15 Books Project
In March 2022, I decided that the most appropriate way to mark the fifteenth anniversary of Vertigo was to assign myself to read some more books. But this time, I would commit to re-reading books. I set out to select the fifteen novels and books of poetry that really stood out to me during the past fifteen years of reading. To make the cut, each book had to have struck me both emotionally and intellectually in a memorable way. Each book had to have some real word magic. I asked myself if these were the books that came to mind while I was reading other books. Were they my benchmarks? Thinking along those lines left me with a list nearly twice as long as I wanted. So I thought about the types of books I have always wanted to champion on Vertigo, books that most people might not run across or opt to read on their own—books in English translation, books by writers considered “tough” to read, and, of course, novels and poetry with photographs. That helped me whittle my list down to the desired fifteen titles and I began to re-read them. Over the coming year or two, I will write about each book on Vertigo. Each title will be added to the list here at that point. Just click on the link to see what I wrote after I re-read each book.
1. Jenny Erpenbeck. Visitation. NY: New Directions, 2010. Translated from the 2008 German original Heimsuchung by Susan Bernofsky. Originally published by Eichborn.
2. Robert. Pinget. Passacaglia. Translated from the 1969 French original by Barbara Wright. The only English version of Passacaglia currently in print is part of the volume Trio, from Dalkey Archive Press, which includes two other short novellas by Pinget. Originally published by Editions de Minuit.
3. Esther Kinsky. River. Translated from the 2014 German original Am Fluss by Iain Galbraith. Originally published by Matthes & Seitz Verlag. Published in English by Fitzcarraldo Editions (London) 2017 and Transit Books (Oakland) 2018.
4. Don Mee Choi. Hardly War. Seattle: Wave Books, 2016.
5. Agota Kristof. The Notebook. London: CB Editions, 2014. Translated from the 1986 French original Le Grand Cahier by Alan Sheridan. Originally published in English by Grove Press in 1988 using the same translation by Alan Sheridan.
6. Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye. NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970. I read the Vintage ebook, 2007.
7. Anuk Arudpragasam. A Passage North. New York: Hogarth/Random House, 2021.