In The Telegraph Helen Brown "reports on the novelists who keep returning to the same characters", in The heroine addicts.
Fairly interesting -- although a fair bit of silliness as well, including:
In Mitchell's latest novel, the Man Booker Prize longlisted Black Swan Green, he reprises the marvellous Madame Crommelynck, who first appeared in his third book, Cloud Atlas.
"She fitted," he says.
"When I have a vacancy for a character, I do tend to advertise it in the labour exchange of laid-off characters to see if they might be interested.
It's a bit like interviewing. I have to work out if the chronology fits.
They need to be able to do the job well and fit the thematic arc of the book."
Mitchell doesn't allow himself to get too sentimental about the people who live in his work.
"I'm a humanist general, rather than a father," he says.
"If I need a character to die in the course of duty for the good of the book then, with regret, I will allow it."
Also of interest:
Moorcock used to be very generous, letting other writers explore the universe he created for Jerry Cornelius.
He once said that "Jerry was always meant to be a sort of crystal ball for others to see their own visions in -- the stories were designed to work like that -- a diving board, to use another analogy, from which to jump into the river and be carried along by it."
But Moorcock is more protective of his intellectual property now.
"There's a fine line, really, where admiration ends and exploitation starts.
So many of my characters and stories have been 'borrowed' and translated into computer games, anime and comic books that I've become a lot less tolerant of blatant borrowing than I used to be.
Terry Pratchett wisely said that genre is a big pot from which you take a bit and to which you add a bit.
He, however, agrees with me that some tend to take a bit more than they add."
Robert Chandler translated Vasily Grossman's Life and Fate some twenty years ago, and revisits it (and profiles Grossman) in Vasily Grossman in Prospect, finding:
It was a joy, therefore, to reread the novel last winter, for the first time in 20 years, and realise that I had underestimated Grossman's greatness.
He also mentions:
Collins Harvill published my translation of Life and Fate in 1985.
The reviews were mostly positive but sales were disappointing, especially in view of the fact that the book had been a bestseller in France; one of Grossman's central themes -- the identity of fascism and communism -- was clearly a more pressing concern in a country where communism was still a significant political force.
And there were English critics who thought Grossman dull.
Anthony Burgess, for example, seemed irritated by George Steiner's judgement that "novels like Solzhenitsyn's Red Wheel and Life and Fate eclipse almost all that passes for serious fiction in the west today."
Grossman is getting a steady stream of attention -- recall, for example, Keith Gessen's Under Siege in The New Yorker this spring.
We'd like to tackle Life and Fate at some point; for now, get your own copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, or see the NYRB publicity page.
Publishers who’ve been doing the rounds of Frankfurt, the world’s most important publishing trade fair, say that the interest in India has grown over the years.
The US, Australia and Canada are huge markets, but they tend to privilege authors who write in English and are not very open to authors in translation.
Europe is a different matter; the continent is used to its own Babel of languages, and is fascinated by India’s incredibly wide range of languages and dialects.
But not everything goes smoothly: Bibliofile (at Outlook India) reports (second item) that:
Germany's top newsweekly, Der Spiegel, sent a team ahead to Delhi to interview writers and publishers for a 32-page special edition it does every year on the Frankfurt Book Fair's guest of honour.
It turned out to be a nightmare: no appointments lined up despite e-mails and organisers nbt leaving them kicking their heels in the reception.
Result: interviews with two authors -- Arundhati Roy and Rana Dasgupta -- and one publisher, Roli's Pramod Kapoor.
"There is talent in every Caribbean island -- arguably more than in the US and even the Spanish countries.
This is not just boasting.
It is reality, but we need to encourage our writers," the St-Lucian born author told the scores of writers who packed the Social Sciences Lecture Theatre.
Well, arguably .....
And we are certainly all for encouragement.
The Times tries to set the stage for a Battle of the blockbusters ('research by Tom Gatti') for this fall.
Not too many in the running -- and the idea that a Martin Amis book could be a 'blockbuster' is pretty ridiculous (unless he gets the Richard & Judy treatment, of course).
Still, that's one of the few of these titles we'll be covering.
(We'll probably also have a go at Harris' Imperium, the first volume in a Cicero-trilogy; The Economist reviews it this week (issue of 26 August), and finds: "Mr Harris handles the big set pieces superbly".)
In A new cultural revolution in The Age Linda Jaivin reports that: 'Work in English by Chinese authors is proving to be a hit with critics, judges and readers around the world.'
The biggest successes among foreign-writing Chinese still seem to be those that turned to French -- Dai Sijie (whom she mentions) with Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress and the like, and Shan Sa (The Girl who Played Go, etc.) -- but several have done well in English as well.
The article also offers something of an overview of Chinese Chinese literature -- including the very worthy A Dictionary of Maqiao.
In India, the decline of the book review is especially frustrating because it's happened just as the publishing industry has started providing more -- more books, selling in more numbers, covering more subjects, more professional translations, more new writers.
I can only assume that the bright boys who run newspaper marketing departments read nothing these days, not even publishing industry reports.
At a time when most Australian newspapers are cutting back on their coverage of books and literature to focus on lifestyle features, The Australian is to launch a new monthly literary supplement: The Australian Literary Review.
The first issue of the ALR will be published in The Australian on Wednesday, September 6, reviving the role in the nation's literary life played by The Australian Review of Books in the late 1990s.
It's Jorge Luis Borges' birthday, so it's perhaps appropriate to mention that English-speaking readers are still missing considerable chunks of his work.
Sure, the Collected Fictions are available, but as far as the poetry and especially the non-fiction goes there's still quite a bit that isn't accessible.
So how jealous we are of, for example, the French, who have those two fat (1752 and 1523 pages, respectively !) Bibliothèque de la Pléiade editions -- except that now, despite reader-interest and publisher-willingness, they don't.
Yes, Borges-widow (and estate-controller) Maria Kodama won't let Gallimard reprint the books -- see, for example, Dispute holds up reprint of Borges volume of complete works in The Chronicle Herald.
Sure, there probably are some editorial issues that she might understandably want resolved -- but it looks more like a power play from our vantage point.
Like too many literary estate-handlers, Ms. Kodama sure seems to like being in control -- even if that means not getting the Borgesian word(s) out.
Pierre Assouline explains more in Vous ne pouvez plus le lire ... in the Nouvel Observateur (and is doing his best to turn this into 'le scandale Borges'; see also his follow-up at his weblog, la république des livres.
Kodama -- or at least her lawyer -- have commented a bit -- see, for example, Kodama prepara una edición crítica de las Obras Completas de Borges -- and long-term maybe everything will be available in nice editions, in Spanish, French, and possibly even English.
But it sounds like it's going to be quite a wait.
There are possibly sillier book awards elsewhere in the world, but in the English-speaking world The Quill Book Awards surely take the cake.
Pairing "a populist sensibility with Hollywood-style glitz", they honour books in 19 categories -- but they do let you participate -- so go vote ! vote ! vote !
We actually have two of the (95) nominated titles under review -- both in the 'General Fiction' category: Black Swan Green by David Mitchell and Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (hey ! a real book !)
Amazingly, they don't even bother bribing authors to go along with this pseudo-award -- there is no cash prize to compensate for the embarrassment of participating in this !
What is the value of a Quill Award to a Publisher ?
The Quill Award is a prestigious well-branded consumer selection of a title that adds marketing value to the title and author.
That's what they write -- apparently with a straight face -- in the FAQ-section.
Rentrée season is almost upon the French -- the time when they flood the market with books in the hopes of attracting consumer and prize recognition.
683 novels this year, 475 in French and 208 in translation (out of some twenty languages) -- and 97 first novels.
Early coverage includes 683 romans à découvrir immédiatement by Dominique Guiou and Astrid de Larminat in Le Figaro, as well as Les 683 romans de la Rentrée Littéraire 2006 at Evene.
Since Vietnam ratified the Bern Convention for Literary and Artistic Works, in order to get the copyrights to publish famous foreign books Vietnamese publishing houses have had to do a lot of work, and this has proven difficult for them.
Disappointingly the main example is Chicken Soup for the Soul .....
On its choice of O.A.U, Okediran told journalists that ANA’s decision was predicated on previous experiences that saw similar programmes hijacked by politicians and socialites when held in hotels and other public places.
Apart from that, the body wants the invited scholars to experience the flora and fauna of Nigeria’s countryside which the venue epitomises.
Lastly, and most significantly is the organiser’s craving to take Soyinka’s literatures back home, having taught in the university for several years.
One hundred core literary works recommended to students by the National Education Ministry were given "Islamic makeovers" in new editions published by unrecognized publishers, according to Radikal.
Tom Sawyer, Heidi (!) and Pinocchio apparently all got the treatment -- with publisher Damla also cutting the books down to size (apparently at less than 96 pages they don't need "an official stamp", which presumably means they aren't as strictly controlled as other publications).
There's more information -- but all in Turkish -- at the publisher's site -- along with a picture of the handy box you can get the hundred titles in, as well as a list of the titles in question.
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Ngugi wa Thiong'o's Wizard of the Crow.
Good entertainment -- and also one of the most significant works of fiction to come out of Africa this year.
So what literary prizes will it be up for ?
Not the so-called African Booker, the Caine Prize for African Writing, because that's only for short stories ("Indicative length, between 3000 and 10,000 words" -- at over 200,000 words Ngugi's novel apparently isn't the right fit).
Not the Man Booker, though presumably Ngugi's commonwealth citizenship would qualify him on those grounds -- but: "No English translation of a book written originally in any other language is eligible", and while Ngugi translated the book into English himself, he did write it in Gikuyu.
Amazingly, the language-requirement will also keep it out of contention for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize -- again: "The entry must be originally written in English. (We regret that works translated from other languages are not eligible.)"
Think of that next time you take any of these (or any other) literary prizes seriously .....
Oh, but keep an eye on the National Book Critics Circle Awards -- they're actually open to this sort of thing !