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.
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.
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.
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:
"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.
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.
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 .....
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 ContextInterview 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.
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.
Meanwhile, The New York Times Book Review has now gotten around to reviewing1Q84 -- 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.