VIDA presents The 2011 Count, where they look at: "the rates of publication between women and men in many of our writing world's most prestigious literary outlets" -- i.e. the sex-ratio re. number of articles, book reviewers, and authors reviewed.
The graphic pie charts show the ugly results.
Obviously, I'm close to the last person who should weigh in on this (though I'm ... pleased ? to see that The New Republic is giving me an impressive run for the money ...), as I've been wondering for nearly a decade now How Sexist are We ? -- and haven't found the rate of reviewed authors who are women to fluctuate much beyond an historic average of around 15%.
(As I noted last time around, part of the excuse I have hereabouts is that translated fiction tends to be overwhelming male-authored (also a problem, of course ...) -- around 80% in 2010, apparently, and a very quick and rough count of the books eligible for the Best Translated Book Award puts the female-authored count at about 22% for 2011, barely any better (which is also a reason why women are underrepresented among the longlisted titles for the Best Translated Book Award (see below) -- though less so among the translators of the longlisted books).)
Oddly, coverage has been much more female-welcoming at the complete review recently -- 18 of last 50 books reviewed were authored by women, far above the long-term rate -- even as I don't think I've been doing anything differently.
PEN will exert effort to translate Ethiopian works of literature into international and national languages said Solomon.
The association will also work to advance the ability of Ethiopian authors to profit from their labors which is rarely the case noted Solomon.
In Tragic in Novels, Lucky in Friends in the Forward Benjamin Ivry raises some interesting questions about the new English translation (by Michael Hofmann) of Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters (see the publicity pages at W.W.Norton and Granta, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk) -- most notably: why the hell did they rely on that particular German edition (and why didn't they know any better ?):
These and other missing words in Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters might be explained by a translator's preface dated January 2011, which, although noting the inadequacies of Kesten's edition and how it is "a little strange" that no better edition exists, adds, "Kesten, though, was not a scholar -- and nor am I."
This candid admission does not explain how in a university setting Hofmann managed to avoid hearing or reading about the ongoing project of a new edition of the Roth-Zweig letters in his homeland.
Or even traveling to Fredonia, N.Y., where all of Roth's surviving messages to Zweig repose in the Daniel Reed Library of S.U.N.Y., Fredonia, readily available for consultation.
Too bad; Roth deserves better.
(Updated - 2 March): See now also Gabriel Josipovici's review in the New Statesman; he also has some issues with the book.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky's The Letter Killers Club.
(This book, too, was obviously in the running to make the longlist for the Best Translated Book Award announced yesterday (see my previous mention); amazingly, however, New York Review Books -- which had last year's winning title, and publishes many fine books in translation -- was entirely shut out this year.)
I am one of the judges for the prize, so I played a role in the decision-making process (obviously, as you can tell from the absence of 1Q84 and the inclusion of several titles which I was less than enthusiastic about in my reviews, my voice only carried so much weight ...).
A lot of really good stuff here -- though it is shocking to see not a single non-European language represented.
(I did okay in guessing what would make the list ten months ago: five of my eight guesses made it (and I remain surprised that 1Q84 didn't ...).)
I am looking forward to comparing this with what we'll find on the longlist for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize -- due out 8 March -- even though that has slightly different criteria: the BTBA welcomes dead authors; the IFFP doesn't -- but apparently does consider re-translated works, which the BTBA doesn't (of course not too many living authors get books translated more than once during their lifetimes) -- and the published-in-US (BTBA) vs. published-in-UK (IFFP) requirement still makes for a very different pool of books that can be considered for the respective prizes.
Odd fact: a stunning five of these titles were reviewed at the complete review -- based on the French or German original, or a German translation -- before they were translated into English -- in some cases long before -- two of them a decade or more ago: Fiasco in 2002, and The Shadow-Boxing Woman all the way back in 2000 !
The Swiss are still conflicted about legally mandating fixed book prices, and so it's one of five questions that will be up for popular vote in the upcoming 11 March referendum.
Martin Walker makes his position clear in a UPI piece, The threat to books -- arguing that:
The question is simple: Should all bookshops be required to charge the same price for books or should the free market prevail, allowing large chains and supermarkets to sell books at big discounts that small and independent bookstores cannot afford ?
Well, when you put it that way it does sound simple ...; in fact it is a bit more complicated (starting with the whole fixed-price idea, which actually isn't set-in-stone fixed, either; see all the (German) parliamentary documentation, which includes a link to a pdf of the law at issue).
At swissinfo.ch Urs Geiser and Sonia Fenazzi report on the upcoming vote in Buying Swiss books comes at a price -- noting also that:
Switzerland with its German-, French- and Italian-language regions has never had a uniform book price regulation.
The small Italian-language sector has always been free, while the French-language and the main German-language markets repealed their price agreements in the early 1990s and in 2007 respectively.
The Swiss media is already full of discussions of this -- and that looks likely to continue for the next two weeks.
I missed this when they announced it a couple of weeks ago, but the 37-title strong longlist for the Rossica Prize for the best translated work from Russian (2009 through 2011) is out -- and seems to include pretty much every Russian literary work translated into English in the past three years, including both translations of Ilf and Petrov's The Golden Calf (I've only reviewed the one), as well as the 2010 Best Translated Book Award winner for poetry, Elena Fanailova's The Russian Version.
The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Martijn Icks on The Life and Legacy of Rome's Decadent Boy Emperor, The Crimes of Elagabalus.
This is actually one of two big recent Elagabalus books -- Leonardo de Arrizabalaga y Prado's The Emperor Elagabalus: Fact or Fiction ? came out in 2010 from Cambridge University Press (see their publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk), and Icks even reviewed it, at Sehepunkte.
In the Express Tribune's Sunday Magazine Mohsin Sayeed profiles A cat called Shohbaa -- i.e. Shohbaa De.
I actually have a pile of her books, and hope to get to them at some point; I do think her natural métier is the schlock-pulp, so I really hope she doesn't take the concluding sentences to heart:
From socio-political issues to religio-cultural topics, gender politics to bodypolitik, Shohbaa De eloquently describes and puts things in perspective like a historiographer.
All that remains is for her to translate all this knowledge and understanding into a social history book or a novel about contemporary India -- a book that makes her graduate from item number girl to a substantial, artistic, serious performer of the written word.
Shohbaa De as historiographer ?
'Serious performer of the written word' ?
Dear god, haven't we endured enough ?
Let her -- and us -- stick to the kind of entertainments she knows and does best .....
In The Japan Times David Cozy reviews A quintessential Korean epic to rival the very best of Tolstoy -- Land by Pak Kyung-ni; see also the Brill publicity page, or get your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.
I've mentioned this title a couple of times, and it has gotten some attention -- Margaret Drabble reviewed it in the TLS last year (issue of 22 June; not freely accessible online) -- but it still seems not to have really caught on.
Of course the first part of the first part of this came out some fifteen years ago, and despite some decent reviews ... well, K.Connie Kang's hope in her 1996 review in The Los Angeles Times seems not quite to have panned out:
For admirers of Korean literature, the publication of Park's voluminous masterpiece in English is a welcome event.
The West has ignored Korean writers for too long, much as it has the country itself, which has lived in the shadows of its powerful neighbors, China and Japan.
With the appearance of Land, perhaps that will begin to change.
I hope to get my hands on a copy, eventually .....
Edward Luttwak's review of Stephen Mitchell's translation of The Iliad, Homer Inc, in the current London Review of Books offers some fun Homer-in-translation observations -- along with a nice take-down of Mitchell's efforts.
Among the problems with this particular version:
Mitchell took it on himself to produce and circulate an Iliad that is improperly abridged, indeed mutilated.
Unfortunately, of course, such mutilation is -- in the name of 'editing' -- a far too common occurrence with translations (and generally it's the publisher who is responsible, not, as here, the translator).
French author Patrick Rambaud describes the urge to publish as the "Chateaubriand complex" -- after the 19 century French Romantic and author of interminable memoirs.
"A book is a bit like a Rolex for our politicians: if you haven't got your own by 50, you're a failure," he says.
Of course, books by and about American politicians supposedly in the running for the presidency also abound every election season .....
In The New York Times Julie Bosman reports that Book Is Judged by the Name on Its Cover, another sad example of how American publishing 'works', as Patricia O'Brien -- author of five novels -- couldn't sell her new novel until, after twelve rejections, her agent submitted it under a pseudonym.
Judging the manuscript's merit on the basis of the sales-numbers for O'Brien's previous work no one wanted to touch it .....
And American publishers wonder why they're doing so well .....
Seriously, how is one supposed to take this business seriously ?
The Indian book market grew by 45% in volume and 40% in value over the first half of 2011, with adult fiction the fastest-growing area of the market, according to Nielsen BookScan India figures as the panel marks its first full year of sales monitoring
(Yes, the fact that it's only: "its first full year of sales monitoring" means the numbers are probably fudged a bit; nevertheless .....)
Good to see also that:
Adult fiction was the fastest growing area of the market over the first half of 2011, growing by 82% in volume and 49% in value
In the Weekly Standard Roger Kimball wonders about The Great American Novel -- specifically; 'Will there ever be another ?'
I think that most of us would agree that, today, fiction exercises a different, and less vital, claim on our attention than it once did.
Such, anyway, has been my observation.
And I would go further.
It's not just contemporary fiction that is suffering from this form of existential depreciation: The same thing, I believe, is happening, perhaps to a lesser extent, with the fiction of the past.
The novel plays a different and a diminished role in our cultural life as compared with even the quite recent past.
Section 1920 of 28 U.S.C. sets out the categories of costs that may be awarded to the prevailing party in a federal lawsuit.
One of the listed categories is "compensation of interpreters." Id. § 1920(6).
The question presented is whether costs incurred in translating written documents are "compensation of interpreters" for purposes of section 1920(6).
the translator of a document is not referred to as an interpreter.
Robert Fagles made famous translations into English of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid, but no one would refer to him as an English language "interpreter" of these works
Law 'n' lit man Posner should, of course, know a lot better -- lots of folk (me among them) do very much consider Fagles an interpreter of these texts, as much as their translator, and indeed many literary translators do consider themselves (or should ...) interpreters of texts.
(It's a horrible example, and a rare big slip by Posner, who should know better: there was no need to bring up literary translation in the context of this particular case (nor in Kouichi Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd., which is his only hope of not being made to look the fool by the justices ...), but apparently he just couldn't help himself .....)
The Scotusblog page should keep you up to date on the case -- and see also Peter Landers' Lost in Interpretation: Japan Citizen Case Goes to Supreme Court at the Wall Street Journal's Japan Realtime.
Ethiopian author Sebhat Gebre Egziabher (ስብሐት ገብረ እግዚአብሔር) has passed away; see, for example, the News Dire report, The famous Ethiopian author Sibhat gebregziabher has passed away.
The only title of his available in English translation (and that barely -- Amazon doesn't seem to have it) is Seed (of course it's under review at the complete review ...).
Of course, of greater interest would be something like ሌቱም፡ አይነጋልኝ -- published in French as Les Nuits d'Addis-Abeba; see the Actes Sud publicity page, get your copy (maybe ...) at Amazon.fr, or see this review at Le Litteraire.