May Newsletter

This week we're celebrating the publication of Gabriela Ybarra's debut novel, The Dinner Guest, translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer and longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.

The Dinner Guest is a novel with the feel of documentary nonfiction. It connects two life-changing events—the very public death of Ybarra’s grandfather: who was kidnapped and assassinated by Basque separatists in 1977—and the more private pain as her mother dies from cancer. 

NPR calls it "a seamless blend of art, politics, and private life." Get your copy with a 5-book subscription or reserve one at your local indie bookstore.


From The Dinner Guest

The story goes that in my family there’s an extra dinner guest at every meal. He’s invisible, but always there. He has a plate, glass, knife and fork. Every so often he appears, casts his shadow over the table and erases one of those present.

The first to vanish was my grandfather.

The morning of 20 May, 1977, Marcelina put a kettle on the stove. While she was waiting for it to come to the boil, she took a feather duster and began to dust the china. Upstairs, my grandfather was getting into the shower, and at the end of the hallway, where the doors made a U, the three siblings who still lived at home were in bed. My father didn’t live there anymore, but on his way elsewhere from New York he had decided to come to Neguri to spend a few days with the family.

When the bell rang, Marcelina was far from the door. As she ran the feather duster over a Chinese vase she heard someone calling from the street: “There’s been an accident, open up!” and she ran to the kitchen. She glanced for a second at the kettle, which had begun to whistle, and slid the bolt without looking through the peephole. On the doorstep, four hooded attendants opened their coats to reveal machine guns.

You can read the entire excerpt on Lit Hub.


Makumbi in Los Angeles Times

Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's story collection, Let's Tell This Story Properlythe follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Kintureceives a rave review in the Los Angeles Times:

"Men behave badly in these stories, women suffer or negotiate for power, families bicker and try to cooperate. There is Uganda, and there is Britain, and then all the miles in between. The genius of the book . . . is the same as the argument for its more universal power: the way Makumbi can take two countries and still make their intersections feel like exactly the stories we all need."

News, Reviews, and More

1. María Sonia Cristoff's False Calm (tr. Katherine Silver) is a finalist for the Firecracker Awards in creative nonfiction.  2. Bustle calls Jennifer Makumbi's Let's Tell This Story Properly one of 25 short story collections to read this summer.  3. Publishers Weekly says Wioletta Greg's Accommodations—available July 9—(tr. Jennifer Croft) "hums with bright, sensual language."  4. We talked about our book cover design with Porter Square Books: "We wanted [our series] to be nimble, not overly determined by constraints, but that its constraints might still be recognizable. I imagine this is a nightmare starting point for a designer."