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The Literary Saloon Archive

1 - 10 November 2011

1 November: William Hutchins on translating Mahfouz | Margaret Jull Costa on Saramago | Biology is Technology review
2 November: De Nederlandse maagd takes AKO Literatuurprijs | November issues | The Maid review
3 November: Prizes: Goncourt - Букер Десятилетия - לפרס ספיר longlist | Steps Through the Mist review
4 November: Hanan al-Shaykh profile | Gilgamesh manifestations | Ukrainian book collections
5 November: Profiles: P.D.James - Murakami-translator Jay Rubin | Q & As: André Schiffrin - Amir Hassan Cheheltan | PW top 10 of 2011 | Utopia review
6 November: Jiří Gruša (1938-2011) | The Hindu Literary Prize post-mortem | Patrick McGrath on Sheridan Le Fanu
7 November: Writing in ... China | Thrown into Nature review
8 November: International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award longlist | Stothard to chair Man Booker Prize | Vargas Llosa on literature and liberty
9 November: Amazon.com's 'Best Books of 2011' | Scotiabank Giller Prize | Amos Oz reviews
10 November: Wellcome Trust Book Prize | Publishing in ... Zimbabwe | Literature Live ! in Mumbai

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10 November 2011 - Thursday

Wellcome Trust Book Prize | Publishing in ... Zimbabwe | Literature Live ! in Mumbai

       Wellcome Trust Book Prize

       They've announced that Turn of Mind, by Alice LaPlante, has won the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, which: "celebrates the best of medicine in literature by awarding £25 000 each year for the finest fiction or non-fiction book centred around medicine".
       Get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Publishing in ... Zimbabwe

       In News Day Khulani Nkabinde reports that in Zimbabwe Weak publishers destroying literature - Baya.
       That would be Raisedon Baya, who recently addressed "authors who had gathered to commemorate the annual International Day of the African Writer" and finds all sorts of problems with publishing in Zimbabwe.
       So, for example:
"The publishing industry in Bulawayo is operating at a very low scale. One could even say that it is non-existent," he said.
       Given current conditions surely it's remarkable enough that there's much of any publishing going on -- and I'd argue that the likes of 'amaBooks and Weaver Press are doing quite remarkable work, given the domestic circumstances.

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



       Literature Live ! in Mumbai

       The Times of India Literature Live ! interactive festival runs from 12 to 15 November, and will apparently be: "bringing fine literary minds from India and abroad on one platform".

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



9 November 2011 - Wednesday

Amazon.com's 'Best Books of 2011' | Scotiabank Giller Prize
Amos Oz reviews

       Amazon.com's 'Best Books of 2011'

       Amazon.com is next up in getting out a Best Books of 2011-list -- 100 strong.
       Of greatest (well, practically only) interest hereabouts is the Literature & Fiction top 10; showing how completely out of touch I am (and how few review copies I get ...), I've only seen (i.e. got a copy) of a single one of these titles, Murakami's 1Q84.

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



       Scotiabank Giller Prize

       They've announced that Esi Edugyan wins the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize -- by which they mean, of course, that her book, Half-Blood Blues, won the prize.
       It's not out in the US yet -- pre-order the February release from Amazon.com -- but see also the publicity pages from Thomas Allen and Serpent's Tail, or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk; see also her official site.

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



       Amos Oz reviews

       The most recent additions to the complete review are my reviews of two recently translated novels by Amos Oz:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



8 November 2011 - Tuesday

International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award longlist
Stothard to chair Man Booker Prize | Vargas Llosa on literature and liberty

       International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award longlist

       They've announced the longlist for the 2012 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award -- all 147 titles, of which 34 are in translation. (That's a lot, but less than in recent years: the 2011 prize had a 162-title longlist, the 2010 prize had a 156-title strong one -- and translations make up a smaller part of the total (23.1 per cent) than in those years: 2011: 42 titles/25.9 per cent; 2010: 41 titles/26.3 per cent.)
       It's a very ... eclectic selection (as is the case most years) -- and seriously ? nothing translated from the Arabic ? nothing from the Chinese ? (Obviously this is in part a reflection of the limited number/location of the nominating libraries (which still tend to vote way too nationalistically ...), but still .....)

       A few of the longlisted titles are under review at the complete review:        There are also a few titles for which there are just review-overviews:
(Posted by: M.A.Orthofer)    - permanent link -



       Stothard to chair Man Booker Prize

       They've announced that TLS-editor Peter Stothard to chair the 2012 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
       This is fairly obviously a reaction to this year's judging-panel (and the criticism it was subjected to), led by not exactly the most literary of lights. As Alison Flood notes in her report in The Guardian, Booker prize announces highbrow editor to head 2012 jury, former chair Andrew Motion had predicted:
"I would be very surprised if they don't choose some very highbrow judges next year ... The brand of Booker is a very precious and vulnerable thing, and we have to look after it," he added. "That makes it very important who is chosen to be a judge."
       Meanwhile, at The Spectator's book blog Anna Baddeley suggests, in Giving in to the bullies, that: "At least Stothardís appointment will kill off the Literature Prize".

       Oddly, at The TLS Blog Stothard posted a piece yesterday -- but about ... the new Steve Jobs biography. Okay, he has a worthy point to make; we'll just have to hope that Man Booker chair announcement commentary will follow eventually.

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



       Vargas Llosa on literature and liberty

       In the Wall Street Journal they print a piece by Mario Vargas Llosa, which he wrote for the upcoming event at which he is to receive an Alexis de Tocqueville Award; the piece is Literature and the Search for Liberty, in which he argues: 'What is lost on collectivists is the prime importance of individual freedom for societies to flourish and economies to thrive.'

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



7 November 2011 - Monday

Writing in ... China | Thrown into Nature review

       Writing in ... China

       A long front-page piece in The New York Times by Edward Wong finds Murong Xuecun's Career Pushing Censorship's Limits.
       Murong Xuecun -- 慕容 雪村 or, as The New York Times helpfully has it: 'moo-rong shweh-tswen' -- makes for a decent enough case study. So, also, for example, about the censorship situation:
"The worst effect of the censorship is the psychological impact on writers," Mr. Murong said. "When I was working on my first book, I didn't care whether it would be published, so I wrote whatever I wanted. Now, after I have published a few books, I can clearly feel the impact of censorship when I write. For example, I'll think of a sentence, and then realize that it will for sure get deleted. Then I won't even write it down. This self-censoring is the worst."
       Also of some interest in the piece: the observation/claim that in China:
In recent years, the Internet has popularized genre fiction, and bookstores here now stock the whole gamut: science fiction and fantasy, horror, detective, teenage romance and, most lucrative of all, children's stories.

"The Internet created all, and I say all, the literary trends that took off in 2005 and afterward," said Jo Lusby, managing director of Penguin China.
       Note also that Murong's Leave Me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu is available in English; get your copy at Amazon.com.

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



       Thrown into Nature review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Milen Ruskov's Thrown into Nature, coming out from Open Letter.

       In other Bulgarian literary news, note that, as Elena Karkalanova reports, Galin Nikiforov receives Elias Canetti National Literature Prize (traditionally awarded "on the eve of 1 November, Enlighteners' Day"). Nothing by him under review at the complete review, but among books in the running were titles by Vladislav Todorov, Georgi Gospodinov, and Vladimir Zarev -- other books by all of whom are under review here; apparently I've got the contemporary Bulgarian scene pretty well covered .....

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



6 November 2011 - Sunday

Jiří Gruša (1938-2011) | The Hindu Literary Prize post-mortem
Patrick McGrath on Sheridan Le Fanu

       Jiří Gruša (1938-2011)

       I missed this last week: Jiří Gruša has passed away; see, for example, this post at The Prague Post's Colophon book weblog, which includes a Q & A with him. And see also the Context Interview with Jirí Grusa by Ana Lucic.
       Among his translated titles see, for example, The Questionnaire -- see the Dalkey Archive Press publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       The Hindu Literary Prize post-mortem

       They awarded The Hindu Literary Prize last week -- see my previous mention -- and The Hindu now offers What the judges say -- K. Satchidanandan's Award Ceremony speech explaining 'what went on behind the scenes and the criteria used to select the winner'.
       Of greatest interest: the call that:
The Selection Committee would also like to request The Hindu to have, from next year onwards at least, separate awards of equal value for fiction written in English and that translated from the languages of India so that both receive equal attention and the process of selection is made a little easier since it is not often easy for a translation to compete with original English writing in terms of the fluency of style as the translation is obliged to retain certain modes and echoes of the original language and the specificities of the culture concerned. The award for the translated work will however not be a translation award, but one for translated fiction.
       And see also Akhila Krishnamurthy's 10 Questions for prize-winner Rahul Bhattacharya in Outlook India.

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



       Patrick McGrath on Sheridan Le Fanu

       I missed this last week too: the arts desk had a Halloween Special: Patrick McGrath on Sheridan Le Fanu's horror stories -- but the work of both authors certainly goes beyond the seasonal (I've enjoyed quite a few works by each of them).

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



5 November 2011 - Saturday

Profiles: P.D.James - Murakami-translator Jay Rubin
Q & As: André Schiffrin - Amir Hassan Cheheltan
PW top 10 of 2011 | Utopia review

       Profile: P.D.James

       In The Guardian Sarah Crown offers a profile of A life in writing: P.D.James.
       James' Death Comes to Pemberley is due out, and she explains more about that Austen-variation in The Telegraph, in PD James on 'Death Comes to Pemberley'.
       See also the Faber publicity page, or get your copy from Amazon.co.uk, or pre-order from Amazon.com.

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



       Profile: Murakami-translator Jay Rubin

       In The Harvard Crimson Michelle B. Nguyen profiles 1Q84-co-translator Jay Rubin, in Thinking in Another Language.

       Meanwhile, The New York Times Book Review has now gotten around to reviewing 1Q84 -- with Kathryn Schulz finding:
1Q84 is psychologically unconvincing and morally unsavory, full of lacunas and loose ends, stuffed to the gills with everything but the kitchen sink and a coherent story. By every standard metric, it is gravely flawed. But, I admit, standard metrics are difficult to apply to Murakami. It's tempting to write that out of five stars, I'd give this book two moons.

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



       Q & A: André Schiffrin

       André Schiffrin's The Business of Books is coming out in an Indian edition (from Navayana), and at livemint Anindita Ghose has a Q & A with him, in Kafka's first book sold 600 copies; Beckett sold three. (Lots of familiar questions and answers .....)

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



       Q & A: Amir Hassan Cheheltan

       Guernica has Shiva Rahbaran's Q & A with Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Myth About Myths -- taken from Dalkey Archive Press' forthcoming Iranian Writers Uncensored: Freedom, Democracy and the Word in Contemporary Iran (pre-order your copy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk).
       Recall that I just recently reviewed his آمریکایی کُشی در تهران; his novels are not yet available in English translation.

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



       PW top 10 of 2011

       Apparently it's already best-of-the-year season, as Publishers Weekly (who admittedly do look months ahead, and so are among the best positioned to get their votes in this early) offer their PW Best Books 2011: The Top 10.
       I have seen just a single one of these titles (and was too disappointed by it to review it), and I only plan/hope to look at two more -- Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot (I have it on reserve at the NYPL -- nr. 318 on 199 copies as of today), and Ali Smith's There but for the (if and when I chance across it).

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



       Utopia review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Ahmed Khaled Towfik's Utopia.
       This is one of the first titles out from Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing; they also kindly sent me 'A Cairo Political Thriller', Vertigo, by Ahmed Mourad, which I expect to get to soon, too, and what they're doing looks very promising -- perhaps a bit more popular-type-titles that the American University in Cairo Press. Certainly welcome, in any case.

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



4 November 2011 - Friday

Hanan al-Shaykh profile | Gilgamesh manifestations | Ukrainian book collections

       Hanan al-Shaykh profile

       In the Daily Star Mirella Hodeib profiles Hanan al-Shaykh, who says: 'It's not my Beirut anymore'.

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



       Gilgamesh manifestations

       At berfois Theodore Ziolkowski writes about Gilgamesh: An Epic Obsession -- arguing that:
In sum, in almost a hundred manifestations of literature, art, music, and popular culture, the epic of Gilgamesh constitutes a finely tuned seismograph that registers many of the major intellectual, social, and moral upheavals of the past hundred years
       He notes that, for example, just:
In the works written since 1950 Gilgamesh has not only been psychoanalyzed, deconstructed, historicized, musicalized, personalized, postfigured, and Hispanicized
       An intriguing preview of his forthcoming book, Gilgamesh Among Us: Modern Encounters with the Ancient Epic; see the Cornell University Press publicity page, or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Ukrainian book collections

       In the Kyiv Post Oksana Faryna reports on how Ukrainian Private book collectors try to preserve history.
       No surprise that:
Neither Prognimak nor Bilokin want to transfer their collections to the state, because of poor management of libraries and poor funding.
       One hopes they'll figure out a long-term solution.

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



3 November 2011 - Thursday

Prizes: Goncourt - Букер Десятилетия - לפרס ספיר longlist
Steps Through the Mist review

       Prizes: Goncourt

       They've announced that this year's prix Goncourt went to L'art français de la guerre, by Alexis Jenni, which beat out Du domaine des Murmures by Carole Martinez, five votes to three; both are published by Gallimard.
       See also the TLS blog report, Going, going, Goncourt (though note that they are wrong in claiming that The Kindly Ones was Jonathan Littell's first novel; it was just his first written/published in French) -- and good to see that the winning title: "will be reviewed in a forthcoming issue of the TLS". Other English-language reports include Eleanor Stanford's 'Sunday writer' wins France's top literary prize with his first book in The Independent.
       Get your copy of the winning title at Amazon.fr.

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



       Prizes: Букер Десятилетия

       The Man Booker knock-off Russian Booker Prize has announced the shortlist for their 'Букер Десятилетия' -- best (Russian) Booker winner of the decade; see also the report at Lizok's Bookshelf.
       The only title available in English (and reviewed at the complete review) is Daniel Stein, Interpreter, by Ludmila Ulitskaya.

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



       Prizes: לפרס ספיר longlist

       They've announced the twelve-title strong longlist (selected from 63 entries) for the Israeli Sapir Prize; see also Ido Balas' report in Haaretz, Finalists for Sapir literature prize announced.
       Among the authors with books in the running: Zeruya Shalev, Eshkol Nevo, and Orly Castel-Bloom.

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



       Steps Through the Mist review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of A Mosaic Novel by Zoran Živković, Steps Through the Mist.
       (And see also the November-December issue of World Literature Today, which has several pieces by and about Živković.)

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



2 November 2011 - Wednesday

De Nederlandse maagd takes AKO Literatuurprijs
November issues | The Maid review

       De Nederlandse maagd takes AKO Literatuurprijs

       They've announced that Marente de Moor wint AKO Literatuurprijs 2011, as her novel De Nederlandse maagd has taken this prestigious literary prize.
       See also the NLPVF information page about the book.

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



       November issues

       November issues of online periodicals now available include Open Letters Monthly and Words without Borders -- with the theme Writing from the Caribbean.

       And Dalkey Archive Press has now published a new issue of their Context -- issue 23.

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



       The Maid review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Tsutsui Yasutaka's The Maid.

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



1 November 2011 - Tuesday

William Hutchins on translating Mahfouz | Margaret Jull Costa on Saramago
Biology is Technology review

       William Hutchins on translating Mahfouz

       Arabic Literature (in English) has a Q & A with William Hutchins on Translating Naguib Mahfouz's 'Trilogy' and 'Cairo Modern'.
       (Both The Cairo Trilogy and Cairo Modern are under review at the complete review -- and there's more Mahfouz coverage to come ....)

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



       Margaret Jull Costa on Saramago

       At Granta Online Margaret Jull Costa offers José Saramago: a celebration -- noting that:
I've just finished translating Levantado do chão (Raised from the Ground), published in 1980 and hitherto untranslated into English. It was in this novel, as he himself commented, that Saramago first found his unique style and voice.
       Still a while before Raised from the Ground is available, but you can already pre-order from Amazon.co.uk.

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



       Biology is Technology review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Robert H. Carlson on The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life, in Biology is Technology.

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



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