Each and every foreign country has different tastes and interests.
I'd like to interact with literary critics and publishers overseas more often, and take their opinions into account.
We'd like to be more 'foreigner-friendly.'
A bit of foreigner-friendliness is certainly welcome -- in helping with the contacts, etc. -- but a lot often seems to get lost in translation in these attempts to take foreign "opinions into account".
They've announced the fifteen finalists in the three categories (fiction, non, and translation) for this year's Preis der Leipziger Buchmesse, with 147 publishers having submitted 470 titles for consideration for this, the big German book prize of the spring.
The only one under review -- well, the original of the translation that's up for that prize -- at the complete review is The Tunnel by William H. Gass.
The winners will be announced 15 March, at the Leipzig book fair.
The Japanese equivalents of mass market paperbacks, bunko, are not arranged by author name, but instead are grouped by publisher.
This peculiar arrangement is in place to ease the process of book returns to the distributor and certainly does not benefit Japanese consumers who, just like book civilians worldwide, think author name and not publisher when looking for a specific book.
Actually, this arrangement isn't nearly that unusual -- even in the US one can find certain series/publishers grouped together in some bookstores (the Loeb classical library volumes, Penguin Classics, etc.) and in many European countries it's a widespread practice.
In places where publishers actually still serve as gatekeepers I find it very useful, since I know what kind of publishers publish what kinds of books, and can zero in on their offerings, rather than browse alphabetically-by-author (which is useful if you know what author you're looking for, otherwise ... not so much).
Still, it's interesting to learn that:
Each publishing market has an effective limit on the number of foreign-language books translated and sold in print domestically.
In Japan, the figure is around 8% of annual book sales
Of course, not everyone has caught Adonis fever -- as the Tehran Timesreports:
Certain Syrian literati have not been invited to the International Congress on Islamic Awakening Literature, which opened in Tehran on Sunday.
They were bypassed for the event due to a lack of Islamic elements in their works, the organizers said in a press conference on Saturday.
Asked about the absence of Nouri al-Jarrah, Ghada al-Samman and Ali Ahmad Said Asbar (Adunis) at the congress, the congress secretary said, "Not only are they not categorized as Islamic awakening poets but also they are very distant from Islamic views."
(The 'Islamic Awakening' is how the Iranian government officially likes to think of what has become known elsewhere as the 'Arab Spring'; obviously part of the 'problem' with these -- not coincidentally all expatriate -- Syrian poets has less to do with their "Islamic views" than with their stand (soft though it arguably is in some cases) on the current Syrian situation.)
Yes, it's always nice to see college kids actually take some literature courses and read some books, but I can't help but feel a bit disappointed that at Princeton -- an institution of higher learning with a decent reputation --:
ENG 385: Children's Literature was one of the fastest courses to fill up this year and has been extremely popular with students across different class years.
the class, which was initially uncapped in 2010, was forced to restrict the number of students to 450 after the department realized that there wasn't a room big enough on campus to accommodate any more students.
The department retained the cap this year, and the class is currently full with a large wait list.
Sure, maybe this has something to do with the no doubt great teaching -- but it sure also feels like a sign o' the times: yet another opportunity to try to hang on to childhood just a bit longer (and avoid facing anything truly adult).
Something an increasing number of students seem to crave:
in 2006, it drew 218 students. In 2010, when Gleason took over the reins, it attracted 370 students.
This year the course filled to capacity within the first few minutes of sophomore enrollment, which meant many sophomores and all freshmen were unable to enroll.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Françoise Sagan's 1956 novel (published in English translation the same year), A Certain Smile, which the University of Chicago Press recently re-issued.
(Weird times we live in, that it's an academic press that re-publishes an early work by the then still barely out of her teens Sagan .....)
They've announced the winner of the first Hatchet Job of the Year Award (though not yet at that official site, last I checked ...), and "the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months" was found to be Adam Mars-Jones' review of Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall in The Observer (of 23 January 2011 -- i.e. not quite "of the past twelve months", but you know what they meant ...).
They handed out the Translation Prizes yesterday -- a batch of five this year, for translations from the Arabic, Dutch/Flemish, French, German, and Spanish -- and at the TLS Adrian Tahourdin offers the usual annual overview/run-down.
Two of the titles are under review at the complete review, won by:
Damion Searls, who took the Schlegel-Tieck Prize for his translation of Hans Keilson's Comedy in a Minor Key (Searls is on a real translation-prize-roll this year ...)
Frank Wynne, who took the Premio Valle Inclán for his translation of Marcelo Figueras' Kamchatka
(Updated - 8 February): See now also Thea Lenarduzzi's report on the evening at the TLS weblog, Lost in Translation.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Anurag Mathur's Indian innocent-abroad classic from 1991, The Inscrutable Americans.
In a 2005 interview he noted that he still got: "about Rs 2 lakh a year in royalty for it" -- but that:
It was also published in the US but didn't do terribly well.
In The Varsity Brigit Katz offers: 'A history of book design through the eyes of Coach House Books', in the art of the book -- noting that: "Coach House has been at the forefront of technological innovations in publishing and printing since its foundation in 1965".
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Kurahashi Yumiko's 1969 novel, The Adventures of Sumiyakist Q.
Yes, this does immediately qualify as one of the most obscure books under review: published in the impressive but apparently not very long-lived 'Asian and Pacific Writing'-series from the University of Queensland Press, this isn't a very easy to find title any more (and little else by Kurahashi has been translated -- though I expect to get to The Woman with the Flying Head and Other Stories soon, too (get your copy at Amazon.com).)
(I'd love to see more from the series too -- the first volume was Achdiat K. Mihardja's Atheis, and that's obviously of particular interest.)
By the way: Kurahashi was an early -- indeed one of the very first -- foreign writers to attend the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, back in 1966.
Speaks well for both the program, and her.
I am exorbitantly unobservant, and hence disinterested in theater as a culture...
I do enjoy writing plays and watching plays and thinking about the possibilities they have.
But I don't think of theater as a text. I think of it as an event.
(Updated - 6 February): See also Stoppard's Q & A with Mukund Padmanabhan and Swati Daftuar in The Hindu.
Under the councilís subsidy program, a total of 272 works of Taiwan literature were translated into foreign languages and published between 1990 and 2011, the CCA said.
A good and unfortunately necessary thing (these things don't translate themselves -- and without 'subsidies' even less would get published).
Meanwhile, 10 titles were granted subsidies at the end of 2011.
They include a Japanese translation of the biography of Chi Pang-yuan, co-founder of the The Taipei Chinese Pen, French translation of Les Survivants by Wu He, one of the most eccentric novelists in Taiwan, and the translation of Taichung-based poet Bai Qiuís works into German.
And translations into English ?
The UK gives eligible authors some money for their books being borrowed from the library -- the Public Lending Right (PLR) system -- and so each year they tally the most borrowed titles, etc. -- always interesting statistics.
James Patterson is in a league of his own -- 17 books in the top 100, 2.3 million total borrowings, and five of the top ten most-borrowed titles.
Presumably it does him little good -- only UK and European Economic Area resident authors are eligible -- but then he's probably doing o.k., and the extra couple of thousand pounds aren't going to be too missed.
See also, for example, John Dugdale's look at the numbers and titles in The Guardian, Crime gives library loan beating to other genres -- where he notes, among other things, that there is no non-fiction at all in the top 100.
National literary organizations and the like are among those who suggest authors to the Swedish Academy's Nobel selection committee, and occasionally these names are revealed -- or loudly announced by the locals.
So this year in Belarus, where the Belarusian PEN Center apparently submitted the name of Uladzimir Niakliaeu (Уладзімір Някляеў), while the Union of Writers of Belarus nominated Georgi Marchuk (Георгій Марчук) -- and leading to somewhat over-sensational newspaper headlines, such as Two Belarusians to Fight for Nobel Prize in Literature.
(Sorry to disappoint, but while the Swedish Academy will no doubt ... consider these writers, they will not figure in anywhere near the final deliberations.)
The only surprise is that it took this long, but Amazon.com now also has an Indian presence -- Junglee.com -- which they describe as:
an online shopping service by Amazon which enables customers to find and discover products from online and offline retailers in India and from Amazon.com.
Junglee organizes massive selection and multiple buying options from hundreds of sellers, and leverages Amazon's proven technologies and millions of customer reviews to help customers make smart purchase decisions.
It's unlike the usual Amazon-model, however -- in fact, it's practically the inverse of how Amazon.com works in the US and elsewhere:
You cannot buy directly from Junglee.
Junglee puts you in touch with sellers by directing you to their websites, displaying their customer service phone numbers and providing their physical store locations to help you buy the products directly from sellers.
That, presumably, is not the long-term plan .....
(The Indian market is obviously a promising one; the complete review links to Flipkart (which Junglee pointedly does not link to in offering users purchasing options ...) for Indian readers who wish to purchase books locally -- and there are days when there are a similar number of click-throughs as there are to Amazon.co.uk (and far more than to all the other Amazon variations, aside from Amazon.com proper).)
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Chan Koonchung's The Fat Years.
One can see why this was a much-discussed recent Chinese novel -- but unfortunately it falls rather far short as a novel.
Reading seems less than fashionable among Indonesians, especially when it comes to fine literature.
People searching for a good book, often complain that there isn't much choice in a market dominated by romance, cheap humor or life in the fast lane
But Windy Ariestanty, editor-in-chief of GagasMedia argues:
Saying that young people don't like "good reads" is an excuse, said Windy.
"Publishers and writers refuse to admit to their inability to produce good work that people will actually read and pay for.