Two new novels by the Chilean author Roberto Bolaño have reportedly been found in Spain among papers he left behind after his death.
The previously unseen manuscripts were entitled Diorama and The Troubles of the Real Police Officer, reported La Vanguardia.
The newspaper said the documents also included what is believed to be a sixth section of Bolaño's epic five-part novel 2666.
A sixth section ?
Anyway, Josep Massot's article in La Vanguardia, El archivo de Roberto Bolaño contiene dos novelas inéditas, offers more information.
The fact that the Wylie Agency is now handling the Bolaño estate ... well, we don't think that really bodes well for any of this.
But what do we know ?
Independent publishers have gained overall market share from their larger competitors by five percentage points over the last half-decade, increasing sales through all channels except the internet, which was flat.
Interesting that the one 'channel' where they haven't made inroads is the Internet -- which, with its low overhead and everyone-is-equal (more or less) design, seems tailored to independent success .....
('Independent' is: "defined broadly as anything smaller than Faber in terms of value of purchases".)
As reported at the Alma Books Bloggerel-weblog last week, translator-from-the-French Barbara Wright has passed away.
(No newspaper obituaries that we could find, yet.)
She did quite a few Raymond Queneau translations (see, for example, our review of Zazie in the Metro); we don't have what is presumably the most famous one, Exercises in Style, under review -- yet (get your copy at Amazon.com).
See also our review of her translation of Pierre Albert-Birot's The First Book of Grabinoulor.
All three volumes are brought out in a nice (and actually fairly reasonable-for-hardcover) edition by Garnett Press (of Queen Mary, University of London); it's great that they are doing this (and more: we're very excited about their forthcoming Avelum by Otar Chiladze -- Georgian literature !), but it's a shame that someone like Pišt'anek is ignored by larger publishers (or at least those with better distribution).
What a great boxed set in mass-paperback format these three books would make -- and The End of Freddy could, with some decent marketing, pass for a novel you might pick up in an airport-bookshop.
In Getting away with murder in The Observer Tobias Jones 'finds out why crime fiction travels so well'.
Among the interesting observations:
If you take crime fiction set in Japan: David Peace's Tokyo Year Zero has sold 9,200 copies in this country; Natsuo Kirino's Out has sold 60,000.
Take fiction set in Italy: Donna Leon's bestseller Friends in High Places has sold 50,000 copies; Niccolò Ammaniti's I'm Not Scared has sold 75,000.
Of two books set in the Middle East, Rawi Hage's De Niro's Game has, so far, outsold Matt Rees's more recent The Bethlehem Murders.
These figures suggest that the British public isn't only reading the English-language take on foreign countries. Rather than being a reflection of the much-lamented parochialism of British publishing, these foreign-based crime novels could actually be a reflection of our longing to understand "abroad" that bit better.
With both Stieg Larsson and Roberto Bolaño breaking into the top 10 of the hardback fiction lists recently, it might be that our reading tastes are simply becoming more cosmopolitan.
They've filled chair nr. 1 at the Nobel-Prize-in-Literature-awarding Swedish Academy: as, for example, Svenska Dagbladet report, Lotta Lotass invald i Akademien.
No word yet at the official site, but it should come soon enough.
Born in 1964, Lotta Lotass will be by far (seven years) the youngest member of the institution; nothing of hers appears to be available in English.
For English-language reactions, see also that at
Escaping Perdition -- though note that the information there is expressed along the lines of: "Her doctorate was a homage to syndicalist extremist Stig Dagerman" (which we must say warms our heart -- when was the last time you heard anyone denounced as a 'syndicalist extremist' ?)
The Times Literary Supplement review -- a half-pager by Timothy Snyder in the 6 March issue -- is also out, but not available online; as always, refer to our constantly updated review for links to and quotes from all the reviews.
The most recent addition to the complete review is our review of ... My Little Red Book, edited by Rachel Kauder Nalebuff.
Yes, menarche accounts by the likes of Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Joyce Maynard,
Cecily von Ziegesar, and dozens of others.
A publisher brought out his Nobel prize acceptance speech in the form of a book along with other writings and he wanted a picture of the real suitcase on the cover.
"I opened the suitcase and closed it," he says.
Like he writes in his speech.
"Because even at my advanced age I wanted my father to be only my father not a writer."
Pamuk also mentions:
"Translation is a very troubling, damning aspect of my life," he admits.
- HarperCollins took out a full page ad for Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones in yesterday's issue of The New York Times -- and, yes, they did quote form the Korda-review (and did not mention the Kakutani's ...)
- The Spectator made the book their March Book of the Month, with discussion group and all (it'll be interesting to see whether that catches on ...)
So maybe authors should start getting structural assessments of the buildings of the archives they're planning on leaving their papers to.
Heinrich Böll had his moved back to the 'state-of-the-art' (god knows what art ...) Historisches Archiv der Stadt Köln -- and they finalised the purchase of another million dollars' worth of his papers -- 6400 pieces worth -- just last month
-- and they've now reduced all that and tons more invaluable stuff to a pile of rubble.
As Roger Boyes reports in The Times:
Some of Germany's most valuable documentary treasures may have been destroyed, wiped out in the three minutes it took for a six-storey building to become a pile of smouldering brickwork on Wednesday afternoon.
Georg Quander, who heads the city of Cologne's culture department, told the AP news agency that the insured value of the archives totaled just shy of 400 million euros, but that the financial loss could not be compared to the cultural loss.
(With their luck, it's probably insured by AIG .....)
The collection included 26 kilometres of shelved archives, 780 estates and collections, 500,000 photographs, etc. etc.
It seems unlikely that anything can be saved.
Among the ironic twists:
When the building was constructed, a small nuclear-bomb proof chamber was included in the cellar to protect the most precious pieces.
But in recent years, the chamber has been used only to store cleaning material.
To celebrate the 160th anniversary of the Finnish national epic, the Finnish Ateneum Art Museum has opened an extensive exhibition of Kalevala art covering the period from the 19th century until today. The display features more than 200 works from almost sixty artists, all inspired by the national epic.
Apparently they've conducted another survey revealing that people lie about reading -- at least in the UK.
As, for example, Stephen Adams reports in The Telegraph, Two-thirds lie about reading a book:
But while we like to brag about how we have read -- and understood -- them, most of us simply lie, according to a survey released to mark World Book Day today.
Under the cover of an anonymous questionnaire, two-thirds of people admitted to fibbing about having read a book.
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust explains:
"Research that we have done suggests that the reason people lied was to make themselves appear more sexually attractive.
Ah, maybe that's where we're constantly going wrong: we talk about the books we've actually read, when apparently it's much sexier to talk about those one hasn't read .....
Bizarrely, the most-lied-about book is ... George Orwell's 1984 (at 42 per cent !).
See also Michelle Pauli's Statistics reveal damned lies of British readers in The Guardian.
Both Motoko Rich (in The New York Times) and Sara Nelson (in the Wall Street Journal) offer very similar articles about the risks (and possible rewards) of HarperCollins' million-dollar bet on Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones: Rich writes that Publisher's Big Gamble on Divisive French Novel, while Nelson wonders: Will Controversial Holocaust Novel Find an Audience ?
Usefully, they both provide some semi-hard (i.e. Nielsen BookScan -- "which captures about 75% of sales" -- or is it 70 ?) numbers about some other recent massive works: Rich notes Vikram Chandra's Sacred Games: "went on to sell just 34,000 copies in hardcover and 20,000 in paperback" (amazing that paperback sales were poorer -- though, of course, they should have brought it out in the more sensible mass-market format ...) and Nelson notes that: "Roberto Bolaño's 2666, has had a remarkable run for a long, serious, literary translation; (...) it has sold an impressive 48,000" to date.
A few more big The Kindly Ones reviews are due out shortly (The Nation's and the NYTBR's, among others) -- we'll note them on our review-page as soon as we learn about them -- but meanwhile among the most recent reviews are (in order of interest):
hlo has an interview with translator-from-the-Hungarian Tim Wilkinson -- who in typically straightforward fashion notes:
The first English translation of Kaddish for an Unborn Child was painfully bad and fully deserved my criticism that the child, in this case, was actually stillborn.
There was hardly a decent sentence in the entire translation -- true, Kertész does use rather lengthy sentences in this novel, but that is no excuse.
Picador has announced its first acquisitions under new publisher Paul Baggaley, including 11 novels by the cult Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño.
The "previously untranslated into English"-claim is a stretch, since the deal includes titles such as Amulet; presumably Picador is getting the UK rights to the books New Directions has and is publishing.
It's also somewhat worrying to hear:
Baggaley said: "We are creating a whole look for Bolaño, creating a brand.
We could never have expected the level of response that 2666 has created and you do have to take advantage of that."
Creating a 'look', a 'brand' .... yes, yes, we understand what they mean, but we still don't like the sound of it.
(Fortunately, Bolaño is strong enough an author to withstand this kind of handling.)
Andrey Kurkov, a man who got a spontaneous round of applause during his own Q&A with Paul Blezard for a hair-raising anecdote about how he got published.
He had to do it himself, purchasing six tonnes of paper on his own account.
He had sent 10,000 copies to a company in Odessa on a sale or return basis and never got paid, so, naturally, he went to investigate. When he arrived, the warehouse manager told him he could have the books back if he could take them away himself.
So he commandeered a hearse, bribing the driver to let him store his books in it overnight.
It was then a race to clear them out before the driver’s 11.00am funeral appointment.
Far from being demoralised by the experience, such absurdities, Kurkov said, were what he liked about living in Ukraine.
Life in Europe was just too boring.
We're not big fans of the two- (or three- etc.) for-one-review (i.e. when more than one book is reviewed in a single review-piece), but there are times when it can work.
When we put up our review of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones we noted some similarities to Charlotte Roche's Wetlands -- and we could see someone pairing them in a review.
More of a stretch is what Eilis O'Hanlon does in the Irish Independent, pairing Wetlands and ... Hans Fallada's Every Man Dies Alone (Alone in Berlin).
(Surely it would have been fairer to at least go with Fallada's just re-issued The Drinker
While the Globe & Mail's weekend book coverage may have been cut down to size, it's nice to see they still have room for some extended coverage -- as in how they handle Charlotte Roche's Wetlands: not only do they have a review (Lisa Carver's -- and a fairly sensible one, at that), they also have a lengthy roundtable discussion of the book with Elizabeth Renzetti, Michael Valpy and Tabatha Southey.
The (continental) Europeans are eagerly following how the English-language edition of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones is being received in the US and UK.
It's the Kakutani's review in The New York Times that's getting most of the attention -- Le NY Times n'aime pas Littell, notes Baptiste Touverey at BibliObs --, but other coverage is also mentioned: see, for example, Luc Debraine's Littell, la perversité du goût français in Le Temps.
The German's are curious too, and in Genial, pervers, grandios gescheitert in the FAZ Jordan Mejias offers a good overview -- focussing on the Kakutani's review, Korda's, and ... ours (last paragraph).