Page Turners: Pierce Alquist

Page Turners is part of my "Literary Luminary" series, featuring insights on writing and publishing straight from the folks who do it for a living.

Page Turner Pierce Alquist is a publishing professional living and working in Boston. She's a Book Riot contributor and reviewer specializing in international literature in translation. A voracious traveler and foodie, you can find her in her kitchen making borscht or covered in red pepper paste as she perfects her kimchi recipe. You can find her on Twitter @PierceAlquist.

What are you reading right now?

The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector, translated by Benjamin Moser and Magdalena Edwards

Who are your top 5 authors?

Nora Ephron, Clarice Lispector, Bae Suah, M.F.K Fisher, and Jane Austen

What gets you excited about a book you're reading?

Interesting use of language, thoughtful details, and creative storylines and characters. At the end of the day, I want something different, something that's going to grab and keep my interest. I also love a good first page! My three favorite first pages (in no particular order) can be found in: The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo, tr. Lola Rogers, Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett, and Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan, tr. Annie Tucker.

And what turns you off?

Pretentious writing, writing that's not well-researched, lack of diversity (in all respects), and anything that deals in tropes or stereotypes

Is there one book in particular that changed your life?

Books have done more for me than I can probably compose into a single paragraph, but one book that will never leave me is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. This fierce, poignant memoir of grief and loss has been a comfort and an inspiration to me.

What made you want to work in the book world?

I had always loved books but was pursuing journalism in college when a guest speaker, Chad Post, the publisher at Open Letter Books, a small independent press devoted entirely to publishing books in translation, came in to an English class to discuss the work of the press. He mentioned that less than three percent of books published in the United States were international titles published originally in another language. That's an astonishingly low number, and I was inspired by his work and the work of presses like Open Letter. I wanted to be constantly challenged and inspired by unique international literature and to introduce it to new readers.

Which book do you wish you could read again for the first time?

Lies, First Person by Gail Hareven, tr. Dalya Bilu


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