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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 November 2010

11 November: Censorship in ... Iran | Hay Festival(s) | World Literature Today looking for digital media specialist
12 November: Julian Barnes on Lydia Davis' Madame Bovary | International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist | More on Stefan Zweig | French book prize impact | Hating God review
13 November: Prize controversies: Patrick White Literary Award - Finlandia Literature Prize | Bellos on Romain Gary | Questioning leader
14 November: Another best-of-the-year list | Murakami in Russia(n) | Ubud Festival report | Biographies get less advanced | Literary museum(s) in ... Turkey | Hygiene and the Assassin review
15 November: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist ... preview | (Literary) Australia v. France | Emmanuel Obiechina (1933-2010) | New Literature from Europe festival reminder
16 November: International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist | Reading in ... Iran | Publishing in ... India | Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as (anti)modernist | Friction review
17 November: ACFNY Translation Prize winner | The GGs | Whitbread Costa category shortlists | Writing in exile
18 November: (American) National Book Awards | Vladimir Sorokin Q & A | Slovak takes Finnish debut prize | Polish drama | Mahfouz reviews
19 November: Amazon swallows Toby Press | Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award nominees | Bambook ! | Alphabetical Africa errata
20 November: Foer's Tree of Codes | Siham Bouhlal Q & A

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20 November 2010 - Saturday

Foer's Tree of Codes | Siham Bouhlal Q & A

       Foer's Tree of Codes

       In Creating new books from old in The Guardian Jonathan Safran Foer writes about his new book, Tree of Codes (see the Visual Editions publicity page, or get your copy from or
       He explains:
For years I had wanted to create a die-cut book by erasure, a book whose meaning was exhumed from another book.
       He finally found it -- Bruno Schulz's The Street of Crocodiles -- though:
The Street of Crocodiles is often my answer to the nonsensical question: what is your favourite book ? And yet, it took me a year to recognise it as the text I'd been looking for. Why ? Because I loved the book too much to conceive of changing it, much less subtracting from it ? Because the historical resonances were so powerful ?
       (Updated - 23 November): See now also Boris Kachka on 'Jonathan Safran Foer's object of anti-technology' in Reinventing the Book in New York.

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

       Siham Bouhlal Q & A

       At Qantara Martina Sabra has a Q & A with Moroccan poet and translator Siham Bouhlal, in Poetry as a Universal Means of Expression.

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

19 November 2010 - Friday

Amazon swallows Toby Press
Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award nominees
Bambook ! | Alphabetical Africa errata

       Amazon swallows Toby Press

       They've announced that Amazon Acquires the Literary Fiction List of The Toby Press, another major foray into publishing -- and fiction in translation -- by
       I mentioned the problems at The Toby Press back in May, and things have been very quiet there since (with little attention paid by the American press ...). On the one hand, it's great to see that this fine list will continue to be readily available. On the other hand ... well, I'm sure Dennis Loy Johnson will explain why this is yet another sign of the (publishing/bookselling) apocalypse at MobyLives soon enough .....

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

       Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award nominees

       The Literary Review has announced the nominees for the eighteenth annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award
       Only one of the titles is under review at the complete review, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
       About a month ago there was a lot of press coverage claiming Tony Blair had been/would be nominated for his purported memoirs, but, as for example Richard Lea explains in The Guardian, in Alastair Campbell outlasts Tony Blair in bad sex awards:
Although one of the judges at the Literary Review, Jonathan Beckman, admitted Blair's description of himself as "an animal" devouring "the love Cherie gave" was "grim"", he said that the sexual element wasn't strong enough for judges to shortlist a work "ostensibly of non-fiction".
       Meanwhile Arifa Akbar has a pair of articles on the prize in The Independent, Alastair Campbell book in line for an unwelcome award, and the more general consideration, Bad sex please, we're British: Can fictive sex ever have artistic merit ?.
       In the latter:
Philip Kerr, novelist and recipient of the Bad Sex Award in 1995 for Gridiron, is wary of conclusive theories on judging the good from bad. The passages deemed bad are sometimes the most original because description is "off the beaten track".

For Gridiron, he employed the gentle language of metaphor, and felt he was perhaps punished for it. "I think I won the award for one word -- gnomon -- which is the hard part of a sundial. When you are writing about [sex] and the penis, you are looking for comparisons, and I made this one given the transient nature of both time and an erection."
       And he's surprised he won the prize ?
       (Much as I enjoy some of Kerr's work -- quite a few of the novels are under review at the complete review -- Gridiron (published as The Grid in the US) is a work that is, despite the employment of 'the gentle language of metaphor' ..., awe-inspiring in its sheer badness, and not just because of the gnomon.)

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

       Bambook !

       China Daily reports on the Promise of the Bambook, describing the Kindle of the Chinese market (closely tied to Shanda), the brilliantly named Bambook.
       Not that I'm sold:
Bambook users are automatically connected to Cloud library, which has full copyright to more than three million e-books from the company's seven online literature websites, and 100,000 e-books from traditional publishers.

The library is said to be adding 100 million words a day from its contracted online writers. What is more, 200 publishers have agreed to provide titles to it.
At present, Bambook does not support BMP, scanned PDF, and EPUB with pictures. And if users want to read downloaded documents from the other e-resources besides Shanda, they have to go through a Shanda-developed software called "cloud ladder" which, users say, is not very handy.
       Yeah, I'd suspect anything called a "cloud ladder" would not be very handy.

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

       Alphabetical Africa errata

       Walter Abish's ingenious Alphabetical Africa notoriously falls just ever so slightly short of its grand ambitions. At his Attempts weblog Stephen Frug now charts more of the errata.

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

18 November 2010 - Thursday

(American) National Book Awards | Vladimir Sorokin Q & A
Slovak takes Finnish debut prize | Polish drama | Mahfouz reviews

       (American) National Book Awards

       The (American) National Book Awards were handed out yesterday. Among the winners was Lord of Misrule, by Jaimy Gordon, taking the fiction prize (see the McPherson & Co. publicity page, or get your copy at or
       Lots of coverage at various literary weblogs to come no doubt; see also, for example, Julie Bosman's report in The New York Times.

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

       Vladimir Sorokin Q & A

       In День Svitlana Agrest-Korotkova has a Q & A with Vladimir Sorokin: The problem is that Russia has not buried the Soviet epoch (via).

       (The only Sorokin title under review at the complete review at this time is Ice.)

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

       Slovak takes Finnish debut prize

       I recently mentioned the Finlandia Literature Prize 'controversy' -- with Alexandra Salmela a finalist despite not being officially eligible (because she's not a Finnish citizen) -- and now her book, 27 Eli kuolema tekee taiteilijan (see, for example, the Teos publicity page), has taken the Helsingin Sanomat literary award, awarded for the best Finnish-language literary debut of the year (a prize that apparently does not have any citizenship-eligibility requirements ...); see, for example, the YLE report, Slovak Author Wins HS Book Prize.

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

       Polish drama

       Last month I noted that the leading Polish literary prize, the Nike, went to a play this year -- all the more remarkable because Nasza Klasa ('Our Class'), a drama by Tadeusz Słobodzianek, had its world premiere at the (British) National Theatre (see their production page, or get your copy of the (English) text at or
       Now Sarah Grochala writes on How Polish playwriting stole the show at The Guardian's theatre blog.

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

       Mahfouz reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two more Naguib Mahfouz novels, finally available in English translation from the American University in Cairo Press:        (That brings the total number of Mahfouz-works under review at the complete review to twenty -- making him the most-reviewed author on the site by a decent margin -- and there's still quite a bit to go.)

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

17 November 2010 - Wednesday

ACFNY Translation Prize winner | The GGs
Whitbread Costa category shortlists | Writing in exile

       ACFNY Translation Prize winner

       The winner of the Austrian Cultural Forum New York Translation Prize has been determined, the prize going to David Dollenmayer for his translation of Michael Köhlmeier's Idyll With Drowning Dog (Idylle mit ertrinkendem Hund); the prize will be awarded at a ceremony on 6 December at 18:30; see the ACFNY page for additional information.
       I was one of the jurors for this prize, and Dollenmayer came out tops in a strong field. There were twenty submissions, and a significant percentage were very much in the running for the prize. Interestingly, quite a few of the submissions already have publishers -- i.e. will be appearing in English, in print soon -- but not this entry; interestingly, too, Dollenmayer was not the only one to choose this particular work (which made for easy side-by-side comparisons).
       See also the Zsolnay/Deuticke foreign rights page for the book.

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

       The GGs

       The Canadian Governor General's Literary Awards -- which have one of the worst prize names, but the best prize name abbreviation ('The GGs') going -- have been announced in all their many categories: see the English and French winners.

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

       Whitbread Costa category shortlists

       The Whitbread Costa Book awards category shortlists have been announced, and press attention has been focused on, as Mark Brown's overview in The Guardian has it: Costa prize shortlist falls short on biographies; see also Arifa Akbar's overview in The Independent, Costa judge laments a weak year for fiction.

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

       Writing in exile

       npr posts the transcript of Jennifer Ludden's 'Talk of the Nation'-piece with Azar Nafisi, Chenjerai Hove, and Edwidge Danticat, in which they talk about how Writing In Exile Helps Authors Connect To Home.

       See also the complete review review of Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran.

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

16 November 2010 - Tuesday

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist | Reading in ... Iran
Publishing in ... India | Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as (anti)modernist | Friction review

       International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist

       The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist -- all 162 titles -- was announced yesterday. With its €100,000 prize money and (supposedly) global reach -- which includes considering books in (English) translation -- it's probably the most prestigious (and inclusive) international book prize (as opposed to an author prize like the Nobel or Man Booker International Prize), and hence worth a bit of attention.
       This year's prize is odder than usual -- and one can't help but register some disappointment, most notably because:
  • A book by Dan Brown made the list (nominated by two different libraries, no less -- from the Maldives and Greece )

  • More libraries seem to have gone the nationalist route -- notably the Serbian and Montenegran libraries that -- coincidentally ? -- both nominated the same three books, all published by local house Geopoetika (i.e. not available at your local bookstore) -- and didn't even offer a token foreign nomination. (They aren't the only ones, by the way -- the same goes for libraries from Sri Lanka, Slovenia, Malaysia, etc.) It's bad form, and bad for the prize, and the IMPAC folk should look into stopping this -- not allowing libraries to nominate local talent would seem a great place to start.

  • Where on earth are the Chinese and Japanese books ? Or the Chinese and Japanese nominating libraries, for that matter ? (There's only one book that was originally written in Arabic, too -- and libraries in Lebanon and Turkey the only ones from Middle Eastern countries (compared to three from the Caribbean). Similarly, libraries in South Africa are the only ones from African countries that got to play along, though at least a decent number of African titles were nominated.) Let's get truly international, folks !
       But it's the inclusion of far too overlooked titles such as The Weather Fifteen Years Ago by Wolf Haas -- and that nomination not even coming from an Austrian library ! -- that make me believe there's some hope for this prize .....

       This is the one prize where there usually are quite a few titles under review at the complete review, and this year is no exception, as there are reviews of nineteen twenty of them (with more, no doubt, to follow):        There are also review-overviews of several other longlisted titles:        See also commentary by Chad Post at Three Percent (with the full list of the translated nominees and comments on selected titles), Digging into the 2011 IMPAC Longlist by C.Max Magee at The Millions, and Impac Dublin's long, long, longlist by Carolyn Kellogg at Jacket Copy.

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

       Reading in ... Iran

       MNA report that 'Culture of book reading vanishing in Iran', as:
The Supreme Leader's representative in Isfahan, Ayatollah Seyyed Yusef Tabatabainejad, is convinced that the culture of reading books among Iranians has virtually vanished
       Might I suggest that lightening up on the whole censorship thing (see my previous mention) might help in this regard ?

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

       Publishing in ... India

       In DNA Dean Williams tries to make the case Why our literary White Whales need a publishing Captain Ahab, as he thinks:
Right now, India seems to be in the grip of an obsession that differs rather greatly from Ahab's -- the obsession to write books. At the Sunday paper we receive numerous books that come in for review; a good 75 per cent of which publishers have no right to murder trees for.

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

       Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as (anti)modernist

       Eurozine reprints Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, (anti)modernist (originally published in Russian in the New Literary Observer), in which 'Richard Tempest explores Solzhenitsyn's overt and covert (dis)engagement with Russian and European modernism, arguing that he employed modernist means to achieve anti-modernist ends'.

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

       Friction review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Eloy Urroz's Friction.

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

15 November 2010 - Monday

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist ... preview
(Literary) Australia v. France | Emmanuel Obiechina (1933-2010)
New Literature from Europe festival reminder

       International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist ... preview

       The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award longlist comes out to day, and you should be able to find it at the official site at some point [updated: you can now find it here]; as I write this all I have to go on is Eileen Battersby's Tantalising Impac longlist shows quality fiction is alive and well in the Irish Times; as usual, she got an early look (and, as usual, she doesn't provide the full list).
       Among the information she provides -- which includes quite a few of the longlisted titles -- these numbers:
  • There are 162 longlisted titles
  • They are from five continents
  • They include:
    • Two Nobel literature laureates
    • Five previous winners
    • 35 debut novels
    • Four Irish writers
       And, as she notes:
Few literary prize lists appear without Margaret Atwood and she is again nominated
       I'll have my full run-down of the longlisted titles (with links to those titles under review at the complete review -- this is one of the few prizes where there usually are quite a few) tomorrow.

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

       (Literary) Australia v. France

       At On Line opinion Sophie Masson offers Australia and France by the book: a comparison, as she notes that:
Despite the fact that the Australian literary industry is perhaps the most successful of our arts industries, both nationally and internationally, somehow it gets routinely forgotten by politicians, whether Labor or the Coalition. Requests by literary industry stakeholders for the major parties to discuss literary industry policies before the election went unheard.
       Hmm, yeah, I haven't heard the American political parties' positions on "literary industry policies" recently either .....

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

       Emmanuel Obiechina (1933-2010)

       Emmanuel Obiechina has passed away; see, for example, Chimalum Nwankwo's Tribute: Emmanuel Obiechina: A Great Escort in Vanguard.
       His most famous work, the still useful An African Popular Literature: A Study of Onitsha Market Pamphlets is actually under review at the complete review.

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

       New Literature from Europe festival reminder

       A reminder that in New York the seventh New Literature from Europe festival begins tomorrow (Tuesday the 16th), with 'Haunting the Present: A Reading with Eight European Writers' (which will actually be seven: Gerhard Roth can't make it) at McNally-Jackson Books at 19:00 (which I will be moderating).
       The events later in the week are also worth checking out.

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

14 November 2010 - Sunday

Another best-of-the-year list | Murakami in Russia(n)
Ubud Festival report | Biographies get less advanced
Literary museum(s) in ... Turkey | Hygiene and the Assassin review

       Another best-of-the-year list

       "Writers and public figures tell the Observer about their favourite books of 2010" in Best books of the year: 2010.
       I found the selections distinctly underwhelming -- but then this is a list that begins with someone -- Sam Mendes -- claiming:
Jonathan Franzen's Freedom (Fourth Estate) was head and shoulders above any other book this year

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

       Murakami in Russia(n)

       In the Mainichi Daily News Hitoshi Omae reports that Russian bookworms turn backs on classic literature in favor of Murakami's novels, as:
Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami is enjoying great popularity in Russia, the home of many literary giants, where young people are becoming less interested in classic literature.
       Well, they could do worse.

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

       Ubud Festival report

       In The Japan Times Jeff Kingston reports that Bali beckons 'literary tourists', as he reports on the Citibank - Ubud Writers & Readers Festival -- with a Q & A with festival founder Janet de Neefe at the end of the piece.

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

       Biographies get less advanced

       In The Observer Vanessa Thorpe reports that Biographers fear that publishers have lost their appetite for serious subjects, as advances for biographies are down, and publishers are pushing writers to focus on well-known names (even when they're already well-covered).
Andrew Kidd, the non-fiction publisher-turned-agent, suggests writers and publishers now have to work harder to breathe life into the genre: "It may just need to be reinvented because readers are bored by the form. There were a number of projects that publishers paid a lot for upfront, on the back of what had been a wave of successes. Then they discovered the market had fallen away and took significant losses."

The theory was the trend might correct itself in time, said Kidd, but he wonders if readers still engage with serious projects in book form: "There has been a change in the reference culture and big serious books have not rebounded as one might have hoped."
       Not a huge fan of the genre I don't really mind if, for the most part, it fades away, leaving only scholarly fringe-work and the like. Though, of course, what I'd really like to be rid of is the useless celebrity tell-nothing (from the jr. Bush's 'memoir' to any ghostwritten entertainer-biography).

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

       Literary museum(s) in ... Turkey

       In Sunday's Zaman Mehmet Şahin reports that Turkey’s first museum dedicated to literature set to open in Adana -- and it's great to hear that this only the: "first of several literature museums planned by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry".

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

       Hygiene and the Assassin review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Amélie Nothomb's Hygiene and the Assassin -- her 1992 debut, finally available in English translation, from Europa editions.

       I first read this a year or two after it came out, and it was fascinating to revisit it more than fifteen years later, as I now see it also through the prism of her later work -- so many aspects of which are already present here. Yet she obviously made the correct choice in beginning her career with a book like this, rather than the kind of very autobiographical works that followed -- and though in some ways obviously a 'beginner's' work it holds up quite well.
       I'm curious what American and British reactions will be -- since everywhere else (and especially in France) readers have been able to follow the evolution of her work chronologically, while the English translations have appeared in largely haphazard order. (If, for some reason, you haven't read any Nothomb yet this would be a very good place to start.)

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

13 November 2010 - Saturday

Prize controversies: Patrick White Literary Award - Finlandia Literature Prize
Bellos on Romain Gary | Questioning leader

       Prize controversy: Patrick White Literary Award

       This year's Patrick White Literary Award goes to David Foster (whose Sons of the Rumour I actually have, and expect to get around to reviewing; see also the Picador publicity page), and the speech he gives today in accepting the prize has already been circulating -- and attracting considerable attention because, as Stephen Romei puts it in The Australian, Foster slams 'no class' Coetzee, as:
Maverick novelist David Foster has launched an extraordinary attack on the Adelaide-based Nobel Prize-winning writer J. M. Coetzee.

He has accused Coetzee of having "no class" because he continues to contest lucrative literary awards.
       Apparently Foster thinks authors who have made it big shouldn't play along in the literary-prize-games any more (as, famously, Patrick White chose to do). For Foster, literary prizes apparently aren't about honoring the best books, but finding ways of funneling cash to struggling writers.
       I couldn't disagree more: literary prizes of the sort Foster is complaining about are book prizes, and all that should count is the book. Who the author is, and how well-established s/he is should have no bearing. Where you want to support a particular kind of struggling artist you do that by limiting who is eligible for your prize -- first-time authors (The Guardian first book award), women (the Orange), Commonwealth citizens (the Man Booker, among many others -- all, presumably, feebler sub-groups in the writerly field .....
       See also Susan Wyndham's Literary postman delivers again, winning mentor's bequest in the Sydney Morning Herald.

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

       Prize controversy: Finlandia Literature Prize

       YLE reports on a Finlandia Literature Prize Controversy, as it was discovered that one of the six recently named finalists, Alexandra Salmela, is not in fact a Finnish citizen, as the rules for this -- the leading Finnish literary prize (and worth a tidy €30,000) -- stipulate.
       Most presumably think the jury did the right thing:
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the Finnish Book Foundation affirmed that Salmela would be allowed to compete for the prize anyway. The Foundation does not normally check on Finlandia nominees' citizenship. As it considers Salmela's inclusion as its own mistake, the author will not be disqualified.
       A stickler for rules, I think this is patently unfair -- though what I really take issue with is, as usual, the badly written rules. You have to admire any foreigner who is able to write well enough in Finnish to get published, much less shortlisted for the country's major literary prize -- what does it matter what country she's a citizen of ? If it's a literary prize for some widely-spoken language -- English, French, Spanish -- a citizenship-requirement may serve a purpose -- but the Finns should be thrilled that any foreigner could play along in their language. Change those rules ! (But meanwhile: stick to them.)

       (Updated): As a reader points out to me, matters are complicated by the fact that there is a significant Swedish-speaking (and writing) minority in Finland, whose authors' books are eligble for the prize thanks to the citizenship requirement; they're frequently shortlisted and have won the prize several times: Bo Carpelan has taken the prize twice (most recently in 2005) and Kjell Westö won in 2006. So a straightforward language-requirement isn't the solution either (since 'books written in Finnish or Swedish' would allow lots of writers who are completely Swedish to slip in ...), and presumably some sort of citizenship/residency/language requirement is the (complicated) way to go (Finnish citizens, or those who have resided in Finland for x number of years and write in either Finnish or Swedish (or Saami ...) ...).
       Of course, the complications don't end there: I wonder if Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief (written in English, but I assume he's still a Finnish citizen) was entered this year ..... The requirement that a book be published in Finland and not in translation might be the way to avoid having to deal with all the English-language books written by Finns (of which there will surely be an increasing number ...), since the English-language originals by such authors will inevitably be published abroad, but, yes, writing the rules can get complicated.

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

       Bellos on Romain Gary

       David Bellos' Romain Gary: a Tall Story is now available (in the UK -- see the Harvill Secker publicity page, or get your copy from, and in Romain Gary: au revoir et merci Bellos gives a taste of this odd character.
       See also Gilbert Adair's review in The Spectator, as well as my review of the Bellos-translated Gary-text, Hocus Bogus.

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

       Questioning leader

       Padgett Powell's The Interrogative Mood got some nice attention when it appeared in the US, but now the UK edition has come out with a real splash: even The Sun mentions it, and in The Independent it even occasioned a leader, A big ask.

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

12 November 2010 - Friday

Julian Barnes on Lydia Davis' Madame Bovary
International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist
More on Stefan Zweig | French book prize impact | Hating God review

       Julian Barnes on Lydia Davis' Madame Bovary

       Julian Barnes is the latest to consider Lydia Davis' new translation of Madame Bovary (get your copy at or, writing on Writer's Writer and Writer's Writer's Writer in the London Review of Books.

       (See also the complete review review of Madame Bovary (in pre-Davis translation).)

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

       International Prize for Arabic Fiction longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, sixteen titles selected from 123 entries (from 17 countries). And: "29% of the works submitted were by female writers, compared with 16% the previous year" -- with seven making the longlist.
       Arabic Literature (in English) has a good overview, and see also Miranda Smith's Arab women are region's new literary stars in Emirates 24|7.

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

       More on Stefan Zweig

       Recently there was much to-do about Michael Hofmann's take-down of Stefan Zweig in the London Review of Books, Vermicular Dither (ostensibly a review of The World of Yesterday; get your copy at or, and now André Aciman offers a much more anodyne take, in The Master of Passionate Excesses at Slate.

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

       French book prize impact

       In Le Figaro Lena Lutaud looks at the impact the French literary prizes have on book-sales, in Prix littéraires: machines à vendre ; the study, with more detailed numbers, she relies on is available here (warning ! dreaded pdf format !).

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

       Hating God review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bernard Schweizer on The Untold Story of Misotheism, Hating God.

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

11 November 2010 - Thursday

Censorship in ... Iran | Hay Festival(s)
World Literature Today looking for digital media specialist

       Censorship in ... Iran

       At Middle East Online Omid Nikfarjam gives a nice overview of how Books stuck in Iran's censorship quagmire (via), suggesting:
Spare a thought for Iran's literary censors -- unloved by writers and publishers alike, they have thousands of works to read through, so much so that the piles of books have spilled out from their rooms at the culture ministry into the corridors.
       Still, it's comforting to hear that:
It is true that some smaller publishers and less experienced writers are thinking twice about carrying on, but the most distinguished and experienced show no signs of throwing in the towel. They know no other way of life, and besides, they have seen too many ups and downs over the last 30 years to give up so easily.
       Still, it would be nice for this silliness to end.

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

       Hay Festival(s)

       In The Telegraph 'Gaby Wood, Head Of Books' writes about The Telegraph taking over sponsorship of the festival, in Hay-on-Wye: it’s about so much more than books (maybe not a great headline when announcing a new sponsorship deal -- i.e. when it's all about the money (and you don't want to admit/acknowledge that)), while the Hay Festival Kerala runs 12 to 14 November. (I'd take any excuse to go to Kerala -- a definite all-time favorite destination -- but the festival certainly sounds like a good one.)

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

       World Literature Today looking for digital media specialist

       Web-savvy foreign literature-interested folk might be interested in this job posting, as:
World Literature Today seeks to hire a digital media specialist
       Lots of potential here, including:
This talented professional will work closely with a successful editorial team but will be responsible for leading the effort to publish and promote WLT online through mass emails, social networking sites, and various innovative approaches to digital publishing.
       (Tip for prospective candidates: go easy on those mass e-mails ..... )
       There's a lot that can be done here -- the mere thought of the enormous WLT archives going back decades (the book reviews !), and the potential there has me salivating -- so this sounds like a position which an enterprising soul could do a lot of rewarding work in.

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

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