The imitation-Man-Booker German Book Prize has announced its longlist for the 2007 prize (the winner is to be announced at the opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair).
No wimpy baker's dozen for them: despite a mere 112 nominations (yes, they have similar ultra-restrictive entry rules like the Man Booker that restrict entries to publisher-submitted titles -- and limit the number of titles any one publisher can submit (or suggest)) they have twenty titles on the longlist.
We don't have any of the titles under review (though we do have quite a few titles by two of the nominated authors, Thomas Glavinic and Robert Menasse, under review).
We haven't heard that any of the local betting shops have set odds yet .....
In the Frankfurt Book Fair newsletter
they have an interview with Frank Meinshausen, A list of authors became my map in China, in which he describes putting together two anthologies -- one of modern Chinese stories for a German audience, and now one of contemporary German stories for Chinese readers.
Fairly interesting -- and the lists of contributing authors make for a good general overview of at least part of the literary scene in both countries.
Not as many complaints about book-review sections being cut down in size, but otherwise the reviewing-issues seem much the same in Germany -- at least as described in DeutscheWelle's Literature Reviewers: Despised, But Much Needed, an article that unfortunately reads as though it has been machine-translated:
Literature reviewers enjoy a conflicting reputation in Germany.
They are needed to detect and arrange the most important out of a selection of 90.000 new published books.
And, of course:
Much has changed in the German marketplace for books: Reviews do not only exist in magazine features or special book-broadcasts, but also on the Internet, written by readers for readers, endangering the professional criticism.
The 60th-independence-anniversary-related articles continue (see also yesterday's mention) -- and finally there's also a bit of discussion of Pakistani-literature, as Kamila Shamsie looks at the history of (unfortunately only) the English-language novel in Pakistan in Another side of the story, while Hirsh Sawhney wonders why there's so little coverage of Indian Literature, not in English (focussing on Qurratulain Hyder's River of Fire -- which, as Sawhney notes, yours truly is among the few to have under review ...).
Meanwhile, for more of an idea of what authors you're missing, check out the Deccan Herald survey-article, Towards literary democracy
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Christophe Dufossé's School's Out.
It's another of these recent French bestsellers that really doesn't seem to have caught on at all in translation.
What with the 60th anniversary celebrations of independence from the British in India and Pakistan there's been some discussion of how Indian literature is doing on the world stage.
As has been widely noted, the attention goes almost exclusively to those writing in English -- and the authors (from Rushdie to Kiran Desai) tend to be US/UK-educated and residents.
There's little discussion of Pakistani authors, local-language literature -- or even a lot of the more domestic English language literature.
((Updated - 15 August): but see now our follow-up.)
Fortunately, Indian newspapers do give some idea of what else is out there --
and while a lot of it doesn't sound like great literature, it is of some interest.
Consider, for example, Chitrapu Uday Bhaskar's review of C.N.Anand's Tarbela Damned (the title a play on the Tarbela dam), an action thriller tackling some of the local geo-political issues.
Yes, it sounds a bit silly -- but, honestly, we'd be more interested in something like that than half the 'authentic Indian voices' being sold in US bookshops.
Looking at reviews like this is also worthwhile because we're led to look up the publisher of a book like this -- Indialog.
And even if their self-description is most unfortunate ("Indialog Publications Pvt. Ltd. is an upcoming print publishing house based in New Delhi"), their offerings include quite a bit of interesting-sounding (and completely unknown to us) local fiction.
And they offer some translations as well -- and we don't know about you, but a Malayalam collection of novellas titled The Love Song of Alfred Hitchcock, well, how could one resist ?
The 'littérature-monde'-movement -- French writing authors from outside France calling for a global (French) literature -- continues to grow.
After the original manifesto, which attracted considerable attention last year,
Michel Le Bris and Jean Rouaud have collected considerably more in the hefty Pour une littérature-monde that Gallimard has brought out (get your copy at Amazon.fr).
There have also been quite a few interviews with various authors who support the movement, such as the one in Libération with Alain Mabanckou and Daniel Picouly
-- where Mabanckou maintains that: "Les étudiants américains sont plus sensibilisés sur les lettres francophones que leurs collègues français" (which is disappointing, no matter which way you cut it).
Now in Voir Elias Levy talks about it with Jacques Godbout and Dany Laferrière, in Vive ze Francophone World Book !.
In an attempt to maximise their profits, some bookstores have started to put price tags on their display space even in Finland, following the example set by Waterstone's, the largest bookstore chain in Britain.
No surprise that:
The Finnish publishers are indignant at the new modus operandi from Suomalainen Kirjakauppa.
"Previously we used to discuss campaigns together.
Now we are given a list of tariffs and told to take it or leave it", says a person who works in the marketing department of a Finnish publishing company.
This interviewee is one of those who wish to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.
Ulrich Plenzdorf has passed away; see the AP and Bloomberg obituaries.
His classic The New Sufferings of Young W. (Die neuen Leiden des jungen W.) was probably by far the most successful novel to come out of East Germany: Catherine Hickley writes that: "more than 4 million copies have been published in over 30 languages"; see the Waveland Press (!) publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
See also German obituaries at the Frankfurter Rundschu (Harry Nutt) and Die Welt (Uwe Wittstock).
At Outlook India Khushwant Singh has a short overview of the evolution of Indian fiction in English -- not giving Raja Rao or R.K.Narayan much due (R.K.Narayan "remained a simple storyteller" and "none of the three pioneers really made any significant impact on the English literary world").
He also offers his list of the "12 significant books that he rates as the best in the last 60 years" -- a list that seems mighty top-heavy (i.e. over-weighting recent publications) to us.
In Life Sentences at The Washington Post David Streitfeld recapitulates Günter Grass' recent US tour -- or most of it, anyway.
The focus is, of course, on the Peeling the Onion controversy; alas, no mention of the new The Tin Drum-translation or that event on the tour (see our report).
Worryingly, Streitfeld's piece: "will appear in his work in progress, Mit Romanschriftstellern Leben (Living with Novelists)"; don't expect any coverage thereof hereabouts.
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Kim Young-ha's I Have the Right to Destroy Myself.
It's just out in English translation, and worth a look -- but we have to point out that this 1996 novel was already available in French back in 1998 .....
At the (South African) Mail & Guardian Percy Zvomuya talks with Afam Akeh, in Content for the continent.
Akeh is editor of African Writing, and although al they have up is the inaugural issue this looks very promising.
Well worth your time.
Though he says he doesn't want to talk about Japanese politics, he returns to the subject again and again throughout a 212-hour conversation, bushy eyebrows bobbing as he worries about "politicians who rewrite history," and the growing tendency in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Japan to forget about wartime atrocities.
Japanese history has always been in the background of his works -- and his best novel, 1994's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, dissected the groupthink that led Japan into a catastrophic war -- but now he wants to act.
"Before, I wanted to be an expatriate writer," he admits.
"But I am a Japanese writer. This is my soil and these are my roots. You cannot get away from your country."
Though he offers no specifics, Murakami hints that his next novel will address Japanese nationalism.
(We're guessing that it was a 2.5 hour conversation -- it'd be pretty pathetic if this is all he got out of 212 hours of talk .....)
Somehow we have our doubts that the technology is at a point where this is really already a problem (though the time will come, sooner rather than later), but in Shanghai Daily Zou Qi reports on Scan scam: Pens in bad books.
City book sellers are concerned that customers are using scanning pens to get around copyright laws.
Offenders visit retail outlets with their scanning pens, "read" books and then bring the contents home to peruse or even copy digital editions online.
And the bookseller is left without a sale.
Book "scanning" is popular among students, especially during the summer holidays.
A student can scan up to three novels with a single pen in one morning.
There are some decent scan-pens out there, but scanning a whole book surely still takes a hell of a lot of care, effort, and time (and memory -- are there really pens with that kind of capacity out there ?).
In The Guardian James Kelman has a nice piece on his literary beginnings -- and it's nice to see the nod to the underappreciated Agnes Owens:
I think of another literary hero, Agnes Owens.
What if Agnes had been "granted" a proper chance to write when she was fighting to rear her family ?
As if it was not enough of a burden raising eight children, she spent years going out to work in whatever capacity, servant to the middle classes, clearing up their domestic mess.
When she saw the squeak of a chance she grabbed it and produced those great stories we know.
How much more could it have been ?
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of Julia Lovell's look at China's Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature, The Politics of Cultural Capital (and, yes, there really is a book in that ).
We started up the complete review in 1999, and opened the Literary Saloon 11 August 2002.
Five years and 4,454 posts (through yesterday) later we're still going strong (or at least being carried on by some kind of momentum).
In any case, we're glad that you're here and hope you enjoy your visit.
We're not that big on anniversaries -- we'll still be doing the same thing tomorrow that we were doing yesterday, etc. -- and find surprisingly little satisfaction in having made it this far.
Indeed, if there's anything that particularly pleases us it is that readers who can't find what appeals or is of interest to them now have so many more alternatives
to turn to than when we felt compelled to start this.
But we get the feeling that there is still a role for us to play, so it looks like we'll be doing this a while longer
Cheers, and thanks for dropping by.