The German Book Prize, awarded at the Frankfurt Book Fair every fall, is for the best novel, while the spring Leipzig Book Fair's prize(s) are awarded in three categories: fiction, non, and translation -- and they've now announced this year's winners.
The translation prize went to Eva Ruth Wemme, for her translation of Gabriela Adameșteanu's Dimineață pierdută; impressively, an English translation of this already came out several years ago, Patrick Camiller's, as Wasted Morning, from Northwestern University Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The fiction prize went to Schäfchen im Trockenen by Anke Stelling; see also the Verbrecher Verlag publicity page.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sakuraba Kazuki's Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas, which Haikasoru brought out a couple of years ago.
This is a very satisfying read; it certainly deserved more attention than it received when it came out.
They've announced the finalists for my new favorite book prize, the prix Jean d'Ormesson, which basically lets the jurors pick any books they want, published whenever -- which is why it includes the likes of Juan Rulfo's Pedro Paramo and Ivo Andrić's The Bridge on the Drina, as well as Frédéric Dard(-writing-as-San-Antonio)'s 1984 novel, Faut-il tuer les petits garçons qui ont les mains sur les hanches ?
They even added a new book that wasn't on their longlist, a Nancy Mitford-biography.
But like (too) many French literary prizes, they don't have their own web-presence, so you have to rely on, for example, the report at LivresHebdo.
The winner will be announced 5 June.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Wellcome Book Prize -- "celebrating the best new books that illuminate the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives" --, another prize that doesn't care whether a book is fiction or non, though only two of the six finalists are novels.
The winner will be announced on 1 May.
At the Dutch Foundation for Literature they announce the latest batch of Translation Grants for Foreign Publishers -- thirty-six in all.
Always interesting to see what is getting translated, and into what languages -- and always disappointing to see how little of that is into English .....
None of the fiction, none of the non-fiction ... just one lone poetry collection.
They've announced the longlist for this year's Rathbones Folio Prize, for which: "All genres and all forms of literature are eligible, except work written primarily for children", as long as they're written in English and published in the UK -- which is why there are works of fiction, non, and poetry in the running.
It is UK-focused, but I'm still surprised I've seen ... all of one of these (Will Eaves' Murmur, which I hope to get to).
The shortlist will be announced 4 April; the winner 20 May.
They've announced the shortlist for this year's Libris Literatuur Prijs, one of the leading Dutch book prizes.
Finalists who have had books translated into English include Rupert: A Confession-author Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer (see also the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page for his shortlisted Grand Hotel Europa) and Esther Gerritsen (see also the Dutch Foundation for Literature information page for her shortlisted De trooster).
The winner will be announced 6 May.
Israeli poet Agi Mishol was awarded this year's Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award; previous winners include W.S.Merwin (the first winner of the prize, in 2013), Lars Gustafsson (2016), and Breyten Breytenbach (2017).
Some Mishol is available in English, including Less Like a Dove from a few years ago; see the Shearsman publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
And, of course, returning to master Zbigniew Herbert's own work is always worthwhile !
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of David Toscana's The Enlightened Army, recently out from the University of Texas Press.
Part of the story: a group of Mexicans aim to reconquer Texas !
Every time I return to Japan I'm reminded of the moment I enter a bookstore.
I gaze at the sea of compact, gorgeously miniaturized books, and enviously wonder why we North Americans can't enjoy such sensibly-sized reads.
The neat compactness of the Japanese book -- the fact that it fits easily into the palm of one's hand; the fact that it slips unobtrusively into the pocket of a trenchcoat or even a blazer -- all of this speaks to the delight of the Japanese book.
And I too wonder:
The 'trade paperback' -- whoever invented such an affront to basic aesthetics ?
How much better the world would be -- and how much more space I'd have on my bookshelves ! -- if all books were the size of the traditional Japanese paperback !
(Green Integer is among the few who do it right -- though even they had to go oversize for Arno Schmidt's The School for Atheists.)
Apparently it was time for another of these pieces: in the April Harper's Christian Lorentzen expounds on: 'The fate of the book review in the age of the algorithm' in Like This or Die.
Lorentzen mentions that, not long after New Yorkannounced it was: "greatly expanding and reimagining its books coverage" his: "contract to review books at New York magazine was dropped".
'Expanded coverage' apparently does not include reviews; instead he finds (and argues): "Books coverage now rises or falls in the slipstream of social media".
Among much else, he offers an overview of book-reviewing -- including the apparently brief blog-flourishing:
The early book bloggers -- typically amateurs, many of whom have gone on to become authors and critics for mainstream outlets, among them Mark Athitakis, Maud Newton, Mark Sarvas, Levi Stahl, Tao Lin -- were an anarchic bunch, pursuing their own idiosyncratic enthusiasms and antagonisms (Sam Tanenhaus, then editor of The New York Times Book Review, was a frequent target of their ire, envy, and, occasionally, awe).
Constricted neither by convention nor by editors, the bloggers, at their best, popularized worthy but obscure writers, circulated the most interesting criticism that caught their eyes, and devoted tremendous energy to indexing the literary scene.
They were passionate.
At their worst, they aired uninformed opinions about books they hadn't read, but mostly their work was a tonic.
Group blogs such as The Millions (recently purchased by Publishers Weekly), Electric Literature, and HTMLGIANT became forums for recent MFA graduates and geographically isolated aspiring writers to work out their ideas in public and form their own communities.
As with blogs generally, book blogs entered a decline as social media became the zone where people ventured their considered or (increasingly) stray thoughts.
Oh, well -- I'm still enjoying the ride on the way down .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Elena Chizhova's 2000 novel, Little Zinnobers, recently out in English, from Glagoslav.
Lots of Shakespeare-in-(still-Soviet-)Russia, among other things.
They've announced the 2018 (American) National Book Critics Circle Awards.
Winners include Milkman by Anna Burns -- which also won the Man Booker Prize -- for fiction, and Zadie Smith's Feel Free for criticism.
Maureen Corrigan won the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.
They've announced the 2019 Windham-Campbell Prize winners, two each in the categories of fiction (Danielle McLaughlin and David Chariandy), non ( Raghu Karnad and Rebecca Solnit), drama (Young Jean Lee and Patricia Cornelius ), and poetry (Ishion Hutchinson and Kwame Dawes); each receives a tidy US$165,000.
They've announced that this year's (American) National Book Awards are now open for submissions -- and who the twenty-five judges will be.
The Translated Literature panel is made up of: Keith Gessen, Elisabeth Jaquette, Katie Kitamura, Idra Novey, and Shuchi Saraswat.
The Fiction panel is made up of: Dorothy Allison, Ruth Dickey, Javier Ramirez, Danzy Senna, and Jeff VanderMeer.
The longlists will be announced sometime in September, and the finalists on 8 October.
I'm not sure that I'm up to tackling Robert Alter's new translation of The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary (see the W.W.Norton publicity page or get your copy at Amazon or Amazon.co.uk), but the most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two works dealing with translating the Bible:
There's very little overlap with the Best Translated Book Award-eligible titles his year -- including the two titles under review at the complete review, neither of which is eligible for this year's (2018-covering) BTBA (the Ernaux came out in the US in 2017, the Hwang is coming out later this year).
As best I can tell, only the Mingarelli, Can Xue, and Vásquez are eligible for this year's BTBA (though several more of these have come out/will be coming out this year, and so will be in the running for the 2020 BTBA).
Since the Can Xue is the only other one of these titles I have actually seen, I can hardly hazard a guess as to what the contenders are -- though I'm thrilled to see the Ernaux qualified, and I would imagine it would be tough to beat.
Interesting also to note the complete dominance of small and independent publishers .....
HarperCollins has announced the launch of a new imprint, HarperVia, "focused on acquiring international titles for World English publication".
As I've repeatedly noted -- and as, for example, the make-up of the just announced Man Booker International Prize longlist (see above) would seem to confirm, the translation-into-English field is dominated by independent and small publishers, so it's good to see one of the majors make a more dedicated effort.
Still, this looks more ... AmazonCrossing-like, playing it fairly safe and popular, at least to judge by the first few titles and authors they have up.
Still, great to see an international/translation focus, and it will be interesting to see how this goes.
I recall a discussion on the jury of an international prize in which it was felt that the work of the great Indian writer U.R. Ananthamurthy would simply be too strange for an Anglo-Saxon audience.
Which tells us volumes about what we mean by "international prize": foreign writers who make sense to us.
(The prize in question was the 2013 Man Booker International Prize (when it was still a (biennial) author-prize, rather than the (annual) book-prize it has since been turned into); the judges that year, beside Parks, were Christopher Ricks, Elif Batuman, Aminatta Forna, and Yiyun Li; they gave Lydia Davis the prize .....)
If Bharathipura and Samskara-author Ananthamurthy can be considered too strange for an Anglo-Saxon audience .....
Bernard Binlin Dadié has passed away, aged 103; see, for example, the Jeune Afriquereport.
A leading author, he was also Minister of Culture in Côte d'Ivoire 1977 to 1986.
Several of his works are available in translation, including One Way: Bernard Dadié Observes America from the University of Illinois Press; see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
The longlist for the Man Booker International Prize will be announced on the 13th -- Wednesday -- and the Best Translated Book Award longlist is due on 10 April.
The Mookse and Gripes Goodreads discussion board has speculation threads for both the MBIP and BTBA, and quite a few weblogs have posted predictions -- see, for example, Tony's Reading List, Beyond the Epilogue, and Knowledge Lost.
Unfortunately, the Man Booker International Prize does not reveal what titles are in the running for the prize (eligible titles have to be submitted, and they won't tell you wish ones are), so there's some guesswork involved in what is even being considered; since the MBIP relies on UK publication and release dates I have seen fewer of the eligible titles and can't even hazard a guess as to what might be in the running.
The Best Translated Book Award is at least very open about what titles are being considered: in the fiction category, it's any work of fiction (except anthologies) published or distributed in English translation for the first time in the US in the past calendar year -- and they're all listed on the Translation Database (check '2018' and then 'fiction' under 'Genre' and search ...).
Currently, there are 504 fiction titles listed at the Translation Database for 2018; subtract a few dozen anthologies and you more or less have the list of titles the judges are considering (and they do try to consider them all, though a few probably fall between the cracks).
I've only reviewed a disappointing 81 of the Translation Database-listed titles to date -- of which two aren't actually BTBA eligible (An Untouched House and The Fourth Circle).
I rarely guess well as to what might make the longlist -- even when I was a BTBA judge, i.e. has some actual input, I did not get a good percentage of my favorites on the 25-title longlist .....
But, of course, it's fun to play .....
Of the titles under review at the complete review, I('d like to) think a few stand a very good chance of making the longlist [books marked with asterisks (*) are probably also eligible for the MBIP]:
Books that I haven't reviewed that I suspect stand a good chance of getting longlisted:
CoDex 1962* by Sjón
The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
Madame Victoria by Catherine Leroux
One of the Wolfgang Hilbig books
But there are just way too many factors involved (mainly: the whims of the judges, and the way the longlist is selected) .....
Anyway, I look forward to the announcements, next week and next month; it's much easier narrowing down the best and worst from those (and complaining about the worthy titles that didn't make the cut).
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tsering Döndrup's The Handsome Monkand Other Stories, just out from Columbia University Press.
There's very little Tibetan fiction that's been translated into English, but the last few months have seen a little boom: there's this, the OR Books anthology Old Demons, New Deities (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) and the Pema Tseden-collection, Enticement, recently from the State University of New York Press (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
The latter two include both translations from the Tibetan and Chinese (and some English originals in the case of the anthology), but given that most of what has been available to date has been translated from the Chinese this certainly expands what's on offer.
the category denoted as 'general/literary fiction' in translation stood out for its extreme growth, of 20% over the course of 2018.
This is in marked contrast to the sales of English-language fiction in that category, which have plateaued.
Among the other interesting findings:
the crime and thriller genre, which has historically been a large contributor to the sales of translated fiction, has declined by 19%
there has been an extremely substantial growth -- by 90% -- in sales of translated short stories and anthologies between 2017 and 2018
French continues to be the most popular language -- as in the US -- but Spanish, the American number two is way down the UK list, while: "for new books published in the past five years, Norwegian and Swedish are the most popular languages of origin".
(The focus here and throughout seems to be on sales volume, rather than number of titles.)
They list the top selling translated titles from 2018, with three titles shifting more than 100,000 copies; only four sold enough that they should have made the top-100 of the year (but The Guardian's premature (sales only through 8 December) in fact lists only one).
Translations from Scandinavian languages and Japanese dominate, with only one French and one Spanish (at nr. 20) title making the top twenty, and no German titles making it.
The most amazing sales success remains Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist -- this translation from 1993 (!) still sold 40,322 copies in 2018, good enough to make it the eighth-best-selling translated title.
The Nobel Foundation has announced that ... it's back: after not being awarded last year, the Nobel Prize in Literature to be awarded again !
And, as expected: "this autumn Laureates for both 2018 and 2019 will be announced"
Apparently, the Nobel Foundation is convinced the Swedish Academy has gotten its act together sufficiently to be entrusted with selecting the laureates again; no doubt, it's no coïncidence that this announcement comes after they finalized the exit of former permanent secretary (the position in charge of the Nobel duties at the Swedish Academy) Sara Danius (see my previous mention) and, in what was presumably the final obstacle, getting another former permanent secretary, Horace Engdahl, to at least separate himself from the Nobel Committee, as announced today by the Swedish Academy.
It'll be interesting to see how they handle the selection of two laureates; it seems like it would be difficult to really select them separately, as would have happened had they selected last year's laureate ... last year.
Will they select them from two different pools of nominations (presumably nominations were submitted last year as well as this -- though maybe fewer nominators were willing to suggest people this year) or consider everyone nominated over the past two years ?
Will they aim for some balance -- novelist/poet; man/woman; old/young; geographic and linguistic ?
Let the speculation begin .....
They've announced that the RBC Taylor Prize -- a prize: "to enhance public appreciation for the genre known as literary non-fiction" -- goes to Lands of Lost Borders, by Kate Harris.
See the HarperCollins publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
They've announced the shortlists for this year's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Hopefully the exposure will mean that more of these become available in the US/UK as well .....
The winning titles will be announced 14 May.
At Deutsche Welle Sabine Peschel has a Q & A with Alexander Skipis, the CEO of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, about the future of books, Strategies to help bookstores survive reader atrophy.
The insolvency of Germany's largest book distributor is just one of the current bumps in the trade.
Interesting also to hear that:
Earlier, a title was called a bestseller if it sold 4, 5, or 600,000 copies.
Nowadays, a book is a best-seller if 100,000 copies are sold.
They've announced the twenty-title-strong longlist for this year's Europese Literatuurprijs, awarded for the best translated novel from Europe that appeared in Dutch last year.
Always interesting to see what gets translated -- and acclaimed -- in other countries and languages -- though of course it's a bit of a shame that this is restricted to European fiction.
Many of the longlisted titles are available in English (indeed, a few are translated from English ...), and two are under review at the complete review: The Order of the Day by Éric Vuillard and Melancholy by Jon Fosse.
The shortlist will be announced 25 June.
They've announced the sixteen-title longlist for this year's Women's Prize for Fiction, selected from 163 (disappointingly unrevealed) entries.
Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer is the only longlisted title under review at the complete review -- indeed, the only one of these titles I've seen.
The shortlist will be announced 29 April, and the winner on 5 June.