” and we say, free yourself from the heteronormative, largely imaginary binary of 2 human genders and a polarity-based sexuality.

You know you want it. Hit that cart right this second:

AUDIO: Benjamin Paloff Discussing The Game for Real with Alex Zucker at Community Bookstore


We were very honored to be able to present translator extraordinaire Benjamin Paloff with Czech master-translator Alex Zucker at Brooklyn’s own Community Bookstore. The book they came to talk about was Two Lines Press’s The Game for Real, by Czech modernist Richard Weiner, the first time this essential author has ever appeared in English, thanks to Ben.

Below you’ll find a table of contents and full audio for the entire event. Many, many, many thanks to Hal Hlavinka of Community Bookstore for facilitating this event, recording it, and publicizing it, and thanks as well to Alex Zucker for acting as an expert in all things Czech.


1:35 Description of The Game for Real and Richard Weiner

7:00 reading from The Game for Real

16:10 where Weiner fits into the “fantastic four” of Czech lit

19:10 Where Weiner fit into Czech literature at the time of his writing

27:00 Weiner and Proust

28:25 The writing of Weiner’s the came out of his association with the Surrealists

31:30 The emotion of shame as it relates to The Game for Real

35:00 Czech as a young language and the impact of that on Weiner’s writing and Czech literature in general

40:10 Weiner’s relationship to Kafka, particularly The Metamorphosis

42:00 Q & A

42:30 How engaged was Weiner with sexological thought, and Weiner’s feelings about his sexuality?

45:00 Weiner’s death

46:30 Weiner’s influence in Czech literature

54:20 How will Ben research Weiner’s biography in Prague

55:40 Ben’s translations from languages other than Czech, and Ben’s beliefs about translation