A Regular Fix of Contemporary European Literature

While no slave to social networking, I do appreciate those needle in a haystack gems of information that twitter occasionally throws out. It’s a little like a child knowing that there is a lolly scramble going on behind a door that opens once a day and if you stand in one spot with your hand out, you might just catch something. Much of it passes us by, but the one that lands in the hand, is appreciated all the more for the scant chance it had of being captured.

Which is what this little tweet I caught in late May did.

I remembered that when I wrote about Deborah Levy’s Booker short-listed novel Swimming Home and mentioned the subscription based publisher And Other Stories, that @MarinaSofa mentioned Pereine Press. I looked at their website and started following them on twitter.

CIMG4717Pereine Press publish contemporary European literature, in the form of novellas, a new book coming out every 3 months. So they provide an opportunity to introduce readers to new authors, outside what we might normally read in English and a book that doesn’t require a long time to read, each book can supposedly be read in an afternoon. No 400+ page tomes here.

So the tweet reminded me that I did want to read their books and there’s nothing like the threat of a price increase to motivate one to act. So now I am a Pereine Press subscriber and I have the first two books from this years series on the shelf.

Mussel FeastEach year has a theme, in 2013 it is Revolutionary Moments and the first book is the German classic The Mussel Feast by Birgit Vanderbeke which I have now read and will tell you about very soon. Very well-known in Germany I am sure and a gripping read, I devoured as hungrily as I would moules frites.

Not only does this subscription mean there will be European literature arriving regularly, but subscribers are invited to participate and attend literary events with the authors whose books have been published, including the revival of a literary salon, which sounds intriguing. The events take place in London and I hope one day I might coincide a visit to be able to attend one. I love that this type of event is coming back into vogue.

So more contemporary European literature reviews coming here soon…

19 thoughts on “A Regular Fix of Contemporary European Literature

  1. Glad you liked Vanderbeke. I’ve read at least 6 or 7 of her books and she’s fantastic. It was about time someone published her in English. The only reservation I have is that this book is very differet from the others and might mislead reader expectations if another will be published in the future.
    I enjoy Twitter for the same reason. I’ve discovered so many great publishers or books.


  2. Nice post, Claire! I loved your description of the child standing outside the door putting her / his hand out and catching something. Glad to know that you subscribed to Pereine Press’ novels and are loving them. I think their biggest strength is the length. I wish they published one novella a month rather than one in three months 🙂 It is wonderful news that Pereine Press is also organizing literary salons. That is so cool! Hope you are able to attend. Looking forward to reading your review of ‘The Mussell Feast’. Happy reading!


    • I’m looking forward to reading the next one, Mr Darwin’s Garden by the Finnish author Kristina Carlson, which is said to be quite poetic, I am sure I will really enjoy it too.

      And yes, the novella length is just perfect, never intimidating, no matter what the content.


  3. I’ve been considering subscribing to Peirene as well but the shortness if the books puts me off a bit. And it’s silly, really, since I know I wouldn’t read them all if they were 400+ pages – but I just prefer longer books…


    • Maybe after you read a few more reviews, you might consider it, I think they are an interesting introduction to a diverse range of authors, who perhaps also write longer books.

      I have a small stack of short reads for those in between times when my reading seems to be stagnating and a novella is usually just the thing to get the reading mojo back.


  4. I am well aware of my own deficiency where European literature is concerned so Peirene sounds as if it might fill an aching void. Thanks for mentioning it. I shall explore immediately. I also like the idea of literary salons, but why oh why is everything London centric?


    • Just received the third book for this year and even the package is thoughtfully presented, making it seem so much more personal than an online shopping purchase. Although I haven’t yet read the second book, the package itself just enticed me to open the book and start reading immediately. So much more on offer than just a book!

      Big cities will always offer many more attractions that we hear about I guess, but I am sure a literary salon could be organised anywhere, where there was the will.


  5. Peirene have such a strong twitter presence. They really know how to deal with bloggers and are incredibly nice! I have a subscription from them, but have to admit that I have not read any of this year’s books yet! That should change soon. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the Mussel Feast 🙂


    • I agree, they have a delightfully personal approach which is so appealing. I hope you are inspired to get started on one of their books. I look forward to reading how you find it, its just an afternoons read, after all. 🙂


  6. Here’s to the tweet that stops us long enough from feeling like ships passing in the night . . .The premise (i.e. books meant to be read in a single sitting) is a clever one, and quality certainly appears to be a priority. I can see why Peirene hooked you . . . .


  7. Like a lone star twinkling in the sky…

    It’s a great concept and there is such a wealth of fantastic literature out there just waiting to be thoughtfully translated, I’m loving it so far, great reads and being part of a supportive community of readers, joy all round.


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