The Jan Campert-Stichting's Constantijn Huygens-prijs -- the leading Dutch author-, rather than book-prize -- has been awarded to A.F.Th.van der Heijden, the super-prolific and prolix Dutch author.
Several of his books are under review at the complete review, but none have been translated into English yet; I'm also slowly making my way through the 1000+ page Het schervengericht, which might actually have a chance at getting translated, since it has a very intriguing premise: in this alternate history Roman Polanski doesn't flee the US after his trial but goes to prison for a few months -- where he gets to know another diminutive prisoner, Charles Manson (who of course was responsible for the murder of Polanski's wife, Sharon Tate).
See the NLPVF information page about Het schervengericht, or their author page on van der Heijden.
In A crisis in literary criticism ? at Moby Lives Ellie Robins discusses Winston Manrique Sabogal's interesting piece from El País, Radiografía de la crítica literaria -- which includes contributions by several English-writing commentators, including Eliot Weinberger, Marie Arana, and Claire Armitstead.
As so often in these debates I think things get confused by the conflation of 'literary criticism' and 'book reviewing'.
(The way I explain the difference: in a book review you shouldn't say whodunnit; in literary criticism you have to discuss it.)
They are very different, and serve different purposes -- though inevitably there's some overlap.
(In case it wasn't obvious: about 98 per cent of what you find at the complete review consists of book reviews, with only very small and occasional doses of literary criticism.)
Eliot Weinberger notes:
Estados Unidos no tiene la clase de suplementos literarios habituales en España y muchos otros países.
Solo tiene una publicación periódica importante sobre crítica literaria: The New York Review of Books.
But, of course, The New York Review of Books' ambit extends far beyond the merely literary -- and rather than a 'crítica literaria' I would consider it a journal of cultural criticism -- 'cultural' in the broadest (i.e. also political) sense.
(I subscribe to it, but I do admit to frequently -- i.e. every time an issue arrives -- being annoyed by how far they stray from purely literary coverage.)
Sadly, however, Weinberger is right when he observes:
No puedo pensar en un solo crítico estadounidense a quien uno pueda recurrir ahora en busca de ideas.
There are a handful of American critics whose work I'll certainly always read, but none whose work I don't have serious reservations about (so, for example, as I've frequently noted, I continue to be baffled -- truly baffled -- by James Wood's criticism).
(Weinberger is always worth reading, but he's also a cultural, rather than literary critic .....)
Lots more of interest among the responses in the El País-piece -- but as far as the concluding 'Reglas para una crítica equilibrada' I have to disagree with the first (among others): admittedly in literary criticism (as opposed to book reviewing) it's a bit more reasonable, but I'm against 'situating the author' and the like: the (individual) book is what matters, while the author and anything to do with the author is of, at best, secondary (and, indeed, I would argue: far lesser) importance.
Foreign Policy has released its 'unique portrait of 2011's global marketplace of ideas and the thinkers who make them', the The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers (single but very long page).
Many are (also) authors, but there are only a few books by whom are under review at the complete review:
At The New Yorker's weblog, The Book Bench, Willing Davidson has a Q & A with César Aira-translator Chris Andrews.
Almost all the available-in-English Aira titles (a tiny fraction of the many, many he's written ...) are under review at the complete review; see, for example, The Literary Conference.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Bankim-Chandra Chatterjee's nineteenth-century novel, Krishnakanta's Will.
Amazingly, this (mainly) Bangla-writing author appears to have been more popular in translation in the US and UK in the late-nineteenth century than in recent decades -- this (apparently out of print) 1962 translation seems to have gone largely unreviewed, but an earlier one even got written up in the (way pre-Sam Tanenhaus ...) The New York Times in 1895.
Not that Chatterjee has been completely forgotten: Hesperus recently published The Forest Woman (though, sigh, I haven't seen a copy yet); see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
During visits of different places in twin cities Daily Times learnt that the students are more interested in unethical books rather than knowledgeable books and they like to read vulgar literature, not only students but people from different professions read such kind of immoral books.
Hey, at least they want to read .....
And I'm not that convinced that:
These kinds of books adversely affect the minds and approach of young students.
Such books are being sold only at Rs 30 to 35 on the stall at bus stops of twin cities.
These books are source of entertainment for lower class community of labors, conductors and beggars.
The wrongdoings spreading in our society is the result of reading these vulgar and unethical novels and books.
They give rise to many gender related issues in our society.
Labor(ers ?), conductors, beggars reading ?
Yeah, there seems to be a class problem here.
I think they could do worse than looking to these 'vulgar and unethical novels' -- and it's good to see they are competitively priced.
"There is no doubt -- the statistics are there -- that more Arabic titles are being translated into English every year than used to be the case," Irwin continues.
"But one of the problems the British reading public may have with Arabic fiction is that so much of it is heavily politicised: so much of it is veiled or open criticism of despotic Arab regimes, or of the oppression of women in the Middle East, or of the Palestine problem.
On the whole, British fiction is not political.
The British public likes a good plot, and what is being offered instead by Arab writers is disguised polemic.
And I do like the mention:
Irwin is supportive of the Arab Spring ("I'm looking forward to it")
The New Statesman now also has 'contributors and friends choose their favourite reads of the year', in their Books of the year 2011 list.
(Unfortunately, they present it in incredibly inconvenient and annoying form, with each contributor and friend making their selections on a separate page.
Single page, people -- always put everything on a single page.)
In Le Monde Luis de Miranda says enough already, with a call Pour un moratoire sur les prix littéraires.
Still, looking at the steady announcements of new prize winners etc. in France -- check in at Prix-Litteraires: Le blog for all the fun -- I think there's a lot to be said for many of these.
Okay, maybe not the Goncourt and the like -- de Miranda does have a point there -- but how can one not appreciate 'Le prix des Impertinents' (rewarding taboo-breaking, politically incorrect literature), or Le prix du Livre Insulaire -- which apparently is willing to consider both literal and metaphorical insularity ... ?
"It would be a mistake to read Scenes from Village Life as a statement about the state of Israel," Oz said in an interview at the offices of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, his American publisher.
"It should be read as a statement on the human condition
a joint inaugural ceremony for the Ninth National Congress of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles (CFLAC) and the Eighth National Congress of the China Writers' Association (CWA).
Among other things:
He advised them to get close to the realities and lives of the masses, uphold the spiritual torch of the Chinese nationality, and produce a greater number of excellent works that live up to the history, the times and the people.
The New York Times Book Review has released its list of its 100 Notable Books of 2011.
Predictably, few are under review at the complete review -- six, in all (three fiction, two non, one volume of poetry) -- though I'll probably get to a few more (the Eugenides, when I get my hands on a copy; the Nádas, when I've made my way through it).
The six titles are:
In The Guardian Stephen Bates reports that: 'The Literary Review prepares to name the author responsible for the worst sex scene of the year', in Bad sex awards: the contenders for a night at the In and Out, reporting that: "the awards have shortlisted 12 authors before the presentation next month" (though also that: "The Literary Review says there is still time for more nominations").
No full list there or at the Literary Review site -- but Christos Tsiolkas, a finalist last year, has the dubious honor of being in the running for the second time in a row, this time with Dead Europe (apparently eligible because it hasn't been published in the UK until now, though it originally came out in 2005).
(Updated): The full twelve-title shortlist (plus quotes) can be pieced together via the Literary Review's Twitter-feed.
The titles in the running are:
The Tehran Times reports that War Road author not surprised over lucrative Jalal award, as Mansur Anvari (منصور انوری) has taken "Iran's most lucrative award" (winning: "110 Bahar Azadi gold coins worth over $66,000") for the first five volumes of what is projected to be a 20-volume work (he's currently up to volume eight), The War Road (جاده جنگ).
The win doesn't come as a major surprise, as this looks to be the Iranian 'book of the year' -- recall that it took the "fiction section" prize of the Golden Pen Awards (out of "804 fictional novels" submitted) this summer, see the Tehran Timesreport.
But, yeah, don't expect US publication anytime soon .....
I mentioned Chetan Bhagat and his new novel, Revolution 2020, yesterday, and in The Hindu Swati Daftuar also wonders 'What makes Chetan Bhagat, India's only author selling in millions, such a publishing phenomenon ?' in The revolution man -- with some impressive numbers.
So, for example:
His latest book, Revolution 2020, had the online bookstore, Flipkart.com, hiring 500 extra delivery boys just for a day to deliver the pre-ordered copies
(I note with some disappointment that no complete review readers have ordered the book via Flipkart -- but I also wonder whether Amazon has ever had to hire extra delivery boys to deliver copies .....)
But the sales numbers are certainly very impressive (especially when compared to the nearest competition (scroll down in the piece for sales totals for other Indian bestsellers)):
Bhagat's new book, Revolution 2020, has already sold 750,000 copies since its publication in October, 2011.
Posting these review also led me to update all the other Bolaño-review-pages on the site, which was a lot of work.
A lot of new reviews, a lot of dead links, a lot of changed links .....
(And note that Bolaño-mania appears to be near universal: IBNA has just reported -- and kudos for that headline -- Distant Star twinkles in Iran).