The Kiriyama Prize finalists for the 2007 prize have been announced.
This is the prize that seeks: "to recognize outstanding books about the Pacific Rim and South Asia that encourage greater mutual understanding of and among the peoples and nations of this vast and culturally diverse region".
The only title we have under review is Murakami Haruki's Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.
The Wingate Literary Prize has announced its shortlist -- though not (yet) at the official site.
Leslie Bunder reports on the Jewish book awards -- and it's a pretty impressive list, which includes books by Howard Jacobson, A.B.Yehoshua, as well as Irène Némirovsky's Suite Française.
(Last year's winner was Kertesz Imre's Fatelessness.)
The Wingate: "recognises work that stimulates an interest in and awareness of themes of Jewish concern among a wider reading public."
Gardening books are being rendered out of date because climate change has altered growing seasons, an expert said yesterday.
Sounds like a great opportunity for publishers.
Also at the Telegraph Oliver Pritchett has some fun with the idea, suggesting it might extend beyond mere gardening books in I'm starting to lose the plot.
(Alas, The Midwinter Murders at Goresby Hall is mere invention for this column -- but it doesn't sound entirely implausible ....)
It's been a week since they gave Cynthia Ozick an honorary doctorate at Georgetown -- see the official announcement.
We were hoping there would be some coverage of events, but haven't found anything .....
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Paul Torday's Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (already out in the UK, where it's been getting a lot of attention; due out in the US in April).
The body of Swiss author Jürg Federspiel, who had been missing since 11 January, was found yesterday; see, for example, the AP report, Missing Swiss author of 'The Ballad of Typhoid Mary' found dead.
The Ballad of Typhoid Mary even did quite well in the US -- it was out as a mass market paperback in the mid-80s -- but has long been out of print (get your copy at Amazon.com)
And, in different times (and under a different editor ...) Angela Carter opined "J.F.Federspiel is a very fine writer indeed" in her review of his An Earthquake in my Family in The New York Times Book Review (6 April 1986).
Confirmation of his death unfortunately does not come as much of a surprise -- Freitag had gone so far as to publish a vorläufiger Nachruf ('provisional obituary') over a week ago.
Now come the actual obituaries -- so far, just in German.
See, for example, Martin Zingg's in the NZZ.
Now that all three parts have been unveiled, a crib sheet is more necessary than ever.
Here, a primer to the tangle of intelligentsia in Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia trilogy -- and notes on the spots where Stoppard has edited or embroidered true-life history.
For the second time in one month, a paperback original by a first novelist is on the cover of the New York Times Book Review.
This is a very, very good trend.
Giving Tom McCarthy's Remainder such prominent coverage wasn't exactly going out on a limb -- see our review for links to and quotes from the enthusiastic UK (and early US) reception --, but we agree that at least a small pat on the back is deserved.
As we mentioned when we posted our review, whatever one thinks of the book it is among the few new works of fiction we've come across in recent years that is undeniably attention-worthy (and we're still mystified by its failure to make at least the Man Booker longlist).
And it is good to see the NYTBR-crew apparently recognise that.
(Liesl Schillinger's review can be found here, at the annoyingly registration-requiring (and hence reluctantly linked to) site.)
(The rest of the NYTBR is more or less true to form -- considerably more non than fiction coverage (with such no doubt vital books like The Physics of the Buffyverse (about TV shows that have been off the air for years ...) getting the full-length review treatment), nary a book in translation to be seen (though admittedly they did slip in several last week).)
Outlook India offers Nayantara Sahgal's Sahitya Akademi Awards-speech on "the unique angle of vision that geography lends to literature", The Ink Is Soiled.
The artist is a political animal, more so when the line between public events and private life disappears and vast numbers have to face the terrible consequences of public events in their private lives.
Art cannot float in a void. It relates to, and is acutely sensitive to its environment.
Max Barry is an Australian author, but he's had more success abroad.
In fact, his Company is only coming out down under now -- occasioning a profile in The Age by Michael Williams, The great unknown.
We also learn there that:
The follow-up to Company is already written, and Barry describes it as the best writing experience of his life.
It's another satirical take on society, but for this book, The Exceptionals, he has left the business of business behind.
He's not giving much away but he's clearly excited.
He's often had some fun ideas, but the writing itself has thus far always left a lost to be desired.
Well, perhaps The Exceptionals will be the exception .....
Abuja, Nigeria’s federal capital territory, is far less populated than Lagos, the centre of contemporary Nigerian literature, but the city is gradually establishing itself as a rival centre of literature in Nigeria.
He has conducted notable forays into cinema and into art and art criticism.
But the creations by which he will ultimately be remembered are, first, The Sorrow of Belgium (1983), one of the great novels of postwar Europe, and second, a corpus of poetry that, in his collected Poems 1948-2004, runs to some 1,400 pages.
He also judges:
Hugo Claus is not a great lyricist, and though his style is crisp and pointed he cannot be called a great satirist or epigrammatist either.
From the beginning, however, his poetry has been marked by an uncommon mix of intelligence and passion, given expression in a medium over which he has such light-fingered control that art becomes invisible.
Many of the shorter pieces in his oeuvre are merely fugitive or occasional.
Nevertheless, scattered throughout in some abundance are poems whose verbal concentration, intensity of feeling and intellectual range bring their author into the first rank of European poets of the late 20th century.
They announced that Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics, would be Chair of Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2007 back in November, and apparently they've now settled on the rest of the judges -- not that they have the information up at the official site yet.
The Guardian leads with the old news that Economist to chair 2007 Booker jury, but they do get around to the new news too: Wendy Cope, Giles Foden, Ruth Scurr, and Imogen Stubbs are the other judges.
They also note:
The competition is already showing the benefits of putting an economist at the helm. The longlist, which has ballooned to around 20 books over recent years, will be cut down this year to just 12 books.
Unfortunately, the big problem with the Man Booker was never the length of the longlist, but rather the limited number of titles considered in the first place.
As we've often complained, by making publishers responsible for submitting titles -- and limiting them to two a piece (with a few additional rules that allow a few more titles to slip in) -- and by not revealing what books are submitted the Man Booker is hardly well-designed to find the best work of fiction written in English by a Commonwealth author (let's hear it for those entries from Mozambique !) published in Great Britain.
Indeed, it seems very likely that a considerable number of worthy titles are not even in the running, year after year.
The official site still only has the 2006 rules and dates up, but it suggests there's still lots of time to improve things: books weren't due until 3 July last year.
The most important (and easiest) fix would be to at least reveal what titles are in the running (i.e. publish the full list of submitted and called-in titles) -- but we'd love to also see them cast a far wider net in the first place.
Let's see what kind of leadership Davies can show !
Translators of Finnish fiction are faced with an array of unpredictable problems, such as the curt declaration of love stated by Akseli, a character in Under the North Star by Väinö Linna.
This may be deeply moving for the Finns but readers from cultures, perhaps used to more rosy and sentimental declarations, may not even notice that it is there.
A local court reportedly sentenced the three to three months’ imprisonment after convicting them of creating unrest.
The charge arose from their involvement in holding a so-called "Literati Day" ceremony in Paung Tale, western Pegu Division
First we've heard of "Literati Day", but it sounds like a nice idea:
People in Burma traditionally hold annual "Sarsodaw-nei" (or "Literati Day") events, inviting well-known literary figures for talks and readings.
In A Track of One’s Own in The Harvard Crimson Asli Bashir reports on "Harvard’s selective creative writing program" and the very few who get "a coveted spot in one of the English and American Literature and Language Department’s 11 creative writing workshops".
Irène Némirovsky's David Golder is just out in the UK, and the inevitable anti-Semitism question -- was she or wasn't she ? -- is being bandied about.
In The Guardian Stuart Jeffries takes a long look at Truth, lies and anti-semitism -- focussing also on the disgraceful omission from both the British and American (Knopf) editions of Suite Française (which got some mentions in some American reviews -- notably Alice Kaplan's in The Nation -- and which we also mentioned back when):
What was missing from the British Chatto & Windus edition was a passage in which Miriam Anissimov, a biographer of Primo Levi, suggested that Némirovsky was a self-hating Jew.
We're thrilled to hear that Sandra Smith "has been contracted to translate five more of Némirovsky's novels into English", but think it's entirely too simple when she:
finds this charge absurd: "Everybody was being published in those right-wing papers at the time.
But their literary sections were different from the regular parts of the paper.
They didn't subscribe to the same political angles."
But Jeffries does a decent job of discussing what all the fuss is (and might be) about.
As widely noted, the first NEA International Literature Awards recipients have been announced.
It's a somewhat complicated set-up -- involving partner countries who provide matching funds (this time around: Greece and Spain) -- but, hey, anything that helps get more literature-in-translation published, right ?
The 2007 award recipients are Archipelago Books (for Vredaman, a Basque-language (!) novel by Unai Elorriaga), Dalkey Archive Press (for I'd Like by Amanda Michalopoulou), and Etruscan Press (for Amerikaniki Fouga by Alexis Stamatis).
Anyway, we hope the National Endowment for the Arts continues with this programme -- though it's none too encouraging when the official NEA International Literature Awards page still has the call up for last year's submissions ("Application Receipt Deadline: September 14, 2006") .....
In The Village Voice Lenora Todaro talks to Elif Shafak "about her novel and the real trial of imaginary characters", in Under Siege.
Somewhat more informative, if slightly out of date, see also the 2 July 2005 interview from the Berliner Zeitung in translation at signandsight.com, as "I like being several people".
(See also her official site, which is nicely titled The Elif Shafak.)
The Reading Experience points to an interesting Baltimore City Paper-interview with Stephen Dixon, The End of U -- and has an interesting discussion about one of the observations Dixon makes, that:
When I first started out, kids were much more serious as readers, and I could actually have literary discussions with them, which I cannot do now.
Even the ones who are the most avid writers are not avid readers.
They just want to write.
The March-April issue of World Literature Today is now available online -- and it's dominated by 'Graphic Literature'-coverage (yes, just like the current issue of Words without Borders ...).
Still of some interest, though even the reviews (warning ! dreaded pdf format !) include quite a few 'graphic'-book reviews.
We have several of popular Finnish author Arto Paasilinna's novels under review, but until now we hadn't covered the one that actually is available in English -- but now we do: the most recent addition to the complete review is our review of his The Year of the Hare.
It's published by Peter Owen (in a nice edition), and is also part of the 'UNESCO Collection of Representative Works'.
Maybe not exactly how the Finns want to be known in the literary world, but it's not a bad choice.
And -- a typical Paasilinna fiction -- it's also a fun read.