After years of being 'under construction' the new Times Literary Supplement site has finally launched.
It looks pretty good.
I subscribe to the TLS which (theoretically) gives me access to the (recent) archives, and the registration procedure to gain proper access was simple and worked (not so for quite a while at the old version of the site); there do, however, appear to still be some bugs in the system: searching for articles did bring up nice results-lists (with useful brief summaries of the content), but the actual articles were still inaccessible (a formatting problem, from the looks of it).
Editor Peter Stothard's weblog has now been superseded by The TLS Blog (though the URL remains the same); "other members of the editorial staff" will apparently now also be blogging.
This has great potential, of course, but we'll have to wait and see how things turns out.
They've announced that Norman Manea will receive this year's Nelly Sachs Prize; he gets to pick it (and the €15,000 that go with it) on 4 December.
Margaret Atwood took it last time around, and this biennial prize has a very impressive list of previous winners which includes: Aharon Appelfeld, Per Olov Enquist, Christa Wolf, Javier Marías, Michael Ondaatje, Juan Goytisolo, Milan Kundera, Elias Canetti, and Ilse Aichinger.
At the Wall Street Journal's India Real Time weblog Diksha Sahni has a Q&A: Chetan Bhagat on His New Book.
That book is Revolution 2020 -- pre-order your copy from Flipkart -- which he describes as: "a love story in the backdrop of corruption in the education sector in India".
While still rather baffled by the Bhagat-phenomenon -- sorry, not everyone likes the taste of ketchup (I can't stand the stuff) -- I do admit I am also quite fascinated by it, and I do hope to be able to get a copy of the book.
(See also, for example, the complete review review of One Night @ the Call Center.)
Via booktrade.info I learn that the Commonwealth Writers' Prize has re-launched by replacing their prizes, offering now Commonwealth Writers -- a world of new fiction.
There's no more 'Best Book award', just a 'Commonwealth Book Prize', which is a best first book-award (they used to have both a 'best' and a 'best first' award), and they've added a 'Commonwealth Short Story Prize'.
Apparently, or presumably this is all meant to help foster new(er) talent.
(In any case, Commonwealth new- and short-story writers have until 18 October to submit entries.)
New York City University's brand new Department of Basque Literature and Linguistics, named after Basque writer Bernardo Atxaga, was officially opened on Friday, September 16th in the presence of Atxaga himself.
A whole department named after an author, now that would be something !
Alas, something apparently got lost in translation: the City University of New York has only inaugurated a simple Bernardo Atxaga Chair in Basque Literature and Language (see the official event page).
Still, nice to see some American academic interest in Basque literature beyond Reno.
(Updated - 22 September): As Anchalee Kongrut now reports in The Bangkok Post, the collection of twelve stories, แดดเช้าร้อนเกินกว่าจะนั่งจิบกาแฟ ('Morning Sun is Too Hot to Sip Coffee') by Jaded Kamjorndet (จเด็จ กำจรเดช) has taken the prize.
The Nigeria-Biafra war changed the course of Nigeria.
One can summarise the conflict as one precipitated by the bile of ethnic hatred.
It was such a cataclysmic experience that for me it virtually changed the history of Africa and the history of Nigeria.
Everything I had known before, all the optimism had to be rethought. For me, this traumatic event changed my writing for a time, which found expression in a different genre -- poetry.
And he argues:
There is a great deal of work for the Nigerian writer -- indeed all writers.
If the society is healthy, the writer's job is limited -- which is not the situation in Nigeria.
On the other hand, if a society is ill the writer has a responsibility to point it out even if it produces headaches in the halls of power !
In The Age Steve Meacham profiles Michael Ondaatje, whose The Cat's Table is already out in the UK (though it'll be another month or so before it appears in the US; pre-order your copy at Amazon.com, or get your copy at Amazon.co.uk).
IBNA reports that in Iran 419 works inspected for Holy Defense Book of the Year, as writing about the Iran-Iraq War continues to be the one kind that is enthusiastically fostered and fanned by the authorities.
With 68 fiction titles -- and 29 volumes of poetry -- in the running there's clearly ... a lot to choose from.
I suspect Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's The Colonel -- which probably has enough 'Sacred Defense'-connections to qualify -- isn't in the running (among other reasons, because they're still holding up publication of it) .....
Apparently there's a film version of John Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and John Hurt, just (about) out -- see the official site -- and in The Guardian William Boyd now offers John le Carré: a Tinker, Tailor A-Z
(Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy isn't under review at the complete review -- though several of Boyd's books are -- but get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.)
In The Myanmar Times Zon Pann Pwint reports that Committee protects writer's copyrights, as a 'Paragu's Literary Copyright Committee' has been formed to collect the royalties due the prolific but now deceased Burmese author.
Copyright (and enforcement) apparently remain problematic in Burma: U Myo Aung of Pyae Sone publishing house is quoted:
"I see the formation of Paragu's Literary Copyright Committee as the first step toward the emergence of a new Myanmar Copyright Act.
The Myanmar Music Association takes action to prevent piracy from flourishing in the music industry, but the literary and movie industries have been slow to control the production and distribution of pirated books, plays, photographs and films," he said.
He said that although the Myanmar Copyright Act was enacted in 1914, legal action is rarely taken in cases of copyright infringement.
And that's just domestically; since Burma (i.e. also the Myanmar junta running the place now) isn't a party to the major copyright treaties, notably Berne and the UCC, they don't fare well abroad either -- one more reason why there's so little Burmese literature in translation available.
(Though I've always wondered why there isn't more fiction available from those non-signatory outliers (Ethiopia, Iran, Kuwait (somewhat surprisingly), etc.), since the material is thus essentially free for the taking, as authors theoretically don't have to be compensated (morally it's a different issue, of course ...); recall the good old days when the Soviet Union was outside the international copyright world, leading to publishers competing with multiple translations of Solzhenitsyn's work, etc.)
Amazon has opened Amazon.es, for the Spanish market.
Maybe not ideal timing, but it's probably a good market to be in; Reuters suggests 'Launches in Netherlands, Sweden, India may follow' (India seems like a long overdue no-brainer to me; the Netherlands and Sweden seem a bit riskier -- hyper-literate audiences, but relatively small populations -- and the Netherlands, in particular, doesn't seem to need delivery service anywhere nearly as much as countries where it actually takes a while to get anywhere).
I am impressed that Amazon.es also has extensive listings of, for example, libros en euskera -- Basque language books (the same goes for Catalan and Galician) -- though, of course, it would be foolish for them not to.
And, yes, the complete review is now also an Amazon.es affiliate.
Amazon click-throughs and referral income have nose-dived from the links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk -- much further than the decline in traffic that Google's rejigged algorithm has led to -- but the trickle of income from the other affiliations doesn't hurt, and I expect some to come together here as well, especially since Spanish is the third most-popular language (after English and French) books reviewed at the site were originally written in (about 6.50 per cent of all titles); there's also a decent amount of traffic from Spain to the site -- though not nearly as much as from the Netherlands .....
Interestingly, a small but appreciable portion of Amazon.com-revenue comes from the sale of Spanish-language books to US customers .....
Via De papieren man I learn that De Bezige Bij is bringing out a 1152-page edition of Jorge Luis Borges' Verzamelde poëzie -- yes: Alle gedichten.
Meanwhile, in the English-speaking world we wait and wait, making do with odds and ends, the most comprehensive collection being a very limited (but at least bilingual) edition of Selected Poems (get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) .....
(Who do I blame ?
Well, who 'represents' the Borges estate ?
Oh, you know who .....
And don't get me started on the Borges non-fiction, huge masses of which remain unavailable in English .....)
If you're a regular reader of this Literary Saloon you, of course, also follow Three Percent, and they've now collected the best blog posts -- Chad Post's own rants, as well as some guest commentary -- in an ebook, The Three Percent Problem: Rants and Responses on Publishing, Translation, and the Future of Reading, available for $2.99 at Amazon.com (and just £2.12 at Amazon.co.uk); Chad asks that, if possible, you make your purchase today at noon (to game the Amazon rankings ...), though given that it was already a stellar "10,462 Paid in Kindle Store", last I checked, it seems many couldn't wait to get their hands on it.
And who can blame them ?
It looks good (and not just content-wise -- though admittedly my copy is a pdf version, not the "Kindle"-format, so I can't judge how it looks on your Kindle).
Close to 400 (!) pages of material, covering may of the translation/publishing translations/bookselling issues that have been much discussed over the past few years.
And, sure, this material is all available on site -- but how nice it is to have it all assembled in this form, pieces grouped together by topic, etc.
I just hope they make a print version available as well .....
The Iowa Review has opened up a Forum on Literature and Translation, which looks very promising.
First up is a piece by Lawrence Venuti, the plenary lecture he delivered to the annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association in October of 2010, Towards a Translation Culture.
They say: "Feel free to chime in" -- so go ahead !
In Le Figaro Etienne De Montety wonders, Les jurys littéraires sont-ils machistes ? as it occurs to the French to look at the percentage of women who win prominent literary prizes and find that, at 10 per cent, it seems to fall a bit short.
At Tablet Josh Lambert looks back at two years of writing the 'On the Bookshelf'-column (covering some 874 new books), in Around Reading.
Literary superabundance does present a real threat to authors: As more books are published, less attention can be devoted to each one as an individual achievement.
So, one suspects it's with them that the gripes about the death of the book originate.
But from a committed reader's perspective, there has never been a more vibrant literary marketplace: Books are more plentiful, cheaper, and easier to find than ever before.
Anyone kvetching about the death of the book is just giving him- or herself a half-assed excuse for not reading more of them.
The rest of us are busy enjoying a literary renaissance.
They've announced the shortlist for the German Book Prize.
love german books offered her Take on the Longlist a few days ago, which gives you some idea of the books that were (and the ones that remain) in the running.
None of the books are under review at the complete review, but as I've mentioned, I'm very curious about Lewitscharoff's Blumenberg, and will be getting to that.
They've announced the longlist for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, which offers what looks like an interesting mix of titles -- quite a few I'd like to have a look at.
(The only one under review at the complete review is The Patience Stone, by Atiq Rahimi.)
They've announced the shortlist for the (ridiculously over-titled) Financial Times Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year, and Andrew Hill has the run-down [Updated: Sorry, the FT piece apparently turns out to be registration-requiring (great way to publicize your prize ...); check out Katie Allen's overview, Six on "stimulating" business book shortlist at the more user-friendly The Bookseller instead].
(Nope, none of the shortlisted books are under review at the complete review.)
In the Times of India P.V.Shyam reports on a Library of a different kind, the Viyyur central jail library -- which: "witnesses a footfall of 200 every day".
As Welfare Officer and In-Charge of the Library Santhosh TG explains:
Viyyur Central Jail Library is the most utilized library in its category in the district.
We hope to make the library in Viyyur jail one of the best jail libraries, if not in the country, in the State as a whole
a four-day festival celebrating the work of 2011 NSK Neustadt Prize laureate Virginia Euwer Wolff and the nine internationally-known writers who make up the 2012 Neustadt Prize jury.
I've long complained that the Neustadt events -- this festival and the whole to-do around the biennial Neustadt International Prize for Literature (which, I'd argue, still easily beats out Man Booker International Prize in the international-author-prize hierarchy) -- don't get nearly the press coverage and attention they should, and I hope (and imagine) this helps.
At signandsight.com Oleg Yuriev finds: 'The siege of Leningrad, which began 70 years ago, has found a harrowing witness in literature', in In the vortex of congealed time, pointing to some recently (re)discovered/published work by authors such as Gennady Gor (Геннадий Самойлович Гор) and Pavel Salzmann (Павел Яковлевич Зальцман).
So what I consider one of the major works to be published in translation this year, Mahmoud Dowlatabadi's The Colonel, came out a few months ago -- it was Haus' lead title in July --, and I still can't find any English-language reviews (print or weblog or other) of the translation.
There was a panel on it last week in London (see, for example, this report), so maybe that will spur some interest, but, come on .....
What am I missing here ?
Is the Middle Eastern quota currently being filled entirely by Arabic-writing authors ?
Come on, book review editors, assign this title .....
(Updated - 14 September): I'm very pleased to see that Damian Kelleher took up the call quickly -- see now his review.
I hope many other follow suit !
There are two exhibits that sound pretty appealing still on at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (at Yale, in New Haven), running through 1 October; see the exhibits page for details.
One is; 'Multitudes: A Celebration of the Yale Collection of American Literature, 1911–2011'; see the Yale Daily News piece on it by Carolyn Lipka, Yale's archives get a little too excited.
The other is: 'How is a Book ... . . . written ? illustrated ? printed ? bound ?'; see the Yale Daily News pieces How is a book ... made history ? by James Lu and Beinecke opens the book on bookmaking by Natasha Thondavadi.
Disappointing, however, to hear from Lu:
In my three trips to the Yale Bookstore this past week, I saw flocks of people, many of whom were shelling out hundreds of dollars for their course books.
In my three trips to the Beinecke this past week to see the current exhibit, "How is a book ...," I saw no one.
Yeah, this sounds like it'll be a ... rousing success: as DP news reports, the Damascus International Book Fair 2011 is now open.
That's actually the Al-Assad Library International Book Fair, which "kicked off" on Thursday.
Good to hear:
Vice-President Najah al-Attar offered special greeting for President Bashar al-Assad who worked hard to upgrade education process in Syria through supporting constructive cultural projects.
Because, you know, there's entirely too much of a focus on things like books at your usual book fair, and those shout-outs to the homies are sorely missed.
And, since it's a book fair, why miss the opportunity to try to score some regional-political points ?
Al-Attar said "Syria has always believed in the united Arab stance, the united Arab nation and the struggle to upgrade the Arab life to achieve victory and defend the rights."
(Yeah, that's what Syria under the Assads has always been known for, upgrading the Arab life and defending any sort of the rights .....)
Meanwhile, SANA (yes, the Syrian Arab News Agency) knows how to headline a report (at least for domestic consumption) on the bookfair, reporting (with lots of pictures !) Al-Attar: Syria Always the Greatest for Its Pan-Arabism and National Stances.
The participants stressed that the Fair constitutes an important cultural phenomenon in Syria's history, adding that knowledge and culture are the only way to overcome difficult circumstances.
Well, it can't hurt, presumably.
No report on how many -- if any -- foreign participants showed up, however.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Roger Scruton's The Uses of Pessimismand the Danger of False Hope.
(Interesting to note that this was brought out by Atlantic in the UK, but not Grove/Atlantic in the US; instead it's one of these books that was published by a university press -- Oxford University Press -- stateside.)
Patrick White's great novel, The Eye of the Storm -- it's one of the master's best -- has been made into a movie, directed by Fred Schepisi, and with a pretty solid cast headed by Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling, and Judy Davis; see the official site.
It opens Thursday in Australia, and the Sydney Morning Herald already has Tom Ryan's review.
Also of interest: in The Age White-biographer David Marr writes about White's Celluloid dreams, reporting that: 'he was also a cinephile who believed his novels were made to be filmed and even held ambitions to direct'.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Stuart Evans' novel, The Caves of Alienation.
With a title like that -- not to mention the subject matter and approach --, and the fact that it's a volume in the Library of Wales-series, how could I not have a look ?