Boris Akunin Interview (Publishing Perspectives)

Grigory Chkhartishvili, AKA Boris Akunin, is an international publishing phenomenon. A scholar of Japanese language and culture, and a former literary translator, he wrote his first novel at the age of 40 and in the 13 years since its publication has sold twenty million copies of his books in Russia alone. Daniel Kalder interviewed him for Publishing Perspectives, ahead of his upcoming appearances at the London book Fair 2011.

When I read The White Queen (Akunin’s first book) it was so dense with literary and geographic allusions that I sat with a pocket Moscow atlas in hand so I could follow the hero around the city. Given that your books are so steeped in Russian literature and history, were you surprised when they became successful overseas?

I’ve had no reason to be surprised because my books aren’t all that successful overseas. Maybe because they are so filled with “local color”. Or maybe because they are simply not good enough.

The Wild World of Vladimir Sorokin (Publishing Perspectives)

At the London Book Fair earlier this month, Russia was featured as Guest of Honor. Nearly every Russian writer of distinction was in attendance, save for one: Vladimir Sorokin. It’s no surprise, since anyone who has followed Sorokin’s career knows he has hardly been one to follow the crowd. Yet this weekend, Sorokin will appear twice in New York as part of the 2011 PEN World Voices Festival, first at 4:30 EST in conversation with Keith Gessen and then at 7 p.m. as part of a staged reading with Hungarian film and theater director Kornel Mundruczo. It will be his American debut.

The Secret Afterlife of Roy Orbison (The Dabbler)

For me, like most people, memory is intricately intertwined with music. Another Brick in the Wall pt 2 was a hit the year I started school, and so the song always resurrects those early experiences of classroom tedium. Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus, playing on the ferry that brought me from England to Holland in 1986, summons textures of my first trip abroad from the sinkhole of amnesia; while Kraftwerk’s Radioactivity is forever fused with a 6am walk I took around Amsterdam ‘s Schipol airport. Endlessly and subjectively I can listen to a track and landscapes, people, places and moods return.