Friday, December 05, 2014

Russian Literature Week 2014

In 2002, The Overlook Press acquired Ardis, a company specializing in translations of Russian Literature, and we have since been committed to making the great Russian masterpieces—both classic and contemporary—available in the English language. We celebrate these works every day, but we are excited to dedicate this week to honor them through this year's Russian Literature Week! 

The Russian Literature Week is an annual celebration of the translation of classic and contemporary Russian literature into English. From December 1 to 5, a series of live and online events and publications praise the work of the best Russian writers and their translators. In the spirit of the festivities, we remember some of our most notable Russian translation titles. 

Ellendea Proffer's major biography of Mikhail Bulgakov, the most widely adored and critically acclaimed writer of the Soviet era. With a dual emphasis on history and criticism, BULGAKOV: LIFE AND WORK, Proffer’s book is a unique and essential work—a gift both to students of literary history and to fans of Bulgakov who simply want a closer look at the man who gave the world The Master and Margarita.

A bestselling sensation in Russia, where it was called “the most significant cultural event of the year,” Lilianna Lungina's  memoir WORD FOR WORD is nothing less than the story of a nation’s literary conscience—the history of the twentieth century as seen through the eyes of a single person. A Russian Jew, Lungina's story is the testimony of a World War II exile and a witness of the era's upheavals, all told from the very center of Soviet cultural life.


Praised by The New York Times Book Review as “an Abkhazian Mark Twain,” Fazil Iskander was one of the most acclaimed writers in the Soviet Union—and also one of the funniest. In RABBITS AND BOA CONSTRICTORS, translated from the Russian by Ronald E. Peterson, Iskander tells the story of a struggle between . . . well, rabbits and boa constrictors, which is really a struggle between the manipulators and the manipulated as they try to function in a failed utopia. 

Brilliantly translated by Matvei Yankelevich, TODAY I WROTE NOTHING  is a comprehensive collection of the prose and poetry of Daniil Kharms, a writer who has long been heralded as one of the most iconoclastic authors of the Soviet era. TODAY I WROTE NOTHING includes dozens of short prose pieces, plays, and poems long admired in Russia, but never before available in English.

Originally published in 1930, Gaito Gazdanov’s AN EVENING WITH CLAIRE is a masterpiece of Russian émigré literature. Written when its author was just twenty-six—with the memories of his harsh years in the Russian civil war still hauntingly vivid in his mind—AN EVENING WITH CLAIRE is a psychological novel that is both grand and introspective. Gazdanov’s fist novel is at once an intimate and sensual account of a young man’s coming-of-age, and a tribute to the shattered dreams of the early twentieth century.

RED SPECTRES, a rare collection of gothic literature from Russia's twentieth century, includes eleven vintage tales by seven writers of the period: Valery Bryusov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Aleksandr Grin and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky, the lesser known but seminal figure Aleksandr Chayanov, whose story "Venediktov" influenced Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, and the émigrés Georgy Peskov and Pavel Perov. Selected and translated form Russian by Muireann Maguire, RED SPECTRES conveys through the traditional gothic repertoire of ghosts, insanity, obsession, retribution and terror, the turbulence and dissonance of life in Russia.

Coinciding with the 75th anniversary of his death, Vladislav Khodasevich's classical precision and solitary voice are resurrected for a new generation of readers in SELECTED POEMS, a new bilingual anthology offering the English-speaking world the first substantial selection of his verse, translated by Peter Daniels and featuring an introduction by Michael Wachtel. 

 Fyodor Dostoyevsky's THE CROCODILE is an outstanding piece of satire: It is vicious, dreamlike, scatological, and one of the funniest things that Dostoevsky ever wrote. In this brief work, translated by S. D. Cioranhe reveals his hatred of communism and socialism in an unusually direct caricature. The tongue-in-cheek "true story" follows a civil servant who suddenly gets swallowed alive by a crocodile—but he survives, carrying on his duties and preaching socialist theories from within the crocodile's belly.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Embarking on a Filmic Love Affair with MISSING REELS

In The Awful Truth, Cary Grant and Irene Dunne play a divorcing couple determined to frustrate each other’s attempts to find new love. In The Crowd, young John Sims sets out for New York City, determined to become one of those stars of the big city. In Love Affair, a French painter and an American singer, both already engaged, fall in love against all odds.

All romances of some sort, these stories of classical Hollywood cinema have survived the passage of time and stayed relevant even next to the era of special effects and 3D glasses. They are indeed relevant to movie reviewer Farran Smith Nehme, and are, next to an extensive list of other classics, very present in her debut novel MISSING REELS.

Evoking the witty comedy of The Awful Truth, the vastness of New York City in The Crowd, and love’s impossibility in Love Affair, MISSING REELS is an adventure set in the world of 1980's New York.  It follows Ceinwen Reilly, a young, film-obsessed, vintage-clothes-wearing Mississippian who discovers her downstairs neighbor might have starred in a long lost silent film. With the help of Matthew Hill, an English mathematician at NYU—who is equal parts logical, charming, and impossible—Ceinwen begins a long quest to recover the forgotten film.

MISSING REELS is, in its own way, an anthology of love affairs: Ceinwen’s with silent films, silent films’s with its New York underworld fan base, New York’s with Ceinwen, and of course, Ceinwen and Matthew's love affair. It will thrill you, enchant you, and install in you a longing for a movie era you didn’t know you could long for.

Refreshing in its energetic unraveling, MISSING REELS is gold for silver screen fans.

Now available at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes &Noble, and the Overlook Press!

Friday, November 07, 2014


Kate Colquhoun on her new book, Did She Kill Him?
Author Piece

What is it about Victorian crime that still manages to grab us by the throat? We seem to have a limitless appetite for stories that similarly gripped the imaginations of our great-grandparents. Is it that we live in comparatively anxious times? Is it because – as it did during the Industrial Revolution – our world is changing so rapidly that we feel nervous, as if the very ground we stand on is no longer reliable? As a result, do we look for scapegoats, crises that seem to prove that bad stuff “happens to someone else”?

Every new book begins, for me, with a small shock, a moment when I read something, or hear about something being discussed and when I think “Really? Did that REALLY happen?” This is the spark, the moment the story promises to shine a light on an aspect of the past, picking out its surprises. Usually it is also true that some element of the idea has a modern relevance – that it turns out to be, in some way, utterly recognizable. These are the stories that, for me, punch a hole in time, allowing us to peer backwards and, almost, to hold hands with the past. 

The story of Florence Maybrick – a young American married to a much older, hypochondriac, Liverpool cotton broker in the 1880s – pricked my interest on so many levels. First, her situation was not unique: as the novels of Edith Wharton and Henry James so compellingly chart, there was a flurry of marriages around this time between vibrant young girls from the New World and older, dourer English men drawn both by the girls' joie de vivre and their cash. Isolated in the cold seaport city of Liverpool, a cuckoo in its social nest, Florence’s loneliness – her difference –paralleled the lot of so many of her peers.

The Maybrick case cracked the varnish of Victorian middle-class respectability – seeming to prove that even apparently ideal marriages could conceal suffocating loneliness and falsity, that women had sexual appetites and that scandal and violence might incubate in suburban villas. Then there was her husband James’s addiction to arsenic – an ugly dependence that made him moody and unstable. The poison was everywhere in the Victorian home – in candles, wallpapers, insect poisons, pants and prams. It was also associated, in real life as much as in lurid novels, with a fear of stealthy violence, particularly by women.

More than all this, the double-standards by which Florence was judged when tried for James’ murder revealed the hypocrisies lurking at the heart of late Victorian society. The trial – considered by many to be the greatest miscarriage of English justice of its day, similar to the Dreyfus affair in France – galvanized those concerned with establishing a more equal society for women. Those who asked: Why should juries be all male? Indeed, how could an all-male justice system ever be quite fair? Wasn’t it clear that Mrs. Maybrick was judged for her perceived immorality rather than on the scientific evidence? And wasn’t this an ‘immorality’ that would pass without comment in a man?

Whether or not she killed him, Florence Maybrick’s story was suffused with the tensions and hypocrisies that seethed at the heart of late Victorian society. Yes, it made me ask ‘Did that really happen?’ but it also made me wonder how far we have really come in the last 125 years.

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun is published on October 16th  by The Overlook Press in hardcover and ebook formats. "Why is Victorian Crime So Appealing" author piece provided by Little Brown.  Follow Kate on twitter: @wearyhousewife

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

A Missing Reels Book Giveaway

You know all those great classic movies on Netflix you keep promising yourself you'll see soon? The films that are filled with quips from old-school Hollywood's eliteAudrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, Lillian Gish, Jean Harlowthat you pass over before landing on yet another predictable series to binge-watch? Well, Farran Smith Nehme's debut novel MISSING REELS might be the final, much needed motivation to actually get you to see them—once you're able to put the book down, that is.

Wonderfully nostalgic, effortlessly movie savvy, and irresistibly energetic, MISSING REELS  follows young Ceinwen Reilly as she navigates her way around the gritty world of 1980's New York City to uncover a long-lost silent film. A smart and witty romantic comedy filled with quirky characters and snappy dialogue to boot, MISSING REELS will leave you dying to watch the grand Hollywood romances of yesteryear that inspired this charming read.

Don't miss out on your chance to win a copy of MISSING REELS now, just enter our Goodreads giveaway before it's too late! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dave Zeltserman's Five Favorite Horror Novels

To celebrate the release today of The Boy Who Killed Demons, author Dave Zeltserman recommends his five favorite horror novels:

1) I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Brilliant book, and the best of the modern vampire novels.

If you think you know the book from the movies (Last Man on Earth, Omega Man, I am Legend), you sort of do.  A worldwide plague has turned everyone but Robert Neville into something resembling a vampire, and Neville (who is immune) battles to stay alive and find a cure for this disease. It's Neville's isolation and loneliness that makes this such a powerful book.

2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Another brilliant book, and it's absolutely spellbinding once the Monster's story is told.

If you think you know the book from the iconic 1931 Universal movie Frankenstein (or even the 1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein), you don't. In the novel an explorer, Captain Walton, icebound in the Arctic, rescues Victor Frankenstein from a dogsled, and from there the story of Frankenstein and his monster unfolds. Frankenstein had created his monster out of a youthful obsession only to regret the act once the monster comes to life. The consequences for Frankenstein, those close to him, and the monster himself, are damning.

3) Misery by Stephen King

My favorite King novel, and with Annie Wilkies, my favorite deranged psychopath in literature.

If you think you know the book from the movie, you're right as the movie is a very faithful adaptation. But even though you know what's going to happen to novelist Paul Sheldon after he's rescued by his "number one fan" after a car crash while driving through the Colorado mountains, it doesn't dampen the fun or suspense of this psychological horror novel.

4) Savage Night by Jim Thompson

Technically this is a crime noir novel, but the ending is as horrifying as any you're going to find.

Charlie "Little" Bigger" is a pint-sized hit man who is literally falling apart. Five feet tall, he wears contacts, shoe lifts, false teeth, and is suffering from tuberculosis (and there's less and less of him throughout the book as he keeps coughing up bits of his lungs). When he's sent by “The Man” to a small twon in New York to take out a key witness, he meets his match in a housekeeper, Ruthie, all leading to a hellish ending that any horror writer would be proud of.

5) The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

I was too young to see The Exorcist film when it came out, but that didn't stop me from getting a copy of Blatty's book.
If you think you know the book from the movie, you're right as the book details the demonic possession of twelve year-old Regan MacNeil, and the attempts of a Jesuit priest to free her.

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Overlook Press at New York Comic Con 2014

October 9th marks the beginning of the 2014 New York Comic Con, and The Overlook Press is excited to announce that for the first time ever we will be joining the much-anticipated annual event. From October 9th to 12th, The Overlook Press will be at the Javits Center at Booth #128, ready to introduce some of our amazing titles to Comic Con fans.

We'll have something for everyone, from a Metallica graphic novel to our ancient Roman Swords and Sandals series, and from the bestselling True Grit to a wealth of books about movies. Fans will also have the opportunity to meet our featured authors Edward Carey (Heap House), Dave Zeltserman (The Boy Who Killed Demons) and Deirdre Franklin (Little Darling's Pinups for Pitbulls) at exclusive book signings.

New York Comic Con is a fantastic way to celebrate stories across many genres, and we can’t wait to share with you some of ours. In the meantime you can learn more about our authors, below!

Edward Carey is the author and illustrator of two novels for adults, Observatory Mansions and Alva and Irva, which was longlisted for the IMPAC Literary Award.  Heap House will be the first installment in The Iremonger Trilogy, a new fantasy series and his first work for young readers. Born in England, he now lives with his wife, Elizabeth McCracken, and their two children in Austin, Texas. 

Edward will appear on Thursday from 3:00pm-5:00pm.

Dave Zeltserman is the author of ten horror and crime novels, including Monster, a Booklist Top 10 Horror Fiction selection; The Caretaker of Lorne Field, shortlisted by the American Library Association for best horror novel of 2010; and A Killer’s Essence. His third horror novel, The Boy Who Killed Demons, expands to reach a younger audience through its teenage protagonist, 15-year-old Henry Dudlow. He lives in the Boston area. 

Dave will appear on Friday from 1:00pm-4:00pm.

Deirdre “Little Darling” Franklin is the founder, President, and soul behind Pinups for Pitbulls, Inc., a not-for-profit organization with a mission to educate people about the history, temperament, and plight of the pit bull. She holds a M.S. degree in Public Policy from Drexel University, where she specialized in breed-specific legislation.  Her book, Little Darling's Pinups for Pitbulls, seeks to advance this mission through a combination of photography, pets, and pinups. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her husband Jeffrey and their two furry children, Baxter Bean and Zoe.

Deirdre will appear on Saturday from 11:00am-1:00pm & 2:00pm-5:00pm and Sunday from 11:00am-1:00pm & 2:00pm-4:00pm.