The Vertical blog points us to the NEA announcement of the 14 literary translation fellowships for FY 2007 they're handing out.
Details of the projects can be found here -- interesting stuff (and some decent money).
The book we're most interested in is Roberto Bolaño's 2666, for which Natasha Wimmer is now getting a grant of $20,000.
(It is a big book.)
But there are quite a few other interesting projects as well.
The 50th anniversary of Bertolt Brecht's death is next week, and there's considerable activity in Germany in his honour.
But is the celebrated author in fact still of any interest to anyone ?
Suhrkamp still do very, very well off the backlist sales (Brecht and Hesse make for steady and enormous sales), but does anyone still read him outside school ?
The German magazine bücher wanted to find out and commissioned a survey -- and found: Die Deutschen lesen kaum noch Brecht ! ('Germans hardly read Brecht any longer !')
Exclamation point indeed: only three (3 !) per cent of the over one thousand men and women between 16 und 65 surveyed had read any Brecht in the last few years -- and a full 42 per cent had either never read anything by him, or couldn't remember whether or not they had (the remaining half or so of respondents had read him in school).
Well at least a full eight per cent knew he had founded the Berliner Ensemble.
Aside from his significance as a dramatist (acknowledged even in the English-speaking world, even if he isn't exactly en vogue at the moment), we consider Brecht one of the three best German-language poets of the 20th century (along with Rilke and Celan), and his prose ain't bad either (see, for just one slim example, our review of his Stories of Mr. Keuner).
Yet the most ambitious efforts can fall short.
In May 2005, Everyman's Library published Mr. Woods's new translation of Joseph and His Brothers by Thomas Mann.
The $42 volume, at 1,492 pages, was the biggest book ever published by the imprint.
To date, sales are estimated at about 5,000 copies.
Ms. Walther, the editorial director, says she is not discouraged.
"When you publish classics, you are in it for the long haul," she says.
We're actually stunned it's sold that many copies -- 5000 doesn't sound bad at all.
(But then we're not really big on Mann anyway .....)
(See also the Everyman's Library publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
Scott Pack, who used to be the buying manager at Waterstone’s and gets (and makes) a lot of press now has his own weblog, Me and My Big Mouth -- his "uncensored blog on life, the publishing industry and everything.".
He certainly has some insight into the publishing industry, so we are curious to see where this goes (while hoping he doesn't have that much to say about life and everything ...).
(It's over at The Friday Project, with which he is also involved (though we still have no idea what they think they're doing ("specialising in turning the Internet’s best-known brands into the world’s finest books" ? huh ?)).)
Meanwhile, Pack also warns Buyer beware in The Times.
Among the observations:
Small independent publishers are rarely reviewed in the broadsheets even though their books are frequently as good as those from the big publishers.
It is hard, often impossible, for you to find out which books are coming soon and whether they are good, bad or indifferent.
This dearth of support from the established media has led to some wonderful resources on the internet as disgruntled readers take it upon themselves to debate, discuss and enjoy new writing.
The shortlists for The Age Book of the Year have been announced -- fifteen titles in three categories (fiction, non, and poetry).
In All eyes on the prize the judges comment on all the shortlisted titles.
(The only one we have under review is J.M.Coetzee's Slow Man -- shortlisted for this national prize after it was also shortlisted for the (South African) Sunday Times prize .....)
As Jason Steger notes in Booking in for a prize: "there were 205 entries; 91 non-fiction works, 76 novels and 38 books of poetry" -- not exactly an overwhelming selection.
The awards will be handed out 25 August.
Writer and Nobel Prize-winner JM Coetzee has been extolling the advantages of becoming an Australian citizen, the Witness reported on Wednesday.
(The Witness is a ridiculous registration-requiring site, hence no direct link.)
A full-page advertising promotion in newspapers quotes from his acceptance speech upon receiving his citizenship certificate.
Presumably it's the same 'personal story' that the official immigration site offers up.
Unfortunately, it's not clear whether or how much he is getting paid, or what the hell he is thinking, etc.
And we haven't found any pictures of him saluting the flag, etc.
A plan to institute an award named after Jalal-e Al-Ahmad, a prominent contemporary writer, was approved by Arts Council and submitted to the High Council for Cultural Revolution for final endorsement.
(Yes, it's a nutty government, but how can you not have a bit of admiration for any country that has a 'High Council for Cultural Revolution' ?)
They propose: "awarding some 110 gold coins to the winner".
No word on the size of the coins, but that sounds pretty good.
And the article also provides another fun example of the perils of translation, as Jalal Al-e Ahmad's widow, Simin Daneshvar is quoted:
She said that she believed that the scope of the award should not be restricted to literature and should be extended to all literary works.
She won acclaim -- and much criticism -- with her first novel Kadinin Adi Yok (Woman Has No Name) in 1987, which dealt with gender inequality and women's sexuality in a male-dominated society.
It was a big bestseeller in Turkey, and was then banned by the government (for being lewd and obscene), the ban only being lifetd after two years.
It was also made into an enormously succesful (in Turkey) movie.
See also Death of a feminist by Nazlan Ertan in The New Anatolian.
Claudio Magris picked up the 22,000 euro Austrian State Prize for European Literature (Österreichischer Staatspreis für europäische Literatur) yesterday.
It's a pretty decent winners-list (see previous winners) -- last year Julian Barnes got it, and they recognised some talents fairly early on: Zbigniew Herbert got it in 1965, Václav Havel in 1968, and Harold Pinter in 1973.
For German-language coverage, see Der Standard, as well as Martin Pollack's laudatio (in Die Presse).