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18 December 2014 - Thursday

John Dos Passos Prize for Literature | Chad Post Q & A
Notable German-in-English books, 2014 | Privy Portrait review

       John Dos Passos Prize for Literature

       They've announced that the 2015 John Dos Passos Prize for Literature will go to Ruth Ozeki; she'll be the 33rd prize-winner.
       This Longwood University prize is:
meant to honor one of the greatest -- and most often ignored -- American writers of the twentieth century by recognizing other writers in his name.
       And:
Recipients of the prize are American creative writers who have produced a substantial body of significant publication that displays characteristics of John Dos Passos's writing: an intense and original exploration of specifically American themes, an experimental approach to form, and an interest in a wide rage of human experiences.
       A reasonably interesting list of previous winners -- though surely they were just trying to make a name for themselves in giving the inaugural prize in 1980 to Graham Greene (apparently over the likes of John Updike and Norman Mailer, so: not the worst way to go) ..... (They seem to have gone all-American after that failed experiment.)

       Ozeki gets to pick up the prize on 24 April.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Chad Post Q & A

       At Sampsonia Way Caitlyn Christensen has a Q & A with Open Letter and Three Percent-man Chad W. Post -- a good overview of those two fine institutions, with lots of interesting titbits.
       And some depressing ones:
Here's a perspective for you: an average translation from a non-Big Five press (or even from a big press, because with the exception of Murakami, books don't sell very well), will sell about 1,000 copies.
       I am, however, a bit disappointed that Chad says:
We don't want to publish the Estonian Jonathan Franzen.
       You know what he means -- but come on, who else is going to publish this poor guy (or gal), whoever s/he is ? Dalkey Archive and Open Letter pretty much have the translated-from-Estonian market cornered, and if there's a Franzen there, we want to see his/her work too !

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Notable German-in-English books, 2014

       At Deutsche Welle Jochen Kürten writes about The 10 must-read German books of 2014.
       (A note at the end of the piece claims: "All ten books listed were published in the US in the past 12 months" but this doesn't appear to be accurate: Timur Vermes' Look Who's Back looks to be slated for a spring 2015 US release, Uwe Tellkamp's The Tower is US-available as an e-book, but has only come out in print in the UK, etc. Published in the US but missing in action, on the other hand: H.G.Adler's The Wall.)
       And somewhat disappointing to hear/note:
When it comes to German novels though, it's mostly small or "micro-" publishers who show an interest, said Riky Stock. Crime fiction and novels by immigrant writers are among the most popular.
       (So I'm curious to see how Christian Kracht's controversially Teutonic Imperium will do next year: see the FSG publicity page (with Karl Ove Knausgaard blurb !), or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Privy Portrait review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean-Luc Benoziglio's 1980 novel, Privy Portrait, now available in English, from Seagull Books.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



17 December 2014 - Wednesday

New translation of Zorba the Greek | The literary scene 2014 in ... Zimbabwe
Walker on Water review

       New translation of Zorba the Greek

       A new translation of one of the best-known works to come out of modern Greece, Nikos Kazantzakis' Zorba the Greek, is coming out -- at least in the US, from Simon & Schuster.
       Why a new translation ? Well, Carl Wildman's did come out in 1952, so one can argue that, after more than half a century, it might be time for a new one. But Peter Bien offers a better explanation in his Translator's Introduction:
The answer is both clear and simple. The earlier translation was made by someone who did not know Greek and who worked from a previous translation into French.
       [That sound you might have heard in the distance was my pained wail, followed by by the thud of my head again smashing against a brick wall. Is there no international court of literary justice seeing to it that the miscreants responsible for these outrages are held accountable ?]
       Okay, it is Kazantzakis, and true fans (like me) will recall that he actually wrote a couple of his works in French -- Toda Raba, anyone ? -- but certainly not this one.
       Bien also notes that:
when one places the earlier translation next to the original Greek text, one is quite amazed by the differences: omissions sometimes of many sentences, obvious errors, even commissions, i.e., supposedly translated material not in the Greek text at all.
       Surprised ? Hardly. Editors and translators continue to take such absurd liberties (and readers continue to be kept in the dark ...).
       I note also that the UK publisher of Zorba the Greek is Faber & Faber -- who notoriously are also responsible for the continued circulation of the abomination that is the from-the-French-translation translation of Lem's Solaris -- and that they don't seem to have jumped aboard the new-translation-bandwagon here either: their catalogue listing -- and Amazon.co.uk listing -- continue to be the Wildman translation-translation.
       But at least in the US readers will now have a chance to read a closer translation; see the Simon & Schuster publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com.
       I'm not sure that 23 December publication date is ... ideal -- hoping for the very-last-minute- shoppers, are they ? Looks more like any and all coverage of this important publication -- come on, this is pretty much the only modern Greek title that readers can probably identify (Z is surely more famous for the film version) -- will be lost in the Christmas noise and rush. (Which is why I mention it now.)

       And while I am very pleased to see this proper translation, it pains me to read:
Translation copyright © 2014 by Kazantzakis Publications Ltd
       Sorry -- no, no apologies necessary: translation copyright belongs with and to the translator. Any other 'arrangement' is unacceptable.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The literary scene 2014 in ... Zimbabwe

       In The Herald Beaven Tapureta has a piece Reflecting on the 2014 literary scene in Zimbabwe.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Walker on Water review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Estonian author Kristiina Ehin's collection of stories, Walker on Water.

       (While there's much here that impresses -- there's some great writing here, and some great ideas --, ultimately this is yet another collection that just reinforces my novel-bias; sometimes I wonder why I (or anyone) bothers with anything else.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



16 December 2014 - Tuesday

Forthcoming Houellebecq | New Quarterly Conversation
Books in translation, 2014 | Māori Book Awards
Decline of literary culture - regional report: Agra

       Forthcoming Houellebecq

       The French literary year will start with a bang, as the new Michel Houellebecq novel is due out on 7 Janaury -- Soumission (yes, 'Submission'); pre-order your (French) copy at Amazon.fr.
       Les inRocks have some of the details (in French); The Local.fr has the gist -- 'Muslims rule France in provocative new novel', as their headline has it, of this set-in-2022 novel -- in English (but without the intriguing detail that the novel's erectile dysfunctional protagonist is also a: "spécialiste de J-K Huysmans").
       No word yet as to US/UK editions, but presumably they shouldn't be too long coming. While Houellebecq sure as hell doesn't look like he's aging well, he still has a name/brand-recognition rare among authors-in-translation.

       Quite a few Houellebecq-titles are under review at the complete review; see, for example: The Elementary Particles (published as Atomised in the UK).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       New Quarterly Conversation

       The Winter 2015 issue of the Quarterly Conversation is now available online -- lots of good material to keep you busy for the rest of the week.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Books in translation, 2014

       Kaija Straumanis puts together a nice list at Three Percent of 50/50: Fifty Books in Translation from Fifty Presses [Our 2014 Year-End Book List], showing just how many varied publishers are bringing out works in translation.
       (The more adventurous can refer to the considerably more extensive Translation Database, aspiring to record all the (first-time) translations published in the US in 2014.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Māori Book Awards

       A couple of days ago they announced the Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards.
       Great to see the support for Māori writing (and hopefully it will translate, at least a bit, abroad as well), and good to see, for example, Patricia Grace as guest speaker (though it kills me that her advice included: "write about what you know" -- the most dangerous and damaging of Creative Writing 101 advice (because the kids take it so to heart, in all the wrong (i.e. confessional) ways) ...)).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Decline of literary culture - regional report: Agra

       The oft-repeated story, from every corner of the world: today's installment, from Ishita Mishra in the Times of India: Agra's literary landscape dying a slow death.
       You know the story/routine:
Libraries and book stores that once saw their premises bustling with bibliophiles at one time wear a deserted look now.
       And:
None of the shops are up-to-date. The reason is the same -- a lack of interest in reading.
       And, while India has lagged in this regard until recently, e-books -- and the fact/concern that the: "onset of online behemoth Amazon has dramatically altered the rules of the game" (Amazon being very new to India) -- are, of course, much/easy to blame for the situation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



15 December 2014 - Monday

Folio Prize nominations | Modiano in English | The Black Signs review

       Folio Prize nominations

       They've announced the eighty titles that will be considered for the Man Booker (II) Prize, a.k.a the 'Folio Prize':
These are the 80 works of fiction published in the UK in 2014 that, in the eyes of the 235 writers and critics who constitute the Academy, are the best of the year.
       Unmentioned: these are the 80 works of fiction written in English (or maybe they just can't conceive that a translated work might also be among 'the best of the year' ...).
       The process explanation also suggests the selection process is slightly more complicated -- that of the eighty titles:
The first 60 will be nominated by the Academy. Publishers will then be invited to write letters in support of additional titles, after which the balance of 20 books will be called in by the judges.
       Strangely enough, this is not mentioned in the official announcement.
       See also the list of the eighty titles (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).
       Reminding me yet again that I read far too little contemporary English-language fiction, very few of these titles are under review at the complete review:        An eight-title shortlist will be announced on 9 February, and the winner will be announced 23 March.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Modiano in English

       Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have apparently announced (though not yet at their 'media center', last I checked ...) that they'll be publishing the English translation of Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano's latest in the US, the bestselling-in-France Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier (see the Gallimard publicity page), in late 2015. (MacLehose Press had previously announced it was publishing this one, and two more, in the UK.)
       Alexandra Alter reports the news in The New York Times -- along with some sales figures for the few Modiano titles actually currently available in English;
One of his most famous works, Missing Person, which is published by David R. Godine, had sold just 2,031 copies before the prize was announced in October, and has since sold more than 13,600 copies. Yale University Press has sold more than 30,000 copies of Suspended Sentences, a collection of three novellas by Mr. Modiano that was published last month.
       At The Washington Post's Style Blog Ron Charles also reports on the news, in New Patrick Modiano novel coming to U.S. next fall, with the additional information that the translation will be by Euan Cameron (translator of, for example, Philippe Djian's Unforgivable book), and offering slightly different sales-numbers:
The book clubs are all adopting Missing Persons [sic], and if you're going to read a Modiano, that's the one to read. We've sold 18,000 copies. Honeymoon also did well, and his children's book [Catherine Certitude] did well.
       Meanwhile, an interesting titbit from Jennifer Maloney's report at the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy weblog:
British publisher Harvill Secker UK then pulled its e-book version of Modiano's novel, The Search Warrant, off Amazon.co.uk.

It turned out that Harvill Secker never had the rights to publish the ebook -- which Modiano's French publisher, Éditions Gallimard, discovered after the Pulitzer [sic] was announced, according to Anne-Solange Noble, Gallimard's foreign-rights director.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       The Black Signs review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Lars Mørch Finborud's The Black Signs, an intriguing offering from the Norwegian from the intriguing Broken Dimanche Press.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



14 December 2014 - Sunday

Worst book lists | Turning to Finnish translation
Naudé-Vladislavić exchange | Books review

       Worst book lists

       What with all the best-of-the-year book lists coming out I'm kind of disappointed that there aren't more worst-of lists to be found, a reminder of the year's over-hyped crap and flops and disappointments. Admittedly, they can be hard to put together -- after all, there are a limited number of good (or great) books, but seemingly no end of mediocre to terrible ones, and it's not so much a matter of scraping the bottom of the barrel as figuring out which of the many barrel-fulls to consider ..... But reviewers or publications would certainly be performing a public service if they at least pointed to the worst they've covered during the year, for example.
       Among the few worst-lists is Entertainment Weekly's -- disappointingly not even a bottom-ten but rather only 5 Worst Books of 2014 -- one of which I've even read (The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair, by Joël Dicker -- which, I agree, is pretty bad).
       At his stevereads weblog Steve Donoghue offers 'best-of-the-year'-lists in all sorts of categories, and fortunately also a few 'worst'-lists -- notably the Worst Books of 2014: Fiction ! Some notable names here (he has a somewhat unusual populist/contrarian streak), but, alas, none that I've read.

       While my fervent wish would be not to see any more book-lists at all for the remainder of the year, given how many best-of lists I'm sure to come across I hope that there will at least be a few more worst ones as well.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Turning to Finnish translation

       At Books from Finland they wondered how people whose mother tongue isn't Finnish became interested enough in the (difficult and not exactly widely-spoken) language to become translators of Finnish literature, and in Encounters with a language they get answers from: "Three translators into English, one into French, German and Latvian"

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Naudé-Vladislavić exchange

       At Granta they print an interesting exchange, In Conversation: S.J. Naudé and Ivan Vladislavić, the two writers discussing 'translation, divided cityscapes and the electric current in writing'. Lots of interesting observations, especially about translation and editing.
       So, for example, Vladislavić notes (horrifyingly):
I've seen revised foreign editions that are substantially different to the originals. I suppose it's tied up with a weakening sense of the text as definitive or sacrosanct, and a new conception of it as a dynamic, customized product.
       (As longtime readers know, I'm entirely in the sacrosanct camp, and value fidelity to the original (and the author's intention) above all (even comprehensibility).)

       Several of Vladislavić's books are under review at the complete review; see, for example, Double Negative.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Books review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Charlie Hill's entertaining killer-novel novel, Books.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



13 December 2014 - Saturday

The nefarious 'international literature lobby' | Early Chekhov
James Patterson profile

       The nefarious 'international literature lobby'

       In The Guardian Alison Flood reports that Turkish novelists Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak accused of being Western stooges by pro-government press, as:
Major Turkish authors Orhan Pamuk and Elif Shafak have been accused by the pro-government Turkish press of being controlled by an "international literature lobby" that has the Turkish government in its sights.
       It would be funny if it weren't so cynically-sinisterly disturbing.
       Though I'm sure writers everywhere can't help but be flattered at the thought of an 'international literature lobby'. Hey, it could be the premise for a new Marvel comic .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Early Chekhov

       At Russia Beyond the Headlines George Butchard reports on efforts at Bringing early Chekhov to an English-speaking readership as apparently -- and somewhat surprisingly -- a great deal of early Chekhov has: "never been systematically translated into English".
       It'll be interesting to see how this project develops.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       James Patterson profile

       He's incredibly -- and somewhat bafflingly -- popular, and in Vanity Fair Todd S. Purdum profiles The Henry Ford of Books.
       An interesting background and path -- and apparently: "success may have mellowed Patterson somewhat":
"I always thought he was a total dick," one non-Little, Brown executive told me. "I think that's not fair now."

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



12 December 2014 - Friday

Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature | Translation recommendations
Man Booker Prize judges | Self-Portrait in Green review

       Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature

       They've announced that Sudanese author Hammour Ziada awarded the 2014 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature -- though, of course, since this is (supposed to be ...) a book prize, it is, in fact, his novel, شوق الدرويش ('The Longing of the Dervish'), that was awarded the prestigious prize. See also M. Lynx Qualey's report at her Arabic Literature (in English) weblog.
       It's a prestigious prize, with a solid list of winners (several of which are under review at the complete review), and has certainly helped bring contemporary Arabic fiction into English.

       (Meanwhile, don't forget the old master whom the prize is named after -- and, yes, lots (and lots) of Naguib Mahfouz's books are under review at the complete review.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Translation recommendations

       Among the endless best of year and the like lists, the more specialized ones tend to be both more interesting and useful -- and at PEN Atlas they get translation recommendations from a variety of authors and others, a decent selection, despite the unforgiveable head/tagline, Yule love these books in translation 2014.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Man Booker Prize judges

       Yes, 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction: Judges announced, and they are: Ellah Allfrey, John Burnside, Sam Leith, and Frances Osborne, with Michael Wood as chair.
       Interesting (?) side note: in 2011 the judges got Kindles, to read submissions electronically if they wished to; for the 2015 lot -- like last year:
The judges will read submissions both in hard copy and using iPad Airs, donated by Apple.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Self-Portrait in Green review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marie NDiaye's Self-Portrait in Green, recently published by Two Lines Press.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



11 December 2014 - Thursday

Modiano picks up Nobel Prize | Literary money in Piketty's Capital
Meursault, Counter-Investigation (coming) in English

       Modiano picks up Nobel Prize

       They held the fancy Nobel ceremonies yesterday, and everybody got to pick up their medals and diplomas and shake the royal hand and so on. All very fancy and slightly ridiculous -- white tie and tails are mandated at the Nobel Banquet -- but good fun and, given the payday, what the hell ? Anyway, the official site does a really nice job of providing coverage of every silly last detail, from video footage of the ceremony to the menu (side note: the wine selection looks kind of weak to me -- I would have stuck with the champagne -- and then Grönstedts Cognac VO ... not even XO ? come on, nice to support the local guy, but even akvavit would be preferable to this).
       Modiano gave his Nobel lecture on Sunday. Here now is the award ceremony presentation speech, given by "Writer, PhD Jesper Svenbro" -- and here is the Nobel diploma Modiano got yesterday:

Patrick Modiano's Nobel diploma


       I have to admit, I'm no great fan of the Nobel diplomas (yes, the official site lets you look at all of them since 1997 -- neat !). But some of the art work is pretty good.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Literary money in Piketty's Capital

       Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century -- see the Harvard University Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk -- is surely one of, if not the book of the year in the US. It is, of course, an economics book -- but also refers to actual literature. At Slate Ted Underwood, Hoyt Long, and Richard Jean So now consider what Piketty has to say about literature (and, in particular, money in fiction) in his book, in Cents and Sensibility.
       They argue that:
Piketty's account of literary history turns out to be wrong -- but wrong in a way that casts a surprising new light on the way novels do respond to the changing economic fortunes of people in the real world.
       Yes, interestingly:
References to specific sums increased in frequency from 1825 to 1950, undeterred by the accelerating pace of inflation.
       (And Eliot's Middlemarch is a somewhat surprisingly money-obsessed outlier.)
       Also interesting/strange to note that "the median reference to money" (i.e. the specific amount mentioned) has decreased tremendously over the same period.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Meursault, Counter-Investigation (coming) in English

       Other Press will be publishing the US edition of Kamel Daoud's much-discussed and prize-winning variation on Camus, Meursault, contre-enquête, and at Publishers Weekly publisher Judith Gurewich answers four questions from Clare Swanson about it.
       As Gurewich notes, this probably won't be a hard sell -- this book should fairly easily get the attention it deserves. I look forward to seeing it, and the reactions to it.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



10 December 2014 - Wednesday

Elena Ferrante Q & A | Rameau's Nephew review
Arno Schmidt in paperback at Amazon

       Elena Ferrante Q & A

       In The New York Times Rachel Donadio has a lengthy Q & A with Elena Ferrante, who seems to have become a breakout-author over the past year or so; Donadio also has offers profile of the author, based in large part on the Q & A, Scant Clues to a Secret Identity.
       None of the titles in Ferrante's Neapolitan-quartet are under review at the complete review, but her three earlier novels are:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Rameau's Nephew review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Denis Diderot's dialogue, Rameau's Nephew.
       This was first published in 1805, in the German translation by Goethe, which sounds like a pretty good recommendation.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Arno Schmidt in paperback at Amazon

       My own recent little Literary Saloon dialogue, Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy is now available in paperback from Amazon, too (US and UK, along with most of the others).
       It's also available on Kindle, or, from Lulu, in either ePub or paperback. Availability at other outlets should follow, sooner or later, but paperback-at-Amazon seems the most trusted buying option relied on by many readers, so I mention it -- and note that the Amazon page gives you a decent 'Look inside'-preview opportunity, so you can see what you'd be get yourself into.

       You still have time, I should think, to put it on your Christmas wishlist, or purchase it as a gift for your literarily-inclined friends and acquaintances, and those you might want to convert to Schmidt.
       I'd suggest it might also serve as a useful planting-the-seed title, an appropriate gift to give someone from whom you might hope for Schmidt's Bottom's Dream in return eventually, when that becomes available -- a much dearer proposition. (Planning ahead, it's perhaps also a useful gift for a spouse or loved one, whom you'll be trying to explain the huge outlay for Bottom's Dream when it appears (it ain't going to be cheap) to, if you're forced/compelled to purchase it yourself; I'm not sure Arno Schmidt: a centennial colloquy can fully justify your folly, but surely it provides some decent arguments in favor of Schmidtian indulgence, even at its most extravagant and costly.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



9 December 2014 - Tuesday

(Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards | Chinese literature abroad

       (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards

       They've announced the winners of the (Australian) Prime Minister's Literary Awards, with Man Booker Prize-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan a co-winner in the fiction category; see also, for example, Martin Shaw's report in The Guardian, The Prime Minister's Literary Awards: the ties that bind.
       The Guardian also prints an edited version of Flanagan's acceptance speech, in which he explains that he is donating his A$40,000 prize money to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

       (Updated - 11 December): See now also reports that the Prime Minister himself (rather than the judging-panel) decided Flanagan's book was deserving, as, as for example Jonathan Pearlman reports in The Telegraph, Australian PM overrules literary prize panel to give award to Man Booker winner Richard Flanagan.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Chinese literature abroad

       Via Paper Republic I'm pointed to this interesting piece at Bruce Humes' Ethnic ChinaLit weblog, "Most Influential" Chinese Literature in Translation: 2014 Ranking by International Library Purchases.
       This seems like an interesting way of measuring the success of translated fiction abroad -- by determining how many library copies have been purchased worldwide. These numbers look at the top translations-into-English -- and several of the titles are under review at the complete review:        This seems like a fairly interesting way of seeing how widely a title is diseminated -- I'd love to see numbers on translations from other languages as well.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



8 December 2014 - Monday

Modiano's Nobel lecture | Русский Букер | Mãn review

       Modiano's Nobel lecture

       It's Nobel Prize ceremony-week, and literature Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano gave his Nobel lecture yesterday. You can watch the whole thing on video, or simply read it, in English translation or the French original.
       Pedantic note -- though perhaps of some interest, since the lecture can be re-printed pretty much by anyone who wants to, anywhere (see the note at the beginning of the lecture setting out the very generous terms): the English version of the lecture -- which, presumably, will be widely re-printed -- was translated by "James Hardiker, Semantix" (Semantix being, of course, "the leading supplier of language services in the Nordic countries") and he/they saw fit -- sensibly; it's English/American convention -- to add the middle name to a mention of the writer 'Edgar Poe' (as the French original has it). The middle name he/they added is: 'Allen'. That is not Edgar Poe's middle name. Close, but no cigar, as they say. I'm curious how many publication reprinting the lecture will make the necessary correction. (And whether/when the Nobel site will.)

       Meanwhile: a reminder that Modiano is worth a look -- I recommend Honeymoon, in particular, but the three-in-one volume that is/includes Suspended Sentences is certainly a good introduction to his work.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Русский Букер

       They've announced that Vladimir Sharov's Возвращение в Египет has won this year's Русский Букер -- the 'Russian Booker' prize. (And, yes, while I'm pleased/almost impressed the announcement is up in a timely manner at the official site, that is one really unimpressive official announcement.) See also some coverage at Lizok's Bookshelf (with bonus Sharov- and other Russian literary commentary ...).
       I will be getting to Before & During -- and I do hope someone picks up this one too; it sounds intriguing and Sharov is clearly an author well worth paying attention to.

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       Mãn review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of French-writing Canadian-Vietnamese author Kim Thúy's new novel, Mãn.
       The English translation of this 2013 novel came out pretty quickly in Canada (and the UK), this year -- but I can't help but note that the Swedish (!?) translation came out quicker .....

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7 December 2014 - Sunday

Menis Koumandareas (1931-2014) | Best lists abroad
Hispabooks profile | Outlaws review

       Menis Koumandareas (1931-2014)

       As, for example, reported by Philip Chrysopoulos at Greek Reporter, Acclaimed Greek Writer Menis Koumandareas Found Murdered at Home.
       Dalkey Archive Press brought out his Koula a couple of years ago (and he's quite well-translated into French); aside from being an important writer he was also a translator -- of Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald, for example.

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       Best lists abroad

       As often noted, the US and UK lead the way with 'best of the year'-lists, and there tend to be far fewer abroad (especially this early in the year), but among those now available are:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Hispabooks profile

       At El País' Trans-Iberian Chris Finnigan suggests Put Down Orwell and Pick Up Contemporary Spanish Literature in his profile of the wonderful Hispabooks.
       I've reviewed far too few of their titles (The Hotel Life and The Faint-hearted Bolshevik), but I do have a pile of them and will continue to make my way through them -- and can certainly recommend them to you.

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       Outlaws review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Javier Cercas' Outlaws.

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6 December 2014 - Saturday

Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding
Mirror literature | Central Asian literature | AKO Literatuurprijs

       Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding

       At the Leipzig Book Fair -- the big spring German book fair -- they hand out the Leipziger Buchpreis zur Europäischen Verständigung ('Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding'), and they've announced that Nostalgia-author Mircea Cărtărescu will get the 2015 prize next spring for his Orbitor-trilogy (which Archipelago is bringing out in English, publishing the first volume, Blinding, last year; see their publicity page).
       See also the list of previous winners.

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       Mirror literature

       At KGOU Suzette Grillot talks to Warren Motte (editor, for example, of Oulipo: A Primer of Potential Literature), finding Warren Motte Watches Literary Characters As They Watch Themselves, as:
When University of Colorado professor and French literature critic Warren Motte was a graduate student around 35 years ago, he noticed that he kept coming across scenes of people looking at themselves in mirrors in different works of literature.

"I started collecting these scenes, kind of as an antidote to the dissertation that I was writing at the time," Motte says. "I collected these in my reading over the years and finally I ended up with somewhere between 12,000 and 15,000 of them."

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       Central Asian literature

       In The Astana Times -- 'Bringing Kazakhstan to the World' -- Michelle Witte reports that Publisher Hopes Literature in English Can Unite Europe, Central Asia, profiling Marat Akmedjanov, founder of Hertfordshire Press. (Aside: I have no idea why a publishing house founded to publish books from and about Central Asian would call itself something like 'Hertfordshire Press'.)
       Given that Central Asia is, along with a swath of Southeast Asia, the worst-represented literary area of the world in English any little bit helps, so I hope they have continued success.

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       AKO Literatuurprijs

       The AKO Literatuurprijs, one of the leading Dutch literary prizes (with a nice €50,000 payday) is now the ECI Literatuurprijs; see the official (Dutch) press release, as well as the DutchNews.nl report, Book retailer AKO stops sponsoring €50,000 literature prize.

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5 December 2014 - Friday

Serhiy Zhadan on 'Memory and Responsibility' | Translation in ... Pakistan
Palpasa Café in ... French

       Serhiy Zhadan on 'Memory and Responsibility'

       As I mentioned last week, Serhiy Zhadan's Ворошиловград won this year's Jan Michalski prize for literature.
       At PEN Atlas he now writes: 'about growing up in eastern Ukraine, a region now at war, and how love and attentiveness are the lessons of literature in a world of silence and oblivion', in Memory and Responsibility.

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       Translation in ... Pakistan

       In The Express Tribune Ishrat Ansari profiles Essence of Camphor-translator Muhammad Umar Memon, in Translate this: 'Translation is an act of self-discovery'.
       Among his claims:
While discussing translations in Pakistan, Dr Memon said that translating books, novels and essays is something that has decreased over the years. "In Middle East, it is the opposite. People love their language and translated works have really picked up," he said. "If we had a higher literacy rate, things could change."

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       Palpasa Café in ... French

       Narayan Wagle's Palpasa Café is among the best-known and -selling modern Nepali works -- and it's even been translated into English (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). Now, in the Nepali Times, Stéphane Huët describes its long journey into French, in Bonjour, Palpasa.

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