As widely noted, Irish-American author Frank McCourt has passed away; see, for example, obituaries in The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
He was a long-time high school writing teacher, and it sounds like he was a good one; he also wrote widely hailed memoirs, notably Angela's Ashes (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Having limited patience with memoirs in general, and none whatsoever with memoirs dealing with growing up poor in Ireland you can't get me anywhere near this stuff, but for what it is, it is apparently very good.
What writers, or what works, are in your opinion in need of more translation and attention? What literary neighborhood excites you at the present moment?
Definitely Latin-American and Francophone-African fiction.
There's a lot of new work coming out rendered inaccessible because of the language barrier.
One has to wait ages for a translation, and hope that it will be good when it does come out.
I mention the Latin Americans in particular because they inhabit a very similar socio-cultural space with Africans that reading their fiction enlarges my conception if what is possible.
From the magical realist work of the Marquez generation to the present post-nationalist books of Bolano -- they grapple with basically the same things we are grappling with in our writing.
In The Telegraph Ion Trewin writes about How George Weidenfeld defied the sceptics, in yet another profile of the nonagenarian publisher.
The UK publisher of Lolita -- "the firm's first bestseller, selling more than 200,000 copies in hardback" -- as well as Booker winners G by John Berger and The Siege of Krishnapur by J G Farrell: not bad at all.
At The Rumpus Jed Lipinski finds that: 'Two Latin American novels, published in English for the first time, stake out radically different artistic territory', in Love Is a Plane Crash of the Soul, as he writes about Juan Filloy's Op Oloop (see the complete reviewreview) and Guillermo Rosales' The Halfway House (just got my copy, review forthcoming; meanwhile, see the New Directions publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Tyler Cowen, the economist, advises readers to "snap up foreign fiction translated into English, if only because the selection pressures are so severe": in order for a publisher to think a work of fiction worth the risk of translating and promoting to a foreign audience, its quality has on average to be higher than the average for homegrown work.
This has always struck me as a solid (and obvious) argument -- yet readers (i.e. consumers) don't seem to act upon it.
Where is the disconnect ?
Cowen points to the Honigmann piece at his own well-worthwhile weblog, Marginal Revolution -- and very kindly suggests:
The best place to follow new releases of such fiction is the blog Literary Saloon.
At The National Richard Whitehead chooses and reviews a few titles that: "vividly portray destinations all around the globe" in their Interactive: Summer reading from around the world.
A nice idea -- I wouldn't mind seeing more of this kind of thing.
Die Welt has an interesting (German) overview of how German indie publishers
are dealing with the tough economic times -- noteworthy, sadly, for the devastating news that one of them, the very impressive Urs Engeler, is closing shop after this fall's releases.
A major loss.
Sad to hear that, as MNA report, Iranian Author Esmaeil Fasih passes away.
(Lots of transliterations of that name ... اسماعیل فصیح seems the easiest way to go .....)
Very little of his work is available in English, but Zed Books did bring out his very fine novel Sorraya in a Coma some twenty-five years ago; get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
See also, for example, Behzad Sadeghi's review of Fassih's not-yet-translated 'A Letter to the World'
in The Iranian.
Greg Grandin's new book about (and titled) Fordlandia is getting some attention -- see, for example, Ben Macintyre's review in this Sunday's issue of The New York Times Book Review, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
-- and I wonder whether that will bring with it renewed interest (well, there wasn't much interest the first time around ...) in Eduardo Sguiglia's 1997 novel (English translation 2000) also titled (and about) Fordlandia (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
I have a copy but haven't managed to get to it.
Not much notice was taken of it back in the day, as best I can recall -- yet in those pre-Tanenhaus days, The New York Times Book Review did cover even this work in translation: see David L. Ulin's review.
As widely noted, at Jacket Copy Carolyn Kellogg offers an appealingly annotated list of 61 essential postmodern reads.
Not sure about the 'postmodern' qualification, but quite a few of these are under review at the complete review:
Meanwhile at Three Percent Chad Post offers: Summer Recommendations from the BTB Panelists -- not the longlist for the 2010 Best Translated Book Award, but a lot of the books that have already struck us as we begin to sift through all the eligible titles.
Many, many, many of these are already under review at the complete review.
Both lists offer quite a bit of good summer (or any other season) reading fun.
They've announced that Twelve European authors will receive the European Union Prize for Literature (scroll down for list of winners).
Each EU country gets a winner -- twelve in this, the first batch, from Austria, Croatia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, and Sweden -- and they'll get to pick up the prize (and money -- 5000 Euros) on the 28th of September.
Newly-appointed Ambassador of the European Union Prize for Literature Henning Mankell will be there, too.
Not many familiar names, but Paulus Hochgatterer's The Sweetness of Life is already available in English; get your copy at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.
But it was full of books, and you didn't have to pay to borrow them, and I did so, liberally.
Even the names of the novelists who defined the 1980s in England -- Amis, Ishiguro, Byatt -- had not arrived in Mangalore.
The 1980s were for me the decade of those exciting young British writers named G K Chesteron, G B Shaw, J B Priestley, and Somerset Maugham.
I've mentioned Seyyedeh Azam Hosseini's award-winning Iranian novel, Da, before, and now MNA report that U.S. translator working on bestselling Iranian novel Da, as Paul Sprachman has signed to render it into English.
I still have my doubts about the novel -- and am even more worried about the translation, as they warn:
Some parts of the book will be shortened in consideration of the destination language and the cultural climate of that country, he mentioned.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Richard Flanagan's Wanting.
It came out in Australia last year, and while it came out in the US a few months ago is only due out in the UK in September -- embarrassingly, that's after the German translation comes out .....
In the Independent on Sunday Katy Guest profiles Peter Ackroyd.
Unfortunately, an inordinate amount of space is devoted to nonsense like:
Ackroyd frequently stresses that he doesn't like talking about himself, and doesn't think that his personal life is relevant to his work.
God, how tired I am of all these authors who 'don't like talking about themselves', and yet who seem to do nothing else .....
And then, of course, there are the interviewers who have to note stuff like:
Peter Ackroyd, he of the immense brain, the prodigious output and the legendary lack of patience with dumb-ass newspaper interviewers
Thinking, of course, that their piece proves they are not 'dumb-ass newspaper interviewers' (think again, methinks ...).
Trepidatious young men are usually dispatched to interview him, and return full of tales of waspish gossip and drunken carousing that continued for many hours after their tape recorders gave up and switched themselves off. But others are sent away with nothing more than a flea in their ear.
Can there be a more pointless author-profile/interview than one that discusses how the author usually handles such profile/interviews ?
Spare us, spare us, spare us.
In Maryam and the Minotaur in Al-Ahram Weekly Youssef Rakha profiles Mansoura Ezzeddin, whose new book is out in Arabic: "Wara' Al-Firdaws (Beyond Paradise), a sort of psychological thriller and Bildungsroman rolled into one."
Her Maryam's Maze is available in English (review forthcoming; see also the AUC Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
Publication of new books by writers such as Nick Hornby, Sebastian Faulks and William Trevor have been brought forward to give them a chance of reaching the best-seller lists before Brown's new novel hits the shelves on September 15.
William Trevor ?
I would have thought discerning bookbuyers would sigh with relief to find the 'New this week' display that week showing not just what I can only imagine to be the festering pile of crap that is Dan Brown's new book but, for example, a book by a real writer, like William Trevor.
Surely his publishers shouldn't be running scared.
(And somehow I don't think he'll top the bestseller charts, no matter when they publish his book.)
Three Percent points me to Jed Lipinski's interview with translator Susan Bernofsky at The Brooklyn Rail.
I was particularly intrigued by her comments about the book which she translated from the German:
I wish I could read The Naked Eye in Japanese to see how it differs from the German version I read, but I donít speak a word of Japanese. I hope someone translates it into English someday.
Interesting that she takes it for granted that the two versions (German and Japanese) are different enough for it to be worth translating from the Japanese as well.
As the first new J.M.G. Le Clézio -- Desert -- appears in English translation since he was awarded the Nobel Prize, the first reviews are rolling in; I should be getting to it soon, too.
(See also the Godine publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
Scott Esposito reviewed it at The Critical Flame, and now Jacqueline Dutton reviews it at The Australian (opining: "Desert is worth waiting for.").