The Constantijn Huygens-prijs is probably the leading Dutch author-prize, with most (if not quite all) of the major post-war Dutch (and Flemish) writers having won it, and they've now announced that Atte Jongstra has won this year's prize.
It would seem that none of his work has been translated into English yet, but see the Dutch Foundation for Literature Atte Jongstra-page for more information -- and De Multatulianen is definitely something I have to seek out.
(Two Multatuli titles are under review at the complete review: the classic Max Havelaar, as well as The Oyster & the Eagle.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roberto Pazzi's papal-election novel from 2001, Conclave.
I am very much looking forward to The Ghost- (etc.) author Robert Harris' own Conclave -- just out in the UK; coming to the US in November; see the Knopf publicity page, get your copy at Amazon.co.uk or pre-order it at Amazon.com -- and I figured this would be good preparation/point of comparison.
The first Newman Prize for Chinese Literature went to Sandalwood Death-author Mo Yan in 2009 -- three years before he won the Nobel Prize -- and the four others who have gone on to win this biennial author-prize are pretty impressive too: A Dictionary of Maqiao-author Han Shaogong, Yang Mu, and Chu T'ien-Wen.
Now they've announced the 2017 winner of the prize -- Wang Anyi, who will receive the prize 3 March.
None of her titles are under review at the complete review yet, but of course she features in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.
Quite a few of her titles have been published in English; see, for example, her 'novel of Shanghai', The Song of Everlasting Sorrow; see the Columbia University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
David Hare's The Red Barn, his adaptation of Georges Simenon's La main, opens at the National Theatre on 6 October -- see also the Faber publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.co.uk -- and in The Observer he has a nice piece on the master, David Hare: the genius of Georges Simenon.
La main was translated into English, as The Man on the Bench in the Barn, soon after it appeared in French, but seems to be out of print (though you can probably get a used copy cheap at Amazon.com, or in the Tenth Simenon Omnibus-paperback at Amazon.co.uk); hopefully, Penguin will have another go at it in their reviving Simenon-series.
Meanwhile, one of what Hare calls: "his greatest books" is under review at the complete review: The Widow.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Pascal Garnier's The Eskimo Solution, an early one from when he made the transition from kids' book author to something more creepily adult -- as does his protagonist in this one.
They've announced the winner of this year's prix Sade.
French literary prizes generally have a poor-to-non-existent web presence, but even here the prix Sade stands out in taking the worst approach imaginable: solely having a 'Facebook' page -- which is, alas, apparently currently the only place you can find a mention of who won (here -- and my apologies for linking to a page at that cesspit of a site).
(Updated - 26 September): See now also the Livres Hebdo report.
The winning title is Un désir d'humain: Les «love doll» au Japon, by Agnès Giard; see the Les Belles Lettres publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.fr.
Looking at the author's official site, it certainly looks like she knows her stuff -- and she's certainly written extensively on the subject matter(s).
I'm a few days late with this, but they've announced the longlist for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature, a Canadian prize that nevertheless pays out in US dollars -- a tidy 75,000 to the winning author.
A manageable longlist of only six titles -- that will be cut in half in short order, with the finalist announcement already coming 3 October.
The 'literature' the prize honors is limited to non-fiction, but within those limitations they get to a pretty interesting variety of books; I haven't read or reviewed any of these, but could see myself getting to several.
Previous winners of the relatively new South Korean author prize, the Pak Kyong Ni Prize, include Amos Oz (last year), Marilynne Robinson (2013), and Lyudmila Ulitskaya (2012), and they've now announced that this year's winner of the 100 million won (ca. US$90,000) prize is the great and certainly deserving Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
No word yet at the official site, last I checked, but see, for example, the Dong-A Ilboreport.
It's actually been more or less available for a few weeks already -- and selling well, if the Amazon.com sales rank is anything to go by -- but today is apparently the official publication date for Dalkey Archive Press' edition of John E. Woods' translation of Arno Schmidt's magnum opus (emphasis on the magnum ...), Bottom's Dream, and so you should readily be able to get a copy.
Just don't expect to finish it over the weekend .....
No (print) press coverage of note yet, and certainly no reviews (somehow Publishers Weekly (etc.) don't seem to have gotten through the near-1500 pages yet ...), but this hard-to-overlook volume, and this historic publication (it is a big, big deal) should get some coverage sooner rather than later (indeed, I understand the Wall Street Journal is due to have something on it this weekend [Updated - 24 September]: and here we have it: see now Steven Norton's report).
(Meanwhile, of course, I remind you many of his other (generally more accessible -- and all considerably shorter) works are available in John E Woods' translation from Dalkey Archive Press and Green Integer -- and if you want a general Arno Schmidt introduction you can turn to my litttle monograph, Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, or on Kindle: get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Leon de Winter's recent thriller, Geronimo, in which he suggests the killing of Osama bin Laden went down very differently than we think.
This is the eighth de Winter title under review at the complete review, and I've often expressed surprise that so few of these have been translated into English.
A longtime former US resident, de Winter would seem well-positioned to break into the American market, but has had very limited success.
As to this one -- not yet translated into English -- I can see how its politics (Obama is painted in a ... bad light) might be problematic; on the other hand, there are surely some publishers who might be interested in it just for that reason .....
(More problematic, of course, is that, politics aside, it just isn't that good .....)
The Schweizer Buchpreis -- which isn't really the Swiss Book Prize, but rather the Swiss Book Prize for books written in German ... -- has announced its five-title shortlist, selected from 83 (unrevealed) submissions.
It includes a book by Imperium-author Christian Kracht, as well as just one title that had also made the German Book Prize longlist, Michelle Steinbeck's Mein Vater war ein Mann an Land und im Wasser ein Walfisch.
The winner of the CHF 30,000 prize will be announced on 13 November.
I can't really fathom why the French see the need for a Grand prix de littérature américaine -- like American fiction doesn't get enough attention in France ... -- but, hey, they do, and they've now announced their longlist.
At least it's one of those rare foreign-language prizes where everything is familiar and available in the US/UK.
The shortlist will be announced 11 October, and the winner on 4 November.
An independent publishing house founded in London in 2016 with a focus on modern and contemporary Scandinavian literature.
Sounds sort of like what Norvik Press has been doing for a while, but it's always good to have more publishers covering this territory -- there's certainly room (i.e. enough deserving titles that should be published in English), for them and more .....
Their first book will apparently be Havoc, by Tom Kristensen -- nothing new (the University of Wisconsin Press brought this out almost half a century ago), but long out of print.
(And New York Review of Books is apparently coming out with this in the US -- which on the one hand speaks for the quality of the book, on the other hand makes it a bit disappointing that they didn't choose something with which to make their first mark in both the US and UK markets all their own.)
They've announced the shortlist for the biennial Australian Academy of the Humanities Medal for Excellence in Translation, with three impressive if very different titles: two old classics -- the I Ching and The Old Javanese Rāmāyana, as well as a Patrick Modiano (Paris Nocturne).
I actually have two of these -- the I Ching and the Modiano -- and they both look quite impressive (in very different ways).
What used to be The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, from 1999 through last year, is now apparently something called the 'Baillie Gifford Prize' (this Baillie Gifford apparently able to pony up enough sponsorship money to displace the long dead (and presumably, for all intents and purposes, destitute) Samuel Johnson as headliner).
They're announcing their longlist today -- and while the information isn't yet up at the official site, as I write this, the papers have the scoop: see, for example, Alison Flood's report in The Guardian, Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich heads longlist for UK''s top nonfiction award.
The shortlist will be announced 17 October, and the winner on 15 November.
They've announced the 2016 (Georgian) Saba (საბა) Literary Prizes in ten categories; see also the Agenda,ge report, 2016 Saba Literary Prize winners revealed.
The interesting ones are of course the fiction winners, and one hopes that eventually one or the other will make it into English; meanwhile, the translation prizes went to Tamar Japaridze, for his translation of John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman into Georgian, and to Lyn Coffin, for her translation of Shota Rustaveli's The Knight in the Panther Skin from the Georgian (into English); see also the Troubador publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com.
There are some -- but of course far too few -- Georgian titles under review at the complete review.
The Royal Society 'Insight Investment' Science Book Prize has announced that this year's £25,000 prize goes to The Invention of Nature, Andrea Wulf's Alexander von Humboldt-biography; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Alexander von Humboldt was a fascinating guy (as was brother Wilhelm), so the subject-matter is certainly of interest.
The Jonathan Swift-Preis is, somewhat surprisingly, a Swiss author prize.
(Well, on the other hand ... what Swiss author could they have named an 'international literary prize for satire and humor' after ?)
They've now announced (scroll down) that The Weather Fifteen Years Ago-author Wolf Haas will be getting this year's CHF 20,000 prize on 20 November -- mainly for his Brenner-novels, several of which Melville House has brought out in English.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ruth Scurr's much-praised biography (of (unusual) sorts), John Aubrey, My Own Life, now also out in a US edition, from New York Review Books (in a rare hardcover-edition).
They will begin announcing the Nobel Prizes the week of 3 October, and while the Nobel Prize in Literature waits before announcing when they will announce the prize-winner (the winner of that prize is always announced on a Thursday in October, but they only reveal which Thursday on the Monday of that week, while the schedule for the rest is already set [the 'at the earliest'-caveat listed next to each prize for now refers only to the time, not the date; sometimes these things get delayed a bit]), in recent years the Swedish Academy has faithfully taken that Thursday-spot during the big Nobel-announcement-week.
I.e. we can expect this year's winner to be announced on 6 October (and we will know on 3 October if that is actually the case, or if we have to wait another week).
[Having grown almost boringly predictable, I think the chances are very good -- say, upward of 85 per cent -- that the winner will be announced on 6 October.
This is fairly early in October, however, and there is a chance that they won't have enough deliberation-time until then, and will choose to take a few more days.
With the Frankfurt Book Fair scheduled very late this year -- 19 to 23 October --, while the Nobel announcement has often come in Frankfurt-week in recent years, there's a bit less pressure than usual to get the name out quickly too; 13 October would be well in time for Frankfurt too (and the 20th would do, too).]
In any case, by now the Swedish Academy is presumably in the final stages of choosing the winner (while probably not actually having settled on a name yet).
At the beginning of the summer they traditionally narrow down the list of contenders to five or so -- but don't reveal who these are.
Sometimes rumors float, but this year there's been very little information -- nothing credible that I've come across.
(Disappointingly, they haven't even revealed how many names were submitted and originally considered (information Peter Englund occasionally revealed).)
So there's very little to go on.
Everyone's favorite first point of reference are the betting sites, which give you odds on any number of authors -- which sometimes provides some insight or clues into who the Swedish Academy might be considering.
So, for example, last year's winner Svetlana Alexievich popped up on the betting lists out of nowhere in 2013, suggesting she had made the shortlist, and she was a betting favorite all last year -- and actually won.
For the most part, however, the betting lists include more or less the same authors, at similar odds, from year to year.
This year, you can find and compare odds at:
Ladbrokes - the leader in the Nobel-betting field -- and offering the biggest field
And there's NicerOdds, which collects and compares odds from these two sites and not-available-in-the-US paf
So Murakami Haruki is the betting front-runner at 5/1 -- but the sites already diverge regarding the next strongest candidates: Adonis' odds range from 13/2 to 25/1, and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's from 7/1 to 10/1 (so, depending on who you favor, watch where you place your bet to maximize your potential winnings).
The two things to look out for on the betting lists are big changes in the odds -- suggesting, possibly, that someone has some insider information, that a certain name is on the shortlist (remember: at this point in time, it is unlikely they have actually selected the winning author yet, so the best you can hope for is guessing one of the finalists) -- and new names that pop up on the list.
So, for example, Doris Kareva, at a healthy 33/1 on the Ladbrokes list, is someone who hasn't previously figured on these lists.
Is she a contender ?
I'd suggest a poet from Estonia is unlikely to bag the prize the year after an author who also grew up in the Soviet Union did.
(I would also imagine there's some regional competition from (unlisted but surely nominated by someone) Finnish author Sofi Oksanen -- though for now she's probably simply too young (she'd be the youngest ever to get the prize if she did).)
Note also that there are some names on the lists that are entirely implausible: Ladbrokes continues to list Bob Dylan because people like betting on Bob Dylan, and there is simply no way they'll give the prize to Jussi Adler-Olsen (nor can I imagine that anyone has ever nominated him -- which I can't say for Dylan).
You can also find discussion board discussions at:
I haven't seen much media/personal/blog speculation so far, but shigekuni. does offer Nobel Prize 2016: My picks. [updated:] and The Birdcage has a Nobel Prize for Literature 2016 Speculation list, considering an impressively extensive list (with useful desciptions/explanations) of possible contenders (though, despite including four from (South) Korea -- the most from any country -- she doesn't include the one I'd put as local favorite, Yi Mun-yol).
So what do I think ?
Well, without much to go on it's pretty hard to say much.
There are some contenders (betting odds- or other-wise) that I think can be counted out -- say, Olga Tokarczuk, who has been tipped as high as 20/1 (in 2012) and is definitely a sometime prospect but too close to recent winners (geographically; subject matter) to have a strong chance this year.
And some perennials seem really long in the tooth -- retired Philip Roth, especially, but there's quite a list.
It's hard to get much of a sense of what the Swedish Academy is looking for (and I think they're enjoying that unpredictability).
So the best I can do, at least for now (there are still a couple of weeks to go -- time enough for rumors to spread and odds to change) is go with the authors I think are most likely/deserving:
- Jon Fosse's name popped up at the same time as Alexievich's, and it seems pretty clear that he's somewhere in the running; sure, if they're going Scandinavian, I'd prefer someone like Dag Solstad, but Fosse's output is very solid and he seems the top (near-)local candidate.
[Current Ladbrokes odds: 20/1]
- I can't see them not at least considering Juan Goytislo; getting on in years, but with a most impressive and Nobel-worthy output.
[Current Ladbrokes odds: 66/1]
- I've been saying Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o is a top contender for years, and I suspect he's come close; I hope they're still considering him.
[Current Ladbrokes odds: 7/1]
- There are quite a few deserving Arabic authors, including perennial favorite Adonis, but I'd have to go with Ibrahim al-Koni.
[Current Ladbrokes odds: not listed]
- I still think Mahmoud Dowlatabadi should be seriously considered -- eminently deserving, and from the underappreciated (by the Swedish Academy ...) periphery.
(And if they do look to Iran, then Shahrnush Parsipur is, of course, also to be considered).
[Current Ladbrokes odds: not listed]
- At some point they won't be able to look beyond Man Booker International Prize-winner Krasznahorkai László -- I'm just not sure they're ready yet.
[Current Ladbrokes odds: 50/1]
- Does one of the longtime Australians -- Les Murray and Gerald Murnane -- have a chance ?
[Current Ladbrokes odds: both at 50/1]
I figure/hope other names will come into play too, as speculation (and gossip) heat up; I'll certainly be posting more as the announcement-date approaches.
In The Guardian John Walsh considers Old book, new look: why the classics are flying off the shelves, as: "British publishers are putting lots of money and energy into guessing what the new generation of classics buyers wants".
I'm generally for very simple, more-or-less uniform covers, but those new Penguins, in their hideous colors, achieve something I hadn't thought possible, being possibly too basic.
Still, interesting to hear about the various strategies and approaches -- and some of the numbers ("the bestselling classic this year is War and Peace, with 54,000 copies sold by 10 publishing houses, compared with 12,000 last year").
I'm not sure about some of this -- "Some people are intimidated by covers with oil paintings" ? -- but it's kind of fun to learn that, for example: "We tried film tie-in covers, but it was a disaster"
(Interesting also that the focus is so much on appearance, with practically no mention of, for example, the question of what translations are selected for the out-of-copyright classics.)
Leading American playwright, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner (etc. etc.) Edward Albee has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in The New York Times (Bruce Weber's) and The Washington Post (Nelson Pressley's).
See also, for example, The Paris Review's Q & A with him, or the Edward Albee Society.
The Overlook Press has a three-volume collected plays edition -- and the first, covering 1958 to 1965, is as good a place as any to start; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
Only one work by Albee is under review at the complete review, his adaptation of Lolita.
It is not very good.
(I actually saw this when I was sixteen, during its very short Broadway run -- the parents were Albee fans, and, hey, Donald Sutherland ! Ian Richardson ! Lolita !
But, yes, it was not very good.
See, for example, Frank Rich's take-down in The New York Times ("This show is the kind of embarrassment that audiences do not quickly forget or forgive", etc.).)
The Dutch AKO ECI Literatuurprijs has announced its six-title shortlist, which includes Connie Palmen's Ted Hughes/Sylvia Plath book (see the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page) -- with translations available/coming in Danish, German, French, and Italian already ... -- as well as Arnon Grunberg's latest, Moedervlekken (see the Lebowski foreign rights page) -- rights sold in Germany and ... Brazil.
(Palmen and Grunberg are, of course, both authors that found place in my The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction.)
(The Netherlands and Flanders are guests of honour at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair, and will be presenting themselves in New York next week; apparently: "Scharpé and Schiferli will use their time in New York to visit several publishers and editors", and hopefully some will be paying attention: while the Germans are churning out Dutch translations this year (even more so than usual), the US/UK lag badly -- and are missing lots of very good stuff.)
The winner of the AKO ECI Literatuurprijs will be announced 10 November.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Catalan writer Sebastià Alzamora's Spanish Civil War novel (with a vampire ...), Blood Crime, just out from Soho Crime.
Despite considerable promise, it ultimately fell pretty flat for me; it hasn't been widely reviewed in the US/UK yet, but it's amusing to see that Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review, while Kirkus was ... less enthusiastic (e.g. "If you've ever wondered what it's like to feel simultaneously bored and nauseous, this is the book for you").
They've been announcing the longlists for the (American) National Book Awards all week -- one category per day -- and with yesterday's announcement of the fiction titles now have them all covered; you can find them all here.
Not much additional information available -- like how many titles were submitted (and god forbid they'd actually reveal what they were ...) -- as the NBF 'press room' apparently stopped issuing press releases in the fall of 2013 .....
The finalists are due to be announced 12 October; the winners 16 November.
Exhibits include books, stills from the TV show of Malgudi Days, a few pieces of furniture, and the author's personal effects -- spectacles, frayed shirts, embroidered shawls, woollen coats, and moth-eaten pullovers.
It isn't much as a writer's museum goes and it takes under 15 minutes to see, even if you were to linger at every award plaque and sepia-tinted photo frame there is.
In Frontline, in A museum for the master, Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed is also under-whelmed, finding: "The museum itself, sadly, is not remarkable and has nothing to offer a casual visitor".
In The Hindu Mahesh Rao is a bit more enthusiastic -- but also reports:
It was a quiet Sunday when I visited and the museum was empty.
The security guard quickly took charge, pointed out the new plasterwork, and then marched me to the bathroom.
I think for now I'll stick to (re)visiting his books -- a nice omnibus starter-collection, anyone ? (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Atlas Press recently brought out Louis Aragon's 1921 Dada novel, Anicet, or the Panorama, in Antony Melville's translation -- see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- and it certainly sounds ... intriguing.
Caroline Moore just reviewed it in The Spectator -- suggesting:
How do you describe 'ennui' without becoming boring ?
Aragon manages it: this semi-novel is never dull; but it is certainly exhausting.
Looks like it should be of some interest.
(See/read also, for example, the original French edition at the International Dada Archive.)
Each year the Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors a work of fiction and one of non which: "address the theme of peace on a variety of levels, such as between individuals, among families and communities, or between nations, religions, or ethnic groups", and they've now announced this year's finalists in both categories.
While the prize is open to works in translation, none of this year's finalists is .....
The awards ceremony will be on 20 November.
Vindit is bringing out a 'role-playing game' (RPG) called Quote, which they sum up on their press kit page as:
Burn every book.
Kill every author.
Save the world from the taint of knowledge for the God of Ignorance.
Presumably this is meant as a clever riff on the idea of knowledge-destruction, since they do claim that:
Darkly charming, Quote is inspired by games such as Little Big Adventure, as well as the works of revered authors such as Vonnegut, Carter, Bradbury, Eco and Huxley.
Still, I'm not quite sure what to make of it, or whether this is a good idea.
(Unfortunately, I do not find myself with the time to play any RPGs -- and I'm not sure this would be first choice if I did.)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of William Domnarski's biography of Richard Posner, just out from Oxford University Press.
With a dozen Posner-titles under review, of course I was eager to see this !
Among the titbits that particularly amused me:
In a letter to University of Chicago Law School colleague Martha Nussbaum, Posner added that "in my childhood and teens I was drawn to the grandiose -- Homer, Dante, Milton -- and to the adventure books -- Bulwer-Lytton, Haggard, etc."
As longtime readers know, I'm a big Bulwer-Lytton fan -- he's among the few people with more than one biography under review at the site: see those by Leslie Mitchell and T.H.S.Escott -- and, hey, Arno Schmidt was a fan too.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Man Booker Prize, the final six, from 155 submitted (but, alas, not revealed) titles originally in the running.
None of the remaining six titles are under review at the complete review; I could see myself getting to some of them -- but not soon, I suspect.
The winner will be announced 25 October.
The prix Médicis is one of the French prizes that is awarded both for a best French work of fiction as well as for a best foreign (translated) work, and they've now announced their longlists.
The fourteen-title French longlist includes some Goncourt/Renaudot overlap, while the eleven-title foreign longlist is European-language-heavy and includes several translated-from-the-English titles, including works by Edna O’Brien and Nell Zink.
Nice to see a Christoph Hein, too, but the US entry that impresses is James E. McTeer II's Minnow, which got good notices in the US but, published by ... Hub City didn't really seem to get the recognition/readership it deserved; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Of course the one I'm really curious about is Antônio Xerxenesky's F -- see the original Rocco publicity page (good cover, too !), or the Asphalte one.
He's been getting some English-language attention -- a Granta spot, a 2015 residency at the Iowa International Writing Program -- and surely someone has already signed this and A página assombrada por fantasmas (Thomas Pynchon ! Anna Kournikova ? see the Rocco publicity page) ... haven't they ?
The prix Sade -- which can safely be assumed to honor exactly what you would expect -- has announced its five finalists, which includes a Dennis Cooper novel, works titled: Des petites filles modèles and Scènes du plaisir, as well as works with extended-/sub-titles that include: Introduction à la viragophilie and les love doll au Japon -- all of which is clear enough without translation, isn't it ?
The winner will be announced 24 September.