Just two days ago we mentioned how excited we were about forthcoming English translations of two Kertész Imre-works -- and, in fact, there's a third, The Union Jack, or The British Standard, also to be published by Melville House.
Tim Wilkinson is the translator of all three, and now at hlo he introduces the two shorter works that will be coming out from Melville House, in Failing better: the short prose of Imre Kertész.
Daniel Kehlmann's novel Measuring the World now reportedly has hit 1,120,000 copies sold in German, with another 2000 orders still coming in daily.
The ORF reports that this sales-success -- 114 weeks on the bestseller list, and counting -- has pushed it past Grass' The Tin Drum, Bernhard Schlink's The Reader, and Patrick Süskind's Perfume -- the latter the previously bestselling post-war German novel.
(We suspect, however, that English-language sales still aren't anywhere close to those for any of these three novels.)
"We are an entire people who do not read," said Iham Halon-Hana, the head of a committee encouraging reading in the Arab sector.
"Reading is not properly encouraged anywhere in the Arab world.
It will solve all our problems.
Children need to read of their own accord, not to pass a test, and parents must encourage them."
Hoping that it will solve all their problems may be a bit optimistic, but it probably can't hurt.
The Telegraph has a list of Anniversaries of 2008.
As far as the round literary anniversaries go, it doesn't look like a great year: it starts off okay -- Simone de Beauvoir (9 January) and Jacob Bronowski (18 January) were both born in 1908 -- but then goes downhill fast -- Ouida (25 January) died in 1908 -- before levelling off in who-really-cares territory: Ian Fleming (28 May) was born in 1958, Rose Macaulay (30 October) died that year.
But the year closes of fairly well: John Duns Scotus (8 November) died 1308 and then John Milton
(9 December) was born in 1608.
As Julie Mackintosh reports in Down the Pan ? in the Sunday Herald the European copyright for J.M.Barrie is now practically up.
There won't be any ridiculous shenanigans as there were when the UK copyright was set to expire, so it will now be entirely up for grabs on the continent -- and:
"Peter Pan is the one of the first major modern works to have its copyright expire," says Mark Owen, a partner at media law firm Harbottle & Lewis.
"From tomorrow, people in Europe will be able to use its content in whichever way they choose -- be it through copying, broadcasting or posting material on the internet.
It's also one of the more interesting copyright-cases, since the rights-income has long gone to a good cause, Great Ormond Street Hospital (see their Peter Pan copyright page) -- and also since it has generated such an incredible amount of money over the years (i.e. is a particularly valuable copyright).
The Independent serves up a decent collection of their critics' favourites, in The best books of 2007, while The Japan Times also lets their critics name the best (click on otehr names for additional lists).
There's already quite a bit of information available about the forthcoming Murakami Haruki work, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Philip Gabriel's translation of 走ることについて語るときに僕の語ること), and De papieren man pointed us to some of it -- notably the DuMont publicity page for the German edition, which offers a description of the book -- and notes that Murakami apparently wants his tombstone to read something like:
Haruki Murakami 1949-20**, author (and runner) -- at least he never walked
The book is coming out in the UK in May from Harvill Secker (pre-order your copy at Amazon.co.uk) and in late July from Knopf in the US (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com).
It's apparently about Murakami's running life, as part of his life; for additional information see, for example, the mentions at Ted's Thoughts and Canuck in Asia ....
A couple of 2008 book previews are now up, listing some of the forthcoming tempting titles: see Escaping into the future where Justine Jordan looks at: 'The year ahead: fiction' in The Guardian, and 2008: a literary odyssey by Melissa McClements in the Financial Times.
Among the titles Melissa McClements highlights in her 2008 preview in the Financial Times is Kertész Imre's Detective Story -- which we've long had under review (albeit as Detektívtörténet) and which will finally be available in English in a couple of weeks, in Tim Wilkinson's translation.
(Allan Massie has already reviewed it too, in The Scotsman.)
Great to see another title by the very impressive Kertész now available -- and even greater to note that only a couple of months later another will appear, as Melville House is publishing The Pathseeker, also in a translation by Wilkinson (pre-order your copy at Amazon.com).
Always interesting to see what are considered the 'books of the year' abroad, and El País now offer their top ten, 'Los diez libros del año': see the overview and then the more detailed look at the books themselves.
Life and Fate by Vasili Grossman made a big impression there too, topping the list .....
Given how little is translated into English it's unlikely that any foreign work that was a flop at home would take off in the US (simply because it wouldn't get translated in the first place), but, in fact, it's not unknown for books to do better in translation than in the language they were written in.
Paul Auster seems to do better in French than in English, for example -- but he's had reasonable success at home as well.
Abroad, however, they're also willing to translate less-successful works, and now L'Express reports on such an out-of-nowhere title that's become "le best-seller le plus méconnu de l'année" -- and "l'un des succès surprises de l'année en France" -- in Petite musique du plaisir: Journal d'une femme adultère.
It's surely hardly better known under the title it was originally published under, Diary of an Adulterous Woman.
Syracuse University Press brought out this Curt Leviant title a couple of years back, and it does not seem to have done particularly well in its original American edition -- but it's now sold 70,000 copies in France, an absolutely staggering number.
Compare also the sales ranks at the Amazons: at Amazon.com it's 210,235 and at Amazon.fr it's 1.595.
(You can also get it at Amazon.co.uk.)
Did we in the States miss something ?
Among the few places to review it was the dependable Review of Contemporary Fiction, where Irving Malin seemed pretty impressed.
So, by way of France, we're pointed to an American title that we will definitely seek out and have a look at.
As if the big August and September 'rentrée littéraire' -- when all the French publishers all dump most of their new titles onto the market -- wasn't enough, there's now another one in January -- and with 547 titles it rivals the fall-bash.
At Le Figaro they offer a couple of articles (follow links) about some of what can be found, in the overly-enthusiastically-titled Ces livres dont tout le monde va parler.
And there's also an opportunity to vote for your favourite.
(Last we checked, The Savage Detectives was the runaway leader, garnering 50 per cent of the vote; it's certainly a tour-de-force, all the way around, but we' re leaning towards Ravel at this point.)
(Meanwhile, we'd like to remind you yet again of another one of our favourites, which just can't seem to get any attention, Aharon Megged's The Flying Camel and the Golden Hump
-- we figure it's the title that did it in.)
Benjamin Lytal's review of Yousef Al-Mohaimeed's Wolves of the Crescent Moon in the they-really-do-cover-more-significant-titles-than-any-other-daily The New York Sun is titled 'The First Great Saudi Novel', and while we're not as sure about that (sure Abd al-Rahman Munif 'hardly ever lived there', but there's still a case to be made for his work as being very Saudi), we certainly think it's a significant work -- and
Yousef Al-Mohaimeed is among the rare writers where we'd actually say: he shows great promise.
We're certainly on the lookout for his next work.
Today, the number of daily newspapers that publish a book section has declined dramatically.
In Canada, the Globe and Mail, with its Saturday book section, is considered the only paper to do anything close to a comprehensive job of reviewing the mountains of books published in Canada each year.
(Quill and Quire, a books industry publication with a significant on-line component, is usually mentioned as the other noteworthy venue.)
"If you look around on the metro you can see lots of people reading Wodehouse," said Tatyana Komoryeva, a 25-year-old accountant.
"All the bookshops, even the small ones, are guaranteed to sell at least some of his books."
It's a great idea and makes for a pretty good book: the most recent addition to the complete review is our review of George Steiner's latest book, My Unwritten Books.
Available in the US (from New Directions) and the UK (from Weidenfeld & Nicolson) in a week or two, the German translation somehow appeared earlier this fall (from Hanser).
Nope, we'll never understand how the publishing 'business' works .....
Among the books that have been getting lots of attention abroad is Swedish author Stieg Larsson's Millenium-trilogy: it's made several year-end best lists in France, for example (Le Point's, among others) and gotten good press otherwise (see, for example, Alain Beuve-Méry's Des millions de lecteurs pour Millénium in Le Monde) and has repeated its international sales-success there: the 1936-page edition of the entire trilogy has a sales rank of 11 at Amazon.fr, last we checked.
As usual, English-language translations seem to lag pretty much behind everyone else, but the first volume is finally coming out (at least in the UK) in a few weeks from Quercus, as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (pre-order your copy at Amazon.co.uk), and there seems to be quite a buzz building around it already (see, for example, The Rap Sheet's enthusiasm (found via
Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind)).
We're getting pretty curious .....
(See also Stieg Larsson sites here and here.)
The LitCrit get-together -- 'Literaturkritik und literarische Öffentlichkeit im europäischen Vergleich. 2007-2009' --, discussing the role of literary criticism in contemporary Europe, got a fair amount of attention in the German press; see, for example, Eberhard Falcke's Der Markt kommt ohne uns aus in Die Zeit.
Michael Hofmann was one of the speakers, and a German translation of his speech is now available in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, as Zwischen Ruhm, Spott, Pedanterie und Bescheidenheit: Über die angelsächsische Literaturkritik.
Fun stuff, as in it he describes writing for the English-language big four -- The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, and the London Review of Books (including noting how several of them haven't raised the amount they pay in decades ...).
We hope someone picks up and prints the original English version .....
The American Library of Congress apparently wants to reclassify 'Scottish' literature as English, but, as the BBC reports: Authors appalled at English tag.
We almost pity the poor congressmen who are going to have to listen to those complaints.
In Outlook India: 'An eminent galaxy of readers send Outlook their choice of top reads of 2007' -- including a surprising number of leading regional politicians -- in The Page Enchanted (link likely only short-lived).
"Most of the year, autobiographies, which are dominated by celebrities, are worth about half a million a week.
Then in September they rise to £1m a week, but by Christmas they are selling £10m a week."
But, as the article notes, they're hit and often miss affairs.
At Paper Cuts Dwight Garner has some Stray Questions for: Natasha Wimmer -- which are of particular interest because she's just finishing up with her translation of Roberto Bolaño's 2666, and mentions some of what was involved in tackling that.
(Great, on the one hand, to hear that she's finishing up -- but if she's only getting done with it now that probably still means quite a wait until we can get our grubby little hands on a copy .....)
Indonesian teen novels are redefining the country's publishing industry and, to some extent, its literary landscape.
Indonesian publishers are taking these novels seriously.
Even respectable publishing houses are going "teen".
A fascinating phenomenon, that it is this age-group -- one where reading almost everywhere else (certainly in the 'West') is relatively unpopular -- where the reading- and writing-surge originates.
And it will be interesting to see whether this will eventually translate into more mature works being produced .....
Jaaffar also notes:
How have serious novels in Indonesia evolved ?
Sadly, not as exciting nor as voluminous as one would expect.
The truth is there are not that many Indonesian novels published considering its population.
According to Maman S. Mahayana, Oyon Sofyan and Achmad Dian in their book Novel Indonesia Modern, since Azab dan Sengsara in the 1920s, just over 300 novels were published up till 1990.
On the average, five were published a year in a period of 70 years.
More than 65 per cent of these novels were published after the independence of the country.
Many Indonesian scholars are lamenting the demise of serious novels there. Teen novels are dominating the book industry.
Five novels a year !
In one of the most populous countries in the world !
It looks like that demise has long been in place .....
French publisher Christian Bourgois -- of Christian Bourgois Editeur -- has passed away.
A look at the list of authors they publish should be enough to convince you that this guy knew what he was doing.
Among them: César Aira, Roberto Bolaño, Peter Carey, Peter Esterhazy, Ernst Jünger, Antonio Lobo Antunes, Andrzej Stasiuk, and Enrique Vila-Matas, as well as American authors such as Denis Johnson, Thomas McGaune, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Parker, Gertrude Stein, and William T. Vollmann.
For French tributes and obituaries, see, for example Raphaëlle Rérolle's in Le Monde and Claire Devarrieux's in Libération.
In Le Monde Florence Noiville interviews Horace Engdahl, the Permanent Secretary of the Nobel-Prize-for-literature-deciding Swedish Academy (and occupant of Chair no. 17 there).
A few decent Nobel crumbs (such as about the American candidates) and one fun titbit: every candidate gets a codename which is what they use when discussing them, and he reveals the codenames they assigned to two recent winners: Harold Pinter was known as 'Harry Potter', while Doris Lessing was 'Little Dorrit'.
We're not quite sure what to read into those choices.
A fairly lengthy and interesting profile of Kinneret-Zmora-Bitan-Dvir editor in chief Dov Alfon in Haaretz: The marketing dance.
Among the claims of interest:
"In the last three years, the number of salaried book reviewers in Israel and in the United States has dropped, and the number of pages devoted to literary supplements and sections has decreased.
They are two lone examples in the world.
Throughout Europe there is a reverse trend.
The competition between Le Figaro and Le Monde takes place mostly in the book supplements -- with the theft and defection of writers, a phenomenon that we in Israel see only in the economic press.
And interesting to see that some publisher operate a bit differently than in the US:
There were reports that some of the authors who switched to you are on a monthly salary.
"It was indeed reported, and we did not deny it."
Alfon notes that the taxation on books and royalties in Israel causes ongoing damage to the local culture of writing: "In the European Union, value-added tax on books is lowered or, in some countries, completely abolished, to encourage book-buying, but here the tax is at the full rate.
Money paid to authors is subject to a 50-percent tax.
This makes it harder for books to get to the reading public.
Only the competition between publishers temporarily corrects this wrong and brings prices down, but you can't count on that for long."
Everywhere you turn, more best-of-the-year lists, in all their variations.
Asking writers their favourite reads is always popular: this week The Independent does it, in The insider's view: The best books of 2007.
Meanwhile, the Daily Yomiuri finds out 'What writers read in 2007'; see an example here, and scroll down for additional examples.
And, for a more traditional top-ten list, Entertainment Weekly now offers its Best Books of 2007.