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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 June 2010

1 June: Jim Thompson profile | Writing in ... Kenya | German critics' best list | The Flower Princess review
2 June: Hay questions | June/summer issues | Rubin Szilárd profile | Bookselling in ...Burma | Poetry lives ? | Némirovsky reviews
3 June: PEN Translation Fund Grant recipients | The New Yorker's 20 under 40 | 'Haaretz Authors' Edition' | A call for junkets ! | John Irving's Kaikki isäni hotellit on stage
4 June: Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | Book reviewing, on- and off-line | Iain Banks' boycott | Not Art review
5 June: Writing in English in Africa | Guo Jingming in Harvest | Jan Michalski Prize for Literature longlist
6 June: Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists | The Hindu's Literary Review | Book Fair in Diyarbakir | The Novelist's Lexicon review
7 June: David Markson (1927-2010) | Summer issues | Absence of Mind review
8 June: Thousand and One Nights in the Middle East | Literature in ... Israel | The Ice Princess review
9 June: Prizes: Franz Kafka Prize - Национальный бестселлер | Literary estate non-planning | Fall titles: OUP | Blindsight review
10 June: Prizes: Orange Prize - Prince of Asturias Award for Letters | Smile as they Bow on stage ? | Walter Benjamin review

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10 June 2010 - Thursday

Prizes: Orange Prize - Prince of Asturias Award for Letters
Smile as they Bow on stage ? | Walter Benjamin review

       Prizes: Orange Prize

       The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver, has been awarded this year's Orange Prize; get your copy at or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Prizes: Prince of Asturias Award for Letters

       They've announced that Amin Maalouf is to receive the Prince of Asturias Award for Letters this year.
       The jury opined:
Contrary to desperation, resignation or victimism, his work traces a path of its own towards tolerance and reconciliation, a bridge that extends deeply into the shared roots of peoples and cultures.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Smile as they Bow on stage ?

       In The Myanmar Times Yadana Htun reports that Smile As They Bow in London stage adaption.
       The author is quoted:
"Whether the adaptation is for a theatrical performance or a movie, every writer worries about how it will differ from the original novel. If you allow others to use your novel you must be flexible and tolerant about what will happen," she said.

She says she gave permission for the adaptation out of curiosity and because she hopes it can help reinvigorate Myanmar theatre.
       See also the complete review review of the novel.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Walter Benjamin review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jean-Michel Palmier's Walter Benjamin: Le chiffonier, l'Ange et le Petit Bossu.
       This hasn't been translated yet, but Palmier's Weimar in Exile is available; see also the Verso publicity page, or get your copy at or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

9 June 2010 - Wednesday

Prizes: Franz Kafka Prize - Национальный бестселлер
Literary estate non-planning | Fall titles: OUP | Blindsight review

       Prizes: Franz Kafka Prize

       This year's sometimes-Nobel-predicting (Jelinek, Pinter) Franz Kafka Prize will go to Václav Havel.
       Nothing yet at the official site, but see, for example, Václav Havel letos obdrží Cenu Franze Kafky at Hospodářské noviny.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Prizes: Национальный бестселлер

       The Russian Национальный бестселлер prize -- yes, they really call it the 'National Bestseller' prize, though sales-figures have nothing to do with who gets it -- goes to Крещенные крестами by Эдуард Кочергин. See, for example, Andrusenko Yelena's Literary bestseller prize goes to artist at The Voice of Russia.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Literary estate non-planning

       At the VQR blog Jacob Silverman writes about one of my favorite subjects, wondering What Good are Authors' Estates ?, finding:
All writers strive towards immortality, but if you are among this aspirational group, it's prudent to bet on falling short. That is: you will die, and if your works are any good, and thereby profitable to concerned parties, a melodramatic and legalistic morass may appear sooner than any volumes of collected works.
       It is, indeed, amazing how few authors make adequate preparations. Of course, the sad thing is that even when they leave explicit instructions these are often ignored (Kafka !), and even what should be legal binding last wills and testaments are disregarded (Thomas Bernhard's instructions that his plays were not to be performed in Austria for seventy-five years after his death). The problem is that there are no interested parties to see to the authors' actual wishes -- only rapacious heirs and estates .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Fall titles: OUP

       Amon the fall/winter titles from Oxford University Press that I'm looking forward to:

       - The Alice Behind Wonderland by Simon Winchester; see their publicity page; no Amazon listings yet. There are several Winchester titles under review at the complete review, and I'm curious to see his take on this.

       - Ruth Franklin's long-awaited A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction; see their publicity page pre-order your copy from or

       - Roger Scruton on The Uses of Pessimism: And the Danger of False Hope; see their publicity page or pre-order your copy from; it's just out in the UK from Atlantic Books, get your copy at

       - Hating God: The Untold Story of Misotheism by Bernard Schweizer, in which: "Schweizer looks at men and women who do not question God's existence, but deny that He is merciful, competent, or good"; see their publicity page, or pre-order your copy from or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Blindsight review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hervé Guibert's Blindsight.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

8 June 2010 - Tuesday

Thousand and One Nights in the Middle East | Literature in ... Israel
The Ice Princess review

       Thousand and One Nights in the Middle East

       There have been quite a few recent pieces about attempts to suppress Thousand and One Nights in Egypt, and in Foreign Policy Ursula Lindsey now writes about how 'The Middle East's most famous work of literature is beloved everywhere -- except the Middle East', in The Nights' Tale:
But despite being widely admired in the West, in the Arab world the work has always existed on the border line between popular entertainment and literature, between opprobrium and admiration. Scheherazade's latest would-be censors, who call themselves Lawyers Without Restrictions (and are apparently also Without a Sense of Irony), have reignited an old debate over the status of the book -- and over the limits of freedom of expression in Egypt today.
       (Recall that the new Penguin Classics three-volume translation of The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights by Malcolm and Ursula Lyons (see the publicity page for volume one, or get your copy at or is finally coming out in the US this summer, too. I'm slowly working my way through it .....)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Literature in ... Israel

       Talk about disheartening: in Haaretz Maya Sela reports that 'The renouned literary scholar bemoans the state of Israeli letters', in Prof. Menachem Peri: 'My life's story is a failure'. (Okay, he should probably also bemoan the state of copy-editing (which noun was he renouned with ?), but still ......)
       But he certainly doesn't think things look good:
He said the story of his life is a failure in five areas: "The departments I established, the journals, the criticism, the area of original literature and the area of literature in translation."

In Israel today, he added, there is no stream of original Israeli research in the international vanguard, and researchers are not asking themselves fundamental questions but rather are scrambling after the political-cultural fashions abroad. "I have worked in the service of Hebrew literature most of my life," he said. "The aggregate today called Hebrew literature, the literary system in the making, no longer exists."

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Ice Princess review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Camilla Läckberg's The Ice Princess.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

7 June 2010 - Monday

David Markson (1927-2010) | Summer issues | Absence of Mind review

       David Markson (1927-2010)

       American author David Markson has passed away; see, for example, Sarah Weinman's post (with extensive links) at her Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.
       I was a big fan, and there are quite a few Markson titles under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Summer issues

       Summer issues of note now available, in part or whole, online include the very worthwhile issue 20 of The Quarterly Conversation, as well as The New Yorker's Summer Fiction (double) issue -- which includes their official '20 under 40' announcement and presentation (see also my previous mention).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Absence of Mind review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marilynne Robinson on The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self, in Absence of Mind.
       A frustrating title to review -- the temptation is to nit-pick-apart (and perhaps that's the least it is due), but I simply can't find the energy.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

6 June 2010 - Sunday

Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists | The Hindu's Literary Review
Book Fair in Diyarbakir | The Novelist's Lexicon review

       Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlists

       They've announced the Sunday Times (South Africa) Literary Awards shortlists, and Tymon Smith runs down both The Fiction Prize and The Alan Paton Award (for Non-Fiction).
       The only shortlisted title under review at the complete review is Summertime by J.M.Coetzee.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Hindu's Literary Review

       The Hindu's June issue of its Literary Review is now available online.
       Among the content of interest is Pradeep Sebastian's look at a Blast from Blaft, finding: 'Independent publishing house Blaft continues to surprise with its publishing list.'

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Book Fair in Diyarbakir

       At Qantara Sonja Galler reports from the 'Book Fair in Kurdish Diyarbakir', in Catching up on the Cultural Front.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Novelist's Lexicon review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of The Novelist's Lexicon, seventy-seven Writers on the Words that Define their Work.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

5 June 2010 - Saturday

Writing in English in Africa | Guo Jingming in Harvest
Jan Michalski Prize for Literature longlist

       Writing in English in Africa

       In Mmegi Botswanan author Enole Ditsheko explains Why I write in English: rejoinder to decolonising the mind (referring to the age-old debate famously addressed by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o in his Decolonising the Mind).
       Ditsheko writes:
I write in English because it is the language I find great comfort in when I must address the masses. But the employ of English is rather too serious an issue for me as a writer, whose all aims and objectives are to make a career out of writing.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Guo Jingming in Harvest

       China Daily reports that Readers in a flap over new issue of revered magazine, as:
The country's most established literary magazine, Harvest, has caused quite a stir with its spring-summer issue, for carrying a novel by Guo Jingmingin in its Novels Special.
       Joel Martinsen has a more detailed piece (with links) at Danwei, A fantasy novel in a serious literary magazine: Guo Jingming in Harvest.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Jan Michalski Prize for Literature longlist

       A reader alerts me to the Jan Michalski Prize for Literature:
attributed each year by the Foundation to crown a work of world literature. An original feature of the Prize is its multicultural nature. It is open to authors from the world over and is intended to contribute to their international recognition. The Prize will be awarded for works of fiction or non fiction, although not for poetry, irrespective of the language in which it is written. The winner will receive an amount of CHF 50,000, offering the possibility of greater dedication to her or his art. The authors of short-listed works will be invited for a three-month period of residence in the Maison de l’Ecriture.
       Sounds good -- and they've now announced their interesting longlist (well: "first jury selection"); the only title under review at the complete review is Yousef Al-Mohaimeed's Wolves of the Crescent Moon.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

4 June 2010 - Friday

Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize | Book reviewing, on- and off-line
Iain Banks' boycott | Not Art review

       Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize

       They announced the winner of the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize yesterday; alas, no official notification, nor has anyone told me yet who won. I'll update as soon as the information reaches me.
       [Updated] The prize went to: Jamie McKendrick's translation of the collection of poems The Embrace by Valerio Magrelli; see the Faber publicity page, or get your copy at (or [via].
       (Disappointingly, I've read none of the shortlisted titles -- and only have one of them (which I did not get from the publisher ...) ...and not the winning title.)
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Book reviewing, on- and off-line

       The Nation's John Palattella -- who runs one of the better remaining American magazine-book-review-sections -- has a look at The Death and Life of the Book Review. The piece comes a bit late to the party (or wake); nevertheless, it's sure to get some attention (and criticism, especially online).
       Palattella contends:
The book beat has been gutted primarily by cultural forces, not economic ones, and the most implacable of those forces lies within rather than outside the newsroom. It is not iPads or the Internet but the anti-intellectual ethos of newspapers themselves.
       Not a bad thing to focus on, but it also only gets him (and us) so far -- though I'd love to see this point debated further.

       What will attract more attention:
       Palattella argues:
We are in the throes of another newspaper crisis, yet nothing comparable to the NYRB or the LRB has emerged, in print or online, even though there is, I believe, a genuine hunger for serious books coverage.
       (Much as I love the LRB, I'd like to note, yet again, that it is not a great example: a magazine that burns through money at the rate it does and is £27m in the red has achieved success in a way that can't (and perhaps shouldn't) be emulated.)
       Palattella goes on:
In her 1959 Harper's essay about book reviewing, Elizabeth Hardwick called for books sections to welcome "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting." That is a wonderful, immodest proposal, one I never let out of my mind. It does not describe the books coverage available at Tina Brown's Daily Beast or many books blogs, where when people aren't posting capsule reviews they are writing about book deals, price wars over e-books between Amazon and publishers or the latest industry gossip.
       And off they go ... the book bloggers that is, in defensive-combative mode: let 'er rip. Yes, we've all heard this kind of 'criticism' before -- but Palattella really makes it easy by citing, of all sites, the Daily Beast (well, I suppose he could have used something even more ridiculous, like Huffpost Books ...).
       But -- before we all tear into him --, to prove he has waded around a bit online, Palattella does note:
One exception is the Barnes & Noble Review, a web-only venture that generally avoids gossip and trade talk. It is better edited than any newspaper books section, but it also happens to be owned by the country's largest corporate chain bookstore. Neither the quality of its reviews nor the generosity of its writers' fees can expunge from its pages its innate commercialism.
       A valid point -- but is the B&N Review really the best and only online example to cite ?
       Book bloggers beg to differ -- as they'll let Palattella know in reactions to his piece soon enough.
       But let's start with some of that other book coverage online. I'll start closest to home: almost 2500 reviews have been posted right here at the complete review over just over a decade now -- some of little-better-than-capsule variety, but a significant proportion that does amount to a bit more. With its aggregating (not -- though (sometimes) inadvertently surely often also -- aggravating) ambitions, the complete review serves a slightly different function from most book review sites/periodicals, but surely that aspect has also helped stimulate literary debate -- by making it easier for interested readers to find additional information about and criticism of individual titles, for example. Certainly, I also have no doubt that with the relentless focus on international fiction on this site I have contributed in at least a small way to opening American (and a few other) eyes to the wider world of international fiction (though, admittedly, the likes of some still-influential taste-makers, such as Sam Tanenhaus, remain resolutely closed to it). (This Literary Saloon -- this weblog part of the site -- serves a different purpose, but I'd like to think it also goes a bit beyond mere industry and author gossip -- including with occasional lengthier repsonses (tirades ?) such as this one .....)
       Other literary review outlets of at least some note that have been online for ages range from the re-born The Fessenden Review, RALPH, to Bookslut (the monthly issue -- closing in on the hundredth --, rather than the weblog). Newer examples, even closer to the 'serious' aspirations Palattella has, include Open Letters Monthly and The Quarterly Conversation. Yes, the Internet isn't quite as conducive to at-length reviews and essays as print, but these and other sites certainly add to the literary discussion.
       As to the 'book blogs' themselves ... where even to start ? Didn't we settle all this years ago ? There are so many which offer serious, considered reviews (as opposed to merely the "capsule"-variety). More importantly, there is so much actual literary debate going on here, on and between them. Has Palattella bothered to do anything more than glance at them ?
       Our links list is a not-quite-exhaustive one, but certainly a good starting point. For "the unusual, the difficult, the lengthy, the intransigent, and above all, the interesting" Palattella might want to tour places such as Asylum, The Reading Experience, shigekuni, Mark Athitakis’ American Fiction Notes, A Commonplace Blog, and The Millions. But even that would be just skimming the surface .....
       I'll also add: I often find the more personal and more summary blogs as useful in expanding my literary horizons, and while the local media abroad often offers very good literary coverage (especially in Europe), blogs such as Arabic Literature (in English), Lizok's Bookshelf, and love german books -- to give only a few internationally-oriented examples; there are literally dozens of other worthwhile ones focussing on other areas and genres -- are convenient and invaluable supplemental resources.
       I see 'serious book coverage' in more expansive terms than Palattella does -- and, in fact, I think this point has been made often enough by now: the online scene, in all its variations (yes, ranging even to that 'Daily Beast'), now contributes -- at least in the English-speaking world -- as much to the larger (and especially the many smaller) literary debates as the print media does. But maybe it hasn't been said often enough: Palattella, for one, seems, quite honestly, to be if not clueless at least fairly oblivious.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Iain Banks' boycott

       In a letter to The Guardian Iain Banks wants to take a Small step towards a boycott of Israel.
       Yes, Banks thinks:
Writers and artists refusing to visit Israel, and the cutting off of as many other cultural and educational links with Israel as possible, might help Israelis understand how morally isolated they really are.
For the little it's worth, I've told my agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers. I would urge all writers, artists and others in the creative arts, as well as those academics engaging in joint educational projects with Israeli institutions, to consider doing everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.
       While I'm all for an arms-boycott and blockade -- to Gaza, Israel proper, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, among many, many other places -- I'm no big fan of this sort of intellectual-and-cultural boycott -- and seriously doubt it would prove in any way convincing to those it is directed against. I think anything that facilitates debate and discussion is a good thing -- indeed, one of the things that is sorely missing in Gaza (and much of the Arab world) -- though admittedly the Gazans have other things to worry about at this time, given current circumstances).
       (See also Steven Poole's post at Unspeak.)

       Meanwhile, in The Guardian Kate Connolly has Henning Mankell on Gaza flotilla attack: 'I think they went out to murder' -- and Mankell is doing his part to try to engage in dialogue:
One moment of relief in the ordeal, he said, had been when his interrogator recognised the author, who is one of the best-selling crime writers in Hebrew.

"He said: 'You're charged with entering Israel illegally.' I said: 'That's absurd, you brought me here.' Then he said he knew who I was and that he'd read all my books and liked them. I told him: 'Next time you're in Europe call me and we'll talk about all of this.' I gave him my number -- well we'll see. I do believe dialogue is the best way."

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Not Art review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Esterházy Péter's Not Art.
       As the World Cup approaches, note that this book was named the football-(soccer-)book of the year by the Deutsche Akademie für Fußball-Kultur ('German Academy for Football Culture' -- yes, there is such a thing) -- though you really shouldn't pick it up expecting a true sporting book (though Esterházy is a true and knowledgeable fan).
       Also: I was also amused to note that somehow the super-prolific (but not exactly known for her refined literary tastes ...) Amazon reviewer Harriet Klausner reviewed this.

       What I'm really eager to see now is Esterházy's new book: he's done Hrabal, and in his new novel, Esti (see the (Hungarian publisher's) publicity page), takes on Kosztolányi Dezső's classic, Esti Kornél (which, in turn,New Directions is (finally) bringing out in English soon ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

3 June 2010 - Thursday

PEN Translation Fund Grant recipients | The New Yorker's 20 under 40
'Haaretz Authors' Edition' | A call for junkets !
John Irving's Kaikki isäni hotellit on stage

       PEN Translation Fund Grant recipients

       They've announced the 2010 PEN Translation Fund Grant Recipients.
       Some interesting-sounding projects -- though it's noteworthy that of all of them only a single one appears to have a publisher at this point (and while that publisher has 'American' in its name it's headquartered in ... Cairo).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The New Yorker's 20 under 40

       The New York Times reveals The New Yorker's 20 under 40 (to be officially introduced in the magazine in next week's issue), in 20 Young Writers Earn the Envy of Many Others -- a fairly safe selection of largely establishmented writers.
       As BookFox noted:
The best predictor of making it on this list was not a spot on the Granta List (overlap of 8), but whether the author had a Guggenheim Fellowship. (11 of them did).
       Anyway, not too many limbs were ventured out on ... but then that probably isn't the point of this (publicity) exercise.
       I've read works by a few of these authors, but only have works by two of them under review: Nell Freudenberger (Lucky Girls and The Dissident) and Rivka Galchen (Atmospheric Disturbances).
       (And, yes, I feel like I've been here before re. The New Yorker-darling Freudenberger -- Whoa Nelly ! Real Life, Lucky Girls, and Advances in Non-Fiction has long, long been a crQuarterly-favorite, and the first few years (yes, years) of the Literary Saloon, 'nell freudenberger' was the single most popular search query leading visitors to that part of the site (yes, even ahead of queries like ... 'literary').)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       'Haaretz Authors' Edition'

       To mark Israel's book week, Haaretz invited quite an impressive selection of writers to participate in a Haaretz Authors' Edition. Some solid contributions, especially in light (or shadow) of recent events -- but, while I admire Milan Kundera's writing, I am shocked that he'd waste the space and opportunity making a plea to ... Free Roman Polanski !
       Kundera yammers:
I can envisage him forcibly confined and continually monitored in a Swiss chalet where he is trying to work but -- as I well know -- is unable to.
       Why express concern about, say, those in Gaza, or Gilad Shalit and his family when it's kid-rapist Polanski that's really suffering (stuck in a Swiss chalet, the poor guy ... those surely can't compare to the comforts of those Gazan ... chalets ...) and should be getting our sympathy ? The injustice of it all !

       For additional -- and more sensible -- literary commentary on the Gaza flotilla-disaster, see also Amos Oz's op-ed in The New York Times, Israeli Force, Adrift on the Sea .

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       A call for junkets !

       At Publishing Perspectives much-travelled Chad Post (of Open Letter Books) argues: Want More Rights Deals and Translations ? Try Taking Editors and Publishers Overseas.
       Hey, it seems to have worked on him -- both at Dalkey Archive and now Open Letter he's been responsible for introducing a wonderful variety of far-flung literature. Still, I have my doubts about the junket-solution: I don't doubt that publishing professionals would be receptive to the offers of free travel (and food, etc.) -- who wouldn't ? -- , but I do doubt that they're receptive to foreign literature, even on-site. (Cynic that I am, I also have my serious doubts about the locals and the crap they likely want to foist on the Americans .....) But then I've never gotten that whole 'personal touch' with regards to all of publishing (despite the fact that it is so widespread and common): printed communication -- e-mail, information, and, most importantly, actual texts -- should suffice.
       Still, Chad's helpful list of 'Tips for Running the Best Editorial Trips' is a good starting point for those who want to try this kind of thing.

       (I suppose I should also note that I'm a jaded old fogey, and I've been lucky enough to have been exposed to (I assume) more than most; I've gotten around over the years -- a lot. So maybe I've just gotten that out my system, and had my fill, and maybe this sort of thing actually is useful for those who haven't seen quite as much yet.)

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       John Irving's Kaikki isäni hotellit on stage

       In Finland the KOM teatteri put on Kaikki isäni hotellit and, as Suna Vuori reports in Helsingin Sanomat, John Irving impressed by Finnish stage version of Hotel New Hampshire, as he got to see the last performance.
       Among the observations of some interest (though you have to figure he was playing to his audience), Irving is quoted as saying:
Things are so different in Europe. My books are understood and appreciated here more than they are in my own country.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

2 June 2010 - Wednesday

Hay questions | June/summer issues
Rubin Szilárd profile | Bookselling in ...Burma
Poetry lives ? | Némirovsky reviews

       Hay questions

       In The Guardian they: 'asked some of the leading authors at this year's Guardian Hay festival a series of questions', in The Hay Q&A.
       Among the many entertaining responses:
What's the worst review you've ever had, and why ?
Kazuo Ishiguro: "A pre-publication review for A Pale View of Hills in the American journal Kirkus Reviews. It was my first ever proper review, it was bad, and the reviewer assumed I was a woman."
Who are the three greatest living writers ?
Juan Gabriel Vasquez: "Sebastian Knight, Nathan Zuckerman and Elizabeth Costello. Oh wait, you meant living living ?"

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       June/summer issues

       Some June issues of online publications are now available, notably Words without Borders -- 'The Queer Issue', where: "WWB delves into the world of international queer writing this June" -- and Open Letters Monthly's The History Issue (which includes Steve Donoghue's review of Steven Moore's The Novel (which I'm working my way through; see also the the Continuum publicity page, or get your copy at or

       The summer issue of The Threepenny Review is now also available -- though only a very limited amount of the content is available online.

       Also of note: The Paris Review now offers "a culture gazette brought to you by the editors of The Paris Review", their very own weblog, The Paris Review Daily (though the Literary Saloon was apparently not found blogroll-worthy ...).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Rubin Szilárd profile

       At hlo József Keresztesi profiles Rubin Szilárd, in James Dean and the bright future of socialism.
       Rubin is another of these Hungarian authors that were long forgotten and have now enjoyed a bit of a revival (not in English, yet, of course ...); he passed away a few weeks back, in April (yeah, I missed that too). Most of the focus of the piece is on his Csirkejáték, which sounds like it is worth a look.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Bookselling in ...Burma

       In The Myanmar Times Kyle Sherer reports that in Burma Street book stalls reveal hidden gems, as:
The book vendors of Yangon, by comparison, offer a small but diverse catalogue of cast-offs; where pulp fiction, missionary texts, history books and Star Trek novels can all appear together on the same streetside shelf.
       Not exactly worth-a-trip impressive, but hey .....

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Poetry lives ?

       In the ALR at The Australian poetry editor Jaya Savige argues -- at some length -- that Poetry lives, OK ?

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Némirovsky reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my review of a newly translated collection of stories by Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche, and a review-overview of Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt's biography of the author, The Life of Irène Némirovsky.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

1 June 2010 - Tuesday

Jim Thompson profile | Writing in ... Kenya
German critics' best list | The Flower Princess review

       Jim Thompson profile

       With Michael Winterbottom's film-version of The Killer Inside Me due out soon (see the official site) -- the latest of rather many films based on Jim Thompson's pulpy thrillers -- the works of the very dark and brutal master have been getting more attention once again; see, for example, Geoffrey Macnab's profile in The Independent, Jim Thompson: Pulp friction.
       No Thompson titles are under review at the complete review, but I've read half a dozen of them (including The Killer Inside Me) and am an admirer; get your copy of The Killer Inside Me at or

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       Writing in ... Kenya

       At NPR Libby Lewis finds A Kenyan Writer Blossoms From A Nairobi Slum, profiling Stanley Gazemba, author of The Stone Hills of Maragoli, which won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature -- "the nation's top literary prize" -- in 2003.
       Apparently prizes -- at least local ones -- only get you so far in some countries:
Now, he's 36. He's still working in the garden and writing in the garage. And he still lives in a slum of Nairobi called Kangemi.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       German critics' best list

       The SWR-Bestenliste for June, where German literary critics vote for the new publications they recommend most strongly, is out.
       Noteworthy that only one of the top five was also on the May list -- and that the vote-totals are fairly unimpressive (i.e. a lot of titles were named, with no real standouts).

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       The Flower Princess review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Cantonese Opera by Tong Dik Sang, The Flower Princess.
       There are actually several libretti under review at the complete review -- but this is the first from a Chinese opera.

(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

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