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The Literary Saloon Archive

11 - 20 February 2011

11 February: Prize news: Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional shortlists - Caine Prize judging panel - Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse shortlists - Sami Rohr Prize finalists - Warwick Prize for Writing shortlist
12 February: Bo Carpelan (1926-2011) | Mahmoud Dowlatabadi interview | Prize/submissions: St. Francis College Literary Prize | Texas Observer Short Story Prize | Amberville review
13 February: Profiles: Edna O'Brien - Jeff Lindsay | Any Human Heart on PBS | One year of the Wheeler Centre | Caine Prize: A Life In Full | Working on the Nigeria Prize for Literature | Authors in ... Japan
14 February: Leila Aboulela profile | Torn between languages ? | A Posthumous Confession review
15 February: More The New York Times bestsellers | Life A User's Manual Big Read | Visitation review
16 February: Man 'Asian' Literary Prize shortlist | Bookselling in ... Morocco | The Los Angeles Review of Books
17 February: François Nourissier (1927-2011) | Translation in ... Iran | Hungarian Literature (back) Online | Purge, off-Broadway | The Fish Can Sing review
18 February: Arabic writing now (and in the future) | JIBF preview | Unknown reviews | Blurbs in France | The Intervention of a Good Man review
19 February: UK library lending | Yeonam's overlooked works (and worlds) | Beirut's book buses
20 February: Bookselling in ... New Zealand | Coming from an Off-Key Time review

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20 February 2011 - Sunday

Bookselling in ... New Zealand | Coming from an Off-Key Time review

       Bookselling in ... New Zealand

       In the Herald on Sunday Andre Hueber finds a situation Bordering on ridiculous, as in New Zealand "two of the country's biggest book chains were this week put into administration".
       Part of this is fall-out from the collapse of Australian chain Angus & Robertson (and American retailer Borders), but it sounds like retailers have been setting the stage for their own demise, as:
A Herald on Sunday analysis of popular titles this week revealed that Whitcoulls, Borders, Dymocks and Paperplus were consistently selling books for two to three times the price of online giant Amazon, and 50 per cent more than a British retailer.

Even when shipping and handling costs are included, the price of buying from overseas online retailers is much lower.
       Doesn't sound like a viable long-term plan (and also: sounds like they're gouging consumers).

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

       Coming from an Off-Key Time review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bogdan Suceavă's Coming from an Off-Key Time, a recent volume in Northwestern University Press' Writings from an Unbound Europe-series.

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

19 February 2011 - Saturday

UK library lending | Yeonam's overlooked works (and worlds)
Beirut's book buses

       UK library lending

       The UK Public Lending Right has released the latest set of library book borrowing data, from 2009-2010; see the most borrowed authors and the most borrowed titles in the UK.
       In The Guardian John Dugdale offers an overview of the data, in The most borrowed library books of 2010.

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

       Yeonam's overlooked works (and worlds)

       In The Korea Times Chung Ah-young reports on the publication of Emanuel Pastreich's translation of The Novels of Park Jiwon: Translation of Overlooked Worlds, in A harbinger of Korean literary modernism. (Better known as 'Yeonam', Park Ji-won lived 1737 to 1805.)
       Pastreich notes:
It is a shame that in the effort to win a Nobel Prize for Literature for a deserving Korean author we have neglected to translate the masters of the past who deserve global recognition. We hope this collection will be included in surveys of global literature around the world so that his novels become part of the new canon, of what all students read when they go to college, alongside Confucius and Plato
       That seems like he's expecting/hoping for a bit much; still, these do sound interesting.
       See also the Seoul National University Press publicity page, or get your copy at

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

       Beirut's book buses

       Beirut apparently only has "three public libraries, with a fourth in the works", so they came up with the idea of having some roaming libraries -- as Annie Slemrod describes, in On board Beirut's book buses in the Daily Star.

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

18 February 2011 - Friday

Arabic writing now (and in the future) | JIBF preview | Unknown reviews
Blurbs in France | The Intervention of a Good Man review

       Arabic writing now (and in the future)

       In The Independent Boyd Tonkin 'explores the causes, and effects, of a cultural rebirth' at some length, in Revolution in the head and on the page: Writers are waking up to a new dawn across the Arab world.
       Meanwhile, at ahramonline, former AUC Press editor Chip Rossetti offers 'a review of Arabic writing in light of the revolution', in A Rumbling Octopus: Egyptians Take to the Streets in Protest.

       Tonkin includes a list of 'An Egyptian Dozen' at the end of his article; more than half of them are under review at the complete review:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       JIBF preview

       The Jerusalem International Book Fair runs 20 to 25 February, and David B. Green's 'inside look at the Jerusalem book fair's appeal to the masses', What's in it for you ?, in Haaretz offers a good overview of what's on offer (which sounds pretty good).
       Haaretz also has five questions for three authors: Lars Saabye Christensen (see also, for example, the complete review review of The Half-Brother), Jenny Erpenbeck (see also, for example, the complete review review of Visitation), and Petra Hulova.

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

       Unknown reviews

       Didier van Cauwelaert's practically film-script-ready Out of my Head (in her NYTBR review Sophie Harrison pointed out: "This is a novel that really, really wants to be a movie") has now been made into a movie, starring Liam Neeson, under the title Unknown; it opens to day in the US.
       Reviews of the movie include those in:        They agree that it's ... far-fetched (to put it mildly), and hardly a brilliant thriller, but some thinks it's watchable.

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

       Blurbs in France

       The dreaded 'blurb' has now invaded France, as Jérôme Dupuis, Marianne Payot, and Delphine Peras report in Les blurbs débarquent sur vos livres ! in L'Express, as it's apparently become popular to offer blurbs on the "bandeau" (too) often found on French books.
       French and English-writing Tatiana de Rosnay notes that she's never been solicited for a blurb by a French publisher, but that 'Anglo-Saxon' publishers often ask. And it's amusing to hear that it is almost unheard of for, for example, a Gallimard author to 'blurb' an Albin Michel author, because of the competition between publishers.
       It's hard not to see this as the beginning of yet another end; on the other hand, those bandeaux are readily disposed of (and I'm always for the removing of bandeaux ...).

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

       The Intervention of a Good Man review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Hervé Le Tellier's The Intervention of a Good Man -- a novella that, for now, Other Press has released only in e-book format.

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

17 February 2011 - Thursday

François Nourissier (1927-2011) | Translation in ... Iran
Hungarian Literature (back) Online | Purge, off-Broadway
The Fish Can Sing review

       François Nourissier (1927-2011)

       French literary figure and longtime Académie Goncourt-member François Nourissier has passed away.
       Barely anything of his is available in English, but he was an important figure and author on the French scene -- hence, for example, Philippe Chevilley writes about La mort du pape des lettres at Les Echos. See also, for example, the Le Monde obituary, or Pour saluer François Nourissier by Pierre Assouline at his weblog.

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

       Translation in ... Iran

       As IBNA announce, Lahiri, Allende compete in the 4th Parvin Etesami Award.
Secretariat of the 4th Parvin Etesami Biennial Award announced the shortlist of Fictional Literature works for compiled and translated books.
       The seven shortlisted titles for best translated work are:
  • Anima mundi by Susanna Tamaro, translated by Haleh Nazemi
  • Esther's Inheritance by Márai Sándor, translated by Fariba Salehi
  • خدا کی بستی by Shaukat Siddiqi, converted by Nazli Asgharzadeh
  • Poisson d'or by Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, translated by Farzaneh Shofer
  • Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by Goli Emami
  • Vernon God Little by DBC Pierre, translated by Maryam Mohammadi Seresht
  • Zorro by Isabel Allende, translated by Asieh Azizi and Parvaneh Aziz
       Are you kidding me ? Vernon God Little has been translated into Persian and published in the Islamic Republic of Iran -- and is now up for a literary prize there ?
       Just a week ago I mentioned how befuddled I was (yet again) by what does and doesn't get published in Iran (as Martin McDonagh's play, The Pillowman -- a play famously set in: "a totalitarian fucking dictatorship" -- has just come out there), and this week brings news that an almost current work -- Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes -- is also being published.
       This shortlist is odd and a bit embarrassing (any list with Vernon God Little on it is embarrassing, and Zorro just compounds that), but this isn't a bad mix, and at least gives some insight into what is getting translated and published in Iran (and note how almost all the works are from Western languages, Siddiqi's Urdu novel being the exception). However, discerning rhyme or reason behind what gets translated and published remains well-near impossible.

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

       Hungarian Literature (back) Online

       For a while, things have been mighty quiet at Hungarian Literature Online (the government axed all support a while back), but now they announce: "Hungarian Literature Online is back again -- hopefully to stay."
       No new material yet, but at least there's some activity there, so I keep my fingers crossed that they can get things rolling again -- since they are certainly correct when noting:
In the last few years we have received a lot of feedback indicating that many people -- professional readers and lovers of world literature -- have come to rely on us as the number one online source for Hungarian literature.
       Given that there's almost no other information to be found it is, indeed, a much-needed and most welcome resource.

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

       Purge, off-Broadway

       The stage version of Sofi Oksanen's Purge is (briefly -- only 10 to 20 February) playing at New York's La Mama theater. (Sorry I didn't let you know earlier -- this is the first I'm hearing of it.)
       See also articles about the production in Helsingin Sanomat (Tight schedule for New York theatre production of Sofi Oksanen’s Purge, by Anu Partanen) and The Villager (Hot property in the Baltics lands at La MaMa, by Jerry Tallmer).

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

       The Fish Can Sing review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness' 1957 novel, The Fish Can Sing.

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

16 February 2011 - Wednesday

Man 'Asian' Literary Prize shortlist | Bookselling in ... Morocco
The Los Angeles Review of Books

       Man 'Asian' Literary Prize shortlist

       They've announced the shortlist for the Man 'Asian' Literary Prize, and it consists of:
  • The Changeling by Oe Kenzaburo
  • Hotel Iris by Ogawa Yoko
  • Serious Men by Manu Joseph
  • The Thing About Thugs by Tabish Khair
  • Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu
       A strong Japanese showing -- by two titles that both didn't even make the 25-title-strong longlist for the Best Translated Book award, for which both were eligible (as was another title that didn't make it, Three Sisters).
       At the Wall Street Journal weblog, Asia Scene, Doretta Lau writes about The Man Asian Literary Prize Switcheroo, reminding readers that the rules were changed this year to honor a book already published in English rather than, as previously, an unpublished (in English) work.
       The chairman of the prize, David Parker, justifies this:
The change in the rules to contenders for this year's Man Asian prize, he says, is meant create a dialogue about Asian literature and allow readers to be a part of the process.
       Yeah, thanks ..... (I think the original set-up -- despite the obvious problems associated with it -- was more interesting, and at least offered some opportunity of helping to find new (to English) voices from the region.)

       As to my continuing complaint -- that you can't and shouldn't claim this is an Asian prize if you explicitly exclude writers from so many Asian nations from the contest (as they do -- their definition of 'Asia' is ridiculously narrow, and excludes most of the western half of the continent) --, that's simply ignored in the press coverage.

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

       Bookselling in ... Morocco

       At Deutsche Welle Sylvia Smith finds a Moroccan bookshop boosts independence from European publishing, profiling: "the modest Tangier bookshop, La Librairie des Colonnes" and their ambitious plans:
However, the shop is not content to only supply the northern Moroccan city with the best of books from France, Spain and the UK, but also hopes to revitalize a literary review, plan new translations into Arabic, and create links between the main centers of Arabic publishing around the Mediterranean.
       Sounds good.

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

       The Los Angeles Review of Books

       They still don't have any actual content up yet, but The Los Angeles Review of Books is garnering a lot of attention and good press -- and the articles they plan to publish certainly look promising.
       Wendy Werris' Publishers Weekly piece notes 'Los Angeles Review of Books' Now Set for April -- and what really caught my eye was that:
the original estimate for LAROB's operating budget has tripled, from $500,000 to $1.5 million. "This is based on the level of interest we've generated from supporters, and what the paid staff will require," Lutz said
       Awesome -- especially considering it's just an online publication (and a literary one at that). So they must be paying their big-name contributors the big bucks, right ?
       Apparently not -- at least at first they are following The Huffington Post model:
Although LAROB plans to pay for submissions in the future, currently its budget doesn't allow for compensation
       A budget of $1.5 million that "doesn't allow for compensation" ? (Leading one to wonder: what does it allow for ? They got their splash page for free, too, so it isn't the web-design .....) So at what level will it allow it ? (And how on earth do they imagine they're going to generate the necessary revenue ?)
       Well, they do seem to have ambitious plans, and it'll be great if they can realize them all. (Though I think they're getting a bit cocky and ahead of themselves with claims such as: "LARB will quickly become required reading for people in the book world and the first stop on writers' and readers' daily web tour".)

       (Updated - 19 February): In an e-mail, Tom Lutz clarifies: "We have a desire for a $1.5 million budget, which does not mean that we have $1.5 million; we have managed to raise a tiny fraction of that so far." [Same here, by the way -- I also have a desire for a $1.5 million budget, but you can guess how that's going .....] Promisingly, however, he states: "we are dedicated to paying contributors print rates (not internet peanuts)", and that if they do manage to raise the money, 70% will support writers and editors.

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

15 February 2011 - Tuesday

More The New York Times bestsellers | Life A User's Manual Big Read
Visitation review

       More The New York Times bestsellers

       As widely noted, The New York Times Book Review has expanded its bestseller-listage to include 'e-books', and they've now introduced their revamped bestseller lists, after "many months of planning, research and design" (so they claim, in Introducing E-Book Best Sellers).
       I stopped buying the print edition of The New York Times a while ago (the last time they raised their cover price), but did come across this weekend's (13 February) issue of The New York Times Book Review, apparently the first with the new bestseller lists in print (they appeared online earlier).
       A few observations: first off, in an issue of thirty-five pages (fatter than (recently) usual), six pages are dominated by bestseller lists. There are columns like 'Inside the List' and 'Paperback Row', but the lists take up all or most of each of the six pages -- which seems like a hell of a lot of space. There are fifteen different bestseller list categories, and at first I figured that maybe they were just showing off their full selection -- but it turns out the online offerings are even more extensive (twenty lists !). Are they really going to take up so much space with these, week in and week out ? (Apparently yes: the children's lists (there are four ...), for example, previously appearing only once a month, are now to be a weekly fixture.) Surely, this is exactly the sort of stuff that can (indeed should) be relegated entirely online, rather than wasting valuable print-space -- if The New York Times Book Review means to continue to be a prominent voice in the nation's literary discussions. (Hell, they haven't printed the stock tables for years, for example; these lists are similar page-filler that can more readily be consumed online.)
       (Just by way of pointless comparison, by the way: total review coverage of books in translation in this issue: zero. A very, very predictable: zero. (Interestingly, translated fiction does make more appearances on the various lists than I had expected: aside from the predictable Stieg Larsson, who is all over these, Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström somehow makes it on, while Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist continues its now over two year long run on the list.))
       It sure looks like the bestseller lists are all that The New York Times Book Review has left to market; perhaps in a few years it will consist entirely of bestseller lists in every variation (who needs those reviews anyway ?).
       The variety of lists they offer does serve some purpose -- but, I'd argue, only for a trade publication. (Maybe that's what The New York Times Book Review wants to turn itself into.) Surely your average consumer (i.e. reader) doesn't care (or understand) about the difference between 'Combined print and e-book fiction best sellers' and 'Paperback trade fiction best sellers' and all the rest; I'm actually interested in this stuff, but these vacuous (because hard-number-less lists) are almost useless to me. Despite the addition of 'e-books', I'm not particularly convinced (indeed, I'm particularly unconvinced) by the value of these particular lists (and somehow doubt that letting dozens or hundreds of additional titles label themselves 'The New York Times bestseller' won't result in watering down what limited value that might have).
       The fundamental failing of the lists is, of course, that they're relative, telling you nothing more than that book x sells more copies than book y in (ever-narrowing) category z. I have long been baffled by the inability (or, more likely, unwillingness) of the US publishing industry to make public hard and actual sales numbers; in many (most ? all ?) other countries at least year-end tallies are the norm. I realize that it's not easy to arrive at the number, but in the US film box office numbers, CD sales, video rentals, TV ratings, etc. are all made public. Why not book sales ? (Beyond the embarrassment of how low some of these numbers are.)
       Both unit sales and actual (dollar) turnover would be interesting and valuable numbers, but no one seems to want those revealed. If they were, then all these sub-categories -- there's a 'manga' list, for god's sake (though that's one of the online-only (so far) ones ...) -- might make some sense. As is, it all seems largely pointless, and beyond a bit of entertainment (and minimal information) value, certainly not worth the papers its printed on.
       Online -- sure. Knock yourselves out and play with every variation. That's what the infinite space of cyberspace is for. But when they yammer about how few pages they can print in a typical issue of The New York Times Book Review and then they go waste so much space on this kind of stuff .....

       For other reactions see, for example, Macy Halford's A Reaction to the Times E-Book Best-Seller Lists at The New Yorker's The Book Bench.

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

       Life A User's Manual Big Read

       If you've been putting off reading the great Georges Perec's magnum opus, Life A User's Manual, maybe the opportunity to read in a group is enough to get you to finally give it a try: at his Conversational Reading Scott Esposito is leading a 'Big Read' of this book, starting 13 March; see the schedule (along with a few helpful links).
       (Whatever gets you to read it -- I certainly recommend it !)

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

       Visitation review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Jenny Erpenbeck's Visitation.
       (This is another of the titles longlisted for this year's Best Translated Book award.)

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

14 February 2011 - Monday

Leila Aboulela profile | Torn between languages ?
A Posthumous Confession review

       Leila Aboulela profile

       In The Times (South Africa) Melissa de Villiers profiles Leila Aboulela, in A map of the world.
       Aboulela's Lyrics Alley is due out in the US this week (it's already been available in the UK for a while); I do expect to get to it; meanwhile, get your copy at or

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

       Torn between languages ?

       At Payvand Jeff Baron finds In the Language of Literature, Torn Between English and Persian, using Zohreh Ghahremani and others as examples. (Note, for whatever it's worth, that this piece is: "a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State".)
       Sheema Kalbasi opines:
"I find English a more precise language than Persian. Poetry thrives in vagueness and metaphor and so does the Persian language !"

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

       A Posthumous Confession review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Marcellus Emants' A Posthumous Confession.
       New York Review Books is re-issuing this 1894 Dutch classic, in J.M.Coetzee's 1975 translation (originally published in the short-lived Twayne 'Library of Netherlandic Literature', one of the admirable yet odder attempts at presenting literature in English translation of recent decades) -- and while the book holds up well on its own, it's the Coetzee-connection that should really attract the readers. The novel's unlikable protagonist (and narrator), Willem Termeer, is like someone straight out of any Coetzee novel (well, when he's at his most self-flagellating (well, in other words: out of any Coetzee novel ...)). From very early in his career -- he'd only published Dusklands (1974) by that time --, it's fascinating to see that he was drawn to this, and how much of this character is in so many of his books.

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

13 February 2011 - Sunday

Profiles: Edna O'Brien - Jeff Lindsay
Any Human Heart on PBS | One year of the Wheeler Centre
Caine Prize: A Life In Full | Working on the Nigeria Prize for Literature
Authors in ... Japan

       Profile: Edna O'Brien

       In The Scotsman Lee Randall profiles Edna O'Brien.
       Her new book, Saints and Sinners, is due out shortly; see the Faber publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Profile: Jeff Lindsay

       In The Australian Graeme Blundell profiles Likably loquacious Lindsay -- author of the serial-killer-Dexter series, Jeff Lindsay -- who notes:
"Many have only seen the TV show, which is grimmer than the books, without the same sense of humour."
       Get your copy of the first volume in the series, Darkly Dreaming Dexter, at or

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

       Any Human Heart on PBS

       The Channel 4 production of the adaptation of William Boyd's Any Human Heart will be shown on PBS in the US starting tonight.
       For some American reviews of the TV series, see those in the:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -

       One year of the Wheeler Centre

       In The Age Gina McColl reports that A year on, the Wheeler Centre gathers no moss, as the ambitious new project has fared very well in its first year, despite a very ambitious programme -- as:
When the Wheeler Centre launched 12 months ago in Melbourne with a hectic schedule of talks, debates and readings, there were fears it was aiming too high too fast.
But the Wheeler didn't rapidly exhaust demand. In 2010, it attracted 33,000 visitors to its mainly free events and many more to its online podcasts, while the pre-existing literary organisations under its umbrella, including the Melbourne Writers Festival and the Victorian Writers Centre, drew many more to their own programs (far from being cannibalised by an upstart, the MWF had a record box office of 50,000).
       One hopes they can keep it up.

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

       Caine Prize: A Life In Full

       The Caine Prize -- which, as I recently mentioned, just announced the judging panel for this year's prize -- brought out a collection of last year's shortlisted stories, A Life In Full, a while back -- a great way of showcasing African writing (at least short-form writing ...).
       They kindly sent me a copy, and I do hope to get a proper review up; meanwhile, however, see Mike Ekunno's discussion of the anthology in Next, in In search of the African Story (and get your own copy at or

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

       Working on the Nigeria Prize for Literature

       Next also offers a piece on Making the prize better, as:
Players involved with the Nigeria Prize for Literature met on Monday, February 7 to appraise the prize eight years after its inception.
       Not too much headway made yet, it seems, but it's good to see such discussions underway -- and such public reporting on them.

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

       Authors in ... Japan

       In an editorial, The Japan Times discusses Discovering new authors, as:
The recent media hype over a possible e-book revolution has obscured the real star of the book world -- the author -- and the continued functioning of the system for discovering new literary talent in Japan, including the competition among new authors for 30-some literary prizes.

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

12 February 2011 - Saturday

Bo Carpelan (1926-2011) | Mahmoud Dowlatabadi interview
Prize/submissions: St. Francis College Literary Prize | Texas Observer Short Story Prize
Amberville review

       Bo Carpelan (1926-2011)

       Swedish-writing Finnish author Bo Carpelan has passed away; see, for example, the Helsingin Sanomat article.
       He was two-time winner of the Finlandia Prize (for Urwind and Berg), and also won the Nordic Council Literature Prize. See, for example, the books and writers page on him, or this interview at Books from Finland.
       Quite a few of his books have been translated into English, including the interesting Axel; see the Northwestern University Press publicity page, or get your copy at or

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

       Mahmoud Dowlatabadi interview prints an English translation of Andreas Fanizadeh's interview with Mahmud Doulatabadi (also Mahmoud Dowlatabadi; see, for example, the complete review review of Kelidar) from Die Tageszeitung.
       I have a copy of Der Colonel ('The Colonel') and was recently mulling over finally getting to it .....

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

       Prize/submissions: St. Francis College Literary Prize

       The biennial St. Francis College Literary Prize is accepting entries until 1 May 2011.
       You may remember this prize from the first time they handed it out (to Aleksandar Hemon) in 2009, since this mid-career award was specifically for an author's fourth book. This time they've expanded their horizons a bit, as the prize is now: "for an outstanding 3rd to 5th book of published fiction".
       The prize is worth $50,000, so if you have anything that qualifies -- self-published books as well as translations apparently welcome (good for them !) -- you're encouraged to submit.

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

       Prize/submissions: Texas Observer Short Story Prize

       The first annual Texas Observer Short Story Prize is also accepting submissions through 1 May -- though for this one there is an entry fee.
       It's worth $1000 (and there are a few 'door prizes' as well), and Larry McMurtry will be judging.

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

       Amberville review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tim Davys' Amberville.
       This is the first volume in Davys' 'Mollisan Town'/stuffed-animal quartet -- but I'm afraid it's the last one in the series I'll be reviewing.

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

11 February 2011 - Friday

Prize news: Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional shortlists - Caine Prize judging panel
Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse shortlists - Sami Rohr Prize finalists
Warwick Prize for Writing shortlist

       Prize news: Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional shortlists

       The Commonwealth Writers' Prize regional shortlists have started to appear -- though predictably (and annoyingly) not yet at the official site ..... [Yes, this is still a recurring theme -- and, given all of today's prize news posts, I'll get that complaint that I have to repeat far too often out of the way here: why doesn't this sort of news appear at the official site as soon as it is made public or that first press release is sent ? Why do interested readers have to hunt it down elsewhere ? Why wouldn't you put a bit of effort into making the official site the place that offers the most information about your prize ? Come on people: get those acts together !]
       (Updated): Look at that, they actually got the regional finalist list up in an almost reasonably timely manner (so you don't need to refer to the lists/links below, but now have them conveniently collected where they belong).
       One additional note, now that the Africa list is up as well: as in the Caribbean and Canada region, there is an overwhelming local dominance: South Africa (8 finalists) and Nigeria (4) are the only two countries represented. Better than only one country, but still ..... Indeed, local dominance is an issue across the board: the South Asia and Europe region is represented by only two countries, the UK (10) and India (2), while the Southeast Asia and Pacific region manages three but is still dominated by the biggest Oceanic players, with finalists from only Australia (6), New Zealand (5), and Malaysia (1).

       So here's what I've been able to piece together (more to follow):

        - South East Asia and Pacific region: Beattie's Book Blog has the official announcement

        - Caribbean and Canada region: the Globe and Mail Blog, In other words, has the lists -- and the record of poor Caribbean showings continue: they had one of out the twelve finalists for the 2010 prize, and they were completely shut out this year. Do I hear a wake-up call ?
       Among the titles showing up here, however: Miguel Syjuco's Ilustrado (apparently not just a Filipino book ...), Emma Donoghue's Room (apparently eligible and in the running for every single English-language literary prize outside the US ...), and Alexander MacLeod's Light Lifting, a copy of which I just got a few days ago and will have a look at.

        - South Asia and Europe: Postoloniality has the lists. Among the finalists: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell, Lyrics Alley by Leila Abouleila (a copy of which I just picked up last week), and Serious Men by Manu Joseph (which I have and, I suppose, really should now have a closer look at).

       No word yet on the Africa finalists; I'll update once I hear. [Updated: as noted above, the official site now has the complete regional finalists list up; South Africa and Nigeria contribute all the African finalists.] The regional winners will be announced 3 March (just don't expect to find that news on the site first ....).

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

       Prize news: Caine Prize judging panel

       They've announced the judging panel for the 2011 Caine Prize for African Writing -- as well as the fact that "126 qualifying stories have been submitted to the judges from 17 African countries".
       I am, however, tremendously pleased and relieved that in this (and the most recent) press releases they claim that the prize is: "described as Africa’s leading literary award" -- a great and long over-due improvement/correction from their previously always styling themselves as the 'African Booker' (which was wrong on several counts, and did no one any favors).
       It is an admirable prize, too -- though readers know my longtime-preference for a pan-African novel prize (this one is just for stories). And I am a bit disappointed by the small number of entries, and the lack of geographic range (you can bet almost all the entries came from South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya [Updated: note, for example, that, as noted above, all the Africa-finalists for the just-announced Commonwealth Writers' Prize hail from South Africa (8) and Nigeria (4)], and it wouldn't surprise me if there isn't a one from North Africa (or Central Africa, for that matter)).

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

       Prize news: Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse shortlists

       The shortlists for the Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse -- the Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair, Germany's big spring book prize (and trying to be the second big German book prize prize after the German Book Prize), and noteworthy because it has three categories: fiction, non, and translation -- are out.

       Among the points of interest:
  • 131 publishers entered 480 titles -- down from the much more sensible and realistic 760 titles submitted last year (the rules were changed, limiting publishers to two entries per category, rather than the three permitted in 2010 (a terrible limitation)). What titles were submitted has, of course, not been revealed (though I ask, again and always: why of course ? wouldn't it make perfect sense to be transparent and let readers know what works were submitted ?)

  • The jurors were given e-readers -- Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS-650, not Kindles ... -- with which they could read the submitted books
       The awards will be handed out 17 March, at the book fair.

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

       Prize news: Sami Rohr Prize finalists

       The finalists for the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize in fiction for Jewish Literature (it alternates between fiction and non; 2011 is a fiction year) have been announced.
       The Sami Rohr stands out for its big prize-money -- $100,000 to its "top winner" plus a: "$25,000 Choice Award given to its first runner-up", making it one of the most remunerative of American book-prizes.
       A winner will be determined on or shortly after 15 March.

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

       Prize news: Warwick Prize for Writing shortlist

       The Warwick Prize for Writing has cuts its longlist down to a shortlist (though that meant only cutting it by less than half) -- though for now you'll have to refer to the Reuters Africa story to find the list.
       The theme of the prize this year is: 'Colour', and the winner will be announced 22 March.

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

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