This Saturday Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day!

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The second annual national Independent Bookstore Day is coming up this Saturday, April 30, so you all should go out to an indie in your community and buy some great literature! (We hope you make it a Two Lines title, but we understand if you want to get some of the wares from our great colleagues in the book biz.)

In order to help our Bay Area friends make the most of this day, we’ve put together a handy guide to some of the things happening around Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco. Just download this baby, print it out, and you’ll be all set!

Enjoy Independent Bookstore Day! And hug a bookseller!

AUDIO: Chris Clarke in Conversation with Scott Esposito on Patrick Modiano


Last week we were very pleased to host French translator Chris Clarke before a capacity audience for our Two Voices Salon on French Nobel Prize-winning author Patrick Modiano. Chris was in conversation with Two Lines Press’s Scott Esposito on his translation of Modiano’s 2007 novel In the Café of Lost Youth, recently published by NYRB Classics. This wide-ranging conversation included translation challenges Chris faced, Modiano’s roots and influences, the appearance of Guy Debord in this novel, Modiano’s particular use of French grammar, his reputation in France, and much more.

To listen, use the audio player at the bottom of this post. A full table of contents is below.


0:00 Introductions

1:40 Strange 19th-century, madmen French texts that Chris has been reading recently

2:41 How Chris discovered Modiano and came to translate him, including his weird, Modiano-esque dream

10:00 Modiano’s reputation in France before the Nobel Prize

13:10 As Modiano’s first book ever with multiple narrators, how it functions differently from his other books and what challenges it presents to a translator

18:45 What is the texture of Modiano’s particular method of thinking about the past (including Modiano’s own past and family history)?

22:35 Modiano as a writer of postwar France and why he portrays a time of economic success in such a futile, shady way, and how his portrayal of the past has changed over his career

27:11 Modiano’s use of Guy Debord in In the Café of Last Youth, and his relationship to the Situationists

31:45: Futility and eternal return in the work of Modiano, and how he reflects this in his grammar

36:30 The “intentionally vague” sense of place in Modiano’s work, particularly in how he creates Paris

40:00 Modiano on Paris

41:55 Chris’s experiences with NYRB Classics Edwin Frank and the team at NYRB Classics

48:30 Chris’s impressions of the other Modiano translators, and how to craft Modiano’s English voice, his tone and rhythms

53:45 The response to Modiano in New York

55:45 Audicne Q & A

5/5: Two Voices Salon with Doug Slaymaker on Hideo Furukawa


Hideo Furukawa has built a name for himself as one of the titans of contemporary Japanese literature. His book Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure is a groundbreaking work of creative nonfiction that deeply entwines his own life and the disaster the occurred at Fukushima, Japan, as it was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown.

To better understand this powerful, moving story, we’ll talk with Doug Slaymaker, who brought it from Japanese into English for Columbia University Press. We’ll talk about how he dealt with the various strands of fiction, history, and memoir in this book, as well as touching on some authors whose work this book resembles, including W.G. Sebald. We’ll also discuss the unique aspects of the Japanese language and culture that make this such and interesting book to translate.

It all takes place at the Two Lines Press offices on Thursday, May 5, 2016! This will be our last Salon until the fall, so please do join us for a wonderful night of literature, friends, snacks, and drinks.

The details:

  • Thursday, May 5
  • Doug Slaymaker in conversation with Scott Esposito on Hideo Furukawa’s Horses, Horses, in the End the Light Remains Pure
  • Doors 5:30, event 6:00
  • Two Lines Press offices: 582 Market St., Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104
  • Free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks for all

Discovering Modiano’s Literature of Lost Youth


Before winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014, Patrick Modiano was a nobody in the English-speaking world. We’ve since seen the urgent attempt at playing catch-up. Translations of his works have been released, re-released, and consumed by readers hungry to know who this Modiano character is and why they had never heard of him before.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give Patrick Modiano a try in preparation for this week’s Salon with Modiano translator Chris Clarke. And so I read Young Once (tr. Damion Searls) and In the Café of Lost Youth. The truth is I devoured them; I read each novel in a single day, becoming one of those zombies who tries to read while walking, in the car before driving, in the car after driving, at the dinner table, etc. They are slim, easy reads, and yet brevity does not always guarantee binge-like consumption. I’ll readily admit that I’ve struggled to get through 70-page novels merely because I feel distractible, uninvested, my eyes on the page, my attention elsewhere.

But Modiano’s prose rises up like a city around you. Though I’ve never been to Paris, I found myself inundated by its unremarkable landmarks–garages, benches, innumerable arrondissements, and dingy, hole-in-the-wall cafés. Because in these novels geography exists, first and foremost, as a series of monuments to the past. Characters avoid streets, even entire neighborhoods, in an effort to skirt the painful memories from their childhoods. Others return compulsively to their old neighborhoods, drawn there unconsciously, as if the city itself were guiding them. In this way Paris becomes a graveyard of moments lost to time, and Modiano treats them with their due precision and reverence.

It’s clear from the titles that Modiano wrote with a predilection for looking back at young adulthood. The main characters in these novels are in their early twenties, living in Paris, and, in one way or another, directionless. It would be wrong to call Modiano nostalgic, however. Instead, his “lost youth” are neither pure nor idealistic. They’re unproductive. They cavort with questionable, at times pathetic, characters. Though they discuss books and ideas among the smoke clouds of dingy Parisian cafés, Modiano manages to subtly bypass those easy clichés. None of the characters embody the self-aware, self-pitying Hamlet type you might expect. Rather, they carry the burdens of their upbringings—poverty, hunger, absent parents, crime—in a city that seems designed to mass-produce directionless youth. In this self-contained world, what else is there to do but wander the arrondissements and stay up drinking in all-night cafés?

Join us on Thursday as we transform our offices into a café of lost youth! We’ll be Skyping with Chris Clarke, drinking wine, and talking about the latest in translated literature, all at the Two Lines Press offices in downtown San Francisco.

The details:

  • Thursday, April 21
  • Chris Clarke in conversation with Scott Esposito on In the Café of Lost Youth
  • Doors 5:30, event 6:00
  • Two Lines Press offices: 582 Market St., Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94104
  • Free alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and snacks for all

What Are We Reading for Poetry Month?


In celebration of National Poetry Month, we wanted to share with you the poets we’ve recently been reading and enjoying. We all know how difficult it is to choose a book–especially when there are so many incredible ones piling up around us–so here’s a nice short list of recommendations–both in translation and not–for you to pick from this month:

Kim Yideum’s Cheer Up, Femme Fataletranslated from the Korean by Ji Yoon Li, Don Mee Choi, and Johannes Görensson: “Very much in the tradition of Kim Hyesoon: rangy, with almost a polyphonic quality, incorporating both high and low registers.” — CJ Evans, Two Lines Press Editorial Director

Olena Kalytiak Davis’s The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems

Christopher Logue’s War MusicWyatt Mason wrote a great letter of recommendation in The New York Times about this creative translation of Homer’s Iliad

Tomasz Rozycki’s Coloniestranslated from the Polish by Mira Rosenthal

Jorge Esquinca’s Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue, expertly translated from the Spanish by Dan Bellm

Beloved Argentine poet Alejandra Pizarnik’s Extracting the Stone of Madness will soon come out from New Directions, translated from the Spanish by Yvette Siegert

The Mansion of Happiness by Robin Ekiss: “Vaguely inspired by old board games, curiosity cabinets, and automatons (as well as the poet’s personal history).” — Erin Branagan, Communications Director

And of course, this year’s PEN Award for Poetry in Translation winner The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, translated from the Japanese by Sawako Nakayasu

So get dust off your bookshelves, hit the book stores, and get reading!