New poetry collection by acclaimed Cuban National Literature Prize Winner

RodriguezOther Letters to Milena/Otras cartas a Milena offers a parallel translation of a mixed-genre work by acclaimed Cuban writer Reina María Rodríguez in which poetry merges into creative nonfiction, culminating in a series of essays.

Otras cartas a Milena was originally published in Cuba in 2003 and shows Rodríguez confronting a new post-Soviet world and the realities of diasporic existence, which have a profound effect even on Cubans like Rodríguez who continue to live and work in their home nation. The book’s title references Franz Kafka’s 1952 work Letters to Milena. The allusion signals Rodríguez’s participation in the long cosmopolitan tradition asserted by Cuban writers and scholars of island literature. Rodríguez’s youngest daughter, featured in the letters that make up the collection’s centerpiece, “A Girl’s Story,” was named after Milena Jesenská, the recipient of Kafka’s letters.

With its bilingual format, Other Letters to Milena/Otras cartas a Milena makes an important body of work available both to English readers in general (this will be the first English translation of a complete Rodríguez collection not excerpted from a larger work) and to Spanish language readers unable to obtain the collection in any form, given the difficulty of distributing Cuban literature outside that country. The collection also includes critical commentary by Kristin Dykstra informed by Dykstra’s lengthy discussions with the author about her work.

Available directly from the University of Alabama Press is a deluxe edition that includes a handmade, limited-edition color linocut print and letterpress-printed poem signed by both Rodríguez and artist Alejandro Sainz.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND TRANSLATOR

Born in Cuba in 1952, Reina María Rodríguez is the author of more than thirty books of poetry and prose, including Las fotos de la Señora Loss, La detención del tiempo/Time’s Arrest (bilingual edition), Bosque negro, and Violet Island and Other Poems (bilingual anthology). She is a two-time winner of the Casa de las Américas prize for poetry and was awarded the Italo Calvino award for her first novel. In 2013 Rodríguez won Cuba’s National Literature Prize, and in 2014 she received the prestigious Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Award for Poetry. Kristin Dykstra translated Reina María Rodríguez’s La detención del tiempo/Time’s Arrest and cotranslated Rodríguez’s Violet Island and Other Poems. She also translated two books by Omar Pérez, and her translations of complete poetry collections by Juan Carlos Flores and Angel Escobar are forthcoming from the University of Alabama Press. Dykstra was the recipient of the 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Translation Fellowship.

PRAISE FOR OTHER LETTERS TO MILENA/OTRAS CARTAS A MILENA

Other Letters to Milena/Otras cartas a Milena is not only interesting for its literary and historical value–what makes it compelling is that much of it is addressed to Rodríguez’s daughter. Her daughter, who shares a name with the woman with whom Kafka corresponds and falls in love, thus becomes a vehicle with which to explore, often in an intimate and familiar tone, various personal, political, and literary themes.”
–Rosa Alcalá, translator of Cecilia Vicuña’s El Templo and Cloud-net

SPECS

6 X 9, 136 ppRodriguez
ISBN: 978-0-8173-5801-3 Paper
ISBN: 978-0-8173-8803-4 Ebook
Price: $18.95

Deluxe Edition

Includes handmade, limited-edition color linocut print and letterpress-printed poem signed by both Rodríguez and artist Alejandro Sainz (see image to right)
ISBN: 978-0-8173-9011-2
Price: $49.95

It wasn’t all moonlight and magnolias…

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FoundationStone

1940 Knopf Jacket

The Southern plantation is a potent place in the American mind. From Margaret Mitchell’s Tara to Faulkner’s Sutpen’s Hundred and Tennessee Williams’s Belle Rive, antebellum Greek Revival mansions are the focus or backdrop of epic, lavish, not to mention macabre (Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte) stories in American fiction, drama, and film.

No big surprise then that when Knopf first published Alabama writer Lella Warren’s 1940 historical novel Foundation Stone about a family of early Alabama settlers, the jacket designers illustrated the book with a hoop-skirted belle languidly floating on the twilight lawn of a white, Southern manse (see left). Just smell the jasmine and mint juleps! This handsome jacket helped propel the book to a good, long run on the best-seller lists of the day alongside Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.

FoundationStone_c

1986 UAP Jacket

Foundation Stone came to UAP some years ago, and our paperback edition has a fine introduction by Nancy Anderson of Auburn University at Montgomery about the enduring legacy of both Warren and Foundation Stone. This winter we’re in the process of giving the jacket a makeover. “Retro” designs are back in style, so I thought I’d write Knopf to see if they would let us reuse the 1940 cover. Before I did, I phoned UA’s Hoole Special Collections to ask if they had a copy on hand, whose cover we could scan for that purpose.

They do have a cover, but there was one important snag. Our friends at Hoole said that not only did Warren’s Whetstones not live in a mansion in a locust grove, but that the Alabama life described in the book was miles away from a genteel idyll.

What I needed to find, they said, was the image of a classic “I-house,” a style of house typical across many American states. In Alabama, many settlers constructed rough dogtrot houses, and sometimes a later generation converted the dogtrot house into an I-house by covering it in clapboards and putting on additions.

DallasCountyIHouse

Image for 2015 UAP Jacket

With that in mind, I went looking for images of I-houses in Alabama. The Library of Congress’s extensive catalog of photographs included this fine specimen of a classic I-house located in Dallas County, Alabama. This is much more like what Warren’s scrappy Whetstones inhabited. Our designers are now creating a new cover, one that, we hope, will for the first time authentically reflect the setting of Warren’s seventy-five-year-old novel.

-JDW

Haints in Homewood!

13MoreThis afternoon from 4-6, the inimitable Jake Reiss is opening the doors of Alabama Booksmith for a very special book-signing event. UAP has just released a special commemorative edition of Kathryn Tucker Windham’s Jeffrey Introduces 13 More Southern Ghosts, the best-selling sequel to her monster best-seller 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey. Alabama Booksmith is the only place to acquire a signed original copy.

For this follow-up collection, Windham roamed Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida to discover thirteen more legendary, spine-tingling tales of baneful and melancholy Southern ghosts. These haunted tales reflect the South’s unique history of frontier life, antebellum grandeur, the sacrifices of war, and the hardscrabble climb up from poverty and defeat. Enjoyed by parents, teachers, and children alike, Windham’s stories bring Southern history to life in an unforgettable, lyrical style.

JeffreyWindham’s children, Ben Windham and Dilcy Windham Hilley, will be at Alabama Booksmith to sign copies and answer questions, along with newest member of our sales and marketing team, Alabama-native Kristi Henson. Jeffrey might be there too!

-JDW

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